a new kitchen story

My kitchen is DONE, and I love it.

We have done a lot of work on our house over the past five years but this was by far the biggest change, and the design I agonized over the most.  Most of the work we have done in the past has been kind of 'no brainer"  - I knew the minute I walked in the door that all the windows would need to be replaced, popcorn ceilings had to go, floors need refinishing, sunroom had to be properly built out, we'd need to rip out an un-permitted bathroom to make a balcony, building out the garage to make my studio/office, the list goes on and on... but all of these decisions were somewhat easy. I knew what we needed to do and the hard part always seemed to be finding the money (and figuring out what to compromise on to save money).

The kitchen, however, was a design challenge. I talked about some of issues, and initial ideas here.

I probably made about 12 different floor plans and elevations trying to fit everything in, yet achieve a light, open, airy feeling. The biggest issues were the appliances. How do you fit these huge things, plus a ton of storage space, into a 10x10 room? Really, the only solution was to downsize as much as possible and get a a little creative with the old "kitchen triangle." Breaking up the cook top and oven, forgoing a good looking oven hood and for a sensible mirco hood, and getting the narrowest refrigerator we could find/afford (even if that meant it wasn't counter depth) ended up making the most sense.


What we ended up doing:

Removed a wall between our tiny kitchen and mud room to make one larger kitchen and create a peninsula for the kids to sit and eat.

Removed and replace acoustic ceiling tiles with skim coated drywall

Replaced two louvered windows with one awning window

Ikea cabinets and fronts in the high gloss white. I looked into both Semi Handmade and Kokeena but because of budget and timing we stuck with the Ikea

DIY Brass toe kicks

Solid Brass hardware

Calacutta Marble couter tops / back splash/waterfall

White Oak wood floors

Ikea refrigerator, microwave and cooktop

Smeg oven

In the middle of the process I got really excited about kitchen essentials (most of which i haven't been able to buy yet), but as soon as this kitchen is paid off - I will be shopping for all these and more.

Our house is 90 years old and we bought it from a lovely woman (Ruby) who had lived here for 50 of those years. I think her late husband (Ray) had done most of the upkeep and projects around the house himself. Part of the reason we bought the house was that, when I walked in, it just had such a positive energy, it felt right; and since we moved in and I've learned more and more about Ruby and Ray the more I feel connected to them and this house.  It feels like we are carrying on a tradition. Our little patch of LA is small and quiet and pretty tight knit. When I meet older folks on my walks around our hill I tell them that I live in "Ruby's house" and they usually they know exactly what I mean. Which makes what happened on the second day of demo so special. After the workers had left we walked into the hole that used to be our kitchen, and where the cabinets used to be, we found this:

It felt like such a good omen.

 This is where a wall used to be.

We also widened and arched the entry way to the kitchen - it only got about 10 inches wider but the difference is dramatic.

Here's what I've learned about buying Ikea kitchens.

*WAIT FOR THE SALE. It is super stressful and took about 9 hours to do the first order (i am not kidding) and then I made about 20 more trips during the course of the remodel, BUT they gave me the same 20% off on all my subsequent trips and kitchen purchases so it was hugely worth it. If you have kids, get a sitter who has the whole day free. Smalland is not going to cut it. You are about to embark on some next level Ikea-ing - don't mess around

*USE IKEA SOFTWARE. It's a glitchy nightmare, I know. but in the long run it really helps you keep track of things and the ikea installers use it to make the job go so fast. We used Matt Larrabee and he is a WIZARD.

*AVOID THE WEEKEND. If you don't want to spend 9 hours there after the thousands of hours you will spend fighting with their software, don't wait until the last weekend of their sale (like we did - although they did put out coffee and cookies), and, in general, don't go on a weekend. I actually started going BEFORE they opened and was one of those people who stood at the divider waiting for the store to open ( the cafe opens first).  I would then sprint using my secret shortcuts to get to the kitchen area FIRST. If I was smart, I would have taken  a day off work and done the initial order on a Tuesday morning first thing,  probably making it a 2 hour process.

Brass toe kicks and marble countertops are going to get their own blog post.....stay tuned..

Just for reference - this is what our old kitchen looked like at Christmas: 

and when we bought the place: