Please, a moment of silence as we remember our “Before” kitchen. . . You were a perfectly good kitchen, with many things going for it: vaulted ceiling, big window, custom cabinetry, solid oak flooring, tumbling-lilacs wallpaper. (Just kidding on that last one. Lilacs belong in gardens, not on walls.) However, you had a dark side – and no amount of buzzing CFL bulbs could snap you out of it. Your appliances were failing and your fixtures were leaking; your time had come. Rest in peace.
And now, the new kitchen – three years in the making:
Let there be white! And eight burners. (And a cat – Scarlett.) We followed the gospel of Chip and Joanna and took down a wall to “open up the space”. Plus it was the only way to fit in a monster-sized (8-ft) island. Not sure how you could possibly make 10 dozen cookies at a time without an 8-ft island.
Some of you may be thinking right now: “Hey Subee, this looks an awful lot like your old [NJ] kitchen.” Others may be more blunt: “How could it have taken 3 years to get your act together when all you did was cut and paste?”
Yes, I repeated what worked. No shame in recycling! The made-in-Pennsylvania BlueStar range, Danver floating stainless shelf and Dornbracht sink fixtures are back for an encore. But there are some differences, starting with the counters. This is honed carrara marble, a beefy 5cm thick. It’s light gray with veins and splotches, and already has some etch marks from orange juice and a leaky pint of raspberries. More are sure to come, but I don’t care because I LOVE IT. It feels like velvet, as much as a rock can feel like velvet. Note that I kept the stone and cabinet color for the island the same as around the perimeter. I saw a lot of this trend in magazines and liked the overall effect. More on my design-by-magazines process in a minute.
Another big difference is the lighting. I loved the industrial pendant lights from my old kitchen, but didn’t feel they’d work well with this ceiling shape and off-centered island alignment. Plus I wanted to try something different. That’s where the LED cable lights come in. I like the modern edge they bring to the kitchen, and the bulbs are supposed to last 40 years!
Back to the magazines. I had these and many more “favorites” taped to a wall in the kitchen for over a year. A life-size Pinterest board, which was gradually refined as project planning progressed. Even if you are working with a design professional (which I highly recommend for a project of this scope! DIY is not for the faint of heart), this pre-work is a very effective way to crystallize your vision and determine which elements you really like (or don’t like).
Truth be told, I had big plans to blog about the project in real time – but I chickened out. A project of this scope can be very stressful, and I came close to cracking at least once a week. So many decisions! Will it all come together? Where’s my other shoe?
So instead I’ll summarize. We started by contacting our NJ architects, Chris Pickell and Oliver Ferreira of Pickell Architecture, who thankfully were also licensed in PA. Lots of back and forth: walls down, no walls down; bump out, don’t bump out; move, stay put. Once we had a plan (stay, don’t bump out, take down a wall), it was time to work on the interior and cabinet design. I did pages and pages of old-school sketches.
Then I worked with Dan to turn the sketches and ideas into cabinet construction plans.
Ever the visual person, I needed blue tape on the walls to see if the layouts “felt right”.
Then it was time to roll.
Skip ahead a few months . . .
I could keep going, but you’ve probably had enough for now and these apples won’t turn into applesauce on their own. I’ll throw in more kitchen design-related posts from time to time, but if you have any specific questions feel free to post them in the comment section below. [Side note: these branches are from a small tree in my yard but I have not yet been able to identify it. Malus something. Can anyone help?]
Note: I did not receive any freebies or discounts from any of the vendors mentioned in this post, much to my dismay! (Yes, I tried.) Apparently I need to work on increasing my social media footprint before expecting free appliances and the like.
Architecture: Pickell Architecture (Flemington, NJ)
Construction: Hazley Builders (West Chester, PA)
Cabinetry: Elam Beiler Cabinetry (New Holland, PA)
Island Corbels: Darren Edsall Custom Woodworking (Lafayette, NJ)
Appliances: Kieffer’s Appliance (Lansdale, PA)
Counters: AAA Marble and Granite (West Chester, PA)
Lighting: Lighting by Design (Exton, PA)
Cabinet Hardware: Restoration Hardware
Door Hardware: Wolfe’s Baldwin Brass Center (Malvern, PA)
Moral Support and Encouragement: Lisa Walsh/Walsh Hill Design