Worth the Wait

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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:

Subee's Kitchen New

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.

Subee's Kitchen 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.


An early sketch of the bar area.

Then I worked with Dan to turn the sketches and ideas into cabinet construction plans.


Dan E. helping translate my sketches into cabinet shop drawings.

Ever the visual person, I needed blue tape on the walls to see if the layouts “felt right”.


The former “Pinterest Wall” gets blue-taped to help me visualize the bar cabinets. 

Then it was time to roll.


Kitchen prepped for demolition.

Skip ahead a few months . . .


Bar cabinet installation.


Custom cabinetry by Elam Beiler —


Except for these awesome island corbels – courtesy of Darren Edsall Custom Woodworking, NJ


The final stretch!


Marble shopping


Marble installation. I think it took 12 guys from AAA Marble to lift and place the island slab. That’s one heavy rock! 

Subee's Kitchen bar

The completed bar area.


The new desk area is a little more hidden from public view, yet still convenient for the constant dumping of handbags, school papers, mail, etc.


A closeup of Darren’s corbel, along with the new Advantium Speedcook/microwave/warming drawer. We love that this can reheat pizza slices fast and with a crisp crust!


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?]


FYI I loosely follow Martha’s recipe for pink applesauce, but add a spoonful of brown sugar and a cinnamon stick while cooking the apples. Love that you don’t have to peel the apples!

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.

Project Resources:

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










55 thoughts on “Worth the Wait

  1. My limited vocabulary precludes me from being able to conjure up enough synonyms for ‘spectacular.’ I’ll go so far as to say that THIS kitchen would even make me want to cook. I sure understand why you love it. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Can’t wait to see it in the flesh.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. this is so amazing! can’t wait to read what new recipes you create in your new space (and hopefully share on this blog)! i love before and afters…. this is one of my favorite!

  3. Congratulations on the kitchen renovation. I know you’ve been working on this since day one in PA. We have to coordinate a visit so I can see it in person. Your photos are great, but I’m sure not doing your beautiful kitchen full justice. Can’t wait to see it. Happy cooking!

  4. KUDOS to you, SueB! (Just had to say that…the Martian influence never ends! Ha!). That’s quite the transformation…gorgeous! I’m sure you will enjoy cooking in your new kitchen especially for the upcoming Thanksgiving, and the resulting meal one that everyone will remember!

  5. Hi! I was obsessed with your old kitchen and now, after seeing your new one I am second guessing my recent deposit for a calacatta island and pietra cardosa perimeter! I love the thickness of your new marble and the carrera color looks great. Any specific reason you changed to the Carrera besides the crazy price tag associated with the calacatta? Your work is amazing.

    • Thanks, Kristen! Crazy price tag was a big reason. Also, with so much white (cabinets, backsplash, walls) I wanted a little more color in the marble while still reading “light”. There is a big variation with Carrera, though; it took me a while to find the right slab (not too stripe-y) and in the 2″ thickness. (Mine came from Reliance Granite and Marble in NJ.)

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  7. I enjoyed reading every part of “worth the wait kitchen 2.0”. Actually I read it twice, second time around I was look for more to read. Great article, looking forward to more and more delicious veggie ideas.

  8. Hi- A long time fan first time commenting here. Your old kitchen in Houzz is my all-time favorite so I was waiting to see what you will come up with the second time around. Great job once again….looks familiar yet different. We are planning a renovation too and agonizing over Wolf or BS range. The fact that you are using it again shows you clearly love it. I saw some additional pictures on Houzz…such a beautiful job. Thanks for sharing all the info. I pour over your kitchen pictures all the time and myDH says I need to stop stalking you online …..

    • Hi – Thanks for the note. I’m flattered to have a kitchen stalker! Good luck with your upcoming renovation. The range decision is tricky. I do still love the BlueStar, but with my new one (same RNB, not Platinum Series) the ovens are hotter in back and require more monitoring/rotating than what I remember. The burners and grates are as awesome as ever.

  9. Thank you Sue for your response. You are one of the most patient (answering so many questions even the repetitive ones and after 2 years of leaving your old kitchen), generous (the detail of information you have provided has been so helpful) and gracious person (read your response to someone unnecessarily nasty in “the Kitchn” website and your gracious response should have put that person to shame). And you have exquisite taste and talent. Hope you are enjoying your new kitchen with your family now and for a long long time. Happy Holidays- A friend from Malvern, PA

  10. Hi~4 Years ago I designed my new kitchen with many of your ideas in mind from your first kitchen. We actually say now that if we were to move again there is very little we would change when designing another kitchen. When you make something that feels right you never want to let it disappear. So happy you were able to re-create many of your favorite assets in your new home and personalize to your taste and passion. It looks beautiful! Thank you for sharing and thank you for inspiration 4 years ago. I love my kitchen and if I did do it again I would feel just as you do…keep what you love if it feels good and works well. Enjoy many happy memories in your new home!

  11. This kitchen is just as beautiful as your N.J. one. Why did you decide to go all marble this time and not the perimeter countertop you used before? Also how did you manage lights in hood? They’re great!

    • Hi Janet,
      Thanks for the nice note! I went with all marble this time because 1) I wanted a lighter look for the formerly very dark kitchen, 2) I was feeling like the 2-different-counters thing was starting to look a little dated, and 3) I didn’t want to repeat everything from the NJ kitchen. The lights come built into the Blue Star hood (same with the Prestige ProLine hood that I had in the last kitchen). The electrician wired the hood fan and lights to a wall switch next to the range; this makes it easier to reach the controls. (Highly recommend!)

    • Also one more thing, original post from N.J. said cabinet paint was pure white. Is that actual Behr pure white? All the whites including that one I bring home all look off white to me.

      • Thx so much! Do you know the white cabinet paint color used in this kitchen and N.J. kitchen?

      • It’s Benjamin Moore Interior RM (Ready Mix) “White”. BM “Pure White” is different! All the whites make me a little crazy. I use the same color for all the interior house trim (but in satin oil).

  12. I love both of your kitchens…I really want to have an eat in kitchen and not just an island. Do you prefer the table in your second kitchen or the banquette from the first? My kids are 15, 13 and 10 and I want a place for us to continue to have family dinners.

    • Hi Nicole – a banquette is great when you don’t have enough floor space for a table and chairs all around. I liked the banquette in our old kitchen but it’s easier to sit around/get in and out from around the table in the new kitchen.

  13. Once again a beautiful kitchen and thanks for patiently sharing and answering.
    You mentioned the “new Advantium speedcook microwave warming drawer”. Never seen that. I have an advantium in my older kitchen and thought it was not to be installed below counter. Was this a short lived experiment by GE?

    • Hi Jo — I have the Advantium 240V Speedcook oven (also a microwave) — and though I read the same warnings online and on the GE site, two different appliance places said they can be installed under counters/on islands. So far no issues! We especially like the Reheat “Plate of Food” sensor settings.

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