Kitchen Surface: Neolith Calcutta Luxe // Goodman lights with brass interior // Brass knobs //
Kitchen renovations are becoming our specialty. I love giving life to tired kitchens and putting our design stamp on
it. It is a creative expression just like fashion and cooking. Here is a link to our previous kitchen renovation at the
A-Frame and California houses. We are now onto our 4th kitchen makeover (first was in Chicago before blog) and
each time we learn more. One thing that makes our kitchen renovations special is that we do practice frugality.
Uhhh. That sounds boring, but it’s actually an avenue for more creativity.
- The quality of being economical with money or food; thriftiness.
Here’s what I mean. This relates to fashion as well. Everything has a life cycle. A good stylist/designer accepts the
challenge of extending the life of that item as long as possible. That is why you see me style clothes so many
different ways. I want to get the longest life out of the piece as I can. The same is true for our kitchen remodels.
For example, in California we chose to resurface the cabinets vs. gutting the kitchen. This allowed us to keep the
design integrity of the mid-century house while saving cabinets boxes from the landfill.
Our current home was built in 2005 and everything is still in great condition. Again, we hate to throw away
something that has a lot of life in it. However, there are aspects to our kitchen I don’t like. Thus, the design
challenge. Make it work! I love that this kitchen has open space, plenty of storage and functions well. I don’t like
having the bar height island. I don’t like two islands. I don’t like the scale of the range hood. Here is our design
strategy to solve these issues while trying to conserve as much of our existing kitchen as possible. I hope this helps
with your future remodels and any decision making you have.
As I stated, our kitchen has two islands. We don’t like it. It’s like ring around the rosy. Removing the second island
will also help make our great room look more spacious. I’m planning to add a big farm table where the island used
to be and make the existing eating area a reading nook. We will be painting all the walls and trim white to
brighten the space as well. With the second island gone, we have two focal points in the kitchen and therefore we
come to our primary design decision. A kitchen design should only have one iconic feature. Do we want the hood
to be the focal point or the island? This helps drive our design decisions. I appreciate a beautiful island and
therefore prefer the island to be the icon of the kitchen. To make the island stand out we need to boost the drama
by having waterfall sides. Make sure to request a miter cut when doing a waterfall. You do not want a butt joint.
Also, choose a material that is seamless. If you have veins, be able to book match the veins as they continue over
the counter edge. Find a really good fabricator.
Keep in mind. Cost. Commodity. Sustainability. Natural marble is expensive. If you choose to use it, use it wisely.
There are also brand-new countertop materials on the market that look like marble but have the durability of
To bring the massive scale of our range hood down, we decided to paint it white to match the cabinets. We will be raising the bottom of the upper cabinets to align with the moldings of the hood. Therefore, we still have storage
we need and the hood and cabinets will appear as a unit rather than the church alter.
Reid has completed a sketch-up model to visualize the renovations as we’ve made decisions. Producing a
computer model really does help you know what design decisions to make. I recommend using Sketch-up if you
are able. Or hire Reid to help….. I’ve created a collage showing our material pallet and some accessory pieces that
will make this kitchen happy again.
Learn more about Neolith here
Make sure to check out our house tour on IGTV before you read this post. It will show you the best before content. When we purchased our new home we knew a kitchen renovation would be in our near future. We held off renovating it for half a year to really get a feel for what was working and what didn’t work in the existing kitchen. What we discovered was the kitchen had too many cabinets, it was dark and we really wanted seating at the large island. The multi-colored finishes was an eyesore and oh…did I mention…never own white laminate countertops. Those babies were stained within a month of us moving in. No joke. The pomegranate stains never came out!
As we started the design process for the kitchen, we considered the modern aesthetic we typically like with some touches of drama. We did lots of pinning on Pinterest for a design wish list. However, our house has a distinct style and we wanted our new kitchen to reflect its unique style. We gave up some ideas for the sake of a holistic home design. We were inspired by simple, bright Danish style kitchens with neutral colors to harmonize our existing terrazzo tile flooring and modern Asian home aesthetic. Mission, accomplished.
We liked the layout of our kitchen and the original custom cabinets were in great condition, so we chose to resurface the cabinets with new soft close doors. We chose Birch wood slab doors and Cambria “Whitehall” quartz counters to keep the kitchen bright and neutral. A nice thing about our renovation is that we were able to keep our appliances. That was a huge cost saver.
Reid and I are 100% responsible for the design of our kitchen. We used a sketch-up model to visualize our material choices but most of all used the simple modeling tool to design our custom island. My favorite part of the kitchen is the new island. We see a curve trend coming to kitchen designs. Do you remember roll top desk? Well here is our island secret. The sides of the island are cladded in tambour panels. This is the same material used to make the old roll top desk our Grandma’s owned and loved. We love the idea of using something for other than what it is intended for. We can’t wait to sit at the island, drink coffee and work on our laptops.
The design of the backsplash was a tough decision. There are so many options and can easily go the wrong direction. We debated using tile, but the grout lines bothered us. We thought about German shmear stone veneer, but thought it would be impractical to clean. We considered Calcutta marble, but thought the veins would compete with the terrazzo floors. So in the end, we chose the simple white route. We continued our countertops up 30” for our backsplash to align with the bottom of the hood. We also chose to go simple with the drywall hood. We used an internal hood that is already enclosed. Therefore the drywall surround is just a shell. It took Reid about 3-4 days to frame and drywall. We are really happy with how it turned out. Next step is a floating shelf flanking each side of the hood.
For lighting, we wanted gold accents. Our house already has a lot of geometric shapes, so we looked for lighting shaped with strong geometry. Enter light above the island. We liked the skinny geometry of the LED lights with the strong geometry and the fact that you can see through it. The pendant provides a good amount of light as well. We then added three identical Tom Dixon Copper Round Pendants. They hang perfectly over the sink and in front of window. We chose gold accent colors because we love how it pairs with the birch wood cabinets.
Let us know your kitchen questions. I’ve sourced all I can think of below. Please reach out with questions or just hire Reid to help!
Wood tambour // Chandelier above the island // Countertop: Cambria “whitehall” // Cabinet refacing // Lights above the sink // Sink (which I love!) //Faucet by Moen // Counter top Chairs // Hardware // Hood insert
Every morning we make pancakes! I use coconut oil to grease the pan and love all my kitchen gear especially my All Clad pots and pans – on sale!
Below is my recipe for maple flavored syrup for the kids, and cheaper than maple syrup.
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon maple flavored extract
Bring the water, white sugar, and brown sugar to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir in the maple extract; simmer 3 minutes longer. I love this recipe, let me know if you try it! My shop page is open 24/7! Happy Weekend!
Foodie Friday is back!! Like most things in life, something that started as a fun idea is now a full-blown ritual. As in, don’t even think about changing any thing up or bad things are going to happen. It’s pretty simple actually. After we drop off the kids at school, Brooks and I come back home and make smoothies. There it is. Quite honestly, I usually go through the mail and email while he begs and begs until I help him pull out all the ingredients. I literally put all the ingredients on the rug and then he sits there with the Vitamix and happily puts things in the mixer. I won’t say it’s all smooth sailing. Just today, while he was pulling out the spinach, he pulled out the glass jar of strawberry jam and it shattered. And mixers and children (well, adults too to be honest) don’t always go well together. So like I said, it’s not always smooth sailing, but it is worth it. He “cooks” his own food, and we both get yummy smoothies and fun memories.
Some of the Pros of cooking in the kitchen with your kids:
It’s fun! He’s learning and you’re both doing something fun together–it’s Quality Time!
You’re making memories
An opportunity to teach how to clean up
You get to stretch your patience muscle
Your patience muscle is getting stretched
Things will break, fall, and Legos are always involved. I don’t even know how, but it’s true
The mess (this almost deserves two bullet points, but I’ll leave it at one)
B’s Smoothie recipe
1 frozen banana
2 packets frozen acai bowl mix (we get ours from Costco)
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup almond milk
1 T chia seeds
1 handful of kale
Blend in the Vitamix and enjoy chilled!
More denim cutoffs I’m loving here: