Our kitchen refresh

24 April 2023

Friends, I am so very excited to share a few photos of our kitchen refresh with you today! If you’re new here, be sure to click over to this post first to get the back story, including before photos, inspiration clippings, and a breakdown of the work we had done. Then continue reading for many after photos, sources, and some thoughts on the process and our contractors.

So welcome into our kitchen, friends! I always laugh like this while doing the dishes ;)

Ahhhhhhhh. Doesn’t this view just make you let out a long exhale? It certainly does for me. It’s been five-ish months since work wrapped up on this project, and I still sometimes turn the corner only to be surprised by what I see. It just looks so fresh and lovely, and I pinch myself that this project finally happened, ten years in the making.

This photo sums up most of the major changes we made to our kitchen:

— We replaced the cabinet doors and hardware and replaced the crown molding with a simpler design.
— The cabinets were painted Natural Cream by Benjamin Moore.
— We added Shaker trim to the side of the dishwasher (what you can see right at the front of the photo above).
— We replaced the backsplash with Zellige tile.
— We moved the microwave from over the stove and replaced it with a range fan that vents to the exterior and a custom-built wooden hood over the top.
— We switched out the light fixtures and stools and added decorative touches like the silhouettes and clock.

And then a reminder of a few things we didn’t change: the layout, the floors, the cabinet boxes, the sink, the faucet, the stove and other appliances, and the counters. Again, more on all that in this post.

By far the most common thing that pops out of people’s mouths when they see our new kitchen is, wow, it looks so much bigger! And I can’t disagree! It’s pretty amazing what some neutral paint and more harmonious fixtures can do for the felt-size of a space. We did also remove the wire rack at the entrance to the kitchen, which made a difference. But by and large, it was removing the visual clutter that has now makes it appear larger than it did before.

On the topic of the paint color: it was stressful to choose something other than white for our cabinets, even up until the first coat of color was sprayed on, but I adore how it turned out – to me, it’s the perfect not-too-yellow, not-too-cool greige. (Our painters even liked it so much they had a cabinet door sample done up to show other clients!) I credit Alaina’s impeccable taste and keeping the paint sample hung up for eight months with my success :)

Also, don’t you think it tones down the redness of our floors (which I don’t love)? I was hoping that would be a happy by-product and I think it is.

Since we’ve turned to face the other direction, let’s talk a little bit about this wall. Big changes over here! Bull Restoration (more on them below) demo’d the existing cabinetry and counter above and to the right of our fridge and built these new cabinets up to the ceiling. I love how it turned out.

Here’s the microwave’s new home! Though we did have to find new homes for a few items in this refresh, most of the items in this space were stored here before – it’s just now closed storage instead of open. I was worried (and John was very worried) it might be annoying to open the doors every time we wanted to use the microwave, but it has been just fine. From top to bottom we’ve stored paper cups and party supplies; teas and Keurig pods; mugs; our Soda Stream, blender, and Keurig; the microwave; toilet paper and tissue boxes; and paper towels.

One of my favorite features is that the height of each shelf is completely customizable, so we were able to size each shelf for its exact contents (and can adjust the height whenever we want!).

Popping over to the other side of the fridge, we have one of my favorite new additions to the kitchen. Our project manager at Bull was NOT convinced that this skinny little cabinet would be usable space, but I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for and it has been SO functional. Before, we stacked our baking sheets/muffin tins/cooling racks in a pile in a cabinet, and it was quite annoying to extricate any one of them. Now, I just slide out the sheet I need and it is glorious. This cabinet also became the new home for serving trays (relocated from the wire rack). Pitchers are stored in the shorter skinny cabinet above.

The backsplash! We chose the Bejmat Zellige tile in Weathered White from Clé Tile. It was a larger expense than simple subway tile, but I decided that it, along with the cabinet hardware, was a splurge that would go a long way toward giving a more custom look overall. I would recommend reading up on Zellige before choosing it for your own space, because it’s an artisan product with plenty of imperfections. But we really love the pearly, handmade finished look.

Okay and the light fixtures. I’m obsessed. These Ferguson light fixtures were one of the last items to be installed, and once they were in (a few weeks after the major work was finished), it was like we placed the final piece of the puzzle. I love how the more modern style of the pendants plays against the more traditional cream, Shaker-style cabinets, and how the gold details complement the gold of the hardware. Obsessed.

Full credit for finding these beauties goes to Kristin Winchester – I saw them in her kitchen and knew my search was over. We have the 13″ size in matte white/heritage brass.

Speaking of cabinet hardware: we chose unlacquered brass pieces from Rejuvenation after literally every single inspiration photo I collected used it. (I am not exaggerating.) Along with the tile, it was one of the other larger splurges, but I’m happy we did it – I think it’s a noticeable upgrade. We went with a combination of 6″ Vernon brass bin pulls, 1 1/4″ Ball cabinet knobs, and Massey 6″, 8″, and 10″ drawer pulls – all in unlacquered brass.

They’re a minor detail, but let’s talk about those silhouettes for a minute. We’ve had several done over the years for the kids, and I love that they’ve found a home here. June’s is from when she was about four, and Shep and Annie’s, about age one. Shep needs an updated one :) We have them done at the NC State Fair by Erik Johnson in the Village of Yesteryear – he’s there every year. He travels around the country the rest of the year, so if you’re interested, you may find him near you! He’s amazing – it takes him less than five minutes to cut each silhouette by hand.

A few thoughts on working with Bull Restoration:

I’ve had several local readers ask who we used to paint our cabinets, so I wanted to share a few thoughts. Bull Restoration replaced our cabinet faces, painted our cabinets and crown molding, and built the cabinets around the fridge.

After striking out with several other options, we got in touch with Bull after a personal referral in our neighborhood. Sean, the owner, came out promptly and gave me a quote standing in my kitchen. He came out several more times over the course of our project to finalize details, which I appreciated, and was our main contact throughout.

Bull does what they do and they do it well. In kitchens, they primarily build and paint cabinets and islands. They are a well-oiled machine, which is great, but it also meant that I had to be VERY clear and VERY on top of the details for anything that went outside of their usual scope. I came armed with pictures and rudimentary sketches, but because they don’t use CAD or other professional drawings, I was a bit stressed over how it would turn out in the end. Had I been clear enough? Had he interpreted everything correctly from our conversations? Communication was largely in person or via text which was also not my preference (I would have preferred email – easier to track conversations and details).

In the end, the result was great. The quality seems to be really good, and the paint finish is impeccable. The experience of having the guys in our house was good, too. They were only on site from Monday-Thursday of one week: about three days of building and taping, and one day of actual spraying and assembling. On Saturday, the punch list guy came and was impressively meticulous with making sure every tiny detail was perfect.

All Kitchen Sources:

If I’ve missed something you’re curious about, happy to share – just drop a note in the comments!

As we wrap up, I owe a big thank you to Honeysuckle Collective for a few of these photos. You’ll see more of her work in upcoming posts on our bedroom and the rest of our downstairs!

And friends, of course a big thank you to YOU! I hope you enjoyed this peek at a project many, many years in the making. So grateful we were able to complete it and share it here!

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April 24, 2023 8:02 am

It’s gorgeous! So glad you’re happy with how it turned out and enjoying living in your space :)

Kelly Strawberry
April 24, 2023 11:50 am

Love your new kitchen!!!!!! It looks AMAZING! My one LOL moment from this post was seeing Scott toilet paper in your pantry. Please make the upgrade to Charmin as one of your new little luxuries ;)

Kelly Strawberry
April 27, 2023 9:55 am
Reply to  Em

Too funny and can’t wait to hear this June story! We had to resort to using Scott once during the TP pandemic shortage and I remember me and my husband were like “who would ever choose this?!!” LOL

Kristen M
April 27, 2023 11:13 am

Ah ha I had to chime in – my maternal grandparents use Scott TP and around the time I was 15 or so my father started bringing Charmin with us when we went up to visit (we live in NC, grandparents in Boston) – he felt he’d been in the family long enough to make that move. He’s brought it along ever since hahaha.

April 24, 2023 12:42 pm

The kitchen is beautiful! I am floored that the contractor did not immediately see the appeal of those narrow cabinets. What a dream to have!!! I zeroed in on them immediately when I saw the photos and are my favorite aspect haha! Enjoy the new room!

April 24, 2023 2:26 pm

Looks so fresh and beautiful!! Love it! So happy for you!

April 24, 2023 2:41 pm

That baking pan cabinet is what dreams are made of ????

April 24, 2023 3:34 pm

The kitchen is beautiful! Thank you for sharing :) Also, what is the paint color on your walls? Thanks!

April 24, 2023 8:20 pm

It’s so beautiful! It looks much more open. So happy for you!

April 24, 2023 9:02 pm

I love that is is light and bright without being stark white! It looks so good! I’ve been mulling over updating our kitchen for awhile now. We’ve made minor tweaks here and there, but I’d love an overhaul one day. My biggest hesitation is that I feel like if I changed the kitchen, the rest of the house wouldn’t look cohesive. For example, our cabinet colors, tile, and light fixtures are all the same throughout the entire house and I feel like if I change them in the kitchen, I’d have to update them throughout. Admittedly, I am not the most design savvy person, so the thought of making all the reno decisions stresses me out! Your new kitchen looks absolutely lovely though and I’m tucking it away for inspiration!

April 25, 2023 9:26 am

Looks great and I’ll add my upvote for making narrow baking pan cabinets standard in all kitchens! I’d love a new kitchen (a hood that vents outside is my dream – do you find it makes a big difference in the amount of greasy residue in the kitchen?) but it’s not in the budget. I’m debating painting the cabinets for a minor refresh – how did you manage family life while your kitchen was unusable? I’m having trouble envisioning feeding my kids three times a day for the days/weeks it would take for me to empty, clean, sand, paint, reattach and put everything back in the cabinets. Eeek.

Victoria B
April 25, 2023 11:07 am

This looks amazing! I love the tile and the light fixtures. Beautiful!

April 26, 2023 11:21 am

Ahhhh, it’s just so good!! The silhouettes made the perfect finishing touch!

April 30, 2023 8:55 am

It looks amazing! This is a great reveal. Also- I have to thank you for sharing your sources. One of the items on my April tending list is to choose a contractor to do some work on our kitchen (tiling, creating a hood range cover… similar to *some* of the work you had done). I was feeling a little bummed that I haven’t had great luck when I read your post. I immediately called Versatile Edge and he was amazing! When he asked where I got his info, I told him a blog and he said, “well, that’s the first time I’ve heard that one”. Ha!