Before and After: The Kitchen

DMD_6848My house has been a huge and on-going project. When closed on it last year, it was basically uninhabitable, a 1967 fixer-upper bought at a deep discount. We were able to bring it back to to life with the help of a crazy-to-obtain-but-worth-it renovation mortgage. I wrote about its curious human history for the Daily News. If the top photo had scratch-n-sniff, it would smell like disintegrating carpet pad, old cigarettes and ancient perfume.

Because half the building was a rental and we were living with my parents, we had some serious time pressure to get it move-in ready. I spent hours collecting images on a Pinterest board to help get an idea of what I wanted.

One of the cooler parts of the remodel (a process made dreamily smooth with the help of my contractor Anthony, one of the owners of K&W Interiors) was the kitchen. I as lucky to work with K&W designer and local blogger Fernanda Conrad. I got bids on the job from half a dozen contractors, but when I met Anthony and Fernanda, things just clicked. Anthony has a good sense of humor. Fernanda and I have very similar taste. Here’s what she had to say about the process of designing the kitchen:

“When I first walked into the 1967 duplex that Julia had purchased, it was clear that the place was going to need quite a bit of work. Not only were there 70’s wall to wall web mirrors, and carpets that dated back to the 60s, but the kitchen had impractical cabinets that made the space look smaller than it really is.

Due to time constraints we had to work fast. Julia created a Pinterest board to allow me to see her style, and I carefully chose materials that matched her vision and budget. The K&W Interior team gutted the place and we started anew.

We chose white cabinets that extend to the ceiling to maximize the space and give the illusion of height, we replaced some cabinets with stainless steel open shelves that provide roomy storage and enhance the decor. The white subway tile used for the backsplash provides the classic, clean look that Julia wanted, while the mix of laminate and unfinished butcher block countertops give the kitchen interest and easy, low maintenance materials that are a must for this family who loves to entertain.

We removed the carpet and vinyl and replaced them with a beautiful engineered, hand-scraped hickory floor throughout the entire first floor. The wood against the white walls and cabinets gave the kitchen warmth.

Lastly, Julia needed a table to accommodate her large extended family, I found this to be the perfect spot to give the room a pop of color. We created the table out of maple finished butcher block and cayenne color chunky legs. With a modification to the sliding doors, and the right appliances and lighting fixtures, this kitchen became the bright, welcoming environment with a modern vibe that has become the heart of this home.”

We went for practical, inexpensive materials. And, after six months using this kitchen, I have to say it really functions. At least three times a week, every seat at that long table is full.

Here are some more pictures:





One more kitchen tip: I bought all the appliances about this time last year, when everything goes on sale pre-Black Friday. I drove around and found the lowest prices at various big boxes, and then I went to Allen & Peterson and they matched them all. Having had a truly horrible experience previously at Sears, I was really into dealing with a local business.

And a note on light fixtures: I went with super low-cost tracks from Lowes and I have slowly been replacing the bulbs as they go out with LEDs. The funky pendants over the table came from Ozarks.

(PS: The lovely outdoor view in photoshopped in. There is actually a molding fence out there. We’ll make some posts about that this summer.)

It turned out way better that we thought. It was featured on one of my favorite blogs,, (here’s the post) and it won first place in Alaska Kitchen Magazine’s kitchen contest.

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