I’m sitting here, with music playing in the background, incense burning, a cup of tea in my hand, writing in one of my favorite spots. Our kitchen. I think of all the places I’ve ever lived, this kitchen feels the most like “home”. It feels like “me”.
This renovation project, by far and away, has been my happiest. Not just with how it turned out, but with the whole process too. It felt fun and exciting and evolved as it went. I’m over the moon with how it came together. The space feels light and bright. Modern and sophisticated, while also being approachable, casual and a place you just want to be. It’s hard to put into words, but the space just has really good energy.
From the very beginning when we bought this home, we knew we wanted to remodel the kitchen, but the final vision took us living in the space in order to know what we really wanted, what our style was, and most importantly how we lived.
Our two-month road trip to the west coast really influenced our decision with this space. We lived very “minimally” out west, and I wanted to bring the light, easy, feeling with us in our own home. Which meant not cluttering up the kitchen with things we didn’t actually use. My rule was if we didn’t use it every day (or at least every week) it didn’t go in.
We didn’t know how it was all going to look, but we definitely had a few must-haves – a lot of open shelving, no heavy cabinets, and lots of counter space, (you can read more about the inspiration for our design here).
JP and I “designed’ the kitchen ourselves (whatever that means), but we brought in my friend Gayle and her amazing team from GL Design to help us at the end. We worked virtually with them and it was so easy and fun. Gayle and her team confirmed we were making the right choices (since it was a lot of it was sort of a guessing game with jp and I), and she sourced all of our lighting, our sink and faucet, and most of the furniture to complete the whole look. I’m so grateful for her and her team’s expertise and just support throughout this project.
For my local friends in Chicago, Daniel Milnes, from Modus Home & Garden was our general contractor and was wonderful.
One of the things we knew we really wanted was a large island with nothing in it (no sink, no range, nothing) with big open shelves for all my cutting boards, big bowls, and the pots/pans used the most. I wanted the island to be a true working island. A place we could all gather to cook, eat and just be together.
We went back and forth on these two open shelves for a while trying to figure out how to make it work and it’s one of the things I love most about our kitchen. Everything is right there at my fingertips.
One of the other big decisions we made was to have no upper cabinets. Instead, we opted for open shelving, a built-in hutch, and one thin pantry next to our fridge. At first, were told we were crazy to not have any uppers. So we actually had a “half pantry’ built that would sit on our counter (where my big white vase lives now) and house a lot of our smaller appliances, canned goods, pieces, etc. I knew in the back of my mind I didn’t want it, and the day the cabinets were delivered I had them take it away (the poor cabinet guys, I felt so bad). It really closed the kitchen in.
Having no upper cabinets was one of the best decisions we made, and I think the reason the space feels so light. Plus, we have MORE than enough storage. All of our dishes are in a drawer, along with all of our Tupperware. All my baking supplies, grains, canned goods, etc are in drawers too. Which actually makes everything so much easier to access. There’s not one thing I wish I could put in a cabinet. If you’ve ever debated ditching uppers, this is my plea to you to do it. You won’t regret it.
For our materials, we really wanted to mix and match and use as many natural elements as we could. So we brought in white oak (on the island, coffee hutch, and open shelves), some painted cabinets (in Benjamin Moore Simply White), and used marble for our countertops and backsplash.
We received a lot of advice to not use marble, but again we went with our gut and chose Calacatta Classico marble and I couldn’t be happier. It has a warm white undertone with grey and gold veining. There’s something so beautiful about marble. We looked at everything under the sun and it didn’t give me the same feeling. I know there are a lot of people who swear by other materials, but I knew I wanted marble.
As far as maintenance goes, it’s not an issue at all. We had a special protective coating applied after the marble was installed (local Chicago friends, this is who we used) and it’s truly magical. It lasts for years and makes the marble almost indestructible. The kids can spill things, I get lemon juice on it daily (as well as a lot of other things) and it doesn’t leave ANY marks. It’s pretty incredible and makes marble so much more approachable.
Besides the marble making me so happy, my other favorite element is our coffee station (well, tea station now that I stopped drinking coffee). We are a very busy and active family in the am. And there was always so much traffic by our small appliances (toasters and blenders going, now through in a coffee pot – no thanks). So we chose to move all of our coffee and tea gadgets and move them to their own little corner of the kitchen. Plus I have all my pretty things over there too. I splurged and put marble in it too (a little over the top) and it’s my little slice of the house that feels like “mine”. I’m the only one who uses the hutch and it honestly makes me so happy every time I open those glass cabinet doors.
Speaking of pretty elements, I am in love with our Perrin and Rowe unlacquered brass bridge faucet. Our home is over 100 years old, so it was important to us to incorporate elements that felt classic and timeless. And this faucet is exactly it. The beautiful part of the unlacquered brass is that it continues to age and patina over time and become more interesting. All Perrin and Rowe faucets are gorgeous but this one feels extra special. Like a piece of jewelry.
For our appliances, we went with the 48″ Wolf range with a plaster hood (which I LOVE), a Bosch dishwasher, and the subzero fridge/freezer with french doors. We purchased everything from ABT appliance here in Chicago and I’ve been so happy with all of our appliances.
Our grey leather pendants above the island (that I am obsessed with) are the Scarlet Pendant from Mcgee & Co in gold leaf & dove. For our counter stools, we went with the Molly stool also from Mcgee & Co, and am in love with how comfortable they are as well as the little brass details on the legs. I sit and work at our island A LOT, and wanted something I actually enjoyed sitting in – and these hit the spot. We also got our kitchen runner from Mcgee & Co. It’s the Naples Blush rug. We used the same rug in our dining room as well and love it. It’s really durable, vacuums up great, and is easy to wipe any spills out of.
Overall, our kitchen feels like a dream and one of the happiest spaces I get to spend time in. I just feels like “us” and that’s a pretty incredible feeling. It’s a place our whole family loves and feels at home in.
At the end of the day, my biggest takeaway from this project is to do what you LOVE. Trust your gut. Make decisions based on what YOU love, not what some designer tells you what’s in. Homes should be filled with things that bring YOU joy, and only you know what that is. So don’t be afraid to mix and match, have a little fun, and at the end of the day, trust your gut.
Until then – thanks for taking a little peek inside our world. From my home to yours, sending lots of love.