The day we closed on our home (the first week of May), we met with contractors to discuss what we would have them do before we moved in. The floors were already on the list, but we also added removing the tray ceilings in the former dining room and primary bedroom. I’ve gotten a lot of questions about why I don’t prefer tray ceilings, and I think it’s just because I’d rather the ceiling be tall all around. Not just in the middle, but around the perimeter, too! In our case, it dropped more than a foot around the perimeter! While we were having this conversation, they started asking about the door between the dining room and kitchen–if we wanted it wider or what. They told us it wasn’t load bearing at all.
I loved the swinging door and the transom above it, but we realized pretty quickly the kitchen separating two eating areas on either side didn’t make a ton of sense for us. Both would hold the same amount of people and the same table size… just separately. At this point, the kitchen was open to a breakfast nook that was nearly the same size as the formal dining room and it was feeling so cut up and not functional. This coming from people who added a 20 person dining room to their last house!
(Above: First photo is the former formal dining room and below is the breakfast nook)
Not that it needs more of an explanation than “different houses and different seasons of life call for different things,” but we also no longer live by the 45 other members of Chris’s immediate family and my entire family is also no longer in the same spot so we feel okay about downsizing the dining space a little. But I can totally see a large outdoor dining table in our future and several stools along an island. More on that in a minute!
To cut to the chase, in 30 minutes time, we decided to demo the entire kitchen, including the wall that separated the formal dining room and kitchen and expand the kitchen toward the front of the house.
Those two photos are the same angle and it feels so spacious and so much lighter and brighter and exciting. I think part of the reason this decision was easy for us to make was we were planning on doing a kitchen renovation at this exact time in our last house. So mentally and financially we were ready!
Here’s another angle:
The new kitchen is about 28’x15′. Which feels luxuriously roomy–we’re hoping to include a casual sitting area by the windows, too! But before that, there are a few things to figure out, including how to work around the staircase that runs through what will be our pantry wall and how to make it all look flush although some areas recess and some don’t.
We want this to be our dream kitchen. I think it was kismet that we never had the chance to properly do the kitchen in our last house, our dream kitchen, because it would have been even harder to leave, but here we’re going all out. I asked Chris (the cook around here) what would make this his dream kitchen and he made a list including multiple countertop surfaces, storage for his variety of knives and spices, a 60″ range, a place to store his cookbooks, a separate place to prepare drinks and plate meals. A large single bowl sink! He asked me what my dream kitchen would include and I said, “It would be designed by Jean Stoffer.” And he said, “Let’s try and make that happen!” And we did!
I’ve been a fan of Jean’s since discovering her work back in 2017–we shared her here as an account to follow–and I’m not the least bit surprised that she has grown so much since then. She is so talented! A dream kitchen is a lot of pressure and a lot of money and it only makes sense to hire someone that has literally designed THOUSANDS of kitchens (did you know that Jean started as a kitchen designer?), has their own customizable cabinetry line and is now a judge for an international designer’s kitchen competition after winning herself a handful of times. That’s who I want to help us get this right!
After a few exchanges, we were thrilled to have a Zoom meeting with Jean and an onboarding session with the Stoffer Cabinetry design team. They asked us everything from how many knives does Chris own to our dream appliance wish list. It was thorough and exciting. We sent over a rough sketch of a layout that we thought would be a good starting point but said we were open and excited to explore other options!
So now our kitchen is a blank canvas of sorts. The tray ceilings are out of the old dining room, the plumbers and hvac are on standby to run new hookups where we need it and we should get our first design ideas from the Stoffer team any day. (I know it’s cliche, but it honestly feels like Christmas is coming!)
As for what became of the breakfast nook that was open to the dining room, she’s a proper dining room now. We’re going to share more about that in this week’s newsletter (subscribe here!) because I need to get some proper photos, but here’s the before.
A lot of people wondered why we didn’t extend the kitchen to the back of the house and hopefully you can see here how the kitchen area and the breakfast nook didn’t exactly line up. The wall between the living room and breakfast nook (load bearing) made it impossible and awkward to extend the kitchen that way. Also, the ceiling of the breakfast nook, like the living room, is vaulted! So it is actually really nice to kind of make it its own space and we feel like it was meant to be.
More coming about floors and the new dining room and the office this week!! So many exciting things to share.
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop.
Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here.
We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen.
Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.
We recently painted the trim and hallway doors the most dramatic shade of red, and I find myself making excuses to pass through this part of our house. It’s so rich and romantic and glossy and inspiring. It’s like the hallway is wearing lipstick. She’s feeling herself :) I can barely remember what it looked […]
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Make yourself right at home
Make yourself right at home