Welp, We’re Doing Another Kitchen.

May 5, 2016

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If you would have told me 6 months ago when we finished our kitchen renovation, that we’d be doing another one so soon, I might have passed out. But, the wonderful truth is that Frigidaire saw overwhelming response from us using their appliances in our kitchen, they asked us if we’d be up for designing and tackling another kitchen this year. Originally, it was going to be a set kitchen, but it started feeling impersonal and wasteful. Eventually, they asked, “Do you know anybody that needs a kitchen renovation?” Those are magical words and hard words to hear at the same time. I know, probably 300,000 people that would love a kitchen renovation–how could we choose?! I told them that I would think about it.

This was about the same time that we were gearing up to start accepting applications for our Lowe’s Spring Makeover. I had the idea to start the #CLJtotheRescue hashtag to get the word out a bit. I mostly had friends and family members find an unattractive place in their home and stand there with a sign. My sister, Victoria, lives in Pittsburgh where I was born and raised and she rallied a lot of friends and family to get on board. In my inbox popped this photo:

Welp, We're Doing Another Kitchen| Chris Loves Julia

That’s my mom’s sister, my Aunt Betsy and Uncle Judd. Betsy and I have always been close because she’s the second youngest girl in their family and I’m the second youngest in mine. In fact, my mom has accidentally called me “Betsy” more times than she accidentally called me any of my own four sisters’ names. So while I was so happy to see their faces in my inbox, Was that really what their kitchen looked like?! I haven’t been back to Pittsburgh in probably a decade and I guess I didn’t remember the pink and red cabinets or the chipped linoleum flooring and was that faux brick?? (Spoiler: it is). Judd, like Chris, is the gourmet cook in their family and I started counting how many years he must have been cooking in that kitchen; I’m positive it’s more than 20.

Without telling anyone, I emailed Frigidaire a few photos I had of the space and let them know I think I found a good kitchen candidate.

Welp, We're Doing Another Kitchen| Chris Loves Julia

Like me, they could see the potential and the challenges. The radiator and lack of dishwasher. The slanted countertop because the back door is so close to the wall. The small 9×9 footprint. The soffit. The lack of storage. The need for storage. The faux brick. The lack of countertop space. The worn floors. The squatty cabinets.

Welp, We're Doing Another Kitchen| Chris Loves JuliaWelp, We're Doing Another Kitchen| Chris Loves JuliaWelp, We're Doing Another Kitchen | Chris Loves Julia

They agreed–We had found our kitchen! Right here I have to say, we’ve done projects in dozens of homes all over the country now–for people we know and otherwise, but this was the absolute best news I’ve ever had the pleasure giving. Over the past couple months, we’ve been planning and designing and brainstorming from 2000 miles away, trying to make a detailed schedule of what has to get done almost every hour of every day we’re there.

Chris and I will be renovating the kitchen ourselves from June 3-12. Nine days to do a whole kitchen can start to feel overwhelming when we stop to think about it, but we’ve also been mindful of our limits. Like, when I suggested to Chris, “Maybe we should just take down that whole wall on the right and really open it up.” To which he responded, “I’m literally begging you not to do that. Please, please, please wipe that from your mind as an option.” Hahaha! So we won’t be tearing down any full walls. However, I’m pretty confident it won’t be recognizable when we’re done with it.

Here’s the plan!

Welp, We're Doing Another Kitchen | Chris Loves JuliaI really wanted to keep the kitchen warm, sophisticated with traditional touches.  I love the idea of large, matte hex floor tiles with warm gray cabinetry. We’ll be using Ikea cabinets with these Semi-handmade doors and these fuss-free knobs on doors and drawers alike. We’re going to install simple, smaller white subway tile and white oak countertops. All the details aren’t finalized quite yet, but I love this pendant for over the sink and this bridge faucet to keep the space from going too modern. We’ll, of course, be decking out the room in Frigidaire Professional appliances. A 30″ range (we doubled up on that one to make it look like a 60″ range in our kitchen) and we’re going to use their counter-depth french door refrigerator this time. I have to get my hands on a pretty vintage rug (the one pictured has since been sold).

Update! I’ve included the other layout option we’re considering. Let me know which you prefer!

Option 1:

Welp, We're Doing Another Kitchen | Chris Loves Julia

There are still a few things to figure out (and fast!) but here’s a quick digital rendering of how we solved some of the larger problems in the space. The biggest obstacle was that radiator. We’ll be removing and capping it and installing in-floor Pex heating instead. Which made room for a dishwasher! Their first ever! In the above rendering, it’s to the left of the sink with a cover panel on it–yet to be determined if that cover panel will work.

Welp, We're Doing Another Kitchen | Chris Loves Julia

One thing that we can’t change is the placement of the door–although we’re on the hunt for an out-swinging one. We opted for a narrower 15″ depth cabinet there, and I envision a hanging herb garden above it. You might have also noticed we moved the fridge over to the opposite wall and packed it with pantry and storage cabinets galore.

Welp, We're Doing Another Kitchen | Chris Loves Julia

We’ve confirmed the soffits aren’t there for a reason, so we’ll be tearing them down and exposing their nearly 9′ ceilings.

Welp, We're Doing Another Kitchen | Chris Loves Julia

We’re still working on the range wall. Judd said he’d love more counter space, so we’re happy that we were able to add an additional 34″ of that to the right of the range. Betsy asked for some open shelving. The window is off centered, so it would make sense to carry open shelving from the range hood (which is poorly illustrated here) to that wall.

Option 2, is moving the range to the opposite wall. The downside of this option is there is only room for 12″ of countertop space on either side of the range. However, this still adds some counter space. And there’s room for open shelving next to the upper cabinetry on the fridge wall.

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Since it is a small kitchen, I’m treading carefully not to make the whole place feel cramped and heavy. Weigh in on which option you like best. Option 1 is power packed with pantry storage and plenty of room for Betsy’s open shelving on either side of the range hood. Or option 2, with the range moved to the other side, which could feel a little lighter visually.

We have been gathering a lot of inspiration photos of beautiful kitchens, finishes and ideas on this Pinterest board we dedicated to the project. So head over there to see lots of other warm, sophisticated kitchen ideas! #CLJRescueKitchen is underway!

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What do you think?

  1. Kati says:

    This is exciting… my question is, do they HAVE to have that door there? Does the space that door leads to open up any other place? That door is just such a darn problem!

  2. Cathy says:

    Wow, so excited to see this kitchen getting transformed!

    My vote would be option 1, but perhaps incorporating a few glass cabinet doors to the pantry wall to make looks less visually heavy?

    Option 2 looks good too, but i wouldn’t be able to deal with the tiny counter spaces on either side of the range, and I don’t even cook that much.

  3. jannike says:

    Option 2 is my kitchen layout, minus the outside door. I like having more counter prep space between the frig and sink. We have a uppers only on the frig side and just a hood with some open shelves on the stove side.
    I think it gives our kitchen a more open feeling. Also we found a Fisher & Paykel counter depth frig on sale, best decision ever.

  4. sarah says:

    Option 1, but scoot that range as far to the right as you can leaving just enough counter for their biggest cookie sheet.

    Counter between sink and stove is prime real estate. Make it as big as possible.

  5. emily says:

    you guys have a great plan, and I can’t wait to see it all come to life. And kuddos to you for fielding so many comments and responding to all the feedback. As an interior designer myself, I can’t imagine having so many people weigh in on my projects! It’s apparent you’ve spent hours and hours thinking about this project down to every last detail, so I’m sure it will be lovely and the right space to suit the needs for your lovely family.

  6. Dawn says:

    You two rock! Two comments:

    1) In our recent remodel we exchanged an exterior door located in our cramped laundry room to an out-swing. It was one of the best decisions we made in our full-house renovation. Our house is older, as appears your aunt’s and uncle’s, so take into account the deeper, old-fashioned door jambs that are not the standard now. We opted for standard jamb depth and built-out the needed trim but you can special order if you don’t want the hassle of doing that in your short turnaround timeline. Our old door was exactly the same style and we replaced with one that has a larger window area, which allows much more light into the space.

    2) If you go with the second option, to gain more counter space you could consider an extra countertop length that is on a hinge. During use, it can be swung into usable place, which would temporarily block the exterior door. When not in use, it can be folded down and tucked away and would mimic the look of a waterfall edge to the right of the stove. I used this solution in a previous kitchen that, funny enough, had the same configuration — stove next to exterior door and very limited countertops. It came in very handy during holiday entertaining when the kitchen was in high use. We found during the winters, especially, when outdoor spaces aren’t used, it was left up much more than down.

    Good luck — it will be spectacular. Even more so since built with such love.

  7. I don’t know if this option is available in the US because you guys tend to have amazing/ mahoosive refrigerators :) but what about using a n under -the-counter fridge and separate freezer? That way you could add bigger wall cabinets and a worktop above them?

  8. VICTOR CAPONE says:

    I prefer option 2. I do think option 1 will be heavy for the space.
    I plan to help!

    • Julia says:

      So grateful for your help! We’re compiling a list right now of everything we’ll be doing each day and would love any family help we can get. :)

  9. Shelly Capone says:

    Either option is going to be wonderful and I am so happy for Betsy and Judd. I do like the light and more open spaced feel of Option #2. That layout could also make the dining room feel more open and spacious. Can’t wait to watch the process either way.

  10. Dara says:

    I love that you are helping your Aunt and Uncle out. It looks like they are very deserving of it, and they are too cute in that photo! I think anything you do will make the space better. I really like the wall with the pantry and fridge. Like some of the peeps said you could always do glass if it is too heavy. Regardless there’s not much space in there and whatever you do will be great. I am a fan of option 1 though : ) Good luck and cant wait to see the ending result!

  11. Janine Willis says:

    Option 2 for sure especially considering the dining wall is already wider on the left side to support the fridge against it. I would also extend the upper cabinets all the way to the window wall instead of open shelves. This will help make the window look more centered and give a lot more storage since you can have the cabinets go to the ceiling. Hidden storage like upper cabinets instead of shelves will help make the small kitchen took less cluttered too. I love the color of your cabinets, we recently used semihandmade for our kitchen remodel and had a great experience! Your countertop color and lighting are on point too. :) Only would suggest considering using a lighter floor color since it’s such a small room plus all your inspiration pictures have light floors with natural counters and darker cabinets. Good luck!! Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

  12. Felicia says:

    How fortunate that you can do this for your aunt and uncle! I wanted to mention a sink option, if y’all aren’t wedded to the apron front in the rendering. We just finished a remodel of our smallish kitchen and chose a stainless undermount ledge sink that can accommodate a cutting board and drain rack, so in essence increasing the usable counter space. It’s my favorite thing. We were able to add a pullout trash/recycle unit underneath, even though the sink is quite deep. It turns out a square 22-quart food storage container fits exactly. I’m happy to provide specifics if you’d like. I found your blog a few months ago and enjoy it.

  13. Sharon says:

    Option 1. Please, please, please do not re-do their kitchen and only give them 12″ of prep space on each side of the range. That floor is NEVER going to look clean. My lessons from the school of live and learn.

  14. Ashley says:

    Both options are great but option 2 seems to compliment the window placement best :)

  15. Amy says:

    I say just have them take out the walls before you get there. That is the best option.

  16. Courtney says:

    I didn’t take the time to read all of the comments, so I apologize if this has already been mentioned.
    But, is that a counter-depth refrigerator? It looks like it sticks out past the counters and upper cabinets. I have no idea how much space you have available (width-wise) for a wider, less-deep refrigerator, but it seems to me that it would feel so much more open in there if there wasn’t a behemoth fridge sticking out into the room. Just a thought :)

  17. Whitney says:

    I definitely prefer Option 1. My own kitchen has very little space on either side of the range and I hate it. Every time I take something out of the oven I have to find a place to put it somewhere else in the kitchen because there’s no room! That’s my two cents. :). Also, maybe to make the fridge/pantry combo less heavy you could replace a few of those cabinets with open shelving as well? Just a thought! :)

  18. Pamela says:

    I’m happy they chose option one! I do think I would keep those cabinets light, though. All of them. But especially the pantry area that feels like it’s sticking out into the room.

  19. Whitney says:

    Although option two may feel lighter, I definitely like the counter space in option one, and think I would prefer that in the long run. It still looks great. You guys are one of the best at combining function and beauty and I’m constantly learning from you! Thanks for sharing your design and home journey with us!

  20. Lisa says:

    I see there are lots of ideas put forward! So here is just one more from a kitchen designer in London who deals with teeny kitchens on daily basis. As there is no floor plan it is a shot in the dark but have you considered taking down the wall completely and making the entire space (dining room & kitchen) a kitchen with a lovely centre dining table ….”dining in the kitchen”…..lots of lovely open space and light.

  21. Mel says:

    I am so excited for you guys! What wonderful news to be able to give somebody. I love Option 1 because, aside from having a nearly perfect golden triangle of fridge/stove/sink (as long as you can switch the door around so the fridge opens toward the sink instead of toward the dining room) it seems like it would allow better flow to the back door from the kitchen, for ease of outdoor meals, without getting in the way of someone at the stove. So I suppose my question is, how much do they use the back door? Is it a main entrance/egress to the house, is it the only route to the backyard, and if it is, do they use their backyard a lot?

  22. Corine says:

    Just sending vibes of a smooth sailing DIY. You guys, this is so kind, so ambitious and so inspiring. If anyone could pull off a 9 day, top to bottom kitchen reno, it’s you! It’s going to be incredible. Everything you touch turns to gold.

  23. Brenda says:

    What a fun gift for your Aunt and Uncle…the remodel AND the fact that you’re doing it!

    I do think option 2 feels ‘lighter’ and I like how it makes the window feel a little more centered in that wall – but – I think the choice should be left to the cook. Since this is really a working kitchen (as opposed to an entertainment space) I bet he chooses the one with more counter space.

    Either way, they’re getting a beautiful new space!

  24. Erin says:

    One more thought…is there any way to completely eliminate the exterior door? I can see a window in the dining room. Could that window be taken out and a French door be put in? If it is at all possible it seems like it would solve a lot of problems.

  25. Wow, this is so cool. Do you think the dark matte floor tiles will make the space feel smaller? We have dark tiles in both our laundry and small-ish kitchen and I can’t wait to replace them with light wood. Even laying down a sample on our floor makes it look so much bigger and less cramped! The dark tiles (we have very dark coffee coloured tiles in the laundry with grey-white grout) also show up every speck of lint and shoe prints. Just something to consider (tho I’m sure you already have). Good luck and can’t wait to see how you make it beautiful!

  26. Katie E. says:

    Wow, it’s going to look beautiful when it’s all done! And how lovely to be able to do this for your aunt and uncle. One thing I would say about the layout, if it were my kitchen, I would prefer to have the biggest workspace (counters) next to the stove. In the last layout (with the fridge on the right) the biggest workspace is in a corner. And I think we all know, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” ;) Just a thought, happy kitchening!

  27. Jenna says:

    I’m excited to see this transformation! I think I like option 1 better, but with white cabinets around the fridge as it does seem really heavy. Good luck with the quick turn around– its going to be awesome!

  28. Linda P. says:

    Pittsburgh, family, and Kennywood! Love this, and hope Ginger and your girls get to go with you.

  29. mary says:

    What a great project! Thanks for taking us along, your blog is my new favorite :)

    A couple of thoughts (have to run out – hope they make sense!) –

    This won’t be popular but….. those little top-freezer fridges aren’t sexy but they are super practical and unimposing in small kitchens – my stainless 36″ french door fridge dominates my little kitchen in a way I don’t love. I adore what WhiteFlowerFarmhouse did to her cheap Whirlpool bottom-freezer fridge to make it look built in, I would try this if I had to do it over:

    I think layout 2 feels more open but counterspace is definitely an issue at the range. Have you considered leaving the fridge and range where they are but sliding the range over a foot to center on that span of counterspace? Then it wouldn’t be slammed up against the fridge, but when they were entertaining and needed to spread out more he could avail himself of the counters that wrap around to the sink. This would leave the opposite wall open for all sorts of open and closed shallow storage, and since I always like company in the kitchen, maybe even room for a little counter/stool, etc etc. This might leave the kitchen feeling roomier.

    Can’t wait to see the finished project :)

  30. Christy says:

    I like option 1! It feels less crowded and then you have convenient prep/work space adjacent to the stovetop.

  31. Ali says:

    I have to mention putting black hex tiles in our spare bathroom has been one of my biggest regrets. They show everything!! I would highly recommend going with something a little more mid range then just straight up black.
    I also really like option 1, and I’m a fan of my small kitchen its just me and my husband and its always given us just enough space to prepare dinner but been a lot easier to keep clean! Have you considered at all making the window even wider to make it centered it might really do wonders for the slightly cramped configuration?

  32. Nicole M. says:

    One other thought … which I am sure you have already thought out.
    If you did Option 2, and you take down the pony wall like you mentioned and open up that wall so it flush with the exterior wall, couldn’t you extend the base cabinetry into the dining room which would create more counter space to the left of the stove? It could be open storage, a desk, maybe it turns into a window seat under the dining room window, etc….

  33. Erin says:

    your materials board looks great! Not knowing the dimensions of the kitchen I can’t say for certain, but it looks like you won’t have enough clearance where the cabinet next to the 15″ juts out into the kitchen (36″ is code minimum). Also, I think the fridge HAS to be on the wall you have shown to get enough required counter space next to the range. Overall you’ve done a fantastic job of reconfiguring this layout!

  34. Nicole M. says:

    What an amazing gift! And seriously, 9 days!?
    Hmmm … both options definitely work, it is a tough one.
    One question I have, if you go with Option One, would you be blocking a lot of natural light that comes in from the door? Or does not much light get filtered in that way because of the covered porch?

    • Julia says:

      It’s pretty filtered due to the porch, but we’ll be exposing more of that huge window over the sink. Can’t wait!

      • Nicole M. says:

        One other design thought … because of the weird corner because of the door placement, maybe you can make the sink section feel more like a piece of furniture like this ( … making the transition less weird. You would have to move the dishwasher to the right though and the sink closer towards the door.

      • Julia says:

        Unfortunately, then the dishwasher wouldn’t be able to be open while also opening doors and drawers to put things away. Good idea though!

  35. Allison says:

    What a great gift for your aunt and uncle, but whew- you guys are ambitious!
    I prefer the look of option 2 (I like that the window feels more centered – and the space more balanced- even though it isn’t.) but the counter space is nicer in option 1.

    Two thoughts- Could you keep the current fridge and stove locations and add either a full wall pantry OR 15″ cabinets with a countertop where their black hutch is?
    And- would you consider a down-draft stove so you could put open shelves sandwiched between cabinets above it? Eliminating the vent hood would allow for more storage.

    Can’t wait to see how this turns out. I love seeing your magic touch in other people’s homes!

  36. GRETCHEN says:

    Hi Julia. I like the less heavy feel of Option #2 with the stove on the door wall. An idea that you could do to alleviate the problem of less counter space with option #2 (near the stove) would be to take the smaller cabinet near the door on the sink wall and put it on wheels so it could be pulled out to use near the stove when cooking almost like a small island somewhat. Then it could be put back in its place out of the way. Not sure if that would work but I was just liking Option #2 visually and trying to solve the need for more counter space near the stove when cooking. I live about 2 hours from Pittsburgh and just love your style! Good Luck!

  37. Lauren B says:

    As someone who has a very small kitchen (~8’x11′) – I still wish that there was a way to have more countertop space next to the range. Even with tons of island prep space (we recently remodeled and it’s a 5’x3′ island, but we had to keep a similar layout), I cook a lot on the stove, and the thought of only having 12″ there to lay out things doesn’t seem like a great idea. It also seems like option 1 makes the room visually lighter, so I’m a fan. Will there be no closed upper cabinetry in that plan? I would vote for a little – we too did some open shelving (and love it!) but with limited lower cabinet space, it’s nice to have a few cabinets to hide the not as pretty things. :)

    This is a progress shot of our kitchen with a similar layout as option one, with open shelving to the left of the window (that you can’t see). Dining room/pantry on the other side of the island.
    (And it looks like you and I are on the same page about finishes!)

    It sounds like your aunt and uncle are super deserving of this awesome kitchen. And i know whatever you pick, it will be thoughtful and well done. It’s hard having a small kitchen with weird constraints. And sometimes, there just isn’t any more space to be had. We put a huge 15″ deep, 36″ wide, floor to ceiling pantry in our dining room (kitchen and dining are one room)- it’s big but it was the best option for our utter lack of storage. After all of the little changes, our little kitchen in our 1400sf house is better and more functional than some kitchens i’ve seen that are 3 times its size. As others have said, the pantry in a less imposing color could be the ticket for the most functional layout but still light. Ahh! I’m so excited to see a small kitchen reno- they’re really hard to find!!

    Sorry for the essay!

    • Julia says:

      Lauren B. (Can we just pretend like you are THE Lauren B. #bachelorben), I’m so glad you weighed in. Your kitchen is looking awesome and it’s always great to hear first hand experiences.

  38. Angela kr says:

    The flow with #1 feels better. There’s something to say about having the sink right next to the stove when washing hands, dumping hot water etc. vs. going across the way, even if it is only a few steps :). The refrigerator wall does feel heavier this way but…. Color, style of cabinets can make a big difference to lighten it up!

  39. Margie says:

    Can the kitchen be extended into the dining room at all? If so, can the door in the current kitchen be closed off or converted to a window and the window in the dining room be converted to a door? If not, I’d choose option 1. As someone who cooks, it just seems more functional to have more counter space around the range. I don’t know if I missed it, but what are the dimension of the room?

    • Julia says:

      The room is 9×9, Margie! Thanks for weighing in. Unfortunately moving the door isn’t an option. The exterior is bricked and it leads to a quaint back porch. Also, the dining room has a full radiator spanning the entire wall. We are happy to work in the 9×9 dimensions.

  40. Amy says:

    Definitely Option 1! Could you maybe do glass fronts on the very top row of cabinets above the fridge to make it less weighty?

  41. Giordi Y. says:

    My vote is option 1, mostly because in our last house, we had hardly and counter space near our range and it sucked everyday. Once the entrance is opened up a bit, I don’t think the big pantry will matter so much. And honestly, they’re getting a pantry! I’d love to have one of those!

  42. Cassie says:

    I’m totally feeling option 1. I really think that having more counter space will help the room fell bigger and keep your eye moving around the space. Option 2 feels like it visually cuts up the room and prevents good visual flow. It looks like they already have a pretty large hutch on the left side so replacing it with the fridge and the cabinets seems like a perfect solution for using that space and increasing their storage.

  43. Kerri says:

    What?! This is SO exciting! Aunt Betsy and Uncle Judd have hosted countless wonderful gatherings manned from that tiny kitchen. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for them and can’t think of a more deserving family. I hope you’Il have some extra time to spend with the family. And perhaps a reveal party? I’m so there!

  44. Ann says:

    Option 1 all the way! Let the cook have some elbow room! They are losing soffits – it’s going to seem very open and airy to them compared to what they have even with the fridge/pantry next to the back door. I am assuming it’s just the two of them & they don’t need a huge refrigerator, so do a counter-depth fridge to create a more streamlined profile on that side of the room. I would also swing the door on the fridge the other way but I figured that’s just a detail in the rendering. Small but efficient works fine.

  45. kates says:

    Option one with the pantry/fridge wall in a white or lighter color to brighten up the space!

  46. jaclyn says:

    I love the finishes and fixtures you’ve chosen.

    The first layout with that huge wall of cabinets and the fridge by the exterior door feels very imposing. If that is a door that is commonly used, I think it would feel intimidating and cramped to enter the kitchen and not be able to have a clear view of the whole room upon entering.

    The second layout which only has 12″ of counter space on either side of the range, definitely feels more open and less cramped.

  47. LILIAN says:

    I prefer layout #1 bc of the extra counter space around the stove. BUT. I agree that the pantry seems heavy. What if you did two tone cabinets? Grey on the lowers, white for the uppers/open shelving and for the pantry area? That would make them seem less heavy, I think. Can’t wait to see it come together! I especially love the rug and countertops!

  48. Claire says:

    This layout doesn’t seem that dissimilar to my own kitchen, so here is another idea (without dimensions, obviously, so not sure if it will fit.

    -Put the range (with hood) on the closed up pony wall (I know, not the trendy option!). Run counters where the black freestanding unit is now, with open shelves above.
    -As you come in from the dining room, there would be a single cabinet to the right (where the fridge is now), then the fridge. We have the same nook, with the trash pullout in the lower
    -Run counters/ cabinets around to the sink under the window, sink and dishwasher unchanged (or dishwasher could go into the run to the left of the fridge

    Happy to send you a pic of our kitchen if it’s helpful!

  49. Nichole K says:

    Option A would be my pick, but I guess I it depends on if you’re leaving the partial wall that’s currently covering the side of the current fridge. If so, that might cover up the open shelves over the new range and make the range area feel a little closed it? Come on, Chris, at least that pony wall has to go!

  50. Nat says:

    So many emotions on this one: I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about a “before” photo. Your aunt and uncle are true American heroes for not having a dishwasher all that time. The finishes you picked are gorgeous. But it is a sickening, blooming shame that you can’t take that wall down, or swap the dining room out. *Could* they do some of the tear-out or room prep before you get there?

    I just recall the annoyance of looking at homes for sale where the owners updated the kitchens with beautiful finishes, but likely due to budget/time constraints didn’t fix the actual problems…like terrible footprint. I would pass on purchasing these homes because they were priced with a beautiful, horribly impractical, brand new kitchen in them.

    If your Aunt and Uncle would keep the tiny kitchen even if they were doing their own dream makeover – than that is great, but if this is an awesome, yet temporary patch for them that isn’t really their vision at all and limited due to your time constraints, then I wonder if another candidate would be better?

    My heavens, you are a living advertisement for IKEA – Could they go in on the sponsorship as well to get this done right?

    • Julia says:

      Nat, thanks so much for your enthusiasm on this project. We will be removing and reworking the wall from the dining room into the kitchen to get rid of the pony wall, but the footprint of the kitchen itself will remain the same. I can assure you, and everyone else reading, this tiny kitchen makeover IS their dream. They’ve lived here for decades without updating a single thing in their home and we’re so excited to give them this improved space. Although it will be small, there are millions of people living with small kitchens and this will be for them, too.

  51. Blair says:

    i like option no. 2!

  52. Danielle says:

    Love the designs! What computer system do you use? I’ve been looking for an easy to use but effective program for my renovations.

  53. Jess says:

    I think I like option 1 the best but wondered if you ever thought of putting the stove in that corner by the sink like this

    Not sure if it would fit but I always feel corner counter space isn’t the most usable (other than for setting a fruit bowl?!) this would free up more counter space that you can actually work at. We love having ours in that configuration. Just a thought. I’m sure it’ll be great however you work it!

  54. Steph Reiner says:

    We ran into the same problem with the last kitchen we did (the fridge/pantry with a door blocking the way). We ended up moving the fridge into the dining room (it was all one big open space anyway). I see your dilemma though and unless you can move the range/cabinets further back, this is really the only layout that makes sense. Swapping rooms would NOT be accomplished in 9 days but I’d totally just knock all the walls down and make it one big room! :D Can’t wait to see the final result!

  55. Erin says:

    How exciting! I am glad they agreed to do a real kitchen-Chris & Julia, making the world more beautiful one kitchen at a time ;) I think people are trippin on the heavy fridge wall. I have the same model in my kitchen and it has a slim profile probably no deeper than the hutch that is on that wall, 27″. Glass doors on the cabinets above the fridge might help keep things light though in a smaller space. Can’t wait to see the reveal!

  56. Alison G says:

    Just the two of you? Wow what a major undertaking. It looks like a well deserved kitchen for the project. Good luck with it.

  57. Britt says:

    Love the redesign! Beautiful!

    I have to agree, the pantry and fridge ensemble seems so heavy, especially since you’re not reworking the doorway to the dining room area–that means it’s going to find it’s way into the opening that is there. If you don’t remove the half wall, the walking path will still be the same, but visibly you’ll have a portion of the refrigerator taking up the view into the kitchen. If you do remove the half wall, but don’t open up the doorway–then your walking space just got decreased and once again you have the refrigerator hanging out into the view of the doorway. At least I’m basing all of this off of the fact the doorway space on either side is two different widths from the walls inside the kitchen (off center I guess I should say).

    From an aesthetic point of view, I would keep the fridge on the wall it already is, and look into adding a thin wall pantry like Jenna Sue did ( but just like one section of pantry at the 12″ to 15″ depth, and then combining that with a lower cabinet and open shelves near the back door (something like this, but pretend the fridge is full floor to ceiling pantry & low cabinet depth:

    That way with the added upper and lower shelving, you’ll still get some of that added countertop space–just would be on a different wall.

    • Britt says:

      I don’t know if all that made sense. I love the added storage you have done–so I would definitely keep that somehow, it’s just that fridge pantry feeling so heavy to me on one side of the room that gets me.

      I know it’s going to look amazing no matter what you do! <3

    • Julia says:

      Sorry, I should have clarified. We WILL be reworking the entry into the kitchen, the wall I was talking about taking down is the wall the range and fridge are currently on, it connects with a hallway. The opening into the kitchen will be reworked. I think I’m failing to see where the extra counter-space would come in.

  58. Jolene says:

    I love the plan for this kitchen so far! It’s going to be so classy and beautiful. I’m sure your aunt and uncle are thrilled!

  59. Allison says:

    Is there room to move the range to the opposite wall? The new fridge configuration with the cabinets looks like it congests the whole area too much, plus the door’s pretty blocked off.

    • Julia says:

      I actually love that idea, Allison! It’s a good one and one we considered. There are a couple issues with it. Mainly, if we centered it on that wall, we’d only have 12″ of counterspace on either side of the range. It is recommended to have at least 18″ and any cook will tell you, the more workspace on either side of the range–the better! So, we ultimately wanted to give Judd the maximum work area possible. The second is, in the end, it would stick out the exact same amount. I still love the idea!

      • Julia says:

        I’m going to do a quick mock-up of this idea right now!

      • Kelly says:

        Is the half wall staying on that side of the kitchen? If you move the range to that side can you create more counter space on the half wall? I see the stools there but there’s really no counter, it could serve as an eating/serving area AND additional prepping space for the stove?

      • Allison says:

        Thanks for including this option! I like the idea, but I was hoping you’d have enough space for a full size counter, I don’t think the two small ones are very functional :(

        I don’t think it’s the footprint of the fridge area that’s bugging me, I think it’s the height of that cabinet/fridge structure being entirely enclosed that’s making it appear cramped. Perhaps you could rearrange or alter some of the cabinetry on top of the fridge to make it more open. Maybe tuck into the wall space to the left (facing) of the hood some cabinets and have the open shelving on the wall with the window?

      • Laura says:

        I have a TINY kitchen with 12″ of counter space on either side of it (actually like 10.5″ on one side, and 12″ on the other), and can tell you as much as it does kind of suck, it’s not the end of the world. Seeing the mock up, the range looks much better on that side of the wall. Airiness goes a long way in a kitchen, you can learn to prep with less space, but you can never get rid of a cramped feeling a tall, bulging fridge there.

      • Nina says:

        Ditto to Laura. I have lived in several (nice, adult) apartments with 12″ or less counter space next to a range, which is enough space to keep your hot implements. Some would argue it’s nice so have such an obvious separation between your “cold prep” and your “hot prep” spaces. I agree with Laura – you develop new routines on how to use space while cooking. I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t nix it off the bat because you’re worried about practicality!

  60. Kali says:

    Quirky comment but when I see your stuff I never think it’s what I would pick and then when it’s done I’m like, I LOVE that. It’s teaching me to venture out of my norm and consider something else. Something maybe intimidating but classic and timeless.

  61. Heather says:

    I know you don’t want to get rid of the wall into the dining room, but it really needs to come down. Can’t they get that done before you arrive? The fridge wall with all the cabinets – while practical, is just too much. My eye goes right to that and I don’t think that should be the focal point. Maybe make it a little bit different style and lighter paint to make it look like it’s own entity and kind of fade away into the wall. I also like the idea of swapping the dining room with the kitchen.

  62. Em says:

    Not sure if the floor color in your rendering is accurate, but I would never do floors that dark in a kitchen. You’d need to be sweeping it constantly!

  63. Lauren says:

    I love seeing big renovations and you guys are so talented. It makes me very happy that this isn’t being done on a set and is really helping someone!

  64. Whitney says:

    Is there any possibility of moving the kitchen to the dining room to make things less cramped or just extending it into that room and doing a smaller dining nook? The current plan still seems really cramped to me. The fridge wall with all the pantry feels very imposing even though the storage there would be awesome.

    • Tiffany says:

      Overall this looks great, the different angles are so helpful to get an idea without giving it away. But what Dani said about the fridge wall also occurred to me. The rest of the new room feels really open, however that fridge wall doesn’t carry the same vibe. (and how sweet is the photo of Aunt Betsy and Uncle Judd!!)

  65. I can’t wait to see how this turns out and I’m so interested in those cabinet doors now!

  66. Bethany says:

    You guys are awesome!!!!

    Could you turn that door into a pocket door?

    • Julia says:

      I’m not sure I’ve seen a pocket exterior door. Hmm. Either way, the door frame would stay where it is (brick exterior) and that’s the reason the countertop has to be recessed in that back corner. We’re calling it a charming quirk. Haha

  67. Dani says:

    Hi Julia, let me just say I love everything you and Chris create. I’m spearheading a huge Reno for my Mom so she can live three blocks from my house in Tampa. When I saw your plan and your ruminations about storage on the range wall, I thought of a variation on the solution I’m using for Mom, who doesn’t like open shelving – I’m giving her closed storage with glass fronts up high, and one (or two if I can convince her) open shelves underneath those at 17″ and 29″ above the counter. Your kitchen reno was my inspiration!

  68. Elizabeth says:

    Oh I bet they’re so excited! This looks like Kristens kitchen from the hunted interior.

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