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Sara’s Dream Galley Kitchen Cabinet Layout (IKEA Boxes, A Cabinet Fronts Company You Should Know About & Some Very Special Details)


Well friends, the kitchen renovation that was only supposed to be an update is well underway. We’ve ripped out the old floor, put in a new floor, removed the door, put in a new window, and installed the cabinet boxes. So much for a quick, not permanent “update”.

But I am SO happy that we decided to go for the full reno. Now that we’re nearing the finish line it all feels worth it, and soon I’m going to have a beautiful kitchen that truly feels like me to cook and bake in (thanks to Julie, my dad, and all the partners that we’re working with). So today I thought I’d check in with y’all and just give you a tour of the design plans, while we all anxiously await the completion and reveal of this kitchen.

As always, let’s start at the beginning – Here’s what the kitchen looked like when we moved in:

It was weird for sure, but had its charms. And for a year and half we lived with it as was. It’s also wild to think that we’ve owned our house for TWO years now. Time really does fly when you’re pouring all your energy and resources into a renovation.

And this is how it was once we were living in it. Totally functional, but not at as pretty as it could be:

And here is what it looks like RIGHT. NOW. Surprise reveal! You’re welcome!

OMG, don’t you love it? It’s minimal, bright, and open. We felt that going with open cabinets everywhere was a bold, risky design move that we wanted to take. Not only did we do open cabinets, we did shelf-less, open cabinets. Is it functional? Not at all, but we love it. And the exposed plumbing is something I’m sure is going to be a huge 2021 design trend. The final touches are the bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling which imbue the space with an industrial vibe.

… Obviously, we aren’t done yet. Far from it. But all the DIY-able stuff is done.

  • Hardwood floor has been installed
  • New drywall has been installed
  • New electrical has been installed throughout the entire kitchen
  • The previously existing back door has been removed, and a new window has been framed into the back of the wall
  • Our Ikea cabinet boxes have been installed
  • Plywood sub counters have been installed
  • The sink has been dropped in and connected to running water

Now it’s just about lead-times and scheduling. The cabinet fronts take 8-10 weeks to be fabricated, the appliances similarly have varying lead-times, and the stone countertops and open shelf that we actually are doing can’t be installed until both the cabinet fronts/panels and appliances are installed.

But as a little amuse-bouche, let me walk you through what it is going to look like (hopefully by January *fingers crossed*). I started by building out the kitchen cabinet plan in the Ikea kitchen planner, since we’re using Ikea cabinet boxes.

DO YOU SEE MY VISION based on these drawn on Ikea plans?! My dad didn’t. I was like “LISTEN, it’s gonna be great, so good, just…we’re gonna wing it!” JK, I immediately took my Ikea cabinet plans to Julie and begged her to help me with professional drawings and plans that I could actually pass along to the professionals (like the counter fabricator).

THANK YOU JULIE – This kitchen literally would not have been possible without you. She took my Ikea plans and modeled them in SketchUp so we could play around with different ideas:

And now here are the REAL renderings (and technical drawings, in case anyone is interested in seeing what we’re actually staring at most of the time!), along with some deets.

STOVE SIDE (The Pretty Version)

STOVE SIDE (The Technical Version)

WOW SO PRETTY. I’M SO EXCITED. Ok so here’s what’s happening on this side of the kitchen.

  • Biggest news – I’M GETTING A NEW STOVE, one that will bake bread majestically, broil chicken golden-y, and pre-heat at the touch of my finger via my phone while I’m on my way home. I’ve somehow convinced KitchenAid, my dream kitchen appliance company, to partner with me for our main kitchen appliances and I could not be more excited. My KitchenAid Stand Mixer is my absolute favorite kitchen appliance after all.
  • All the Ikea cabinet boxes we bought are getting custom facelifts courtesy of Kokeena, a small custom cabinet front company in Portland. Remember when I was going to go with a taupe color for the cabinets? Well, I fell in love with an absolute perfect sage green color that they fabricate for their Townsend collection, and never looked back.
  • Julie can take credit for this next aspect, because not only are we doing Caesarstone countertops, we’re taking the stone all the way up the backsplash and all the way up to the hood behind the stove. It’s going to create such an elegant, seamless lewk. Mac and I are pretty stoked on the stone choice too.

This side of the kitchen is filled wall-to-wall with storage – tall cabinets flank either end, and lower and upper cabinets frame the stove. The cabinet closest to the window will be pantry storage, along with a shelf in the middle serving as an appliance shelf for a toaster and coffee maker. And our microwave is going to go in the upper cabinet to the left of the stove. The cabinet on the very right will be more pantry storage, along with storage for our broom and vacuum. The best part about all the Ikea cabinet boxes is the shelves are totally customizable, so if we need more or less storage for anything we can always modify it.

SINK SIDE (The Pretty Version)

SINK SIDE (The Technical Version)

And here’s the other side of the kitchen.

  • Because we have wall-to-wall cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen, Julie suggested we go for open shelving on this side. Originally we were going to do two shelves centered on the wall (per my earlier drawing), but decided a little later that one shelf that spans the entire open wall space would cleaner and give us more options of what could sit on the shelf. Right now the plan is to put some cookbooks, a piece of art or two, and the bowls, plates, and glasses we use every day. The rest of the dishware (extra plates, bowls, glasses, and bigger dishware) will continue to live in the bar cabinet in the dining room.
  • The Caesarstone counter and backsplash will mirror what’s happening on the other side, and run all the way up to meet the floating shelf.
  • I bought our sink off Craigslist – It’s a giant enamel beauty from Kohler that would have cost us $800 new, but I got it for $350. We picked it up new and in the box still from a new build site. The contractor said the client had ended up changing their minds about it. LUCKY US.
  • But we’ll soon have the option to skip hand washing our dishes because WE’RE GETTING A DISHWASHER (thank you KitchenAid). I haven’t had one of these since I lived at my parent’s house. To be perfectly honest, we don’t use enough dishes every day to warrant using a dishwasher all the time. But for those nights when we have guests over it’s going to be amazing. It even has a tiny top rack perfect for cutlery, which really helps maximize space.
  • Finally getting a pull-out trashcan drawer. I have no idea why, but having a non-visible trashcan has always been a real dream of mine. And it especially makes sense in our narrow galley kitchen, where there isn’t a ton of open floor space to put a trashcan.
  • We’re getting a beautiful, panel-ready refrigerator. Yep, we’re going for integrated appliances in our kitchen, which means that both the dishwasher and the fridge will be covered with panels that match our cabinets, so they become invisible when they’re closed! Kokeena has the ability to custom make panels specific to just about any panel-ready appliance, and KitchenAid has a some really great, panel-ready appliance options. It was a dream team situation and is really helping me create the type of kitchen I was envisioning.
  • We’ll be installing a brass rail and hook system from Rejuvenation under the floating shelf, which will span almost the entire length of the counter. Our faucet is also a beautiful brass piece from Rejuvenation, and we’ve got stunning brass light features to match. Sconces on the wall above the floating shelf, and flush mounts for the ceiling.

Originally I had wanted to do something a little wild in there, like wallpapering the ceiling. But I was told by Mark, our wallpaper installer who I really trust, that the wallpaper I wanted to use would be a bad option for a room with a lot of grease and steam. So we’ve decided to leave the ceiling white to match the walls. But I feel a lot better about the kitchen having personality now that we’ve chosen a color for the cabinets, rather than a tone.

Plus there are still a few places to bring in warmth with the roman shade choice and a runner. Haven’t decided on either of those yet.

So that’s where we are right now folks. Our kitchen is currently totally functional, with our old appliances (which came with the house), and plywood sub-counters. But already it feels miles brighter and more open. The final reveal is still a ways off (good things take time, especially when you’re doing them yourself), but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Opening Image Credits: Design by Athena Calderone | Photo by Nicole Franzen

Fin Mark


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This looks really exciting! I am looking so much forward to seeing it revealed! I love the cabinets colour! Walls: are both walls white? Or grey on the window´s wall and white on the door side?
Now I am curious: how and where do you manage the litter box and cat´s stuff?


Oh yeah. I wanted to ask about that, too?!?


I’m not a fan of brass at all, but love how this look is coming together and the brass here seems like it is an excellent choice.


It’s so pretty!
People always dog a galley kitchen but it is THE most functional space for cooking.


Agreed. We had a smaller kitchen growing up.

I didn’t realize how great that was until I babysat triplet toddlers in high school and it took 20 minutes to sweep the massive kitchen floor.


I am just start planning a kitchen remodel, and I’m trying to make it feel more galley like. I love the tighter work space. Right now there are far too many steps between my sink and stovetop. I’ve been researching a ton, and I read one designer say of a particular kitchen, “it’s too small to be a good big kitchen, and too big to be a good small kitchen.” That’s what I’m dealing with, but I think I can solve it. In the process, it made me think about how great a galley would be.


You could get a pot filler (if it’s within your budget). Then you won’t necessarily have to move the sink/stove. Or if the kitchen is pretty big, you could have a prep sink by the stove… my parents have one. But to be honest it isn’t used very often. Only during the holidays and big family gatherings (remember those? ha).


I have a dead end galley (like Sara’s but smaller) and it works well until you have another person in there, when it becomes impossible to do anything. However, it’s pretty awesome when I’m cooking alone (except for the lack of counter space). I can literally reach the fridge, turn on the stove, and turn on the sink faucet all without moving. And when I’m in the bathroom I can close the door, turn on the sink and turn on the shower all while sitting on the toilet! The useless perks of a small space 😂


The dead-end aspect does make it a bit more difficult. A galley open at both ends has a more open feel. We have more space in our small u-shape, but we still manage to bump into each other, and we have to take several steps between each appliance.

Jess L.

Sara – your kitchen design is amazing, I’m so excited for you! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to follow along.

Rachel C

I feel like I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this update and I couldn’t be more excited to see the final product. Thanks for giving me something to hold me over until you are done! Sara – I seriously love everything you do. We have a similar style and your reveals are my all time favorites.


Yessssss! I love the green!


This looks beautiful, can’t wait to see the finished result. It does look a little short on counterspace though, especially for someone who loves to cook and bake. If you sacrificed one of the tall cabinets on the stove side it would make a big difference. (I have a bit of a bee on my bonnet about counterspace, I like to spread out!)


She has a fair bit of counter space on both sides. I guess it’s all relative, but I have less than that and I can accomplish all my baking/cooking projects with good planning – I just start with a tidy kitchen and clean as I go. She also has a dishwasher so won’t need to use counter space to stack dirty dishes or dry the clean ones – that takes up a good chunk of my available counter space. My biggest baking struggle is not having room in the fridge/freezer for chilling pastry or dough!!


the black-dot pattern against the white cabinet boxes is especially striking…
JK. It will be beautiful and very functional, even with the built-in issue of being a one-butt kitchen.


Ah it’s going to be SO pretty. How awesome to get to partner with companies who enable you to elevate so much beyond what you initially budgeted for! Can’t wait to see it finished!


Sara!!! So glad you went for it. My goodness, it’s going to be beautiful. Thanks for sharing about Kokeena. I only ever hear about semi-handmade. So, cool to hear about some other options.


I think you may have a problem getting the refrigerator bins fully opened. If you can open the fridge door no more than 90 degrees, then you can only extend the bins out so far.


And make sure you get a backguard with the range if you are going to use quartz as a backsplash.

Cris S.

Eleanor – can I ask why on the backguard (and what exactly that is)? I’ve had quartz behind our range for two years now and am wondering if I’m missing a potential issue. Thank you!


Cris S. – Quartz is a man-made product — it is ground up quartz held together by resin. Because of that, it is not heat resistant. Behind a stove, it can scorch or even crack. A 6-inch or 12-inch back guard will protect the quartz (but will not look as pretty though). I have quartz countertops – I love it, it’s very easy to clean, no need to seal, does not stain. The only thing is I can’t do is put hot stuff on it like I used to do with my old granite countertop.

Cris S.

Eleanor – I really appreciate your reply. I’ll be more careful using the back burners, but fortunately I rarely ever use those as I have three across the front. Thank you for your help!


Yes, although you only need 2.5 inches wall clearance on hinge side per owner manual, you won’t be able to open both doors all the way as shown in this photo.


Also, not sure if you are using the exact model you linked, but the on you linked DOES stick out a few inches from the cabinetry and the part that sticks out will be black. There are some photos of what it looks like on the KA website in the reviews.


We had this issue with our fridge- spent months planning and at installation they realized that the doors weren’t opening as far as they expected- we had to leave an extra couple inches between fridge and wall and then ordered new lower cabinet, 4 inches narrower. Our bins can be opened but it’s still tight.




So excited about this because I also have a small galley kitchen that “dead ends” into a window. This is the closest match to my kitchen layout I can find in terms of inspiration, so I can’t wait to see what you do!


Athena Calderone’s kitchen is the inspiration for my kitchen as well, so I can’t wait to see how this turns out! Looks gorgeous. I have my plans drawn, but my project has been put on hold because of Covid, so I hope to start some time next year. I hadn’t thought about Ceasarstone instead of marble, but I may switch now!


This is spectacular!!! This really is a dream kitchen!!


I just wrapped an IKEA kitchen reno and can honestly say that the enclosed pantry situation is a game changer! I love your plans and can’t wait to follow along on the progress!

This looks awesome! Can’t wait to see the after photos!

It’s going to be beautiful.

I would like to put in a request for the next kitchen reno you all feature, purely for my own entertainment. Cabinets that are neither green nor blue? Perhaps I am just a cantankerous old woman, stunned with the monotony of quarantine, but I confess I am ready for the next thing;).


Like red, orange, yellow or purple? You may have to wait a long time to see that!

I presume black, white, gray or wood were not what you were thinking since those are more common than blue or green.


That top view is really gorgeous. I can’t wait to see the final product.


Omg this is incredible! My biggest question is probably how expensive it is to redrywall and remove the door — the “before” here was definitely dated, but it’s hard to tell what was living in the walls, etc. like if the cabinets were dingy but the structure itself was fine? I am looking to buy a place and my fantasy is to redo the kitchen, but then you see this absolute dumps that just scream mold, termites, what have you, and I get so scared.

Side note: who had the brilliant idea back in the 40s to use bathroom tile on kitchen counters?! Having lived with them, they’re beyond hard to clean!


And somehow I have a 2008 build with tile counters – we can only think they cheaped out on the finishes as the real estate crisis hit. Kitchen renovation is next on our list, planning to reuse the cabinet boxes but new countertop is tops on our list!


What a beautiful kitchen this will be! Love the cabinet color and the stone is dreamy! I’m just wondering (just curious) why you didn’t choose for a U-shape kitchen with counters continue under the window? When you look into the kitchen now the first thing you see is that back wall with probably cat-feeding bowls on the floor? And some more counter space is probably also desirable?


I think a u-shape would have added counter space, but would have less functional storage. Corner cabinets are difficult to access, and in a galley situation, I imagine even more so. She’s also lose that full height pantry, as well as counter by the sink, by needing to move the refrigerator. Also, one full height pantry holds typical counter appliances, so it can be thought of as “counter space”. Overall, it looks like she may end up with more counter space than in her original kitchen.

Julie Dawson

It’s going to be BEAUTIFUL


Oh. My. Goodness!!! Sara!!! 😃

I tell ya, this week’s off to a great start!

My life’s disintrgrating into a pile of shite (enough about me, ha!) and my favourite blog is helping me tread water and breathe a little amongst the chaos, pain and emotional turmoil of my life currently (in addition to the fantastic news about your election outcome… the world thanks you for voting for Biden!).

Sara… no mention of the (dreaded) garbage disposal?? LOL Or is that a given to go with your gorgeous, huge, enamel sink??
That sink is a great size and what a bargain you found!

KitchenAide appliances? You hit the jackpot, baby!
Lucky you! That’s a BIG win!

So happy you went with the green cabinet fronts… luverly! Soulful and schmick at the same time.

I’m totally hanging out for the finished grand reveal now… tick, tick, tick…


gorgeous! can the hood match the wall?


Since you don’t have counters in yet, have you considered something like a toe kick drawer? I don’t think it would be too late to put these in. Amazon sells them.


LOVE IT! very Hudson Valley

did you decide to put the litter box in the bedroom/office bathroom?


How does the cabinet facing work, I usually see where companies provide doors. What happens on the sides of the cabinet? Like in your “current status” photo, the view looking at the new window, you can see the side of the pantry. Does that get faced from Kokeena, too, or painted? If faced, how can you do that after the cabinet boxes are already installed?


Beautiful! Weirdly detailed question but can you tell me what depth you are doing for your floating shelf? We are finishing a remodel and I order an 11″ floating shelf but I’m wondering if that’s too deep? 8″ just didn’t seem as functional.


This looks great, Sara! I’m excited to learn more about Kokeena when it’s reveal time 🙂


Sara, this is beautiful! I’m so glad you decided to go all in early. The sage color is wonderful and classic. The design is super functional, as well. We’ve been in our home over 13 years, and we’re finally gearing up for a kitchen remodel. It’s such an overwhelming process. Thank you for the progress update and a behind the scenes in the process. I can’t wait to see the final reveal!


This is so beautiful. Can’t wait to see the finished kitchen.


Wishing you all the best for getting appliances in a timely manner. I ordered a dishwasher on July 5th. Nine different delivery date emails provided. Actual delivery date? Oct 22. Best of luck!


ooh i love it! i’ve been wondering how this kitchen was going… so excited for the reveal.

So so lovely! Can’t wait to see the finished version. I love the idea of a painting leaning against a shelf but it should really be framed behind glass because otherwise the steam and grease of a kitchen could ruin it.

I’m so excited to see, it’s looking so good already!


Some advice on Kitchenaid: Get the service plan–I never buy those and think they are a scam, after all, appliances of such cost should last more than a year or two. However, I have needed repairs on all four KA appliances and really regret not doing more research. I love my stand mixer too, but someone else makes the appliances, believe me.


Where did this blog’s kitchen picture come from? It is absolutely stunning put I can’t imagine living with the fear of ruining that marble sink.


This is the most beautiful kitchen and the full on stone from counter to walls will be incredibly luxe and elegant! I was wondering why you decided not to make the kitchen u-shaped with additional counter top and storage space under the window?


All of the storage on the stove side looks great BUT it just jumps out at me that you will regret the lack of counter / work space. Sounds like you enjoy cooking and baking, you need room to assemble your ingredients, chop them and mix. That’s a cutting board, a bowl, and the various food items.
Maybe I missed something so count this as a quick reaction.
Gonna be amazing.


Thanks for the update! I’ve been hoping you would be posting soon. As someone with the same layout, I’m finding that my counterspace is working better than I anticipated. My last kitchen had more space but I only used part of it. Love all of your choices. I ordered a Kitchen Aid frig over two months ago and Still don’t have a current ETA. Every one I’ve been given has come and gone. I understand but hope your appliances don’t take as long to arrive.

Debra Brannan

Gorgeous … my kitchen was delayed due to COVID, but hoping to get started early next year. Your counters are exactly what I’ve included in my design choices but thought my only material options for that look were going to be marble (which I absolutely do not want for my counter top). Happy to see this was a Caesarstone product, but when I went to their site I cannot find anything that looks like this. Can you give me the name of the pattern. Thanks again for sharing this beautiful, beautiful work of art .. it just moves me!!


The floor wood stain is a perfect, cool dark that isn’t too dark. Any chance you’re sharing the name of the stain? While thing looks amazing, congrats.


Absolutely love it!!


I love it, especially the green cabinet color! Is there any way to center the sink between the two sconces? The off-center sink is totally throwing me off!

Breanna Kion

This is going to be a gorgeous kitchen, can’t wait for the reveal!!


Your plans look amazing. So lucky to get the appliances from KA!

I’m convinced that a hidden garbage bin is the ultimate luxury.

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