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Design

Reveal Alert: How Albie Designed The Hygge Inspired Luxe Kitchen Of Her Dreams (+ What She Learned Along The Way)

Six months ago I began what I thought would be a “quick and easy” kitchen renovation. The plan was to get in and out in 4 weeks and y’all… I was so naive! I underestimated how long things would take and how quickly things could get derailed. Thankfully, with all the frustrations came valuable lessons, and now my family and I finally get to reap the benefits of our labor.

Before we get into the pretty after pics that we’ve all been waiting for, we have to take a trip down memory lane…

From the first time my realtor saw the kitchen, she knew it had potential. She was right. As soon as I saw the kitchen for myself, I knew immediately what I would do to create a kitchen perfect for our family. Or so I thought.

When I first introduced you to the kitchen makeover a couple months back, I shared my design plan: 

  1. Open up the floor plan to create a galley kitchen for better flow
  2. Create custom storage solutions to fit our lifestyle needs & design wants
  3. Honor the home’s existing charm while staying true to our design ethos

Simple enough, right? 

This wasn’t intended to be a super extensive renovation, yet just about everything was touched to make this all come together — the walls, lighting, countertops, cabinets…even the flooring (which wasn’t planned) got an upgrade. All of these updates came together to take the kitchen from its more traditional leanings to a design that feels both luxe & cozy. 

For the hygge inspired luxe design I envisioned, I knew I wanted to marry bold designs elements with soft, warm touches in a way that would feel intentional. Now don’t get me wrong… I had no plans on sacrificing function for style–both weighed equal in importance to make this renovation work–so while I was swooning over the pretty parts, I was also fine-tuning all the utilitarian details that would make the kitchen actually work. I treated this like I would any project–personal or client–giving myself a design plan, allowing myself to take risks, an d practicing a lot of agility. 

During the demo, we had to change all the flooring — unplanned! — which meant an 11th hour run to buy new flooring. Once the demo was complete, we realized one of the walls was off-center, which meant either relocating our roof vent or changing one of our cabinets — one would cost money, the other would cost time… we chose time, and changed the cabinet size. The fabricator’s timeline was pushed back due to their workload, meaning waiting months to get countertops, which led to a complete halt to the renovation. And back-ordered shelves meant having to reselect and reconfigure that design element. 

My patience was tested, in addition to my know-how as a designer, homeowner, and content creator… in the worst and best ways. In reselecting, we found some newly released options we loved and in waiting we problem solved for other parts of the reno. Wearing all those hats for this project wore me out — I almost threw in the towel more than a few times! — but I always came back to my why: To finally have the kitchen of my dreams!

For years, I lived with kitchens that did the job but never excited me. Yeah, I explored all kinds of renter-friendly and reversible ways to level em up, but now I could finally get exactly what I want, how I want. I’ll admit that this project tested my resolve in ways I hadn’t anticipated–how bad do I want this, was this a good idea, and what did I get myself into?! On the other side of those questions, however, I knew it would be worth it. With all the logistical challenges–COVID induces delays, coordinating trade schedules, back-ordered product selections–the biggest challenges had less to do with the tangible, and more to do with the personal. It’s one thing to get invested in a client project, it’s something totally different when it’s your own, so for better or for worse, you have to live with it… literally. 

I took design risks I never got a chance to take and had to do some wicked unexpected problem-solving. If those choices backfired, it was on me. If those choices paid off big… also on me… and in turn, directly impacting my husband & daughter. 

With all this came some severe cases of imposter syndrome and decision fatigue. 

Having a nearly two-month delay ended up being a much-needed reprieve, and gave me the creative space to tackle a lower lift project — our bonus bedroom. By the time we picked back up on the renovation, I felt refreshed and ready to cross the finish line. 

As I said before, this wasn’t intended to be a full renovation but as the project progressed more renovating happened than I originally thought. Here’s what went down:

  1. We took down the wall that separated the kitchen from the dining room
  2. Added new appliances to coordinate with the existing ones
  3. Installed new cabinets, including a wall of cabinets, for a new layout
  4. Replaced the dated lighting fixtures
  5. Used cooler paint colors, contracted with a dark backsplash
  6. Opted for open shelvings instead of upper cabinets

Wifi Light Switch | Book | Hanging Plant | Rinser | Sink | Faucet | Motorized Shades | Cutting Board & Bowl Set

Every design decision was about choosing solutions that would be best for us, while also finding ways to do so with swag and style. Our new granite composite farmhouse sink workstation paired with the brass finished industrial style faucet, for example, were total upgrades from the previous sink and faucet combo. The old ones were “fine” and would’ve matched the space but they didn’t make my heart sing… so I changed em!

Backsplash | Shelving | Brackets | Blender | Range hood | Range Caddy | Salt & Pepper Grinder Set | Wood utensils | Faux Succulent |Round Cutting Board | Countertop | Cabinets | Pulls | Stove | Refrigerator | Always Pan | Pasta Bowls | Mixer

On the other hand, in choosing to keep the existing marquee appliances — dishwasher, fridge, and stove — I can now enjoy a black-on-black appliance suite that is a sleek and practical upgrade. I replaced their over the stove microwave with a matte black range hood & opted for a built-in microwave oven, separate from the stove. With that, I also treated us to a brand new wine fridge

Where the previous homeowners had an eat-in area, I saw an opportunity to add more storage and create my very own at-home cafe — the hygge ranch cafe — for early morning cereal, mid-day lattes, and late-night glasses of wine. 

The cafe is also a lens in which all the different yet complementary elements come together.

  • The matte black backsplash serves as a contrasting backdrop to the matte white cabinetry.
  • Flanking the feature wall of vertically stacked subway tiles is an unexpected pop of distressed gold wallpaper.
  • The floating walnut shelves feature a slatted design and sit atop L-shaped brass brackets, unlike the other walls with solid shelves & “strap” brackets.

This area of the kitchen is where I really flexed my design muscle because why not?!

As proud as I am of all these design moments, like I said, it came with a lot of decision fatigue. When the overwhelm and fatigue would start to settle in, I’d start to organize! I took my time designing our cabinets so that I could optimize our storage throughout the kitchen… and all that meticulous planning paid off with everything exactly where we’d comfortably need it to be. If you know me, even just a little bit, then you know organizing is like my therapy — it gives me something to do with my anxious energy and keeps me focused on a singular task.

Drawer Organizers

For the renovation, however, it helped me in other ways… it helped us as a family. I took my time designing our cabinets so that I could optimize our storage throughout the kitchen… and all that meticulous planning paid off with everything exactly where we’d comfortably need it to be. Good design isn’t just pretty…it’s functional. I was able to intentionally allocate places for everything so that we could fully enjoy the kitchen.

I designed, I planned, I shopped, I waited, I pivoted, I tiled, I organized, I waited some more, I cleaned, then finally, I styled… and now we’re here!

Backsplash | Shelving | Brackets | Cutting Board & Bowl Set | Footed Tray | Dishwasher

I actually hadn’t realized so much time had lapsed from when this project began until going through my IG archives! This was a project that, at the onset, seemed so simple and like something we could breeze through. In addition to the satisfaction of being able to breathe and simply enjoy my kitchen, all of this work yielded one unexpected side effect: now I actually enjoy cooking and baking all the time!

Stove | Measuring Cups & Spoons Set

I always loved baking but never really did it as much as I liked. Cooking was never my jam. Now… I’m in the kitchen all day, every day… willingly. This showed me that my disdain for kitchen chore work had more to do with the kitchen than it did with the chore itself. You guys… even washing the dishes doesn’t bother me anymore! 

*let’s out deep & audible exhale*

I have been waiting for this day for so long — and I know y’all have been too! — and now that you guys can enjoy the kitchen with me, it really is a huge relief. You guys have been along for the entire kitchen rollercoaster over on my Instagram and I feel like after all this, I owe you more than pretty pictures… like I owe you some sage advice or parting words of wisdom, so here goes…

If you are planning a kitchen renovation — really any renovation — no matter how small or simple you think it’ll be, allocate extra time, allow yourself creative respites, don’t be afraid to pivot, and get yourself a reno buddy. I know I wouldn’t have gotten through this alone, so it was fated that Rashida Banks and I would be simultaneously renovating our kitchens at the same time on opposite coasts. 

After months of patiently waiting with me, are you ready for some side by sides?

In case you wanna get into all the different elements that went into designing the kitchen — cabinets, countertops, tile work, etc. — I’ve been breaking them down over on my blog. And if you were just here for the pretty pics, here’s one more for the road.

*Design by Albie K. Buabeng
**After Photos by Ellie Lillstrom

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Sally
1 month ago

Wow, it’s stunning. I was looking at the before pics thinking it was already pretty nice but you really took it to a different level and I can see now why you wanted to take out return and change the layout. I especially love those tiles!! Really beautiful, the whole thing.

1 month ago
Reply to  Sally

Thank you! And your first instinct wasn’t wrong… the before was a kitchen upgrade the previous homeowners did at some point lol

Sally
1 month ago

Sorry, one other thing – if you ever think of writing a post about skylights, I’d be most interested. I think yours were already in place but I’m really interested to know if people think they work, which way to orient, how to get winter light, but not summer heat etc. So would be curious to hear your experience of yours.

Amanda
1 month ago
Reply to  Sally

Shavonda Gardner shared information about skylights on her blog/Instagram page. SG Style | design & lifestyle blog by Shavonda Gardner (sgstyleblog.com). Emily also has some posts on skylights on this blog that I found helpful when we were looking into it for our old living room.

Sally
1 month ago
Reply to  Amanda

Thanks very much Amanda, much appreciated. I haven’t come across Shavonda’s blog before so I’m also excited to have another designer to follow!

Sarah
1 month ago
Reply to  Sally

Shavonda is amazing! Welcome to Shavonda-land! She’s wonderful to follow on Instagram as well.

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Amanda

Thanks Amanda & Sally! I too am looking at skylights these days and while I know the tech and materials have come a long way from when I was a teen in the 90s and everybody’s skylights were always leaking, I’m still a bit nervous about it all. Plus, we’ll be working around the solar panels we’re planning on. *heart eyes* So, I really want to get it right!

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  DeniseGK

come back for tomorrow’s post – it’s VERY well timed 🙂

1 month ago
Reply to  Sally

I was going to suggest Shavonda’s post as we’ll because she talks about them extensively. Carmeon Hamilton, also talked about them she installed skylights in her kitchen.

Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Albie

y’all know i’m a massive fan of skylights. I’ll be writing about them too for the farm. All I can say is Velux all the way – you don’t want a cheap bad skylight and theres are GREAT.

kai
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily

agree! I love my Velux replacements, especially the remote controlled with 100UV protection and room darkening shades in my windowless FR bathroom!

HerselfInDublin
1 month ago

This is beautiful. The side-by-side before-and-after pictures really show how much you changed the functionality of the kitchen, even though technically you didn’t change the layout very much.
I especially love the matte black subway tiles, and that you installed them the way you did, they look like panelling rather than tiles, just gorgeous.
I also love that this is one more beautiful NOT-GREY kitchen – I feel reassured that the world is on a roll away from the grey!

1 month ago

Thank you! Ironically… the walls are grey lol I refused to let grey dominate the space so i really appreciate you noticing.

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Albie

I really thought the tiles were panelling! And they do look so great. I especially love that you did finish them with metal strips – but in gold! Nice touch. 🙂

Ruthie
1 month ago

Hi!

great work!
I think it should read “lets out deep & audible exhale” on that picture of a happy relaxed Albie.

no need to post this.
Thank you for all you do!

Patricia
1 month ago

Your new kitchen is beautiful, but not more beautiful than your smile (and that skirt!).

1 month ago
Reply to  Patricia

Thank you! And thank you! Lol

1 month ago

Gorgeous! Your cafe wall is out of this world – what a showstopper!

ASG
1 month ago

This is amazing! You’ve given me so many great styling ideas…LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

Jessi Reddin
1 month ago

Gorgeous!!!! Absolutely stunning! Do you have a source for those cute white cereal canisters?

1 month ago
Reply to  Jessi Reddin

Got em from Amazon and I love em!

Kelly
1 month ago

I could just gaze at that feature wall all day. And I might! The whole thing is just beautiful. You’ve created a real cook’s kitchen and that cafe wall will serve anyone who lives or comes to stay in your house. Well done

1 month ago
Reply to  Kelly

I stare at it. Often. Lol. It’s def my fav moment here!

Marie
1 month ago

Gorgeous!

Meredith
1 month ago

Ooooooh I’ve been excited for this reveal. The layout changes are so great – I can just FEEL how much easier the flow is from one room to another. Also, THANK YOU for giving me gorgeous photos to show clients of appliances that aren’t stainless steel! The black appliances looks so sleek. Everyone acts like stainless steel is the only thing keeping their house from imploding. No ma’am. Do this instead.

1 month ago
Reply to  Meredith

Lol I have actually never like stainless steel appliances so I’m with you. Lol. Black stainless steel is as close as I’ll get willingly.

Maggie
1 month ago

Stunning! Where are your oil bottles from? Love those!

1 month ago
Reply to  Maggie

Thank you! They’re a mix of bottles — the 16 oz and 8 oz ones are all from Amazon and the big 24 oz one is from Williams Sonoma. Then I just changed the pourers.

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Albie

That’s what I liked about them – the pourers! So, where did you get *those*? 🙂

1 month ago
Reply to  DeniseGK

Also from Amazon actually… I’ll get you looks soon!

Jen A
1 month ago
Reply to  DeniseGK

Please share links! Also intrigued by these bottles + pourers! Very timely, have been looking for something just like this for my EVOO.

1 month ago

Beautiful kitchen! The before and after pics really show it off! Your cafe is brilliant! It’s so nice to see a space that is beautifully styled AND looks livable. I can feel the ease and joy of day to day living your new space creates.

1 month ago
Reply to  molly

Thank you! And it has def made a huge huge diff

Selena
1 month ago

The new layout is so perfect. And it looks gorgeous!

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Selena

I super duper love that a galley kitchen is being shown off like this! It’s my favorite kind of kitchen.

1 month ago
Reply to  DeniseGK

my goal was to always make this a true galley because I love those layouts too!

A
1 month ago

Backsplash is NEXT LEVEL!!!

Natasha
1 month ago

Woah, what a show stopper! Love, love, LOVE it! Thank you for sharing this with us. I can feel my design juices flowing- hopefully one day I too will love cooking and washing dishes 😂

Ash W.
1 month ago

Hi Albie! You look so happy in your well-designed dream kitchen. I would love to know more about your gilded vase and delicate tree branches. If these are fresh clipped, how do you manage bugs or change them out? And if they are faux, please share where I can find them. I enjoy branches more than flowers and struggle with how to make it work.

1 month ago
Reply to  Ash W.

thank you so much! so the vase was a target clearance find from a lifetime ago. I feel like it could be a cool diy project tho, if that’s your jam. the branches are from our Japanese Maple and I actually didn’t have any issues with bugs. On some of our other plants and flowers tho, neem oil has been AMAZING! I feel like Em may have some great resources for branches.

Ash W.
1 month ago
Reply to  Albie

thanks!

Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Ash W.

Ash, I use branches from my olive trees, but I was bothered by the dust and bugs they brought into the house. I decided to try spraying them with water and letting them dry in a bucket outside before I used them inside in my vases. It was a huge improvement.

Sharon
1 month ago

It looks flawless! https://www.google.com/

Rusty
1 month ago

A. You look stunning, duly proud as lunch and full of vibrance!
B. Wow! You turned a lemon into lemonade.
Kudos Albie! Girgeous (challenging) work.😊

Cynthia Garza
1 month ago

That coffee station wall is the stuff my dreams are made of. Beautiful design!

Dawn
1 month ago

What a beautiful hygge ranch cafe and the perfect inspiration for our new build kitchen. Can you recommend an easy to use kitchen design software? I am a graph paper and pencil gal, but printing out a wall of cabinets is so satisfying!

DeniseGK
1 month ago
Reply to  Dawn

Plenty of folks like the one on Ikea’s website. BHG magazine also has one on their website that is free to use, although it’s not a prominently places on the site as it used to be, so you may have to consult the site map. If you want something more granular and customizable, with more features too, just do a websearch for, like, “young designers’ favorite interior design program” and you’ll get loads of hits where people are discussing why they like what they like and showing pics of UIs.

1 month ago
Reply to  Dawn

I actually started this kitchen design on the IKEA site, which was really helpful in those preliminary days of planning! I rendered the design using Roomstyler for conceptual purposes, but great a two for one option would be SketchUp… you get the precise scaled design + can render.

Roberta Davis
1 month ago

Isn’t it amazing how a new kitchen with everything just the way you want it makes you feel? Awesome job! I love the black tiles along with the back/white and warmth of the wood and leather and the metal. And what a dream that sink is with the cutting board and draining rack!

Cici Haus
1 month ago

Our “10-week” renovation took seven months, so I feel ya! But every time I look at my new kitchen I smile – it’s exactly what I wanted! Even the “mistakes” ended up being blessings in disguise. Congratulations!!

Crissy Perham
1 month ago

Great job! It’s true…when we redid our kitchen, I didn’t mind being in it! Even to clean it!! Enjoy!

Katherine
1 month ago

Gorgeous!! I love how much more open it is. It looks like there’s amazing flow through the space!
Little note: The couple sentences beginning with “I took my time designing our cabinets” appear twice 🙂

1 month ago
Reply to  Katherine

thank you!! the flow is crazy better… like I can’t even remember how it felt to not be this open!
fixing soon… 🙂

Margaret Chamberlain
1 month ago

I love the kitchen…. especially the cafe space which is personal to you since you created it. I also don’t mind doing the dishes in the sink I put in my kitchen remodel,

Aimee
1 month ago

Beautifully done! Thanks for sharing.

Stevie
1 month ago

The tile reminds me of fancy chocolate bars and I mean that in the best way. It’s all just so beautiful.

1 month ago
Reply to  Stevie

My daughter said the same lol that’s why she loves em

kai
1 month ago

Unbelievable. I think your gorgeous kitchen will quickly turn your newly decorated bonus room back into a guest room! You nailed it.

1 month ago
Reply to  kai

LOL… you might be right

Patricia
1 month ago

standing ovation!

Daniel
1 month ago

I love this before/after – all the details and textures… but one question – where is the lighting? I keep combing the photos and I can’t spot them.

1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel

Great question… so we replaced the ceiling fan & boob lights with slim recessed lighting for all 3. they’re edited out in the photos because they were distracting lol

Paula Carr
1 month ago

I love that you created that “cafe” wall. It draws your eye to that end of the room and makes it seem more integrated. So much better than that peninsula that was there before! I don’t know if you lost any square footage of counter space, but this kitchen works so much better and seems much more efficient. Not to forget — gorgeous! Love the vertically stacked matte black subway tile, too.

1 month ago
Reply to  Paula Carr

as my friend rashida says, I only lost unnecessary counter space… same for the cabinetry… so it is def more efficient!

Paula Carr
1 month ago
Reply to  Albie

That’s what it looked like, so it’s nice Rashida confirmed!

Stacia
1 month ago

Now THIS is my kind of kitchen! Warm, functional, not too fussy. Very inspiring. We are just getting started on our kitchen renovation and your is the first kitchen on this blog that I am using on my inspiration board!

1 month ago
Reply to  Stacia

I am honored! Thank you!

Tracy
1 month ago

I really like how the black range hood blends into the black tile which I’m not sure I’ve seen before. Usually vent hoods are so prominent, but I prefer your understated choice which helps it to visually disappear and put the focus on your open shelving. Enjoy your lovely kitchen!

1 month ago
Reply to  Tracy

thank you! this was most definitely intentional. I love our range but I didn’t choose it to be our show piece. it’s def supporting cast lol

Suzanne
1 month ago

Opening up the layout was key! It seems so much more functional now. I love that you used the existing appliances to save. And the cafe wall is the best. Now I want one!

1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

it was so key and it was really just removing the peninsula/return because the entire middle is the same distance from stove to sink. and everyone should have a cafe!

Alice E
1 month ago

Hi Albie – The black vertical tiles, the brass brackets, and the natural wood together are so incredibly warm and sharp. What a creation you realized here! Thank you for sharing.

Lauren
1 month ago

Sleek, chic AND functional. Amazing!!!!

Char
1 month ago

What a beautiful and approachable kitchen – and I don’t even like to cook.
I do need a café though. What a super idea that is!

1 month ago
Reply to  Char

everyone needs a cafe!

Hanneke
1 month ago

Love this kind of workstation sink – how is it working out for you? Maybe you can convince Emily to skip the prep sink and get a large work station that comes with drying racks, colanders and even bowls for washing produce.

I just love cutting my veggies on the sink cutting board, sweeping them straight into the bowl on the medium tier for washing and then into the colander on the higher tier. I could even hide the dirty dishes under the cutting board.

1 month ago
Reply to  Hanneke

we really love the workstation, especially after a couple of months having a double basin. we use all the accessories on a daily basis!

Angela
1 month ago

What is the appliance next to the lower cabinets on the cafe wall?

HH
1 month ago
Reply to  Angela

I think you’re asking about the wine fridge? It’s super narrow, so it blends in more than a lot of wine fridges.

1 month ago
Reply to  HH

Yep! its a slim model and we love it. holds a dozen bottles.

Nas
1 month ago

Absolutely stunning!!

Lea
1 month ago

It looks amazing Albie! I love every detail!

Sarah
1 month ago

The countertop link goes to Formica. Is that right????? And if it is please do tell which one you used and how the cost compare is to quartz. They look lovely. The whole kitchen does!

1 month ago
Reply to  Sarah

yep…they’re formica! I used the ever form solid surface in the concrete bleach. the other two options we considered were ikea’s countertops and quartz… and this lands somewhere in the middle, def closer to the quartz in price. i can’t say for sure because when we got pricing for quartz, it was priced per slab, whereas I was able to get a quote for the solid surface based on our exact field measure. the fabrication cost is where I am almost certain there’d be a bigger difference.

Sarah
1 month ago
Reply to  Albie

thank you! will have to look into it.

Courtney
1 month ago

I don’t know what your original plan was for the shelves, but I love what you ended up with! Those and the black backsplash are my favorite parts (but the whole thing is gorgeous and so well thought-out).

Amy
1 month ago

What a difference in removing the wall and peninsula! Love the back wall housing the cereal/microwave. etc. Very functional. Enjoy your new space!!

1 month ago
Reply to  Amy

thank you 🙂 I often forget that wall even existed and do not miss it at all!

Jane
1 month ago

Albie, I had not seen any of your work yet but this post has made me an official fan. Like what, how did you make your kitchen so hip and modern while still feeling cozy, livable, and full of personality???!????!

1 month ago
Reply to  Jane

thank you and welcome! those are the exact feelings I was going for, so I am glad it translates 🙂

1 month ago

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Kimberly
1 month ago

I *love* that the open shelves here are heavily utilized. Not everyone has a giant kitchen and can only use open shelves for decorative purposes. This is a great example of using them for real storage.

1 month ago
Reply to  Kimberly

I absolutely wanted em for storage and styling! they’re a huge asset in the kitchen!

Margaret
1 month ago

Just the vision to see your kitchen differently is inspiring! Your new kitchen is so “designer”–beautiful, yes, but so functional and intentional. Such pleasure just looking at your pictures. Thank you!

1 month ago
Reply to  Margaret

thank you so much!

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