I feel like I’m about to give a wedding toast for my daughter who after four mediocre boyfriends/wedding attempts has now found and married the love of her life. There is a lot of emotion, relief, happiness and SO MUCH PRIDE wrapped up in this kitchen—and you know that’s not that easy for me to say. I pushed myself, ran into obstacles, almost gave up on the dream (remember when the cabinets were going to be a classic shaker?) was rescued (by these folks) and now get to make so much soup inside this rustic-modern-Scandinavian-contemporary-minimalist-kitchen. I feel like the luckiest person on the planet.
There is a lot to get into here and you might just be scrolling past this to see the rest of the photos, but STOP AND RESPECT YOUR FORE-FATHERS/KITCHENS:
Our first inspiration were these:
And then we thought we had a plan but as you can see from this post, there was a lot of design work before we even got to those final two.
But I didn’t know how to make that wood work for us and have it work with the wood flooring and ceiling (that was still TBD). All the samples that my contractor gave me of real wood just didn’t work for us – we didn’t love the tone or the look. So in the name of needing to march onward we did and scrapped the whole wood in thing.
For the I Design, You Decide, we had it down to two versions, here:
After you all voted for the white cabinet/black island combo, there were tons of comments about how all the little ridges would turn into grease and grime traps and you were right, so we made some adjustments and went with a plain white shaker:
There were a lot of “PLEASE NO!” but also a lot of “YES LOVE IT” but ultimately, it wasn’t what we really wanted. Then…I was SAVED by Ross Alan Reclaimed Wood.
At the last minute, we were able to make it our dream kitchen with their real reclaimed wood on the cabinets AND the flooring and it turned into what it should have been all along:
So after a 3-week renovation and with a budget of $5,700, we turned it into our dream mountain house kitchen!
JUST JOKING WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS PROPERTY BROTHERS??? FLIP OR FLOP??
This kitchen, the whole house, took a YEAR, with one lead designer (me) + three design support/project managers (Julie, Grace and Velinda), a GC + many subs and while I don’t know how much it cost, I would say it’s anywhere between $50-$75k just for the kitchen. Yes, I’m very lucky I had some help with product placement (brands we love that we reached out to for product in exchange for exposure) but labor is labor, which is your main cost. Paying licensed, experienced craftspeople what they deserve will simply add up (and it should). I’m only telling you because perpetrating the lies of renovation costs and quick construction timing does nothing good for humanity, your marriage/budgeting nor your general mental health.
They say you can’t have “fast, affordable and good.” You can often have two out of the three, and in this case, ultimately what we got was just the one: GOOD, but to be fair, I love it and will even go as far to say it’s “VERY GOOD.” Our contractor Jeff Malcom (of Malcom Enterprises), and architect John Lyles, did a fantastic job, full of high-quality workmanship. But high-quality takes time, especially when you are working with such custom finishes and appliances.
But enough! Let’s talk finishes…AS A WARNING, there is a lot to breakdown, especially with wordy-mc-wordy here writing it, so today’s post is just about the finishes, and we’ll cover how we integrated all the appliances and the coffee bar/dry bar very soon, as well as all the interior organization of the cabinetry.
The Reclaimed Wood Cabinets & Flooring:
I have to immediately start this with Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber, a young family-owned custom reclaimed wood and furniture builder in Los Angeles who made our kitchen (and ceiling/floor) dreams truly come true. We had the layout all done and even some of the boxes built when they came into the picture. This was the original intent for the house, but I had never done wood before nor did I know how to do it, so we ultimately had settled on a classic shaker.
They said “calm down, of course we can put our beautiful reclaimed wood on the cabinet fronts and the flooring.” What we used here is a 200-year-old reclaimed beechwood from a barn that had fallen down in Ohio and we were able to work with our local cabinetmaker to get them installed and looking, frankly PERFECT.
Ross, pictured below, happened to be up there the day that we were shooting so we got him in a photo (we missed you Georgie!):
But I don’t want this to just be a post of TADA HERE’S OUR NEW FANCY KITCHEN without respecting the process, the design agonies, the decisions, and give you tips on how it works. We touched base with Ross and Georgie so they can walk through the steps you should know about what went into making this dream kitchen a reality (with a big grid of photos of all the “ugly” stuff before it had it’s makeover montage and turned into a prom queen):
- Find a local reclaimed wood dealer (or work with Ross Alan, if you’re local—highly recommended). If you don’t want that more typical reclaimed wood (like us), they will need to mill off the top and bottom pieces to get the fresh middle. This is usually out of beams that are really thick and have been de-nailed, and then they use the offcuts for paneling or other projects.
- For the cabinet fronts, they planned 1/4″ veneers which were then applied to 3/4″ baltic birch plywood doors (this yielded a 1″ finished product). To create that continuous flow of wood grain from floor to ceiling, they had to take a sample of each piece used when they were installing the top portion of the cabinets back to the shop and find pieces with the same characteristics, coloring and sizing to line it up perfectly with the doors so it looked like one solid piece was used from ceiling to floor. It was tricky, but they made it happen.
- As mentioned, the 1/4″ veneers were applied to the plywood doors using glue and 23-gauge pin nails with a nail gun. They then filled in the cracks and crevices with a walnut wood filler.
- After the doors were assembled, they were sanded down and received two brush-on coats and two wiped-on coats of a water-based matte finish polyurethane (they sanded between every coat applied). At this point, the doors were ready to be installed onto the cabinet boxes.
- All the trim was done on site and applied the same way.
According to Ross Alan, the cost for material ranges between $9-$12.50 a square foot (depending on the accent material chosen). To clad, finish and install the cabinet doors, it was $65 a square foot, and the island cladding installation was $14 a square foot (in addition to the material costs).
For the island, we used Ross Alan’s corral and snow fence boards which were milled to 5/16″. Because that wood is naturally grayish with a lot of variation, we went with an ebony stain so that it would be more refined. The photo on the bottom left was actually us testing out what a heavily textured wood would look like in black, but for the finished product, it was NOT painted.
The wide planks are FULL of texture and character (I wish you could see how great they are IRL), but in all black, juxtaposed with the lighter beechwood throughout makes it SO special and modern. We finished it off with a few coats of water-based matte polyurethane to keep it from losing color and also to protect it from water, kids, etc.
That matte finish means there is NO shine, so all you see is the beauty of the reclaimed wood, and there was barely any color change from unfinished product to sealed product.
We had a marble all picked out when we thought we were going to have shaker painted cabinets, but once we went to this reclaimed wood, we felt that we had enough texture so we switched to Cambria (in their White Cliff Matte) and I literally couldn’t be happier. I know that real marble is a lifestyle choice and it’s one that we made for our LA house but I’ll say it again: things that age look better in older style homes (unless you have a full staff to maintain and clean up after you). So for this house, which feels mid-century/brand new, going with a quartz which is less maintenance felt like the better move.
This Cambria quartz is so beautiful and far more durable than a natural high-maintenance marble (it’s a composite stone, which makes it stronger). Plus, it looks so clean and refined.
The faucet from Kohler is beautiful and brought in one of three hits of brass in the room (which is just enough for a mountain house). That bridge shape is just so pretty, and I love the Vibrant Polished Brass finish. As a reminder, as part of my partnership with the brand, I was able to preview their finish to order program which means I can personalize select faucets by first choosing a style I really loved and then bringing it to life in a finish of my choice, which is then made to order (you can visit your local Kohler Signature Store or Kohler Experience Center to learn more about the program).
For anyone wondering why we put the sink (also from Kohler) in the island, take a minute and read our kitchen layout post but I will tell you this—it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and here’s why:
THE DISHES ARE ALWAYS DONE…mostly because I’m always standing there waiting for my soup to cook, talking to whatever guests are sitting on the stools. So I keep the kitchen clean. all. day. Whereas if it were along the window wall, I would put it off because I wouldn’t be able to talk AND do the dishes at the same time.
The island pendant is the Ellis Light from Katy Skelton (please note the leather wrapping) and is so beautiful and everyone, LITERALLY everyone, I know wants it. It isn’t meant to give off all the light in the world so we have track lighting for the island and the window wall counter. The sconces are The Urban Electric Co. and bring in that super modern lantern vibe that I love.
The matte black ties in with the island pendant and the brass plays well with the brass plate on the Allied Maker flushmounts over the peninsula (and that Kohler faucet). Because there were a lot of “lighting moments,” keeping everything linear or smaller was important as to not overwhelm the space. Those little mini dome ceiling lights were also great as not to block the view between the kitchen and the living room.
The Window & Door:
The window and door are both white oak, from Marvin and yes, as beautiful in real life as they look in these photos. You will be hearing a lot about them this year because what those windows did for the house was nothing short of transformative. The style (the pretty wood!), the different functions, the insulation, the amount of beautiful natural light in there is just insane because of the windows.
The door (this is a side door that opens up to a set of stairs leading to the driveway) was custom designed by us (which is easy to do with Marvin) and as you can tell, it’s STUNNING.
Speaking of light, look up and you’ll see two skylights (from Velux) bringing even more much-needed light into the previously very dark kitchen. They were covered in snow a week before this shoot but don’t worry, they are absolutely designed to withstand all the elements and when you are standing at the cooktop (more on appliances in another post, but this is from Viking with a built-in, pop-up downdraft that we got via Build.com), it’s the most perfect soft light ever.
The final mix of stools ended up being PERFECT. They both “go away” in the most perfect way, keeping the space feeling as big and open as possible but at the same time, they are BOTH so comfortable! People sit for hours and hours and hours at the island while I cook soup after soup after soup.
Had I gone with a natural wood color at the island, it might have taken away from the wow-factor of the ebony-stained wood, but with the black-on-black stool (from Industry West), they blend in seamlessly. Same goes for the Article stools are the peninsula. The tan leather (which is buttery soft, FYI) and the light wood frame work so, so well with the reclaimed wood cladding.
All the Details:
The Light Switches:
The light switches and outlets are from Forbes and Lomax and I never knew how cool I could feel dimming the lights. It’s not a necessity but if it’s in your budget, it’s lovely to look at and functions so well.
We used a combination of small and large handles, knobs and ledge pulls that we sourced through Schoolhouse. They are all in the same matte black finish and the mix makes it feel so custom, special and still streamlined.
I think the big star here is Ross Alan and the integrated appliances we sourced through Build.com, which you’ll learn about next week. This kitchen is a warm modern dream of a room and I feel utterly unworthy to be cooking soup in it.
I know the work that went into it was intense. The time and budget weren’t nothing and the help was extreme. So I want to give a huge thanks to Julie, Velinda and Grace for working so hard on this project. It was such a learning curve for me, and I hope to impart all of our lessons to you, if you are interested.
I hope you guys know me well enough to know that when I say I couldn’t love this kitchen more, it’s 100% the truth. I walk into this room and breath a larger breath than I thought my lungs could hold. Nothing is perfect in life but when you get close to it, you would be remiss to not recognize how lucky you are. I can’t wait for the winner of I Design, You Decide to come up here and let me tour you around this house for hours. Speaking of which we are now opening that up to many more winners (not for a full 5 days but for a day visit/party…we’ll reveal more as soon as we start to lock logistics down). I’m just so grateful that this is my job. I kinda want one big EHD reader house party/rager. Stay tuned…
Meanwhile, I know there is a lot to cover so please ask all questions in the comments and if you are so inclined, please share. And if you want even more of the mountain house kitchen reveal, hop on over to House Beautiful who ran an exclusive interview and story on the space.
One more HUGE thanks to my design team – Julie, Grace and Velinda who were with me every step of the way and were so integral to the success of this project. Another big thanks to Ross and Georgie of Ross Alan Reclaimed – their attention to detail and high quality was really impressive (and just so lovely to be around and work with). Our general contractor is Jeff Malcom and Architect is John Lyles – I highly recommend both of them if you have a project in the San Bernardino mountains as they are lovely people and highly experienced.
Here’s all the rest of the resources – stay tuned for the big ‘inside the kitchen cabinetry’ (we partnered with Neat Method and they did MAGIC inside those cabinets) and Appliance posts. Coming soon!
Pure White by Sherwin-Williams | Cambria White Cliff Matte Quartz Countertop | Dry Bar & Coffee Bar Countertop by Bedrosians Tile & Stone | Brick Wall Tile by Bedrosians Tile & Stone | Reclaimed Beechwood Flooring by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber | Reclaimed Beechwood Cabinetry Cladding by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber | Island Black-Stained Reclaimed Wood Cladding by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber
Appliances (all via Build.com):
Viking 36″ Built-In Natural Gas Cooktop with 36″ Built-in Downdraft Ventilation | Viking Panel Ready Dishwasher | Viking Panel Ready Ice Maker | Viking Panel Ready Refrigerator | Marvel Panel Ready Refrigerator Drawers | Edgestar Wine Cool | Viking Double Electric Wall Oven
Ellis Pendant Light by Katy Skelton | Vic Sconces by The Urban Electric & Co. | Mini Dome Sconce in Brass and Opal by Allied Maker | LED Track Light Head from Lamps Plus | 8-Foot Track in White from Lamps Plus
Furniture & Decor:
Fixtures & Hardware:
Purist Faucet in Vibrant Polished Brass by Kohler | Whitehaven Apron Sink by Kohler | 4″ and 8″ Ledge Pulls by Schoolhouse | Knurled Knob by Schoolhouse | Edgecliff Pull by Schoolhouse | Edgecliff Appliance Pull by Schoolhouse | Switches and Outlets in Antique Bronze by Forbes and Lomax
Windows & Doors: