Our Modern English Country Kitchen
The kitchen is finished and I love it so much. Throughout the entire renovation, which was quick for sure, I had an image of what it would look like, a visual goal that was keeping me focused and excited. I can’t believe how accurate it is to what I imagined. It’s a totally different house, but it’s still the same home. It’s open and light and functional, but still feels old world and soulful. Brian and I created a video series in partnership with Frigidaire Professional and Curbed.com. And if you want to jump to seeing it come to life watch the reveal episode HERE.
Nice job to my husband for producing that video. He did such an amazing job.
In case you are new, here is what it was like – the kitchen was small and awkward and the dining room was beautiful and light.
So we decided to break down that wall, add support beams, footings, and open up that entire room – but we wanted to do it in a way that felt integrious to the house. By making the ceiling line follow the same architecture of the house we really made it feel original.
It’s such a magical room now. The light from the dining room gets into the kitchen, the flow is open and clear, and the kids can eat at the counter for breakfast and lunch, after they run around the back yard all day, which you can see from the dining room and now the kitchen. All my maternal fantasies are being played out in my head.
There is so much to talk about that I figured I’d break it down chronologically – in order of installation. You already saw progress shots, but now it’s time to see how all the ideas really played out.
The herringbone flooring. I’m doing a whole post on this so I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s white oak from BuildDirect with a clear matte sealant. It’s stunning, gorgeous and absolutely worth every extra penny of labor it cost. Details later, but I highly recommend it and so does my flooring dude (he said it was very high quality).
We went custom and worked with a local company, Four Carpentry and they did an amazingly impeccable job. It was our third time working with them and I highly recommend that team. We chose inset cabinets, with flat panel doors and shaker uppers with a small detail that makes it feel a little more special:
We put furniture legs on the base which I think is a lovely detail, and then kept the profile of the cabinets thin. We added crown moulding that was a little more decorative as well as moulding under the uppers to help them feel finished. The cabinets cost $19k, and took 4 weeks (more details on timeline in the coming days).
We painted them Strong White, by Farrow and Ball which is a GORGEOUS taupey-gray white (we have since decided to paint our living room walls/ceiling that color). It’s such a lovely tone. Our cabinet guy wanted to use a lacquer for durability so he color matched it and it’s pretty close.
For hardware we went with a combination of painted knobs (generic and like $1 each) and long brass handles ($25).
I love how the knobs are quiet and feel a bit country and certainly unfussy. Whereas the handles feel sturdy and are un-lacquered brass (to match the faucet) and will patina beautifully.
We strongly considered latches on the uppers, but at the last minute decided to keep it more reserved.
We used black mesh (grills) in the cabinetry despite the fear of dust. I LOVE how it looks so much, folks. I was nervous about doing of them in gold for fear that it would be too blingy, but the matte black mesh is just perfect and brings so much depth into the room. WE bought them HERE and they cost almost $1k for all four (which was way more than I had planned, but I love them and they are custom).
In the back of the cabinets we put simple bead board to add more texture and depth, in a quiet way. Our cabinet guy sourced them and I’m pretty sure they were just generic panels from any local lumber store.
We had to build the farm sink into the cabinets (as per our cabinet makers request) so next up is that beautiful cast iron sink. I chose the Kohler Whitehaven which is a single versus a double based on many people’s recommendations and I’m so glad I did. It’s gorgeous and makes washing oversized items so easy.
Now for those appliances (which typically come in right after the cabinetry is all finished).
We worked with Frigidaire Professional, who provided the appliances. We choose the line because Brian and I are rather pros in the kitchen. Not really, but why not have professional-grade appliances in our beautiful kitchen? Another huge factor is that the full line features Smudge-Proof Stainless Steel so everything will always look polished.
Let’s chat fridge first:
We previously had a side-by-side fridge (our kitchen was small and we couldn’t fit a larger one) and I have to say that it’s insane how much easier to access and how much bigger it feels. Space isn’t all about square footage, it’s about how it’s laid out. We haven’t moved in yet, but we styled it all out for the shoot and just those two days there shooting it made me very excited to have it.
The shelves are adjustable and since it’s wide it feels easier to keep clean.
Birdie likes the simple, chunky streamlined handles, too.
The freezer drawer is easy to access and has a TON of storage. As someone who is unsatisfied by room temperature water and needs freezing cold water at all times, I am a huge fan of the front of door water/ice situation. As a kid I remember thinking someday, I’ll have one of those as if it was the sign that I’ve really made it. Now I know that a fridge is more streamlined without it, so if you aren’t a cold water addict (or if you have a cold filtered water somewhere else) then it might not be something you need.
Onto the range and hood. While these have some fun bells and whistles I’m happy to say that this appliance looks really simple still. The hood has a light and fan that is easy to use and the range has a warming setting in the oven (which I didn’t have before) which is a lovely option when you are trying to keep food warm for the whole family.
It also has a 2-in-1 Burner with a griddle attachment for pancakes, panini’s, burgers… stuff that we actually make a lot.
Charlie now asks to make pancakes every day and we promise him that when we move in (in 5 days!!) that our weekends will be full of this kind of adorable behavior (in between bouts of 3 year old insanity).
Again, those chunky knobs feel modern and clean and the interface is super simple to use.
Look at me roasting potatoes. By the way roasting is one thing I do because it requires way less moving parts. I shove a chicken and veggies in a dish and I find it to be the easiest way to make a well rounded meal that everyone actually likes.
On to the dishes:
I have promised myself that I won’t be allowing any dishes in the new house – I feel like all day every day we are doing the dishes. But we know we can’t do that, and surely I will have to deal with dishes at some point. So a dishwasher is inevitable and I love how this one is super simple and even has a 30 min wash cycle for those quick jobs and an adjustable top rack that helps make room for taller items so we get everything done in just one wash. It also automatically adjusts the clean cycle based on how much cleaning your dishes actually need.
It’s a fairly petite kitchen so I was happy that we found a place to put the microwave in the island. It’s tucked away but easy to access. Speaking of that floating piece of stress and anxiety in the middle of the room, AKA the island? Let’s chat about that for a bit.
I am VERY happy to say that this island is amazing and feels totally original to the house. The island controversy of 2016 certainly stole some of my sleep, not to mention probably 30 hours of debating, drawing, tweaking, drawing, and regretting, etc. Brian was so sick of talking about it and I was like ‘ha. imagine how WE feel?? Going through this process and forcing him to help me make decisions made him absolutely respect our job more. He felt the decision exhaustion and he was so thankful we kept him from most of the minutia.
Back to that beautiful island:
If you have a quirky shaped kitchen, turns out you can have a quirky shaped island. I think there are a few reasons why it works:
- We followed the lines of the original house – the beam, and the kitchen walls.
- We chose such a beautiful old-world style marble and had it shaped with that beveling which softened everything and made it feel old and original. If you have an old house I highly suggest doing a bevel like that. Our profile was called the OGEE BULL and not only is it beautiful, it’s kid friendly – no sharp anythings.
Let’s just say there was an ocean-sized sigh of relief when the stone went in and it was gorgeous.
I love having that ‘V-groove’ (larger than bead board and they come as individual pieces). It adds a lovely simple texture without adding any busy-ness. In a perfect world we will also put in a brass foot rail (How pretty would that be?). The color of the island is Green Smoke by Farrow and Ball, by the way and its VERY lovely.
I also love the curve of the stool against it as well as the petite size of these stools (they aren’t wide). Fun fact, we ordered the natural ones but they didn’t come in in time (2 days late) so we borrowed the white ones which I love even more, so now we are waiting for the white ones to come in January and we are returning the wood ones.
Onto the tile and marble.
I knew that I wanted something subtle in color but big in texture. Brian kept saying ‘but there is no color in the kitchen!!’ whenever I showed him the design plan, and I promised him that because it’s so small, a lot of color would make it look even smaller and busier. Remember the more contrast you have in a room the busier it is and the smaller it will look. However contrast in texture in a neutral color palette adds depth – which makes it look bigger.
We went with the subway tile idea, but used a 2×6 handmade tile in a light gray instead of the simpler white version. It is from Cle tile and I can say that it is ABSOLUTELY stunning.
It might be my favorite element in the kitchen. It’s warm and full of texture, but visually it’s so quiet. And it makes the kitchen feel bigger because it reflects so much light all day. I’ve caught myself so many tiles saying under my breath, oh my god that tile is so pretty. The total cost of the tile was $1598, including overage, which I think it actually GREAT considering the impact it has.
On to the marble, that stunning piece of stone.
Brian and I talked long and hard about the risks of marble but ultimately our love of the old world finish and texture won. Since our house is so old we are absolutely fine with the marble looking old, too. While the first few big stains are going to hurt, ultimately once it feels lived in it will feel even older and more original to the house. Brian kept saying ‘like an old tavern!’ and I agreed. Which is why we also decided to do that beveling detail. We bought it at a stoneyard in the valley and it cost: $5,182 for four smallish slabs. Not nothing, that’s for sure, but it is stunning.
Our fabricator did an amazing job at that ogee bull bevel and curving it around on the counter. It’s mostly white with some light green here and there, which was why we were so drawn to it. If we were going to spend $5k then it wasn’t going to be something you could find anywhere else. Fun fact, Michael S. Smith (Obama’s white house designer as well as just a generally VERY talented and famous designer) wanted these slabs so bad but he needed 88 of them and they only had 6. HA. I guess he is doing a full master bathroom from floor to ceiling in marble and was desperate for a green vein.
We chose a leather finish which is matte, but not honed. Its BEAUTIFUL and I highly recommend it.
Onto the lighting:
We faced a last minute lighting challenge as you might have seen on insta-story. Our chandelier that we had planned felt too big physically to Brian. I LOVE it and will use it somewhere else, and I didn’t totally agree with him, but he’s also a lot taller than I am and he lives here, too. So if he felt that it was too close to his face then I can’t really argue with him. Visually it looked great. So then we subbed out a cheap one that looked great, except not with the sconces. At the last minute we went shopping in the lighting district and found this pendant. It’s absolutely stunning and does indeed work much better than the original because it’s visually lighter.
It’s still big enough (20″ wide) but feels a lot smaller. Plus it’s an antique which I think this room needed. It looks GREAT with the sconces, thank god. We couldn’t really do pendants because of the shape of the island (they would have had to be too close together to really not hit someone in the head when they were standing on by the microwave. It’s complicated but trust me that one single round large scale pendant was the ideal and we found it! It was $1100 which wasn’t my favorite last minute budget surprise ever. But it was the night before the shoot and it was just perfect so that expensive trigger was pulled.
The sconces are more modern and I think help edge up the kitchen and bring in a little bit of 2017. It was hard to find some that fit that space, with some gold (but not all gold) and some black (but not all black). These are PERFECT. They are from Circa and are $496 each. Some of you made me doubt that they were too modern, but I love how they look and I think they absolutely work in the space – especially now that there is an antique pendant to balance them out.
Look at those gorgeous faucets. Oh man, they are so beautiful and solid and old world, but new and perfect. We got them from eFaucets.com which were very lovely to work with, and got them out faster than their usual 6-8 week lead time (custom finish). We used this faucet in the Silverlake kitchen and I fell in love with its shape and patina. It is unlacquered brass which means that it will patina as it has a ‘live’ finish. We’ve been told that this is high maintenance and that if not cared for properly they may corrode. After much debate we decided this was the only brass finish that we wanted and that the patina is more than welcome, despite it being more high maintenance. Again, our goal is that the age of the marble and the faucets will add more charm and soul into the kitchen. We will however wax it once a week to protect it. Then we coupled it with this hot water dispenser – because who doesn’t need a hot water dispenser. They also recommended a water softener which we are considering for multiple reasons (talk about the most boring way to spend money ever). If any of you have opinions on water softeners let me know. We were advised that there is no use to buying a cheap one, and that in order to really have it work it needs to be a model that costs around $3k. That is certainly not something we are willing to pay for right now, so i’m wondering if any of you have experience and can recommend doing it for any reason?
Wait. We forgot to talk about the single bit of proof that I am a success as a person, mom and cook – THE POT FILLER.
Thank god. I mean, the amount of times a week i’ve had to shlep a pot 3 feet from sink to stove is countless. I’m kidding … but kind of not. It’s definitely something I have always wanted because it just felt like a fantasy. I knew I would never have one unless I seriously renovated. But man, it is so pretty and I can’t wait to fill pot after pot with that beautiful faucet.
That may be it, folks. I’m writing a post right now about things that I learned, regarding timeline, budget and contractors. So there will be more information coming, but I don’t think I could possibly talk more about this kitchen.
Look at me doing my best Martha impression …. Also code requires two outlets on the island, as you can see which did bum me out, but obviously we need them for smaller appliances as well as laptops, etc. I’m debating covering them in a vintage brass cover but not sure if that will really help.
One last thing: what is contributing to my life excitement so much, every day, right now is the fact that the room is open to the dining room which looks over and opens to the backyard:
My life is going to get easier (a statement I repeat with hope all day when I’m there visiting). Right now, in our current house, which I LOVE, by the way, if we want to go outside and play we have to go up, outside on the deck off of the master bedroom. Kids can’t really play by themselves up there, so it feels like a mission.
So yes, this house is going to make my life easier, I just know it.
The doors are going to be left open 60% of the year, and the backyard is enclosed and so safe. We are moving this weekend, and I can barely contain my happiness.
Every day that I go over and visit I just think to myself this kitchen and dining room are magical. We haven’t designed the dining room yet, so I moved that table over from my office and bought my favorite classic chairs from Target until we figure out how we are using this room.
But I sure know how we are using this room – all day, every day, together. It’s honestly such an incredibly happy room, full of light and love. You know it takes a lot for me to use such cliche’d statements, but it’s just so true.
I feel truly like the luckiest person on the planet. We love that kitchen so much and we plan on making some seriously good memories here for years and years and years.
A few big thanks:
My design team – Ginny and Melanie. Obviously designing and executing a kitchen in 3 months is ambitious and I could have absolutely NEVER have done it without you. I am the luckiest person in the world to have such talented people helping me with my own kitchen. Besides all the technical stuff I thank you so much for helping me through my decision exhaustion and making sure that despite the fast timeline that I don’t have any regrets. THANK YOU.
Frigidaire and Vox Media. I would have designed the exact same kitchen that I did regardless of a sponsor, but having that extra push to get it done, with additional resources, and the ultimate excuse that this kitchen was going to be in a big video series really, really made this happen. THANK YOU. I love these appliances and can’t wait to cook (or stare at them) forever.
Brian and his production company Propeller Digital Media who directed, produced and edited the video series. Working with your husband can be tricky, but I’m so glad that for us it really works and is so much fun along the way. Watch the videos that we made for this project and see the kitchen and our family in action.
Belin from Mega-buiders. We got a few different bids but ultimately went with Belin because we had worked with him before and loved his work. He did an INCREDIBLE job (he’s done the whole house) and met our timeline as well as high quality.
*This kitchen was in partnership with Frigidaire but all words, designs and opinions are my own. All appliances were provided. Thank you so much for supporting the partners that support us creating quality design content for you.
Everything is linked, but for a quick resource here you go: All appliances from Frigidaire Professional Line, Cabinets by Four Carpentry, Sconce from Circa Lighting, Tile from Cle Tiles, Brass hardware handles from Rejuvenation, stools from DWR, BuildDirect from BuildDirect, Counters from Stoneland, moulding/beadboard/v-groove from Imperial moulding, Faucet/pot filler from E-faucets, Island paint (green smoke) and cabinet paint (strong white) from Farrow and Ball, dining table from DWR, chairs from Target.
**Photography by Tessa Neustadt