From BEFORE to AFTER… Musings around my own KITCHEN Reno, while learning alllllll the things about DESIGN for current and future Clients
Can you even BELIEVE this ‘before’ photo?!
Yep… I let it all hang out so I could do an analysis of where I’m at as I started to try to figure out where I needed to go with my own Kitchen re-vamp.
Have you heard of the ‘Kitchen Dance‘? It’s the way a Cook – or two – moves about the space, pulling ladles, stirring pots, grabbing a bowl – when in unison, it all comes together like a dance. When a space is well composed, the dance comes off as effortless. Efficient. Beautiful. The space needs to set the choreography for the dance, or accidents can happen, knives can fall, spills can burn (yes, I know ALL of these by my own stupidity…).
I could patch + repair, de-clutter, clean up a bit, but … honestly I’ve.Done.That. I’ve (temporarily) repainted the lower cupboards from black-brown to medium grey. I’ve cleaned the warped cabinetry next to hot areas, I’ve repainted the marble on the main Island top (behind that ^ photo), I’ve tried to glue the plastic that covers the range’s digital readings back on (many times), I’ve installed vinyl flooring to cover the dark, old tile, I’ve tried to make a toaster oven do what a second oven ought to…
This Kitchen has officially served it’s time. Over the past 15 years it has sweat and bled (or at least I have) through thousands of family meals, hundreds of dinner parties, dozens of holiday meals for up to 50-65 people, and much more. Well done, good and faithful Kitchen!
As we look at another 10-20 years in this house before we can POSSIBLY downsize (so, basically ’til we die…), a Kitchen re-vamp is top of MY priority list.
It is also very important to me to re-use, re-cycle and re-purpose as much of the old Kitchen as possible, so – stay tuned! It will depend a great deal on having the right help, within the right budget. My hope is that everything I learn and do here can be shared with YOU ALL to inspire, support, and help compose YOUR Kitchens to work their best for you and your special dance. It is, after all, the heart of the HOME.
P.S. If you want to start at the beginning, scroll to the bottom!
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.09.25 | Kitchen Trials …
OH – not ‘trials’ as in hardships – that’ll come with actual Construction, I’m afraid LOL. Trials as in TRYING THINGS OUT!
Since starting the process of wanting to design a new Kitchen about 3+ years ago, I’ve been trying out all kinds of things. Knowing the majority of the existing Kitchen would go, we’ve used the space to experiment in while making our final decisions (and while figuring out where the money to pay for it all will come from LOL!).
- The first trial was to test out a shade of light grey paint on the lower cabinets! We didn’t stress about it – it didn’t need to last forever. But painting over top of the existing black/brown made a WORLD of difference and brightened up the space by a factor of about a bazillion.
- On a roll, the next trial was to find a refinishing kit for the old, brown granite countertop on the Island. Like this >
3. NEXT UP I installed a scrap piece of vinyl peel and stick wallpaper in my Herbal Print in Grey on the original plaster backsplash to test out the color combinations. I wasn’t sure where I’d use it yet, but I still wanted to make sure things were ‘going together’ – turned out it was actually great for the backing of the Dining Room glass upper cabinets!
4. FINALLY we recently took apart a piece of upper counter so that we could try out a 4’x8′ Island with Plywood and vinyl ‘marble sticker roll’, to see if we liked a) the size, and b) losing one of the walk-through areas. We do. We LOVE it, and now that trial will inform the final design for the new Kitchen (although at 3’6″ x 8’0″ – good thing we tested!).
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.09.12 | Cabinets are IN!!
Since we weren’t quite ready to start work on the Kitchen itself yet, I decided to go ahead and use IKEA Cabinetry (25 year warranty, btw!) to get the Dining area done in the meantime. Delays, auction pieces, moving things around, cleaning out 6 bags of ‘no longer needed’ items – and VOILA! It’ll take an entire post to share it all with you properly, so for now I’ll leave you with this image.
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.08.14 | Commercial Restaurant AUCTIONS!!
While the Dining Room area IS STILL FREAKIN IN LIMBO, I haven’t quite FINALIZED the Kitchen, but it’s getting there. In the meantime, I’ve been going on all the Restaurant Equipment Auctions looking for useful things I can incorporate into my design (I have a few ideas swirling about in my head!).
AND LOOK WHAT I FOUND!! I have named her Beastie. She is LARGE. No idea what the origins of this big, beautiful chunk of authentic Butcher Block is, but the second I saw her I was in love and had to outbid every.other.person to get her for some obscene price I don’t divulge to Hubby.
He’s been obsessed w cleaning all the ‘old dead animal bits’ off her LOL!
It took 3 grown men about an hour to get her in the house…
I LOVE HER!!
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.07.04 | Even IKEA Runs Out of Steam…
Well once you get started, it’s hard to stop! We moved a few closets downstairs, which meant all my dishes had to sit on the Dining Table for awhile until we can finish the wall to the right. I THOUGHT I could just head to IKEA and order a few cabinets and VOILA – done in a week!
But alas… Even IKEA runs out of steam for ongoing COVID renovations… The cabinets I need for this wall are COMPLETELY out. As in, out in all of CANADA. Ugh. Fortunately it’s still summer and we can eat outside for the next month or two…
Once I can get the Dining Rm settled, and the ‘don’t need ’em every day’ dishes out of the way, I can better plan out the final details of the main Kitchen.
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.07.04 | Invest When You Can – It’s Worth It
We are NOT big-budget kind of people. For the record. BUT when I really love something, it’s worth a bit of extra (like above and beyond IKEA) cash. Like all the way to middle-ground Crate + Barrel.
Thankfully when you DO spend a BIT extra on something you love, it can always find a home somewhere in your house, right?! This shelving was displaced when we removed a wall (or two), but it’s happy to perch at the end of our (futurely beautiful) Dining Room. I have a few plans for the wall behind – stay tuned!
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.06.28 | It’s GO Time!
While we spend the first half of Quarantine adding a bazillion plants to the Garden in the backyard, we spent the next few months getting ready for KITCHEN RENO BABY!!
What’s this mess, you ask?
We started by re-arranging the rooms around the house! Hubby had someone come in to add a wall and door downstairs, so we could move our barely-home, grown daughters down while him and I reclaimed our ‘old’ room on the main floor and moved out of the space behind this shelving.
WHICH IS ALL TO SAY, now I could extend the Kitchen planning into this space, which I’d always dreamed of doing. So – actual movement towards a real reno direction! One step at a time…
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.04.13 | NKBA Official
WHELP! It’s official – I’m a member of the National Kitchen (+ Bath) Association! While I have little to no intention of designing bathrooms, they apparently come together. Now to register for / write the first Associate exam (which I should really pretty much know after 20+ yrs in the Industry!) and start studying for the Certification level.
I’m on in! Going to learn everything I possibly can to be able to advise ALL YOU GORGEOUS FOLKS in your future (or present!) new and re-vamp Kitchen designs!
Now to go put my pretty little NKBA sticker up somewhere on the site…
XOXO – ak
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.04.10 | Anyone HOME?!
And – so it seems – some suppliers are!
Had a great chat with my friend and Kitchen/Interior Designer extraordinaire, Jamie. He’s been unbelievably encouraging throughout this process of not only designing my own Kitchen to the tiniest detail, but also in my journey of becoming a certified Kitchen Designer myself. LOVE this guy and hoping to grace my own Kitchen with some of his beautiful cabinets, the Banfield (sold also through Kohler).
Also had an online call all about SLIDES! Doesn’t that sound exciting?! But, in a cabinet design that’s 30″ deep vs the typical 24″ deep, they’re an important consideration. Grass Canada chatted with me for an hour all about slides and now have my drawings for review. We’ll see what happens!
Hope you are all continuing to stay safe – Happy Easter!
XOXO – ak
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.03.20 | Aaaaand WAIT!
I’m supposed to have been about to visit Caliber Appliances in California next week, settled a few things with new suppliers and SECURED all the financing, but … Coronavirus.
That’s ok – a minor thing in the world of new Kitchens, as compared to what others are going through. Instead, every week that goes by I’ve been making a donation to the local Food Bank and making my lists ‘o things to do once the curtain is lifted. AND – cooking. A LOT of cooking!
Hope you are all safe + sound!!
XOXO – ak
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.02.20 | Countertops!
My first meeting regarding countertops was interesting… Interesting in the new technologies or finishing options kind of way, but also in my reaction to the choices. I don’t want a boring white-on-white-on-white marbley everywhere kind of Kitchen, but at the same time I do a TON of photography in this space and food colors really do stand out on it. UGH. What to do…
I already own the elongated hex marble backsplash tile, which I still love after all the years it’s sat on my floor waiting for this re-vamp, but I also want to think out of the box and try my best to find a happy spot between pouring money into a “background kitchen” vs the Kitchen as the main event itself.
More meetings to go until I resolve this, I feel… Wish me luck!
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.02.18 | Sticker Shock…
Today I’m sad with Sticker Shock… LOL!
Appliance hunting isn’t as fun as you’d think when you don’t have a budget to work with!! But thanks to the lovely folks at Midland Appliances, I’m starting to get something together.
The range is my #1 priority, and naturally I fell in love with the most expensive range in the entire store – Caliber. Hand-made in California, the 48″ range option with about 120 flame ports per element, vs the typical 28 or even 50, is like dozens of firey Sirens calling my name. *sigh*.
$28,000 CAD for the 48″ model. Not in my budget, but boy was it beautiful! Time to work on the REALITY appliances haha.
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.01.26 | Happy Birthday, Junior Food Dude!
We had fun celebrating my big BOI on his 16th Birthday this weekend!
He’s been obsessed with fish and learning to fillet and cook a huge variety of them, so as his ‘gift’ we bought him this 5kg Organic Spring Salmon to play with.
He enjoyed using his new fileting knives from Christmas to carve, filet and smoke, jerky and steam enough of it for dinner.
Happy Birthday, Jr Food Dude!|
Can’t wait to have a new Kitchen for you to cook in.
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.01.24 | Kitchen (Bath) Show, Las Vegas
WELL< that was an adventure!
First Kitchen Show done – check!
I’m still gathering all my thoughts, but sufficed to say a lot was learned both for my own upcoming Kitchen reno, and for my present / future Clients.
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.01.14 | Always Say HELLO.
I mean, it can’t hurt, right?
I was sitting at some kind of meetup once that I had gone to on my own after my “support buddy” had to cancel. Being totally fine alone, and as much introverted as I am extroverted, I wasn’t too worried about it and would have been more than happy to sit on my own, listen and leave.
But then the STRANGEST thing happened.
The gal next to me turned and said “Hi. I’m Liz.” And we chatted for quite some time and I learned all about her business (of which I’m now a fan) and I came away inspired. ALL SHE DID WAS SAY HELLO.
What if I started just saying HI to whomever I wanted?! What could happen?
Well, I’ve been doing just that at about every bar or restaurant counter I come across. Today I had a meeting w an incredibly intelligent “bartender” I met at one of my favorite restaurants – turns out he has multiple degrees in design, arts and engineering and wanted info on a career in this side of the food industry. It was a great chat, and he’s offered to 3D render my new Kitchen Design, so – we’ll see!
This past weekend I met a fascinating Chef (below) at a restaurant who has tons of great ideas for Kitchen Design – I can’t wait to possibly hear from him, after leaving my name/email. Another lady at the bar informed me Seattle food sucks – these are good things to know LOL.
You just never know who you’ll meet with a HELLO.
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.01.11 | Whistler Inspo
Hanging in Whistler for the weekend and, upon doing my typical google search of “Farm to Table Restaurants” in the area, somehow nothing was open for lunch. What?! I guess typically everyone is too busy skiing for good food?! …
I landed on Bar Oso, a ‘Spanish tapas’ style bar. It did NOT disappoint. I’ll jot down some notes about the food later, but what really fascinated me was the TINY KITCHEN! Barely 40sf, 7’ x 5’ if that for the “cooking” functions, it seemed to have everything one might need to create a menu full of deliciousness.
Prep was done downstairs, but in the moment the Chef could heat sauces in the sous vide, cook (my fave) shishito peppers in the tiny oven, grill or boil anything that needed grilling on the hotplate , and opposite create and plate beautiful garnishes, sandwiches and salads.
We chatted for a bit about how little space a cook needs – every extra step to get something is time and energy wasted. Fascinating…
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.01.10 | KBIS, Here I come!
I DID IT!
I’m signed up to head to VEGAS for the Kitchen (Bath) industry trade show!! Can’t wait to see and learn and be inspired. And maybe have a few decent meals… I’ll be sure to share everything I learn w you all!
Anyone know of GOOD (not necessarily ‘popular’ or ‘star cheffy’) restaurants in Vegas?! Otherwise, bring on the ‘between kitchen-show hours’ poolside cocktails, Baby.
alisonsKITCHENreno 20.01.01 | Happy NEW YEAR!
WELL, it’s officially 2020 – the year I HOPEFULLY have a new KITCHEN! Wish me luck getting it all past Hubby, the Finance Guy…
I did do a quick’n’dirty budget based on full retail pricing of all the things I think I want to do, etc, at $60-$70,000 CAD – including appliances, cabinets, countertops, backsplash, sink/faucet, etc.
I’m lucky Hubby’s bestie is our Electrician, so hopefully I can ply him with a few meals. I’m also aware there are discounts to be had, so we’ll see how that evolves. I’ve done my own tile work before and don’t mind doing it again – it’s not that hard! So that could save an $800.00 install. I’m happy to buy floor models of appliances, or slightly scratched/dented etc to get better quality for less money. AND I’m hoping to re-use as much of my old Kitchen as possible in new and creative ways – but less for cost, more for keeping construction waste OUT of the landfills.
alisonsKITCHENreno 19.12.15 | Kitchen Auctions are my NEW JAM!
I’ve been seriously contemplating using as much USED elements as possible in my new Kitchen design. I hate the thought of the vast amounts of Construction Waste as we constantly build, reno, etc. SO FUN! Also I found a perfect piece for one of the elements in my new Kitchen – hopefully I find it, or something like it, closer to my need-date!
alisonsKITCHENreno 19.12.12 | Look, Ma, NO HANDS!
I totally am advising on not just MY Kitchen Design, not ONE, but now TWO CLIENTS! Actually!! And I love it! It feels so legit. There is so much information out there between Pinterest, Houzz, HGTV, magazines, Salespeople etc, and it feels so good to help people navigate it all. It’s official – my training wheels are OFF!
Also, I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m becoming the Master of Weirdo Little Drywall Sketches. Just sayin’.
alisonsKITCHENreno 19.12.01 | Take it from a PRO
One of our favorite restaurants nearby is closing (UGH Vancouver rent!!), so I had to take the opportunity to FINALLY sit at the “Chef’s Table” – the one table with a full view of the working Kitchen! And boy did I get my money’s worth. I spent the entire two hours studying how they move, who was doing what, which appliances / tools they were using, etc. A well-designed Commercial kitchens is based on maximum efficiency and a flow that will cause the fewest accidents. There are definitely some cues to pull from when better designing Residential kitchens.
alisonsKITCHENreno 19.11.30 | All Laid Out
This past weekend I was on site with a House Reno where I’m also doing the Kitchen Design with the Client, and the Contractor had laid out the entire kitchen not just on the floor, but up on benches! It was the perfect way to get the feel for the depth of the counters, the centering of the Island on other things, and the general “how I’m going to use this space”. It’s easy for me to “see” all these things on paper, but not so easy for Clients to do so. I’ll definitely be adopting this for future projects!
alisonsKITCHENreno 19.11.27 | Party with Purpose
The Interior Design community LOVES to party. I remember going to my first ‘Designer Events’ and knowing maybe ONE person? Two years later, I know at least half the room. It doesn’t take long if you come into the room with a smile. And why go? Without a specific program I could take called “How to Become the Ultimate Technical Kitchen Designer”, I’m learning on my own backed only by the decades of Architectural experience I already have. So, time to head out and meet all the suppliers, installers, contractors, sales managers, etc and begin my learning and finding the perfect team to build YOUR original, perfectly suited, technically functional KITCHEN!
alisonsKITCHENreno | 19.11.25 Confirmation
You know you’re doing what you’re ultimately meant to do when the universe confirms it! I now have an official 3 Kitchens to design on my plate! And I’m loving it. I still have a lot of suppliers and trades to meet up with, but people are already connecting to my passion for food and cooking with architecture and planning and it feels so good.
alisonsKITCHENreno | 19.11.12 Jumping In
Had a great chat with my incredibly talented friend Jamie Banfield last night and I’ve been encouraged to JUMP ON IN to this whole Kitchen Designer thing! Including – drum roll, please – hopefully attending January’s KBIS (Kitchen/Bath Show) in VEGAS BABY!
I think I’ll get a show floor pass and wander for 3 days throughout all the Exhibits and see what I can learn. Also – VEGAS! I’ve never been! I’m so excited on many levels – but also so I can finally see the Neon Museum, too!!!
alisonsKITCHENreno | 19.11.08 the Rolodex
I’m fortunate that although I work in the world of Architecture, I know a lot of talented, passionate Interior Designers. I mean, they DO throw better parties, so naturally they ended up being my people…
The added benefit NOW, I’m finding, is that I have a plethora of sounding boards and a rolodex FULL of people with the perfect connections I need as I start exploring Kitchen Design! Lucky me! I’m picking every.single.brain that will entertain the conversation – the year ahead is going to be full of coffee (or cocktail) dates!
alisonsKITCHENreno | 19.11.05 Pinteresting!
Design ideas can come from anywhere – a sign on the subway on a trip to New York, dinner at a friends’ house, an open Kitchen at a restaurant – but my personal fave is Pinterest, of course!
Ideas are great for taking a lead on an idea, but in the end I prefer to end up somewhere original and unique than copy something already done. The trickiest part is having an idea in my head that I’ve NEVER seen in photos, and trying to sort of reverse-inspire, validating an idea by finding an example or two to drive from and to ensure the idea isn’t absolute crap …
alisonsKITCHENreno | 19.11.03 3D IT UP!
Every plan idea also needs to be worked out in 3D, so into Google SketchUp it goes! I’m not super proficient, so it’s going to be tedious, but I definitely want to make sure everything works before it’s set in stone. Better some hours of pain here, than $$$/HOURS later on when something doesn’t “bring me joy”!!
alisonsKITCHENreno | 19.11.01 AutoCAD is LIFE!
The AutoCAD version of the Kitchen drawings have begun – and I’m officially OBSESSED with every fraction of an inch. For the most part the layout will remain the same, but how to make the absolute most of each and every bit of space? My little brain wheels are turning…
alisonsKITCHENreno | 19.10.30 Documentation
First steps? DOCUMENT the existing Kitchen… This is embarrassing, but somehow less so if it’s in Black/White LOOL! How did I ever get so cluttered?
I don’t even use HALF of what’s in these drawers, and cannot wait to purge. But it’s also good for reviewing what I do need, and where it is now and where it should be later, so I opened every drawer and took every embarrassing photo – but you only get to see one haha!
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