Our Home: Kitchen Transformation

Our remodel was officially completed just over two months ago giving us the opportunity to move in just a few days before Christmas.  I’ve shared updates of the process on the blog and through Instagram along the way. Thank you all for following along and cheering us on! Buying a home in this marketplace can be frustrating so having the opportunity to buy a home and remodel it from head to toe within a 6 month timeframe is still mind blowing.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts we bought our home on July 7th. We originally planned for a small remodel but after extensive research and interviewing multiple contractors the plan shifted into a full gut remodel.  Demo day was on September 11th and the construction was completed on December 22nd.  The process was intense but overall enjoyable.  We worked with Evan and his team at ELS Home Builders and they were 100% committed to the project and made sure we would be moved in before our rental lease expired.

Originally we were planning to remove a few walls and put in a simple updated kitchen so walking into this beautiful space each day is more than a treat.  Evan has relationships with so many wonderful vendors and he passes the discount on to his clients who pay for products directly.  It’s a different approach than most contractors but it was really appealing to us because we could customize every finish and not feel like we were overpaying.  For our kitchen we priced out stock cabinets from Lowe’s and Home Depot and were planning to go that route until Evan introduced us to his custom cabinet maker Robert who we ended up working with.  The cost was more than stock cabinets but worth every penny because of the custom storage options we were able to create.  It’s such a small home so packing in storage whereever we could was key.

The original kitchen was boxed in behind two walls. Once the walls came down, the space really opened up and now feels 10 times larger.

Once the house was gutted we could really get a feel for how the space could function. That is when we finalized the design details with Robert for the cabinets.  We wanted to move the door on the left (below) to where the window on the right was but after realizing the gas meter was below the window we decided to keep the original layout to save time and money.  So, instead of creating an L-shaped kitchen we went with an island and a dining banquette.  You can see the design plans in a previous blog post here.

The original window went away during the demo process because it was too low to put the kitchen sink below it.  We removed the window and installed a new one in it’s place to make the sink placement work.  We ended up putting in all new windows as the project progressed.  Windows were not in the original budget. Once the house was opened up and and we realized we had to replace a huge amount of lumber due to extensive termite data, it just made sense.

The after results turned out better than I could’ve hoped! We went with grey cabinets. I don’t know the name of the color, Robert just called it “happy grey” and he’s right, it’s happy.  Sometimes they look more blue and other times almost green, it just depends on the time of day.

We also added incandescent lighting and under cabinet lighting.  The dining pendant is the Tiered Drum Pendant from Rejuvenation, an online company affiliated with Pottery Barn.  I love the shape and the linen shade and it really softens the space.

We also replaced the exterior door in the kitchen with a dutch door so the top can open while the bottom stays in place.  It’s perfect to get fresh air in and keep Harper inside at the same time. All of the doors in our house are from Advanced Door Products in San Jose. We had to order the door and customize it with a piece of glass from Los Gatos glass because they don’t sell a dutch door with a single light (window) like this.

All of the fixtures and finishes are in polished nickel.  Polished nickel is not used as often as it should be. It’s my favorite because there is a hint of gold that warms it up. My cabinet handles are the Grafton Glass Pulls from Restoration Hardware. I used the 6 inch pulls throughout my kitchen and bathroom.

Another before…

Progress shot…

Because we had to raise up the window above the sink we also raised up the window in the banquette.  It’s hard to notice our roller shades in the windows but if you take a close look you can see them.  I wanted the shades to blend in with the windows and that’s just what they do.  I worked with Debra Piazza from Piazza Designs for all of our window coverings and she was wonderful.  My client Eryn (whom created the flower arrangements in the photos) has beautiful window treatments in a variety of styles in her home and she had worked with Debra so that is how I found her.  She came to our house for 90 minutes, we went through fabrics and options and had a plan once she left.  It was painless and fast, it took 4 weeks from the day we ordered to when they were installed.

Are you just noticing that there is an entire wall of tile in my kitchen? I stole the idea from a client in Menlo Park and I’m so glad I did! It took 3 days to install and put another dent in the budget but it really glams up the space and gives the room a luxury feel.  We bought all of our tile and stone from All Natural Stone in San Jose. Evan went with us and helped make final selections during our design appointment with Heidi. I love color but with our house being  under 1,000 square feet, I knew we needed to go with a neutral palette that would make it look and feel larger.  The backsplash is from The Quarry Collection, it’s Calacatta honed subway tile, 1 inch by 6 inches.  Our countertops are quartz.

The banquette opens up for storage.  On the left side I store my holiday linens and dishes and on the right side extra bedding and the air mattress that we use when guest stay.  We’ve had a surprising number of guests in this house already, it’s tiny but fun to entertain in! The cushions were made by a friend of my cabinet maker with fabric that I ordered through Bassett furniture, it matches the pillows on our couch. The other pillows are from Pottery Barn.

The original kitchen was functional but basic.  We thought about living in the house for a year or two before we remodeled but having a lease extension from our old landlord really encouraged us to take the plunge and get it all done before we moved in.

I love the before and afters from this perspective because you can really get a feel for how different the kitchen looks and functions.  Its’s so much brighter and lighter now that the walls have been removed!

I found my kitchen faucet while reading the Young House Love Blog.  They have a section that allows you to “shop their house” and I liked the look of their faucet and ordered it for our house on Amazon.  Our sink was also found on Amazon. I went with the 30 inch stainless sink by Kraus.  It’s HUGE and I love it!

One of the top items on my “kitchen must have list” was a pull out trash drawer.  Robert, our cabinet maker didn’t think we should lose the cabinet space. But I didn’t want to lose the floor space to a large trash can or recycling bin.  It’s such a small house so packing in smart features like this was important to me.  It was also important to me to have a wine cooler, ha!

We have a coffee and wine bar in this little corner and I love it! I’d be on a liquid diet if I could! Coffee and mugs are stored on the upper left cabinets and wine glasses are on the upper right.

The appliances are all from University Electric, we worked with Andy and after much debate we settled on going with a matching line by Dacor.  I wanted handles and stainless finishes to be the same (again, because it’s in a small space) and they were one of the only lines that had all of the appliances we liked and within a reasonable budget.  Our island has a cooktop and blower in it. That was the most complicated to select due to the small size of the island. Once we had that decided, we narrowed our options from there.  I really wanted paneled appliances but Evan and Chris told me “no way”! I love panels! We could’ve gotten a free dishwasher with our appliance package but the dishwasher that was offered as a gift with purchase had the loudest motor in it. We opted to upgrade to the model with the quietest motor.  This is our main living area and it’s just off our bedroom so we didn’t want the dishwasher to compete with the TV or time to rest.  Noise is something to think about when you are designing a small space!

Here is a closer look at the fridge.  I love the French doors and the flex-drawer.  Currently it’s stocked with wine and champagne but once summer gets here I’ll use it for veggies and fruit.  It is also a nice option for meat, we aren’t big meat eaters so for now it works as an extension of the wine cooler.

To the left of the fridge is a built in pantry that matches our kitchen cabinets.  We were able to gain the space by moving the water heater outside and converting it to a tankless on-demand unit. It also gave us extra room in the master closet that I’ll be sharing with you later.

With only two of us at this house the pantry is stocked and consumed pretty quickly.  I gave up on the idea of stocking up, instead I have the basics and use them up regularly.

I have baskets for snacks, chocolate, protein shake mixes, and bread.  The baskets are the stone woven plastic bins from The Container Store.  I have them in the section below and on the next side to contain baking goodies, Harper’s supplies, etc.  They aren’t labeled because it’s just the two of us and we don’t really need a label.

In the pantry on the right side there is a cabinet for small appliances, cookbooks, oils, and spices. I like that it is hidden behind the cabinet doors but right next to the island and fridge for easy access.

Just to share a peek inside of more of the cabinets here are my pull out shelves for my heavy Le Creuset cookware that we use daily.  There are also measuring cups and prep bowls on the shelves.  

My everyday glassware is to the right of the sink.  I started over in this house with new glasses from Target, the glasses on the right are the x-pattern goblets from the Hearth and Hand Collection.

Next to the glassware is a cabinet for specialty glassware, bakeware, and melamine dishes that we use casually in place of our regular dishes that are stored in my grandma’s hutch (I’ll share it when I share my living room).

So that wraps up the grand tour.  I know I could probably share 10 times more information so if you have questions please comment and I’ll do my best to get you an answer quickly. Many people ask who I worked with to design all of the details and choose the finishes and the answer is that I did it myself with the help of Evan our contractor.  I also had a major advantage with my knowledge of products and experience organizing so many beautiful homes in here in Silicon Valley.

My next post will share our living room, it’s just off the kitchen so it will give you even more perspective on how our home functions and feels.  Stay tuned!

Many of the photos in this post were taken by my friend Kate from JetKat Photo, she’s also based in Los Altos and does beautiful work.  I love following her on Instagram.

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