Dan's Kitchen: The Big Reveal

Renovation Diary

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Name: Dan Bailey
Type of Project: Kitchen remodel
Location: East Boston, Boston, Massachusetts
Type of building: 2nd Floor Condo in a Greek-Revival Row House

At times, it may have seemed like the Kitchen Renovation That Would Never End. In fact, Dan had the dubious honor of edging out Christine and Pierre for Longest Renovation Diary Project to Date — but through all the setbacks and pitfalls and I-had-no-idea-this-would-take-so-longs, Dan stayed strong. He (and his faithful contractor Gregg) did not give up. And now, we're celebrating with him the end of the road — the final, beautiful reveal of his finished kitchen.

If you've been following along from the beginning of the project, you'll realize that this is quite the transformation. If you haven't, get caught up on the series of posts Dan wrote about his kitchen renovation... and then check out some of the stunning before & afters below.

Before: Dan's old kitchen featured decrepit cabinets imbued with the smell of 60 years' worth of grease. Delicious.
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After: Much better.
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From Dan:

After countless hours of skim coating, caulking, and painting, six months of washing dishes in the bathroom, nearly 2000 pounds of construction debris, and a severe case of renovation fatigue, the kitchen is finally done. And in the end, it turned out exactly as I hoped it would — it's simple, practical, and well-integrated with the rest of the condo. And above all, it's a really great space for cooking.
Before: Dan might have described his kitchen as "Boston's other green monster". Here's the monster, as seen from the dining room.
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After: The new kitchen, in all its glorious newness, from the same view.
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Before the renovation began, the old kitchen was pretty unappealing. It consisted of a falling-apart drop ceiling, oddly-proportioned, grease-stained cabinetry, outdated appliances, peeling vinyl flooring, and lots of dull, green paint. It was a mess. But over the course of six months we transformed the kitchen into a bright, clean, inviting space with tons of storage and a practical layout perfect for cooking and entertaining.

Before: The old drop-in ceiling in all its glory. Also pictured: The awkwardly placed fridge that blocked a bunch of cabinets.
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After:Replacing the old fridge with a 24-inch stove and additional cabinets and counter space really opened up the space. And the new ceiling is much more attractive.
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The layout of the old kitchen was incredibly awkward – the stove was crammed in a tiny alcove by the window and the fridge blocked a big chunk of counter space. Reversing the positions of the stove and the fridge really opened up the space and made room for some extra cabinets and counter space. But aside from moving the fridge and the stove, I kept the kitchen layout pretty much the same. I decided against knocking down walls or rearranging the plumbing, partly for budgetary reasons and partly because I wanted to respect the architecture and original layout of my 165-year-old building.

You can see a diagram of the kitchen layout before and after in this post.

Before: Looking towards the kitchen window.
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After: The fridge now sits in the alcove where the stove once did.
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In fact, I did my best to create a modern kitchen that complements the building's stately, 19th-century architecture. To this end, I tried to incorporate some of the original Greek-Revival architectural details found elsewhere in the condo into the new kitchen. The crown molding, austere color scheme, original wide-plank pine floors, soapstone countertops, and reproduction trim all evoke the condo's mid-19th century, New England character.

Before: Lack of storage meant that a lot of food was stored out in the open.
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After: A new pantry means that this space is much cleaner and less cluttered. Eventually Dan is hoping to find a shallow cupboard or sideboard for this corner of the kitchen.
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Just the other day, as the final coat of touchup paint was still drying, I cooked my first real meal in the new kitchen – pasta with homemade marinara sauce, a simple meal that I haven’t made in months for lack of a stove. The new layout functioned exactly as I had hoped it would. There was plenty of counter space for laying out ingredients and chopping garlic. Cooking with the new gas stove was a lot of fun, and after washing dishes in the bathroom sink for half a year, the dishwasher was a revelation.

The new, extra-slim dishwasher.
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The new soapstone countertops. The new pantry is off to the left.
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When the soapstone countertops were first installed, they were a mottled, chalky gray color. But after a few coats of mineral oil, they’re now nearly black, with subtle white veining, and they’ve become my favorite aspect of the new kitchen. They look great against the white tile/dark grout backsplash, and they have a natural, matte finish that keeps the kitchen from looking too new and helps the space blend in with the rest of the condo.

The new pantry.
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Shelves in the pantry.
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The major renovation work is out of the way, but I still need to finish organizing, furnishing, and decorating the kitchen and dining room. The dining room in particular is looking pretty sparse. It could use a rug and maybe a credenza. And the dining room ceiling could use some patching and a coat of fresh paint. I’d also like to find a small, antique sideboard or cupboard to fill the corner of the kitchen next to the window.

The kitchen as seen from the dining room.
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The dining room as seen from the kitchen.
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This renovation has been a long haul, but I’ve had a lot of fun sharing the process here. I’d like to thank everyone who has followed along and offered encouraging comments and advice. throughout. And if you’d like to continue to follow along as I fix up the rest of my condo, join me over at my brand new blog, Terrace Place.

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Congratulations, Dan! Readers, check out the full series to see the whole renovation process, step-by-step. And be sure to join us tomorrow for a full budget breakdown.

(Images and diary text: Dan Bailey)

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