Before & After: A Kitchen Upgrade, Complete With A Real Life Space for “Real Life Stuff”

published May 1, 2016
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(Image credit: Submitted by Tracey)

When we moved into our Victorian row in 2007, it was a pleasant-enough looking house. But my husband and I knew we wanted to renovate—especially the wood-paneled kitchen (even if it was white!). We decided to leave the kitchen as-is until we lived in it for a while and really used the space (we also didn’t have the funds at the time). So, after about a year we found that our french-country (we don’t know how else to describe it) style kitchen lacked storage, had many unused areas and surfaces, and really, just wasn’t our style.

(Image credit: Submitted by Tracey)

At the time, I was working for a women’s magazine and my friend and work colleague, Arren Williams, the Decor Editor, offered to consult on our kitchen reno. To me, this was the best gift ever. It was good to have an expert opinion (plus, a tie-breaker when there were any disputes between the husband and myself) who could look at our kitchen with fresh eyes. He had great ideas, including moving the fridge to an unused corner of the kitchen and building custom cabinetry around it, adding a small, waterfall-style breakfast bar, and one whole wall of cabinets. While we chose all IKEA for the reno, we also added in some custom-looking elements so it wouldn’t look like another IKEA showroom.

One of these elements was creating a two-toned kitchen using two types of cabinet doors (brown and high-gloss white). The side of the kitchen that had the brown cabinets is accented by the white Staron (acrylic composite) waterfall countertop. To build this we had to give up the exposed brick wall. I was more ok with this than the husband (this is where Arren,our tie-breaker stepped in). He said we’d get more use out of a breakfast bar than an exposed brick wall. He was right. Now, it provides ample counter-space for pizza making and cake baking, as well as the spot where our two girls can eat breakfast or draw.

We also decided to dedicate one wall to storage. The original plan was to have floor-to-ceiling cabinets, but my husband was adamant that we needed a catch-all space for ‘stuff’. I argued that we wouldn’t have any. He won that one, and now the ‘catch-all’ spot houses keys, our sunglass tree (I don’t know where they all come from…) and our beloved espresso machine. On busier days there is also a fruit bowl, a box of stickers and hair elastics, and another box for pens, notepaper, and receipts. As much as I hate to admit it, he was right. In real-life, everyone needs a spot for real-life stuff.

Thank you, Tracey!