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NQM House Tour: 5 Must Follow Tips for Kitchen Remodels

Back in 2013, my husband and I bought our current home on Vashon Island, which lies in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. I’m a wee bit superstitious, and making a major life change in a year with number 13 in it, like, say moving from urban Seattle to a rural island only accessible by ferry, had me spooked! When I stepped out of the car on moving day and was immediately stung by a bee, I was sure we were in for it. And, I wasn’t exactly wrong.

The next two years would be royal remodel hell, and we had the brilliant idea to throw a pregnancy/new baby in the mix (technically Baby was supposed to be born after the reno was all wrapped up, but duh, the project ran behind schedule). It was a harrowing time, one that could fill several blog posts indeed, but in the end, I got my dream kitchen. Would I change a thing or two? Absolutely. But overall, I love the space, and so does my family and friends. Here’s my 5 Must Follow Tips for a Kitchen Remodel:

  1. Plan with a Pro (Sometimes It’s Better to Start from Scratch.) We had renovated a lot of homes before and initially thought we’d renovate the existing kitchen, but after talking to an architect we quickly realized the error of this plan. The original kitchen was a tiny, nearly closet-sized space. In fact, at the time the home was built, a root cellar (which still stands in a nearby outbuilding) was the main source of food preservation! In the 1980’s, previous owners did an awkward addition to add a new kitchen, but it was in a weird spot and had extremely low ceilings that could not be bumped up, as the equally awkward master bedroom was overhead. Instead of renovating and adjusting what was there, our architect suggested rebuilding the south end of our home all together (where the ill-suited renovations had taken place), giving us a brand new kitchen and master suite overhead. This design plan allowed us to keep the historic charm of the rest of the home, all the while creating an open floor plan by cutting out a large opening between the original great room and the new kitchen/dining space. This was important to us—every day ease as well as optimal layout for entertaining. Plus, it likely saved us money because trying to improve structurally flawed spaces are awkward layouts ends up adding up far faster than a rebuild.
  2. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition. The use of repetition in home design and decor—be it paint, fixtures, or finishes—creates a sense of both comfort and cohesion. This becomes even more important when putting on an addition or remodeling, as you want your whole space to feel unified. To tie the old and new spaces of our home together, we ran all-new hardwoods throughout the main floor and kept the paint scheme and finishes mostly consistent throughout. We also added rustic features like the rough hewn shelf my husband built for me over the sink to continue to hunting lodge feel of the house. Because I like to use light and neutral colors in large spaces, particularly when working with an open floor plan, we chose the light and crisp BM (Benjamin Moore) Stonington Gray on the walls, with lots of white trim and cabinets in BM Simply White. I tend to prefer the freshness of cool color palettes with lots of contrast, so I chose to accent the light gray and white with pops of black in BM Onyx on our kitchen island and doors. We also added in black accents with lighting fixtures, back splash grout lines, dining chairs, and kitchen and door hardware. Our interior colors mimic the exterior of the home, which is also painted BM Simply White with shutters and trim work in BM Onyx.
  3. Balance is Crucial. Think through scale, color, finish and style—spaces that only have one sided styling fall flat. Originally built as a hunting lodge in the 1930’s, I played up the masculine vibe of the adjacent 30-foot rock fire place in the great room with industrial, yet wood-forward dining, bar, and coffee tables from Pottery Barn’s Griffin Collection. These warm, vintage vibe pieces help balance what could have been an overly stark feeling white kitchen. In search of a bit of warmth in my otherwise cool color palette, I added wood tones throughout. The floating wood shelf above the kitchen window displays my collection of antique (teal!) Mason Jars, as well as a couple vintage brown Clorox bottles that were dug up during the excavation phase of our remodel. This also helps balance the new, perfect cabinets with items that are old and well loved. I pull down a bottle or jar to display simple cut flowers and greens rather than opt for a dressier crystal look (see above). Cutting boards made by local woodworking artisan Tahlequah Woodworks line the countertops to break things up as well.






  4. Use Classic Foundation Pieces. I wanted to steer clear of anything too trendy when picking the more permanent component of the kitchen, so I chose simple white shaker-style cabinets, which were custom built by a local woodworker. A white subway tile backsplash with dark gray grout lines the walls. I love using subway tile wherever I can as its combination of timeless elegance and cost-efficiency are hard to beat. Countertops are a neutral light-gray tone in Carrara by PentalQuartz, which is super durable and stain resistant (I’m of the mindset that real Carrara marble countertops are for kitchens that aren’t actually cooked in). Another durable choice was our white metal stools since our kids can be tough on furniture. Appliances, plumbing fixtures, and the bar sink are simple and classic in stainless steel. Our traditional and simple farmhouse kitchen sink is from Vintage Tub & Bath.


  5. Infuse Personality with Accents. I did want to give the space some personality by way of accents and accessories. My main point of inspiration came from a dish towel I found at Crate and Barrel (shown above), which had touches of navy blue, my favorite color, red, which played off the Wolf stove and oven fixtures, and teal. To highlight the navy and teal, I lined the back of my glass cabinets with a high-quality removable wallpaper in the Rapids print by Chasing Paper. The antique garden trug that I use to gather my garden’s bounty lives on my counter and continues the old and new balance. For both storage ease and color, I keep my often used water-themed piece by Schoolhouse Electric, that is a nod to the daily cargo ships passing through Puget Sound that we watch from our dining table.






I can honestly say, the sting of the bee and the remodel have faded like a distant Pacific North-Western fog, and now we love and appreciate our beautiful and functional space that is truly the heart of our home.

Hope you enjoyed the kitchen tour! Although the major renovations are done, we’ve got a few more in progress and TWO bathrooms still to go. Stay tuned for more remodel posts to come!

All photos by Marla Smith Photography

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