*Lyrics from I Wish You Love as sung by Frank Sinatra (though the National Youth Jazz Orchestra performance is cheerful and delightful, and certainly worth watching on a day like today). I considered an alternate title – “I wish you shelter from the storm, a cozy fire to keep you warm” – especially because the entire Eastern portion of the US is being battered by yet another bracing, snow-filled, ice-capped, rained upon bit of winter goodness, but I thought the above excerpt was more fitting. I heard this song ages ago and jotted it down to use at the end of something. Today’s weather makes the timing even more apt.
Le sigh. It’s over. This is the last installment of the Project W AFTER Tour (catch up here: master bedroom, kids’ rooms, main floor part one, and main floor part two). I am so proud and grateful that I got to have a hand in the complete transformation of this now gorgeous home. So, now, pictures! (Get ready, this is a long one…)
Boom. Project W kitchen. Do you remember it when it looked like this?
Sort of major, right? When we toured the space, there was a giant spiral staircase – de rigueur in 1982 – that cut right through what I saw as perfectly usable kitchen real estate. When we first met, the clients – craving brightness, space, and fluidity – wanted to open up the wall between the kitchen and dining room, but I felt that they would lose too much storage space. The kitchen was a galley and, while efficient and completely appropriate to the home, it didn’t exactly ooze storage space. With a tween, a teen, and a big, hungry dog, I knew that losing those uppers would be a risk.
It turned out that the wall between the dining room and kitchen was completely full of utilitarian stuff – you know, central heat, ducting, plumbing, you name it – and moving all of that stuff would have been incredibly costly. Score one for saving the galley. I also knew that with new lighting, new cabinets, and countertops that the room would be the bright and open space they desired, even without cutting into that wall (their previous kitchen was DARK, small, and not very efficient). We did expand the opening to the dining room, though, in hopes of matching the opening that connects the game room to the dining room on the other side, and making the room seem original to the house, as well as improving the flow from room to room.
Initially I wanted to install French doors in the wall between the dining and family rooms. I wanted to expand on the openness and connectivity of the original front part of the house, while keeping some privacy. Budget ruled on that one, and in the end I think the family is happier that they have a cozier TV room than they would have otherwise. The space is casual, family friendly, yet elegant at the same time.
In the kitchen, with an initial brief that a soft blue be used on the walls, we opted for painted white cabinets to harken back to the built-in look from the 1920s, and chose an almost-marble solid surface that could withstand cooking and baking lessons, slumber parties, and plenty of spills. The result is equal parts soft and strong, with the blue color connecting the existing trim color with the new cabinet color. I knew we needed to bridge the warm with cool (the original trim color in the house was a distinctly warm creamy-white, and it sadly wasn’t in the budget to change it), and this in-between warm-ish blue balances those forces beautifully.
I maintained the connection to the black and white that we used in the master bath tile and powder room tile to repeat that motif and make the home feel more unified. I really wanted the family to feel like their kitchen was part of the original story that the house told through its architecture, and we were able to achieve that while including modern comforts (microwave drawer, double wall ovens, hood that vents outside).
My clients were so wonderful to work with – I would suggest multiple options for things that would be within their budget – hardware, faucets, lights – and they chose what I would have chosen every time. We splurged on a few items – like the lights from Schoolhouse Electric – but saved on other things along the way (like the shelf brackets). In the end, we met our portion of the budget with room to spare. (Of course that room to spare was completely used up by budget overages in other areas of the house, but that’s the nature of renovation, right?)
I’m so proud of the work we were able to achieve, but I’m more thankful that my clients gave me their trust and confidence throughout the process. Renovating a home is hard – it always takes longer, always costs more, and there are always compromises – but this family really glided through the experience with grace and gratitude. I’m so happy that they ended up with the home of their dreams, and a place I know they will cherish for years to come.