Our Kitchen Remodel Reveal: Practical and Pretty


It’s taken me a bit of time to find a few minutes here and there to piece this post together.  We’re so blessed and so grateful for the amazing spaces we dreamed about {for the past 12 years that we’ve been in our home} and worked hard to make a reality and now get to enjoy! Truly!  I shared about the beginning of our remodel experience, and now, I get to share some after pictures with you!  If pictures of kitchen spaces aren’t your thing…here’s your chance to click away now because this post will be photo heavy.  🙂  This post will only cover the kitchen; I’ll post later to show you the utility/pantry/entry room…and the new learning room will have to be a post all its own, too.

Getting through the remodel was challenging, but workable.  Once we were on the other side we had to shift gears quickly since we were already into Advent.  So, there was this joy and delight in the spaces we’d envisioned in our imaginations now becoming real before us…and there was the guarding of some quiet and the traditional Advent preparations.  And in between it all, we had to move back into our own home.  {We lived here through the remodel, but we had to pack up our kitchen, learning room, dining room, most of our bedroom, and a fair amount of our family room while construction was going on.  Do you have any idea how much of your kitchen you can actually pack into your bathroom?  Actually, a stunning amount!  And, I still have some books packed in bins in my garage!  One bin at a time…I’ll get there!}  Having said all of that, I’d love to share a few pictures and the rest of the story on the remodel

…so without further ado…


is my new kitchen


Let’s review….BEFORE…

There was this….


…and the dining {former learning} room, which was separated from the kitchen with a wall…


…and all of that has now become….this…



Here are a few more before and after perspective shots

Below used to be the view standing in my hallway looking into my old kitchen.


and now…


The space is almost completely opened up now.  The old tile floors were demolished {Good riddance!!  How I loathe thee pitted-mock-stone tile!} and red oak hardwoods were installed and finished to match my existing hardwood floors.  {Our floors are all unstained – they’re natural red oak sealed with polyurethane…in case you wondered!  LOL!}


In our old kitchen, there was a double enameled cast-iron sink {please note the chipped formica…sigh…}.  Which I honestly loathed.  It was barely 7 ½” deep and you couldn’t fit a regular pot in one side of the sink…let alone casserole dishes.  Just fitting the dishes we generated for a regular meal was such a challenge!  And my ovens?  Yes – I did have double ovens which I truly enjoyed and relied on, but what you probably can’t tell from this picture is that they were undersized.  Roasting pans for a turkey – nope, not goin’ in.  Sheet pan?  Doesn’t fit.  Oversized casserole dish?  Uh-uh.

I spent 12 years embracing the kitchen we were blessed to have and finding a great deal of peace and contentment in that!  We made it work.  There’s a real joy in that!  And for 12 years I quietly considered every little bit of that space – honestly critiquing spaces that worked, that didn’t, that could be imagined differently.  And I imagined them again and again while remaining content with what we had…until all of a sudden, we were changing things.  And all of my imaginings began to translate first on paper…and then into this amazing kitchen that I’m overjoyed to share with you today.  I’m blessed.  There’s just no other way to express my gratitude.

A closer look

This is the new western wall of my kitchen {this is the wall that formerly had the microwave, double ovens and cooktop}.  You can see that we rearranged all of the major appliances, cut a big hole in the wall, and added a beautiful window that lets in such light!  From this window I can see my little kitchen potager {and right now…it is so badly in need of tending!}.

My new bake center is actually in the same location as my old bake center – on the left side of my kitchen {Picture 1}.  The cabinets below the bake center each have a slide out drawer – which I use for small appliances like my food processor and toaster.




On the right side of the kitchen {Picture 2}, I have my dishwasher, and to the right of that, the bank of drawers.  The single drawer above holds flatware and serving utensils.


Where-oh-where is all the nitty-gritty stuff of the kitchen, you ask?  The two deep drawers hold sippy cups, food storage containers, mason jars, etc.  And my island is nothing but storage – so I have lots of things that we don’t use every day, but would like to have access to, stored under the island!


The kitchen overall is an L-shaped kitchen with a large 7′ x 6′ island in the center.  The island seats 6 comfortably.  I found the chairs at Overstock.com – in case you’re interested, they’re Tribecca Mackenzie counter height chairs {which I waited to purchase at deep discount during Cyber Monday sales}.  I have a set of 8 table chairs in the same style around my table. {You can see them pictured in one of the photos of the dining room up above.} They’re very comfortable chairs and match the cream of the kitchen perfectly!


Our big island is also the home for my new induction cooktop.  I really wanted a gas cooktop, but it just wasn’t in the budget for us since we have no gas lines to the kitchen.  So we compromised and ended up with a 36″ Induction cooktop, and I have to tell you, I love the responsiveness in cooking.  I’m just concerned about long term durability of the glass on the cooktop and the electronic/computer guts of this beast. Time will tell, I guess.  I do like the bridge elements that allow me to convert smaller elements into one long rectangular element.  And I love the large cooking element in the center.

Instead of a hood that hangs over the cooktop, we went with a downdraft, and we {read: Rob and my two sons} love it {because of the coolness factor}.  You probably can’t even see it very well in these pictures, which is the point – it’s meant to be very unobtrusive.  But, there is a 2 inch wide stainless strip that runs across the top of my cooktop.  With the touch of a button, the downdraft unit rises, and there are three variable speeds that suck the burning bacon smoke…ahem…cooking vapors….through the downdraft where it is routed under my kitchen and then right out of doors.  It does work.  It is sorta loud.  But >>slightly loud vacuous smoke sucker<< wins over >>mom has set off the smoke detector yet again in her attempt to add a crispy edge to something with grease<<.  And, I didn’t want a hood hanging over my island.

The layout and design of this kitchen are all mine; we didn’t have the help of a designer, though at times I really wish I did have a designer’s help!  There were a lot of things I knew I wanted and I stood firm on those decisions {like my open cabinets that totally baffled our cabinetmaker…and the double faucets that baffled just about everyone!}, but there were other details I really would have liked more design help with.  Still, I don’t have any regrets; the kitchen is cheery, welcoming, and bright.


This is a closer view of the right side upper cabinets in the kitchen.  These pieces are not decorative – absolutely everything pictured serves our family – most on a daily basis.  I use the platters, plates, glasses…and if you look closely, you’ll even spot some plastic stuff!!  {gasp!}  I didn’t want anything to match, but I did want to follow a cohesive color pattern of creamy white with touches of blue-green everywhere, which you can find in the dried hydrangeas, vintage Mason jars, plastic cups, and other dishes.  I’m especially in love with the set of creamware serving platters my mom and sister got me for Christmas!

Coffee and tea – The backsplash is a simple subway tile in cappuccino {gloss finish}.  I mean – come on – how could I not love a backsplash tile in the color of a cappuccino? And…in keeping with the warm drink theme, the color on the walls is Behr Premium Teatime.  How great is that?  Coffee and tea!

Marble counters – and making peace with it

IMG_9158The two photos here {above and below} give a fair look at the marble we chose for the kitchen.  When we talked with stone-cutters about our counter choices, marble was about the farthest thing from my mind.  I assumed marble wasn’t for a kitchen that functioned and hummed along at a full pace day-in-and-day-out.  I assumed marble was mainly for showpiece kitchens.  Turns out – I was wrong.  When Rob and I went to shop for counters, the salesperson asked us about our family, how we used the kitchen, what we expected from counters, the overall look we were going for, the durability expected and the maintenance I was willing to give.  Then she suggested marble.  In disbelief, I immediately replied:

“Oh no.  No.  No.  No.  I don’t think so.  I’m certain we’d destroy marble counters.”

“Why don’t you try to destroy it?  If you can do it, let’s reconsider.  But first, I’ll give you a week to see if you can stain, mark or destroy this piece of rock,” she challenged.  Intrigued, and in love with the “look” of marble {we just had a tour of the warehouse full of beautiful stone pieces, and I was instantly attracted to Crema-marfil marble}, we were sent home with a 12″ x 12″ remnant piece of the marble we liked – the same crema-marfil you see in my kitchen.  She instructed me on marble’s enemies: acids like — lemon, tomato, tomato sauce, wine, coffee – and how to take care of marble.  Marble, while not for everyone, shouldn’t be dismissed so quickly as an option, she suggested. And so…I put that little piece of marble to the test.


I put every acid I could find on my little piece of marble and then…just walked away.  Yep.  I left red wine, coffee, tomato sauce, and a half a lemon just sitting there on that creamy, buttery piece of marble.  For a week.  I didn’t pick anything up – I just let it all dry in place.  When I wiped, you bet it was stained!  But, having been instructed on marble’s qualities, one of which was its forgivable ability to be sanded and emerge like new, I followed the salesperson’s simple directions: 220 grit sandpaper, {elbow grease}, followed by a light coat of mineral oil.  And you know what?  It sanded out.  Every one of those stains!  EVEN the red wine which had really soaked into the marble after a week!  Some stains sanded out easier than others, but the point was that the salesperson was right – we could live and eat and spill and be messy, and sometimes even forget to wipe up…and this big rock would forgive and forget.  So….I went back and slapped our name on three big pieces of Spanish Crema-marfil and that’s how we ended up with our big rock!  Which we truly love!  The marble was a surprise for me, and a lesson in being flexible and listening with an open mind to skilled artisans.  I love how organic the marble is, how unique – and how imperfect it is…just like us.

The color of crema marfil is a very buttery, creamy color with lots of subtle gray and red veining.  Typically, you see a lot of Italian Carrara marble in kitchens, so this was another area I veered off the beaten path.  I couldn’t be happier with it!  The reason I fell in love with Crema was because of its overall creaminess and the warmth it adds to the kitchen look.

Our marble counters are honed, not polished.  This means that the marble has a very matte/flat finish, as opposed to a polished look which is sooooo very pretty…but wasn’t as practical for our family because as soon as you sand a polished spot…it’s not polished anymore.  But the rest of your counter is. I do love the look of honed in the crema-marfil because the overall finish color is a buttery, almost rose color, whereas polished the color is deeper, richer, and much more beige with orange tones.

In terms of the esteemed practical – marble is very durable {hot pans and pots go right on the rock}, and believe it or not, I find it pretty easy to live with and maintain, and forgiving when it’s stained. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you thought marble was only for kitchens that were for show, never used, not cooked in, and never had kids trekking through it, I’m happy to be the spokesperson for the marble-kitchen-with-lots-of-kids-spills-and-action!

It’s just a big, beautiful rock.  That’s it.

My weekly routine is to wipe all the counters down with Method for Granite and Marble using a microfiber cloth, and follow it with plain mineral oil and allow the mineral oil to soak in overnight {wiping up the excess oil in the morning}.  That’s it.  I use the same microfiber cloth {already damp with the Method brand marble cleaner} to wipe down all the stainless in the kitchen {faucets, appliances} and it does a great job.  If you have marble {especially honed marble} and have a preferred cleaner that you love, one that might even give a slight buffed look, please leave me a comment!  I’m new to this and I’d love to hear others’ experiences!

The Farmhouse Sink and Double Faucets


After struggling with a white enamel sink with a double basin for so long, I was pretty convinced that a white farmhouse sink was the last thing I wanted in my “practical-functional-pretty” kitchen.  But the pretty side of me…was smitten.  And just like the annoying song you heard on your child’s ABC sing-song app that WILL NOT get out of your head…I couldn’t quit thinking of a pretty, white farmhouse sink with the skirt front.  So, I started researching.


It turns out that the newer sinks are all fireclay sinks, and after talking to various sales-people and researching and reading reviews, I was *told* that they are extremely durable!  They’re harder to scratch or scuff {you know…that ugly silver/gray streak your stainless pots leave when you’re washing them in a white sink?}, and they maintain their pristine finish much better than their older enameled cast iron cousins.  So…I took a leap of faith, and ordered my dream sink from Signature Hardware:  an Italian fireclay farmhouse sink that mounts under the counter.  It has a single drain in the middle {which was my preference}, and is the deepest and largest single basin I could find: 10″ deep x 36″ wide.

We put this sink through the ringer from the word go!  We cooked and cleaned and entertained so much over Christmas, and this sink has performed like a champion.  One benefit of having such a large sink is that we can fit a lot of dishes in here.  A LOT!  So, the sink just absorbs the mess, and the kitchen doesn’t have stacks of dirty dishes everywhere…which is nice because the house is so open now, and it’s one of those side benefits you don’t discover until you start living in a space.  Now, full disclosure: the sink has gotten a tiny little mark here or there as we wash a big sheet pan or something stainless. It’s nothing like the gray scratches I used to get in my old sink just from waving a baking sheet over the sink.  Anyway, I’ll notice the small mark and think, “hmmm…I guess I need to clean the sink during my weekly kitchen clean up,” and by the week’s end, the mark is gone!  Mysterious!!  Yet beloved!!!  {Seriously though – my best guess is that just swishing around in the sink with my washcloth during ordinary clean up is enough to whisk the little gray mark away.}


I knew I wanted double faucets.  The idea was inspired by a 48″ Kohler utility sink which, truthfully, I almost bought for our kitchen, but decided against because it was too deep for standard cabinets, so the cabinet box would have to be adjusted, and, and, and…but the one takeaway for me was: 2 faucets!  Heaven!  So, I researched faucets {to death!!!  Oy!} and we chose the Delta Cassidy faucet in the arctic stainless finish.  Times two.  In between the faucets is a soap dispenser.  How many different ways do I love having two faucets?

  • Two people can do dishes at once – double the efficiency.
  • One person can work on meal prep dishes while another uses the other faucet for veg rinsing, filling pots {which, by the way, is another benefit of having two faucets: the faucet is mounted close enough to the side that it can easily swing out to fill a pot that is sitting on the counter}, and general meal prep.
  • Someone can bring in a basket full of fresh eggs that need to be washed and do so without interrupting the person that is filling a glass of water, rinsing or washing dishes, scrubbing veggies, filling the coffee pot.
  • I can wash the baby’s hair on one side, while someone works with the other faucet.

Just sit back and think, dear reader, of the different things you throw into your sink.  Your kids shoes after a romp through the mud. The frozen animal water dispenser, pots, pans, food, coffee pots. Thawing the frozen corn you meant to take out of your freezer hours ago but must cook in 15 minutes. Your 5 year old’s knee after it meets the pavement.  And tell me if I’m wrong – but aren’t you always washing dishes when any of the above needs to happen?  Having two faucets means that our family can do all of those things with the ease of access to two faucets instead of one.  Two faucets – now THAT is my idea of LUXURY!


The single basin is another feature I love!  I can set two large 9″x13″ casserole dishes down lengthwise in the basin of this sink – side by side {utterly unthinkable for me to fit even ONE casserole dish in one basin of my old sink} – and still have room for more dishes.  The point is that this sink is roomy and accommodating!  It’s thrilling!


When choosing appliances, we were well aware of the fingerprint issue with stainless steel, but it didn’t make sense to go with anything else.  Every appliance is from the Jenn Air line because, as luck would have it, they were having a sale at the time we were shopping.

The top unit is a microwave and convection oven combo unit.  The bottom unit is a convection oven.

The fridge and freezer…sigh…well, let’s just say that our choices became more and more limited by the inevitable, planned obsolescence in the appliance world today.  I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say, we ended up choosing what is essentially made to look like an expensive built in fridge, but what you see are just two regular, slide in units that have a special kit that goes around them to make them look built in.  They’re voluminous, and basically no frills after that, which is what we wanted.  Both the refrigerator and freezer are from the Frigidaire professional line.  We love them!!!


Above is probably the best picture {if you’re even remotely interested} for seeing the downdraft….see {on the island…above the cooktop} that thin stainless strip that runs across the length of my cooktop?  That’s the downdraft – at the push of a button it rises about 12-18″ to function…and then recesses to almost invisible when not in use.


Finally, I know you’re going to ask – the organizer hanging on my fridge is the Hang Up Home Organizer {in an older print} from Thirty-One Gifts.

Side note: I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the durable organization of all the Thirty One Gifts products!  When the house was completely gutted, and we were schooling out of bags so we could be mobile and portable, and my little make-shift pantry had to be set up and sometimes removed from the dusty parts of the house during construction…I kept it all in Thirty One Utility Totes!  I’ll share some pics of our mobile school-in-bags in my upcoming learning room post, but for now, if you’re looking for a consultant because you’d like to order, please send my consultant, Jenny, an email!

Back to the Hang Up Home Organizer – It’s great for organizing all the essentials that you look for when you’re groping for that first cup of coffee and wondering if it’s the 14th or the 15th of the month, and….is the dentist appointment tomorrow…or next week…or in 30 minutes?  Great pockets, and I love the ability to hang a calendar on the organizer!  The four pockets at the bottom of the organizer are great for holding coupons, take-out menus, receipts, papers needed for upcoming appointments.  I have mine hanging on the freezer with rare earth magnets, but the grommets on the top are meant for a hook/nail-on-the wall maneuver, and I’ve seen some youtube videos of some people hanging theirs on over the door hooks.  Lots of options!  But…I wanted to cover up some of that huge stainless expanse!  Know what I mean?

We’re so blessed, and we are so grateful!  This kitchen is welcoming, and I love having the space to work and move in the heart of my home!

It’s practical…and…it’s pretty!

And if you’ve been reading here at all, you know that’s sort of my mantra!  🙂  Things should work for your family, and they should be beautiful.


Let me know if you have any resources that you’re convinced are essential for a kitchen like this!  I’d really love to hear about it! And, I’ll get to work on that post on our sunny, new learning room space!  Can’t wait to share that!

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  1. Jenn, this is gorgeous! You are inspiring me. We have the kitchen next on our remodel list. May I ask, what you used for the labels on the sugar and such?

  2. YES! I wanted to ask you about a label maker. I am ready to label everything in sight (and out of sight!) here! Is there anything special I should know about that particular model??

    1. Nothing special to know about the Epson 400. It’s a great label maker with lots of options in terms of tape, font choices, print color. I love it and use it everywhere! Happy labeling, Donna Marie!

  3. Jen, Thanks for sharing! Saving this post in case I ever have a kitchen remodel! Mine is getting paint (soon I hope) and maybe a new counter top and hardware. Our house is a beginner house (even though we have been here for 15+ years) and we don’t plan to always be here so it will be a very cheap (think laminate counter tops) because otherwise we wouldn’t get our money out of it when we sold. Thanks for going through all your choices! I like at lot of the stuff you like so if I ever get to plan my dream kitchen one day, I know where to go for ideas. We had to replace some flooring a few years ago and I went into the store and told the lady that I didn’t need to look at anything just give me what you gave my friend. She thought I was crazy! I liked my friends flooring, it was holding up, and could see the pros and the cons of theirs, and why waste my time looking through a ton of samples. Easiest home improvement project ever! 😉

    1. I know EXACTLY what you mean, Cassie! I like looking at something, but in the end…I want to read REVIEWS!!! TELL ME WHAT OTHER REAL MOMS USE! Do they like it? Which was actually one of the big swaying factors in the marble decision. A local mom friend has marble in her kitchen…and she has 4 littles….so I knew it was possible! And then the saleslady at the stone store {which could have sold me any stone} told me that she has marble in her home. So, just like you…I like to hear actual feedback!!!!

      Anyway…thanks for your kind words! 🙂

  4. What kinds of tape do you find yourself using most?
    Also, I was wondering how you can keep your chocolate chips out without them disappearing. LOL Mine would be gone in a heartbeat. 😀

  5. What a beautiful-practical kitchen/dining room! You used my favourite colour combination and obviously put much thought into making it work well for your family.
    Thanks for sharing,

  6. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!!! How wonderful to finally have your kitchen:) Thanks for sharing, having been waiting:):) Bet you just love walking over those floors and running your hands over the bench:)
    Never thought of two taps, now I’ll give it some thought. Nor of marble, as you know I’m slowly planning my kitchen so a practical question, will crockery break on the benches? and in the sink too?
    giggled over the cabinet making not getting it, he obviously didn’t know your love of pretty:)
    Beautiful colours, wonderful choices:)

    1. Thank you so much, Erin!!! I know you’re the remodel QUEEN so this means a lot coming from you!

      So…I’m assuming that when you say “bench” you mean what we mean when we say “counter” – the flat surface over the bottom cabinets? Right?

      Yes, pottery and glass would break on the marble if dropped. And the sink – probably. I haven’t done either yet, but they’re both hard surfaces so I don’t imagine them being very forgiving if something breakable hits them.

      I honestly couldn’t believe how resistant the cabinet maker was to my clear instruction to have open cabinets for the upper cabinets. He was almost visibly uncomfortable! Then, he even called later to make sure I didn’t want doors. Then the size of the island…it was almost too much for him to bear! LOL!!! My ideas just didn’t “fit” with his idea of what kitchen cabinets were supposed to look like! 😉 But, in the end, he made exactly what I asked for…and I LOVE that they don’t look like standard kitchen cabinets.

      Thanks so much, Erin! I can’t wait to see how your kitchen ends up!

  7. It’s so lovely, I am so happy for you! I can’t wait to see your utility, pantry and learning room. Enjoy your beautiful ‘new’ house!

  8. Jen, your kitchen is so warm and welcoming! All the natural light is a dream!! You did a great job-but I never doubted it would be anything less than perfection!! You always have the best ideas. Can’t wait for the post featuring the other rooms!

  9. Great timing on this post, Jen! We’re meeting with our kitchen designer and contractor tomorrow to discuss drawings. I think I’m finding it helpful to have a designer because she can do the renderings, and I have a hard time visualizing the space sometimes… but our family’s needs are so unique that I’m finding it a little hard to get all my thoughts across.

    I really like the way you have your cooktop oriented so that you’re facing everybody at the island as well as the dining room. I think that’s something that I’m having a hard time getting across; I spend so much of my time prepping food and cooking that I don’t want to be facing the wall :-/. So do you like cooking with induction? I haven’t seen any numbers yet, so I have no idea if it will fit in our budget or not, but right now our first choice is to run gas to the kitchen (we have natural gas for our water heater). I really don’t want to have to do ceramic electric because I like my cast iron pans too much! And I’ve heard that they can be hard to clean (although I tried out my mom’s and hers isn’t bad). I’m also no sure about the long-term safety of cooking with magnetism… since it’s such new technology. Any thoughts? I am having a heck of a time trying to find a good combination of cooktop/oven for size, and all the ranges (besides the high-end ranges, like Wolf!) have their big burners in the front right at the level of little people’s heads.

    1. I was thinking of you, Angela…knowing that you’re at the front edge of this event! I think a designer could be fabulous to work with, especially because it can be hard to visualize at some points…especially lighting needs!

      Ok…great questions….here are my thoughts:

      1) I love my cooktop orientation – I really put a lot of thought into that, knowing we were knocking out walls, opening up the rooms, and adding the big island. I have really disliked being stuck facing the wall cooking all these years. So, I’m really loving having the cooktop out in the island. That does necessitate some other thinking though…like venting, which you’ll have to deal with esp. if you go the gas route. We knew we were going to downdraft regardless of gas/induction because I didn’t want a hood hanging over my island, but I’m sure your designer will help you tackle that question.

      2) Yes, I really like induction cooking. It’s basically gas cooking minus gas. It’s extremely responsive – so if you have a pot at a rolling boil and adjust the heat, the heat responds instantly. It can do this because it is cooking with magnets so there isn’t residual heat in the glass {which we had with our old glass/electric cooktop and I absolutely LOATHED!!!}. And if you turn the burner up to hi, it is instantly at that temperature…no waiting for it to heat up.

      3) Budget-wise, it wasn’t too bad for us, but we did end up with the biggest cooktop we could get in the Jenn Air line and I have to say, that was worth the splurge! Running gas for us meant tanks, and lines…and ended up in thousands of dollars…so it was the first area I caved a little and reconsidered. That’s when we started considering induction seriously.

      4) I like that the burners are very close to the edge of the cooktop itself. The closest a burner is to the edge of the counter is 5 inches, which I hopes means that a child tall enough to reach it is also tall enough to understand why they shouldn’t.

      5) Our cooktop cleans up so nicely! I just wipe it down with hot water and microfiber towel after each meal. I’ve done a fair amount of cooking on this thing at this point, and my husband dumped cheese onto a burner once already and scorched it…and it cleans up in a breeze…so I think as long as you clean it consistently, clean up is going to be fine.

      6) I like cast iron pans, too. I do use them on my cooktop…but VERY-VERY carefully! They do work on an induction cooktop though. The big concern is cracking the glass, but the iron is magnetic, so it heats up nicely.

      7) I don’t have any insight on cooking with induction/magnetism. It was either induction…or back to the glass ceramic electric cooktop and I was NOT going back to that. So, that sort of made the decision pretty emphatic for us.

      8) The sizes and ranges of cooktops and ovens is dizzying. I empathize. We went to the appliance store several times. We were looking for larger, and mid-range appliances. If you haven’t gone to an appliance store and dealt with a good salesperson, see if you can find one – they’re worth their weight in gold. Our cooktop is 36″. I wanted double ovens and a microwave, but in the end, couldn’t fit all three of those since we went with the bigger fridge/freezer units…so that was another compromise for us – one convection oven that can cook three things at once, and a microwave that could be versatile and function as an oven as well. We made it through Christmas feeding 13 so I’m pleased with my ability to function and cook/serve large amounts.

      9) And…don’t discount higher end appliances. Sometimes, they offer really great deals and sales. Jenn Air isn’t what I’d consider high end, but it’s definitely upper-mid, and it wasn’t on my radar until all of a sudden all of our needs were being met by the appliances in that line. Then there was a sale that ended up making the appliances do-able. We went over our budget in appliances, and that’s the only thing we went over budget on, but I’m glad we did.

      I thought you left a comment and asked about my cabinets, whether they were all custom…but I don’t see your comment here now. The answer is yes. They were custom built to our kitchen.

      Good luck on your kitchen, Angela! It’s a HUGE stretch in flexibility!!!!!!!!! But it’s so worth it! And I can’t recommend working with a good contractor highly enough! That made our experience bearable and I know we got so much quality out of the workmanship here! Our floors were installed by 3rd generation floor people…plumbers were 2nd generation…that kind of thing. They took real pride in their workmanship and I think it shows!

      1. Thanks for the reply, Jen… I thought you might be interested to know that we mentioned your double faucet sink to our contractor and kitchen designer, and the contractor couldn’t figure out why you’d want two faucets, but the kitchen designer (who has 5 kids) thought it was genius! LOL I’m so happy you posted your “after” pictures, because I really had no idea that all refrigerator/all freezers existed (it’s been so long since I shopped for a fridge, and now it looks like we won’t be able to keep ours). I am trapped in Internet appliance research purgatory right now, so it’s nice to see that you actually bought (and like) the brand that I keep coming back to… mostly for the price, but also for “smudge-proof stainless steel”! 😉

        1. I’m not at all surprised by the contractor’s response to the two-faucet idea.

          I know exactly what you mean about appliance purgatory!!! I stayed there for several weeks!!! And the fridge decision was one of the hardest for us. We LOVE the fridge and freezer we ended up with. They’re both a really great fit for us…but full disclosure, reviews said they’re prone to freon leaks. Still…there isn’t a fridge/freezer on the market that doesn’t have known issues. So, we decided to regularly check under the fridge for signs of a leak…and hope for the best. And, it was another reason we really wanted to go with a reputable appliance shop in town.

          And…about that “smudge-proof” stainless….

          Let’s just say that with 5 children here {most with food matter already on their fingers when they touch the aforementioned appliance}, I might more accurately refer to it as “easily wiped smudge RESISTANT” LOL!!! It isn’t as terrible as most stainless in the smudge department, but you will see smudges from your kids. I do wipe it down weekly when I’m wiping my counters down along with the rest of the kitchen. A simple wipe with a wet washcloth easily gets any marks.

          By the way, the appliance purgatory is worth the time spent!!

          1. I knew that “smudge-proof” had to be too good to be true… Still, the stainless we have right now looks horrible on a daily basis, so smudge-resistant is probably better than what we’ve got. I did see the reviews about freon leaks, too… I think it’s starting to seem like any major appliance made today is a piece of junk, though, as I’ve read through so many online reviews! Ack! I do wish Electrolux products were in our budget, as I really like their double ovens and they make a refrigerator/freezer combo that has a refrigerator alarm, but Frigidaire is so much more affordable. I think they’re actually made by the same company, though. Well, we’ll see what the designer and contractor say after I tell them I want 64 inches of refrigerator/freezer space, since I just asked them to cut half that wall down to a knee wall…

  10. So, SO beautiful from top-to-bottom, side-to-side!! 😀 Especially love all the warmth, sunshine, and inviting colors! I’m so very happy for you! Thanks for sharing all the details.

  11. So much eye candy in this post! Thank you for sharing the heart of your home with us! I have two questions. First, what happened to the beautiful cranberry hutch that used to be ( if I am remembering correctly) in your kitchen? And secondly, pleeeaaase share how you keep your hardwood floors so glowing! They are gorgeous! Congratulations on your beautiful new space!

    1. Wow – you have a great memory, Mary! My cranberry cabinet is happily situated with all of my vintage Ironstone finds in our dining area now.

      And…I’m laughing that you think my hardwoods are glowing! Because…they are NOT! Maybe my secret is the sunshine that is apparently cloaking the actual state of the floors? LOL!! In places, there are dried spots from the baby dripping milk out of a sippy cup, or mud from my teen’s boots…anyway, you get the idea. We LIVE here! I do mop occasionally, and when I do, I use my Sh-Mop and hot water and Murphy’s Oil Soap. In between mopping sessions, I use a simple bag of baby wipes and assign a small person the chore of wiping obvious spots on the floor. That’s it.

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Mary!

  12. Okay Jen, so you know that extended road trip you, Rob and the kids are going to take? You need a house sitter 😉 I volunteer LOL
    Beautiful Job! Can’t wait for the rest of the photos.

  13. Congratulations to you and your family! A beautiful kitchen indeed. Your years of patience and planning have paid off!

  14. I just loved this post! Your kitchen is so beautiful! We recently bought our first house, and the layout and size of the rooms, including the kitchen, is actually pretty idea for us, but we do plan to update the kitchen someday. We are a homeschooling family going on four kids, and hope to add more children and stay in this house for a long time, so I am taking copious notes from your renovation! One big question: our first big project in this house is installing wood floors in most of the 2700 square feet. Ack! My husband and I disagree on wood in the kitchen/breakfast nook. I love the idea of seamless floors throughout the house. He thinks our littles constant spilling of water and the water from the kitchen will destroy them and he wants tile. What are your thoughts? Can I assure him that we will not destroy wood in the kitchen if we get it finished right? I do know a wild and crazy family of 11 with pristine wood in their kitchen, so that helps my case a little!

    I might have more questions later 🙂

    1. On the wood floors, Juliana —

      Wood floors are pretty traditional in kitchens. In old farmhouses, that’s all you find. Now, did they see their fair share of spills and disasters, but they can take it! My mom’s house is over 100 years old…with wood floors.

      In our kitchen, when we do dishes, we do spill water on the floor. It happens. We just make it part of the regular routine afterward to wipe up the little spills around the dishwasher and sink after dishes each night. If a little water is missed, it will be fine. The polyurethane on the floor does a really good job of protecting them. It is important to do two coats of poly when finishing them.

      I’ve had tile floors. They’re loud, cold and pretty merciless when it comes to dishes being dropped. I’m not a fan after living with them for 12 years…and honestly, I was in your husband’s camp when we moved in. Those tile floors were a selling feature for me. I thought they’d be great in terms of practicals, but they were hard to keep clean and the grout lines always caused little hiccups in the smooth movement of a chair or something. I like them in our bathrooms, and I like them in my utility area, but not in my kitchen.

      That’s my 2 cents on wood floors in kitchens. 🙂

  15. Oh My Gorgeous, Jen! How did I miss this??!! When I move and likely gut the kitchen in my next home to get exactly what I want, I’m calling you for advice! Simply elegant and perfect. Well earned, friend <3

  16. So, it’s been a while. Would you still suggest the sink and the honed marble? We are looking at our options and I keep coming back to your blog to remind myself of these two suggestions. I know I want to use marble on either my small counter top area, or build a small island that would be topped with marble. But, I’d love to know if there are things I need to consider based on your experience with it for this length of time. I’m also curious about the sink’s durability. I was bummed over our last white enamel sink years ago.
    Your entire remodel is dreamy!

    1. Ok – I’ll be completely honest!!

      ON THE MARBLE COUNTERS: After several months, lots of meals, family gatherings, some kind of shellac-like spill on my marble island from the 7-year-old’s crafting experience gone awry, and ketchup, wine, and lemon juice spills – I can honestly say that I absolutely LOVE my honed marble counters! I love everything about them! Have we stained them a couple of times? Yes. That shellac mess was hard to scrape up, but the thing is…we could get it all off the marble. We didn’t have to worry about not scratching a pristine finish – in fact, we had to scrape the shellac off with a razor blade, but it came off, and then we sanded with super fine grit sandpaper, and polished with mineral oil – and it was like new! I just could not be more pleased with how well the marble holds up to a big family that really lives and cooks in the kitchen, and how forgiving it is. And it just looks so sumptuous and beautiful!

      ON THE WHITE ENAMEL SINK: Again, I was really nervous about how well this thing would hold up! My own experience with our prior white enamel sink had me swearing that I would NEVER do white enamel sinks again…and yet….here I am. Again, we haven’t treated this thing with kid-gloves – we cook here and we clean here, so this sink sees lots of action! Big stainless pots, lots of stainless cutlery, regular dishes, baby baths, etc. And this sink is AMAZING!! I still have yet to get a silver-gray scratch mark on the surface! It’s astounding! I love how deep and big it is, and I’m amazed at how durable it seems to be.

      So, without a doubt, these were two fantastic investments and if I had to do it all over again tomorrow, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change a thing with either of these options.

      Hope that’s a help!

      1. Thanks for the encouraging answer. I will rest with our decision to take cues from your lovely kitchen choices. Now, the marble won’t be the same color, possibly, but I love the honed look and practicality of it and the sink.

        BTW, I only knew about the remodel because I’ve enjoyed your blog for quite a while. Thank you for sharing your insights into CM and Classical home education. I find your blog to be a restful spot for me to soak in Sonshine.

  17. Jennifer, I have a couple questions for you about the marble. My husband and I are getting ready to renovate our new home, and I am in love with marble countertops. I am, however, a serious cook who has people over constantly. We’re always hosting dinner parties, and many involve massive amounts of kids. We don’t have any children yet (still hoping!), but all our friends have large Catholic families and regularly eat with us or stay with us for a week or more at a time. One of them actually recommended I check out your site, which is how my non-homeschooling, non-mama self found you. Anyhow, as much as I love the marble and love the idea of a stone that shows its history (its strikes me as very TOB), I can’t imagine asking everyone at parties to use coasters for their drinks. Do you do this with your kids or do you just live and let live with glass marks? Also, how you avoid getting massive etch marks by the sink? When I’m cooking, I might have time to wash up, but not necessarily dry right away. Hope you don’t mind the questions from a perfect stranger, but after doing endless research online, I’ve found very few people who live the way I do that have marble counters. You’re one of the few, so I trust your thoughts on this. Thanks! (And lovely kitchen, btw!)

    1. Emily – First welcome!!! I’m actually a HUGE fan of yours and your blog! 🙂 I love talking kitchen, so I’m glad you stopped by!

      I’m more in love with my honed marble now than I was when we finished the kitchen – and let me tell you – we REALLY live in here and I have really put it through its paces! No baby-ing any more. I love cooking and so do my kids – we entertain here, cook here, eat here, exercise hospitality, and each day the marble is more endearing because it IS so organic. Because it’s just a big, lovely rock.


      I do not ever ask anyone to use coasters – not my children and not when I entertain. Our glasses do sweat, and they do sometimes sit there all.afternoon.long because for some reason people do not know how to pick up their glass and move it to the sink. When I hostessed my daughter’s engagement party here, I served drinks (lemonade) and ice on the big marble island and it sat there all morning and into the afternoon as I cleaned up. Same with people’s drinks that were left on counters. Everything cleaned up easily. Every now and then I notice a water ring on the marble, but it’s much less often than you might imagine!

      I do not stress about water splashes around the sink/faucets. I did initially…just because I didn’t know…and I didn’t want to “mess up” my marble. So, I whisked past every water droplet with a towel. LOL! But in an active family with 5 children, I knew I had to quit baby-ing it at some point. And the marble survived just fine. I did train the kids to wipe the counters around the sink after dishes – sometimes they’re good about that, and sometimes not. So each week, I put myself in the dishes rotation and scrub my sink to sparkling and thoroughly wipe down all my surfaces like faucets and my marble around the sink. I like reclaiming my kitchen on a weekly basis. So really, I think you can feel completely comfortable with dinner parties and guests…and spills…and even water rings and all the humanity that comes with hospitality. Because if WE haven’t destroyed the marble yet, it can’t be done. The really endearing thing about marble is how forgiving it is. Even if you do etch it, or get a water mark, you can fix it.

      I AM vigilant about three things and wipe up right away: lemon/lime juice, tomato juice, red wine.

      (I love to sip red wine as I’m cooking and I’ve spilled a fair share of it…as long as you wipe it up within a couple of hours, it’s fine, but it will stain deeply if you leave it overnight. And then you sand.)

      Here are the marble tips I’ve learned:
      ** Use microfiber towels and hot water for regular, every day wiping and clean up. It works well at cleaning up greasy finger marks and other food, but doesn’t leave a swish of water behind. I keep a moist microfiber near my cooking/prep station just because…that’s how I learned to cook! And I’m messy.
      ** Use Softscrub with bleach 2-4 times a year for a deep clean. You certainly could do this more often, but I frankly don’t have that kind of time. I do LOVE giving my counters a deep clean once in spring/late Lent and once in fall/just before Advent.
      ** Use 220 grit sandpaper to sand out any water mark or slight etching. Use light pressure in a circular motion and then wipe and dry to check to see if your etch mark is gone. Light pressure, wipe, check, repeat…and you may have to do this 3 or 4 times to completely remove it. I do this twice a year, too, right after a deep clean with Softscrub.
      ** Follow up with mineral oil all over the marble counters. After 2 hours, wipe the oil again, spreading it out, and continue wiping/buffing/spreading the oil that remains every couple of hours. The marble is porous and soaks in differently in different areas so spreading it out helps it to soak in evenly. It sometimes takes a full week for mineral oil to completely soak in, but I use my counters after about 4 hours. Since I like to give it extra time to soak in, I like to complete the mineral oil step in the evening after dinner dishes. The marble looks so rich and matte after a thorough cleaning and mineral oil wiping, and the extra rubbing in helps to buff it a little (to me).

      In short, I have found that marble was the perfect choice for us. It is quite beautiful, and I’m kind of a fan of beauty in ordinary spaces. It’s very forgiving, which I’m also a fan of since we can be hard on surfaces. It ages well! My 8 year old dropped a large stainless pan on a corner of the counter, chipping the counter edge ever so slightly and it almost looks prettier now. It has character. A story. Because in the end, it’s really not pretentious at all, it’s just a big rock with a story to tell.

      Good luck deciding and don’t be a stranger!!! 🙂 If you have other questions, you know where to find me! In my kitchen! 🙂

      1. Thanks so much, Jennifer! I really appreciate that. I’ve been telling myself for the past two weeks that if a homeschooling mother of five could do it, I could too. But I kept having those nagging questions, and finally just figured I should ask you. So glad I did. I love, love, love the marble, and am totally fine with things not being perfect (almost everything I own is old and chipped), but I also don’t totally want to destroy something so beautiful (or more accurately, I don’t want to be an obnoxious nag whenever my friends are over.) The house we’ve just bought is 126 years old, and the marble just seems like it would blend in beautifully; it’s so soft and real and bright. Plus, I love the idea of having a countertop that ages with us and tells the story of life in our kitchen. So, if I don’t have to be a nutcase about coasters and dishes, marble it’s going to be! (And I’m honored that you enjoy my writing. The blog has been maintained horribly for months, but with the new book coming out, I’m under orders to get back to it. Not sure how that’s going to work in the middle of a massive home renovation, but I’ll try!) Again, thanks. You’ve definitely made me free to go with my gut on this one.

  18. Your new kitchen is so beautiful! I love how it’s so much more open. The white cabinets really helps with that, keeping the room from feeling closed in. The farmhouse sink was such a great addition, and I love that you put in a double oven! The open shelves are also really cute, such a great way to show off some of your cute dishes. I would love to have a kitchen like this.

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