Monday, August 10, 2015

259 IHeart Kitchen Reno: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Well guys, we just hit month eight of our kitchen and living room renovation, and we owe you all a super-sized update.  I have a lot of mixed feelings at this state in the game; mostly happy, happy, joy, joy, but also a few frustrations and tears.  I would say that as of today, we are about 90% done with all of the planned DIY and installations.   Once we put away the tools and let out a sigh of relief, I will be sure to share our budget breakdown, lessons learned (quite a few), what we would have done differently (quite a few things here as well), our thoughts on living with an open concept, as well as why we picked specific items for our kitchen (flooring type, counter type, appliances, hardware, etc...).  We also have a few specific installation tutorials in the works (flooring, crown moulding, closet doors, etc...). 


Before we dive in, I also wanted to take a minute to talk about the kitchen "reveal".  Lately, the thought of that is making me quiver.  The more I reflect on our space and the One Room Challenge, the more I realize that I should have been OK "revealing" an unfinished living room at the end of the six weeks, instead of making rush decisions and forcing a fully furnished and accessorized space.  Do I regret doing the challenge?  Not for a second.  It has been incredible having a finished living room, and I believe in learning from experiences even if they don't turn out as planned.  But here is the thing, can we have a little heart-to-heart here guys?  I am no good at rushing a space (evident).  As my 8 year old would say, "It is not my jam".  Although I think the end result of our living room was beautiful, the longer I lived with it, the more I started picking it apart and realizing all of the mistakes I made.  And I also acknowledge that much of it was due to the last minute rush to paint and furnish and source accessories.

Some of the mistakes were costly and some are more easily fixed.  Many of them allowed me to grow and learn which is extremely important for me to recognize.  When I didn't blog, if I made a mistake I could evaluate, course correct on my own timeline, and work through things without judgement from anyone but myself.  But sharing with the world that when we installed the fireplace built-ins, I cried like a baby because I wasn't sure if I was making the right choices... yet powered through anyway to hit the challenge deadline, is hard.  And admitting that we made mistakes with our furniture layout and space planning, is also hard.  Acknowledging that the room needed to have some time to just be without all of the extra side tables, baskets, chairs, accessories and art... is hard.


When I didn't blog, I never "revealed" a room to myself or my family.  I just slowly worked on things here and there and our home continuously evolved over time.  But in the land of DIY blogging, it seems that reveals are the norm.  We all feed on that next big room update and final source of inspiration, before hopping on to another blog to find more.  And I am completely guilty of being a part of that process, as I have had my share a room and project reveals here over the years.

But once the kitchen is finished being installed, I really, really want to take my time furnishing it and decorating it.  And I am sure some of you think 8 months is already too long, while others understand that because we have done 85% of the installation and work ourselves, that 8 months really isn't all that bad.  I still have rugs to pick out, kitchen window treatments to select, new dining chairs to source... And I have to find ways to tie my living room, kitchen and dining room, all together so they are cohesive and warm and family friendly.  These things can't be rushed.  Not by me anyway.


After the One Room Challenge reveal, our living room felt really heavy and over-done next to our completely unfinished kitchen.  I told you we took off the cocktail hour makeup, but we eventually toned it down even more to yoga paints and a pony tail.  Nothing we put in the room initially has been discarded or wasted, but a few of the items have been relocated to other areas of our home where they work even better... (because we all know I love re-using what we already have to evolve and decorate our home).

So when it comes to the kitchen, I will continue to share the changes we make as we make them (the good, the bad and the ugly), and I appreciate your patience if things seem slow and if "reveal" day is three years from now.  Although we blog about our home, we also live in our home and invest our time and money into our projects.  We are learning; we are not designers and we are really just here to share our journey.  I have had to remind myself a lot lately that we are not a team of magazine editors or a DIY television crew, and that it is OK to take our time.  Most importantly, we want to encourage our readers to do the same. 


So the kitchen!  It really is getting there!  The good?  Our trim, crown moulding and toe kick are all finally installed!


For the most part, Bryan and I were on the same page with the kitchen.  The hard parts for us were when something unplanned/unexpected happened.  Then we hit walls and our eyes bugged out and we bickered about solutions.  Renovations can be stressful!  But compromise is definitely key, and that is what we did when it came to the crown moulding.  As soon as we held up the IKEA moulding that came stock with our cabinets, I shook my head no.  Bryan half-grinned because he could have guessed that would be my reaction, and then he asked me what my solution was instead.  I told him that I had envisioned something a little more substantial and that we could come up with our own combination using trim from the home improvement store.  The problem was those beautiful beams we installed.  Their angle in comparison to the tall cabinets, didn't give us a lot of wiggle room where the shallower cabinets were installed.  The two options he gave me were to either install the IKEA moulding and leave the beams be, or install the chunkier moulding and cut into the beams, impacting their overall integrity and design.  I had no desire to ruin our new beams, so we compromised.  The deeper cabinets received the trim treatment I wanted, while the shallower versions received the stock IKEA trim.  This compromise meant that no beams were harmed during the installation.


All of the lower decorative moulding pieces, as well as the filler pieces have also been installed.  Every new piece of trim that was put in had me oohing and ahhing, it is a total game changer in making a kitchen feel finished.


One thing we can't decide on is how to handle the last random beam above the kitchen window.  The debate is to either build a valance box connecting the cabinets and letting the beam fade away behind it as the rest of the beams do, or to let some custom roman shades try to do all of the work.   I just know a random beam above the window completely bugs me, but that is where it had to fall due to the support in the ceiling.

Another item up for debate is the toe kick.  Hubby says no toe kick where the dishwasher pulls out (the dishwasher doesn't have a spot to attach the toe kick and we need to be able to pull it out should it ever need repairing), and I say YES!  That gap is no bueno.  The solution we are toying with is to add some sort of decorative toe kick feat at the starting and stopping points of the toe kick, to make it look a bit more intentional. 


The gap really is only noticed from certain angles, but again, I am not sure that I like it.

The rest of the good?  I really like how things are turning out in general.  The finishes are classic and pretty, everything has been really easy to clean and the work area has been much easier to navigate than our previous kitchen.  So many wins with all of the updates we have been making.

And I love our glass faced cabinets, they have to be one of my favorite additions to the kitchen (they aren't "styled" yet, so no judging).  



Since we are having a heart-to-heart, let's dive into the bad.

The biggest bad?  We are at a basic "new build" phase, where everything is white and feels very sterile to me.  Don't get me wrong here, I love the finishes!  Especially after living with faux green marble counters and tile for 13 years, this neutral palette is a very warm welcome.  But the white ceiling, white cabinets, white dining chairs, white trim and moulding.... so much white.  I love white, but enough is enough.  I am ready to layer in warmth and some character and so excited to start making this update feel like home.  But again, I know that will come with time and use.

Also, I wish we would have had our outlets/switches behind the counter moved down lower, maybe even turned.  I don't like I can see them and may have them fixed before we backsplash.  Random, but one of those overlooked details.

  
And one more debate; the upper cabinets in the dining area....


I miss our teal hutch every day, but the truth is that these cabinets fit the space SO much better.  They offer twice the storage and take up half of the floor area.  And for those who have asked, that teal hutch is still living in our guest room, I am not letting it go without a fight!

So what's the prob Bob?  Errr, Jen?  


The problem is that after we added the crown moulding, the cabinets became quite top heavy.  And although we still have furniture legs for the base cabinets, I am not sure that will really help.  The dining cabinets are the same height as the rest of the kitchen cabinets, but being that the lower half is narrower, the top becomes overwhelming at times.

So the debate here is whether to keep or remove the upper cabinets.  The lowers are not going anywhere... We use every ounce of their storage, as well as the counter on a daily basis.  We have really appreciated this addition to the dining area.  But the uppers only hold some entertaining drinkware at the moment, so I know we don't need them.  They were added as an after-thought in an effort to hit the 20% off mark with our cabinet purchase (at IKEA you have to spend so much to qualify for their annual 20% off sale) and I am wondering if they are just too much for the space to handle.  But if they go... what to do in their place?  Rustic shelving?  Art?  Both?

And another bad?  I will just keep loading them up OK?  You guys always say you love the "real life" struggles.  Going big today friends.

I have been hinting at the fact that we had a very large snafu with our center island, and that it has caused me to hit my head against multiple hard objects.  It has really been one problem after another, and although the quality is beautiful, there were a few mistakes behind initial the design.  In fact, it is a good thing that we listened to the number one piece of renovation advice and over-budgeted by 20%.  Because mistakes will and do happen.  And although they totally stink, with most major renovations they are inevitable at some point or another.  But when they happened to us with our island not once, but twice, we needed to take a long break and reassess.  And I needed to read a lot of renovation reality stories online with my husband, so that we could feel better knowing it doesn't just happen to us.  What helped us get over our hurdle was reading the stories where even kitchen and design professionals have experienced flawed designs and installs, ultimately meaning that redos were part of the game.  But truthfully, no matter how many other stories you read, it still stinks worse than the heavily manured corn field down the road.


The first problem was that our oven didn't fit in the initial design, and Bryan had to trim our custom cabinet to make it fit properly.  Not cool but we are big kids that can figure things out and get over it, so we did.  But problem two was even bigger.   I had picked out a range, cooktop and downdraft combination that was all given the green light to work together and fit the island cabinet specs (by our cabinet designer), but this is where a general contractor or kitchen professional would have been really helpful (lesson learned).  Downdrafts are not typically intended to be installed behind a range, just behind a single cooktop, unless you purchase very specific downdraft models.  Ours was installed behind the range, but when our HVAC folks came to hook everything up, the downdraft didn't function properly.  Heck, it didn't even turn on.  So we called the downdraft company and they sent us replacement parts a week or two later and notified us that they were going to track down a warranty approved repair service.  Oh!  But due to the fact we live in the middle of nowhere, it could take a few weeks to find someone to help us out.  And it did.


Once the repairman was finally in touch with us regarding our appliance, he informed us that it should not be placed in behind a range at all, and that it will often times void the warranty because a range can overheat the downdraft system.  Say what?  So now we were back to square one, but we already had a counter and island sized and installed to work around and we were really struggling to find the proper appliance fit.  This is where much of the head banging happened.  And even some tears.  OK, who am I kidding, I sobbed like a freakin' baby.  Someone get this girl a Kleenex.

And today we have a brand new slide-in range and downdraft sitting in our entryway, and that is not something I would have expected to be happening at the 8 month mark.  The HVAC and counter folks are scheduled to come back within the next two weeks to make the new, hopefully correct, setup work.  And if things don't work?  I may be knocking at one of your doors to ask you if I can move in, so be ready.  At the very least, I may need a padded room.  Please wish us luck!

And now for the ugly!  Ready to laugh?  I love to make y'all laugh, even if at my own expense.


With all of the white, I have been trying to bring in wood tones to warm things up.  I had a brilliant idea to turn the bi-fold doors into a french door swing situation (which worked!) and stain them in a pretty wood tone.  Um... although I sanded and was careful with my staining, they still turned out orange toned and blotchy.  My intentions were good going in, but ultimately I am not sold on them just yet.  I am going to try sanding them down a bit and adding a second coat of stain in a less-orange tone.  If that doesn't work, I know they can always be painted.  Just thought I would share the hiccup.  Also, see the new appliances in the background?  #crazytownoverhere 

So there are the renovation realities.  Some days, I wonder if we got in over our heads with this project.  And other days, I am so impressed with all we have been able to do, on our own.  I know that it will take time for all of the pieces to come together, and I am trying to be forgiving when things don't.  In fact, I have to thank Mandi from Vintage Revivals for her recent speech at the Haven conference; it was just what I needed to hear at that very moment.  She mentioned that her most favorite and popular project was her camper, the Nugget.  But she also shared that to get it to a state that she truly loved, she had to be open with her readers about her trials and do-overs.  And even more do-overs.  She thought at points that she had taken on too much and that she may never cross the finish line, but pressed on to create something quite magical.  OK, so magical doesn't even begin to scratch the surface, the girl has skillzzzz!  So although a camper and a kitchen are like apples and bananas, I still appreciate that she was honest about the hard parts, and that she continuously worked at something, even if it meant taking three steps back to move forward.  That is what I need to remember at this point in our renovation, 8 months in.



Let's end on a good.   We love the floors.  We love our cabinets.  We love our counters.  Like really love our counters.  Oh!  And the big ol' deep sink!  That thing hides holds dishes like a champ.  And the size of the island has been incredible because it has become the hottest spot in our home. With this renovation, my experience in the kitchen has turned from dreading to cook, to wanting to learn every last secret family recipe. 

We still have to install the legs to the cabinet behind the table, finish the flooring and trim down the hall and figure out the kitchen window/beam situation.  Then I can pick out back-splash and really start playing with the fun finishing touches.  I hope you are ready for three more years of kitchen blog posts! #wink  And feel free to weigh in on our dilemmas in the comment section below, we always love hearing from our readers!

Updated kitchen to-do list:
  • Install HVAC/Oven/Cooktop
  • Install counters
  • Set island cabinets
  • Install hardware on island cabinets
  • Replace garage door
  • Install flooring
  • Frame in refrigerator
  • Finish installing cabinet side panels
  • Install cabinet toe-kick
  • Install cabinet crown moulding
  • Panel gap above fridge
  • Trim floors, doors and windows
  • Install backsplash
  • DIY a coat closet door
  • Add shelving and doors to nook above coat closet (?)
  • Install legs to built-in side cabinet
  • DIY message center

You can follow all of the kitchen progress here.

259 comments:

  1. I think it looks great! These things take time. My husband is a carpenter--all people's reno's have issues that are unexpected. I didn't even notice the beam, it looks like it belongs there, I'd just dress your window w/some great fabric you always find and not worry. Looks great!

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  2. I appreciate your honesty, and feel badly that you feel rushed! As a longtime reader, I LIKE the small changes even more than big reveals! It helps me envision ways to update my own home- because I can do new pillows or build a coffee table, but just don't have the budget for a whole Reno.

    So please feel free to blog in real time & course-correct as needed, because we're all so thankful just to be learning alongside you!

    Thanks for all you do & share! It's looking absolutely gorgeous!!!

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  3. This is absolutely amazing!
    XO Ellen from Ask Away
    www.askawayblog.com

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  4. Looking good! I love the modern look you're adding to your kitchen - makes it look good and like a professional kitchen at a restaurant. And it's great that a lot of it was DIY! Thanks for the inspiration.

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  5. Thank you for showing you all are actually human. I was starting to feel like I have so many faults. I enjoy seeing your progress on big projects but all the little ones are the ones that truely help me. I don't have the means to do large renos and the small fixes are something I can relate to. Not that you need my input but the beam doesn't bother me, use Velcro on the kick plate, the upper dinning room cabinet is a little heavy so a colorful large scale art piece or floating shelves and your backsplash can add color and shine. You've done so much and so well now you get to enjoy making your home a home. Enjoy!

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    1. We are definitely human, and as far as faults go, we all have 'em. And thank you for taking a moment to chime in with your suggestions. We had discussed the Velcro option also so that may be what we try first. :)

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    2. Or magnets might work too.

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  6. Oh Jen, thanks for such an honest post. So sorry for all of the stress involved with your kitchen remodel, but I do have to say that it looks WONDERFUL overall. You have done a lot of hard work and in the end it will be worth it, I promise. I too have to remind myself to stop looking at all this is still to be done, or that I want to do, and just enjoy each new completed step. Good luck on getting the final steps done.

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  7. I love all of it, even with your snags, it's looking really beautiful and once you are able to use it all fully and daily, you'll grow into the parts that bug you and adjust things as you need to. I'm totally jealous, it's so clean and fresh and new. Buy some limes or lemons for color for now, until you're able to slowly add your own pops. Maybe for the dining area, you could find a way to join the top and bottom cabinets? some molding or edges, to make it look more hutch like, while keeping it built in with the extra storage? It all really looks fantastic though, really jealousy-inducing fantastic.

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    1. Thanks Melissa! The plan was to do some corbels to join the top and bottom of the dining cabinets, and maybe even a backing, but we have electrical in the way. Womp. Still may be able to ultimately move the plates but just want to troubleshoot all solutions first. Thank you for your kind comment and suggestion. :)

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  8. Jen - I love posts like this! Makes me feel like you are more human because we've had so many terrible renovation stories. I do have to tell you that your living room reveal was probably my favorite post ever (and I've been reading for almost 5 years). Without knowing it, you taught me so much about fabrics and picking fun colors to liven up my home. Unlike you, I am constantly scared of color (particularly in large items). Picking the Chaing Ming fabric for your living room was basically opening my eyes to how I could add tons of color and character, but in great fabrics that I could always change if I decide I hate them! So even though you don't LOVE the way it turned out, I absolutely LOVED it and am so thankful you did that challenge!! Thanks for always sharing things along the way - you guys are great!

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    1. Tracy, your comment wins the gold metal in my heart today! #cheesyiknow Thank you for checking in over the years and also for sharing what you took away from the challenge. I knew it was a learning curve for us, but love hearing about it from a reader perspective. I am so happy to hear you are feeling good about adding color, it can really change the feel of a space! xo!

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    2. Jen - you are so sweet! :) You have taught me more than you could ever imagine over the years - and you were the FIRST blog I ever fell in love with! I think I was googling something about trying to get organized, and found your blog, and the rest is history. Keep at it girl - I am so thankful for you! I know how much hard work goes in to each of these projects and just think you should know how much people like me appreciate reading about everything along the way :). xo!

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  9. I'm sorry about the bad issues that you have been having. But I'm so glad that you write about them as well as the good and in-between. I will say, from my perspective, it is nice that you and other bloggers post about these things because it helps me for when I take on projects. So I guess the take away would be that although, it isn't fun for you, you are helping me/others to hopefully avoid problems in the future. So, thank you!

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  10. I like how thoughtful you are about your home and I don't mind at all when things take longer. It's actually one of the reasons that your blog is one of my favourites. I can relate so much better to a slower pace.

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  11. I think your space is so beautiful! I completely understand the headache and heartache of home remodel. I started my own ikea kitchen renovation last year only I had to do the entire thing myself as my husband is as far as uninterested in home renovation as one can get. I demoed the entire kitchen including 2 closets, ran new electrical, plumbing, built new walls, and hung drywall all myself, I then hung cabinets (thank goodness for ikea's rail system) built a concrete countertop, installed a new dishwasher, garbage disposal, and backsplash. Although there was no bickering with my husband because he was completely uninvolved there were plenty of tears from me feeling overwhelmed that I had taken on such a big project by myself and all the weight was on my shoulders. It is now 15 months later and I still have to put crown molding on one bank of cabinets as well as 3 filler pieces on the base cabinets, I haven't worked on the kitchen all summer because I just needed a break. I love love love my new kitchen but I do have some regrets, I too chose white cabinets and my backsplash is white, couple that with light gray concrete countertops and my once orange oak kitchen is now feeling a bit too white. I have been trying to bring in color with curtains and accessories but it's just not coming together. At this point I am considering staining the concrete black just to add some contrast and move away from the blah white (although I do love white). Anyway I really hope you keep sharing updates as you move along, I can only speak for myself but I really love seeing and reading about the whole renovation journey not just the pretty end product. I would much rather read posts like this along the way and not just a beginning and end product.

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    1. That's pretty awesome to read that you girls have taken on so much on yourselves and accomplished it successfully. Girl power!

      By the way, how do you manage your everyday cooking when your kitchens go through such long renovation processes?

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    2. Wow Crystal! You are one inspiring gal! Do you blog? I would love to read more about it, I can't believe how much you have taken on all on your own! Congrats! And it's funny to read you went gray and white after orange and oak. That oak really has a way of making us run in the opposite direction, doesn't it?! Congrats to you, you have done so much already and the rest will come together with time. I have been needing to step away here and there also, it really helps when decisions aren't easy and things aren't feeling right. Best of luck to you as you continue to create a kitchen you love with your own two hands. You are amazing!

      And Swati - I am working on a "Cooking without a Kitchen" post as I type this! :) Stay tuned!

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  12. Thank you for this post. I look at blogs all the time and wonder how they can do all of these projects so quick and be happy. I know you're not complete, but I think your kitchen is drop dead gorgeous.

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  13. The greatest post I ever read. Thank you so much for this testimony and honesty. Cheers from France!

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  14. Thank you for sharing! I've been wondering how it's been going for you. We just finished up (well, almost finished!) a kitchen renovation, and while our issues were nothing like yours, we had a couple of things that really threw off the timeline and budget. We had a lot of the work done for us though, so it's gone a little quicker. You are such a champ sticking it out this long! I was going crazy after two months!

    I think a light grey/white wash on your doors would look really great. It would tone down the orange and give them a pretty rustic look.

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    1. I like your idea for the doors, I will definitely look into that technique. :)

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  15. It is really quite beautiful. I never would have noticed the beam above the window. I am sorry about the island downdraft thing. That is a major bummer. I do agree with you about the glass cabinets in the dining room, I think they are heavy and overwhelming in the space. I am in the less is more camp, so maybe just artwork or shelves or glass racks? The bottom piece is relatively shallow and anything jutting out over it is going to feel heavy. But the most important person to like it is you! Once you're cooking and working in the kitchen, you won't notice all the "flaws" as long as you have a functional space to make wonderful food for your family - it's all good.

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  16. I think everything looks beautiful! You should be very proud of all that you have accomplished on your own. That would be the day my husband would agree to take on a project like this! While your living room looked gorgeous on "reveal" day, I much prefer the look it has in this post. I always drool over magazine worthy rooms, but it's always hard for me to imagine my wild family (4 kids under the age of 8) actually LIVING in those types of rooms. I am sure many families create those spaces and live perfectly fine, but I know we couldn't. Not at this particular time anyway. I do feel your pain when it comes to the decisions you made and aren't too happy with. We just recently had hail damage to our roof and siding and were able to get it all replaced. Well, I absolutely HATE the siding color I chose. We have had it for 2 weeks now and I am still cringing. There is no option to replace it again and there's no way we are painting it, so I am stuck. It is something I will have to learn to love. Anyway, I really do love your kitchen. Personally, the size of the dining room cabinets and your outlets do not bother me. Though, if it's something that you have the funds, time and energy to change, then maybe you should if they bother you enough. You guys do excellent work though! I have loved your blog for years. You were the first blogger I came across when I first got into organizing and decorating and you have been my favorite ever since. I am always rooting for you! Best of luck!

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    1. So sorry to hear about your siding. That is a tough pill to swallow, hopefully you will be able to find ways to fall in love with it by tweaking your landscaping, shutters, door color? Such a bummer though!

      Thank you for your sweetness Ashley! I always love checking in on your blog as well. :)

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  17. Hey Jen! I think your space looks great! It is really incredible what you guys have accomplished! We have done multiple kitchens, baths, and one addition! I know renovating can be painful and rewarding! I know you see problems! We only see beautiful!

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  18. Thank you for your transparency on this process, Jen! Noah did not build his Ark overnight :) Looking forward to see how you tweak the room as your add in the final layers.
    XO, Amanda
    lifeonlinton.com

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  19. Well I think its beautiful and I wouldn't have even noticed the beam if you didn't point it out. Its fine! I don't drink wine but I am in love with that wine cabinet! So cute! Our dishwasher came with its own plastic/rubber toe kick, it attaches to the dishwasher itself. I figured all dishwashers came with it? Ours is black but I am sure it can be painted!

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  20. Loving your kitchen remodel. When we redid our kitchen I got my first ever dishwasher - I was so excited! My contractor covered the kick plate part of the dishwasher that's bugging you with velcro strips at the ends and stuck the kick plate to the dishwasher with velcro. That way you can remove it if necessary. Hope this would work for you too!

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    1. So happy to hear this works! We are going to give it a try as well. Thanks Cindy!

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  21. Oh and as far as the dining room lower cabinets, could you add a wood countertop to the current countertop and make it a little bigger/wider to line up with the uppers?

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    1. After the counter was added to the lowers, it now sticks out a bit further than the uppers, but you would never know it looking at it. That was my first surprise with the setup... but we are not opposed to exploring a variety of options, and I appreciate your suggestion!

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  22. Thank you for your honesty! It was just what I needed to hear this morning. We are slogging our way through removing the popcorn ceilings, painting our entire main floor, refinishing the fireplace etc. My husband took a week off work and we barely scratched the surface of stuff I wanted to accomplish....and I'm frustrated at constantly tripping over baby toys books, bouncers etc. Not to mention having to fit in my DIY around nap times! I'm learning that it's ok to take things slow. That I will probably be happier with the result if I slow down and let the remodel take it's course. Thanks again for reinforcing the take it slow approach!

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    1. Ahhh, yes! The mess! It is the worst part of a long renovation in my opinion. My office and lower level family room are still suffering with piles and messes that have trickled to those spaces. Best of luck to you Kirsten, it's going to be great when it is done!

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  23. Oh! You mean you're a real person? :) Real people makeovers happen exactly as you've described. Our kitchen reno took freaking forever, and at then end I was so burnt out I just said "okay" to a few things that we should have taken the time to fix. They bug the crap out of me now. So good on you that you're choosing to take the time to do it right!

    I like the posts that reflect the process...not just the magazine before/after. Seeing the problems you encounter, the decision process, and the outcome helps your readers navigate issues when the SAME THING happens to us. We don't need you to be perfect...we like you to be real.

    Also, you're completely right on the dishwasher toe kick. How often have you had to pull out the dishwasher to repair? Unless it's once a month removing the toe kick to repair would be worth the design improvement of having it there. How about making the toekick there a stand alone piece? Regular toe kick with small pieces of flat moulding on either side to hide the seam? Yes, the moulding wouldn't be as seamless as one huge piece...but I think it would visually blend and still give your DH the option of only removing a small piece is repairs are needed.

    Wait until you have legs (chunky substantial ones I hope!) on the buffet behind the table...I think the floating cabinet is part of what makes it so insubstantial. Maybe adding a wood top? That would inject warmth as well as make it more substantial to the eye. It's hard to get an idea of the "lopsided" effect through pics, so I don't know if making it more visually heavy would help combat that or not.

    Lastly, good luck! And keep your chin up!--JenW

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    1. Thank you JenW, I appreciate your comment and input. :)

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  24. Another blogger I love is Addicted2Decorating.com. Kristi shares all the good and bad in real time. She remodeled her kitchen and was super frustrated that it took seven months. The end result is an absolutely beautiful green kitchen. Reading it may help you realize everyone out there is human too. Love what you have done and like reading about the thought processes behind your decisions.

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    1. Oh yes! I remember her beautiful green kitchen! I need to go back and re-read those posts, I am sure it will be helpful to us as we move forward. She does amazing things!

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  25. Thank you so much for this post! We gutted our kitchen 4 months ago and while I am so glad we took the plunge, I have had so man uh-oh moments and am currently having a BIG uh-oh moment where I am having to have an electrician rectify an overloaded circuit which also had the wrong gauge electrical cable on one of the branches... this issue wouldn't even be had I planned better. Anyway it makes me feel better to know that it is normal and maybe I am not the complete doofus 8 feel like right now

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    1. Hi Angie! Sorry to hear about the circuit issue. There were quite a few things that we couldn't have/wouldn't have known either and it is hard not to take it personally or wonder what you could have done differently. Hang in there! From what I understand, hiccups are a very common part of the process to achieving a space you love. :) #justkeepswimming

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  26. OH man. Thanks for sharing with us, it is helpful to learn through your reno roller coaster. I do have a question, however. Is that a gas range? Does it not require a vent hood? We'd like to knock down a wall in our kitchen to open out to the living area, but I am stuck on the fact that we'd need a vent hood hanging down in between the two room- with a vaulted ceiling in one and not the other. If I could do some sort of down-draft it would be a no-brainer. I don't want an awkward hood blocking the view between the rooms. However, my husband (who's pretty handy) tells me that there HAS to be a vent hood over a gas range. Any thoughts? Thanks, Jen.

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    1. Hi Holly! The first thing we did and also recommend, is to check with your local building inspector and find out the ventilation code. I believe it is different depending on where you live, so I can't truly give you an answer on if you need one or not.

      However, we did not need ANY ventilation by code. Weird right? But that was not an option for us, because we know that cooking can get smelly and produce a lot of grease. I believe some ranges may have built-in ventilation, but everything I have read about those is that they can pull your burner flame and mis-direct the heat. Downdrafts are also tricky, as we are learning. We have a utility room directly below our island, so it made it easier to run duct work down and out of our home. But the units are bulky (which is why we have a larger island), they don't always function well and only certain units can be paired with certain appliances. After a lot of phone calls, we were assured that a Kitchenaid gas range paired with their downdraft unit will work together, so we are crossing our fingers. The downdraft should raise high enough that it won't impact the gas flames while cooking as well.

      It doesn't seem like there is a lot of readily available information regarding this process, I have really been struggling finding a good resource and even many of the kitchen and appliance specialists I have spoken with don't have a lot of information regarding downdrafts in general.

      I can understand not wanting a hood, we were in the same situation. Hopefully your local inspector can help answer any additional ventilation questions. xoxo!

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    2. We have a gas range in our home and there is a hood but it's not actually vented through the roof, they literally put in a hood for no reason. If you turn on the fan it just blows it up and out into the kitchen. It's a rental so we can't do anything about it, but I'd be interested to hear if that's not safe - I might do some research on that actually!

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  27. Also, I love the white and I don't think that beam is problematic over the kitchen. I like roman shades in kitchen areas. I think a bit of texture would help. Maybe something in a rough linen?

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  28. I think that your open area is already really beautiful and will evolve to a lovely space. I agree with other readers in that I'd rather read incremental updates than a grand reveal post. I don't know if I'll ever "finish" a room so I can relate so much better to small improvements on a space.

    Regarding the beam over the window, I think the valance box connecting the cabinets is a great idea.

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  29. I am a lurker (hi!) and hardly ever comment on blogs. I wanted to tell you that posts showing the the "real life" parts of renovations a really strike a chord with me. We started out kitchen renovation on Dec 26th of last year and finished in June. Well, not finished exactly. After 6 lights above the kitchen sink, I may never find one I like.

    I second the Velcro idea for the dishwasher, agree that you should try the window treatment first and suggest you try adding corbels under the top cabinets to tie them together with the base cabinets. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks G! Glad you took a moment to comment, I appreciate it! Best of luck with your lighting search!

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  30. I think your kitchen looks great! The beam looks like it is supposed to be there to me, so I wouldn't stress about it. Maybe you could mock up your two solutions with cardboard and see what you prefer before you make a decision?

    I think that 6 week challenge looks great if you have been planning that space for a long time and gathering items so you are all ready before you start, but otherwise it looks like a nightmare for the average homeowner. I thought you adapted well, and your fireplace and built-ins turned out so great. I struggle with picking out accessories - I get paralyzed - so it was neat for me to see what you did as a plan B in some cases.

    Thanks for sharing the GB&U!

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  31. Regarding your orangey wood doors - you might check out Pneumatic Addict's tutorials for glaze and toning. I work with pine a lot, and it always seems to come out blotchy, but the last time I glazed a piece, it came out AWESOME.

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  32. I love your blog! And love room reveals but also love to hear when people keep it real and talk about mistakes they made or challenges they face. I love your kitchen island and the colour, love the splashback, but your right maybe its a bit too white, eventhough i love white myself, i agreed you should introduce some warmth to break up the white, not sure about the plastic stools, i would have gone for a rustic wooden ones, and i do think the upper cabinet in the dining room its too chunky, maybe some art or a beautiful wooden mirror? Looking great so far! Love from Australia :)

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  33. I LOVE your island stools! They are gorgeous! Can't wait to find out where they are from!

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    1. Thanks Megan! They are from LexMod: http://bit.ly/1Ljlxxp

      xo!

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  34. I am on my second wall color in the master bedroom and still don't think I have it right. My second rug for the living room ordered, on my 3rd (or is it 4th) chair for the living room, second coffee table for the family room...the list is endless! I think my problem is I find a great deal on something and don't really think if it is really perfect for the space or just OK. So thank you for showing this. I actually appreciate your blog more because you guys are so real. Oh and one other thing we have the same white dining chairs as you (and also have 3 boys almost the exact same age as yours) how in the world do you keep them clean? I love the look but am ready to toss them out the window (the chairs not my boys) I love that we can wash the covers but they seem to get grubby again right away (both the chairs and the boys :)

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    1. Thank you for sharing this! I think we are hard on ourselves when we don't get things right the first time, or the second or the third. I have a feeling we are not alone! :)

      As far as the chairs, I use an oxi boost in my wash and they come out pretty clean. They get dirty between washes and I only wash them every 3-6 months, but I get over any of the stains in-between because I have appreciate how easy they are to maintain and know they are just showing the signs of three boys and a messy mama. ;) xo!

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  35. Your kitchen is wonderful. The island is so spacious. You have done a fabulous job. In thinking about the door, you could paint it a color that you want to bring into the kitchen. I agree that it is too orangey.

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  36. I love everything about your new kitchen. I wouldn't even have noticed your "hiccups". The beam looks like it's supposed to be there and the outlets look fine where they are. But, I really love your dining room cabinets just as they are. It would be such a shame to rip them down. I think if you put some colorful pieces on the shelf, or some flowers, it would be spectacular. You did a great job with the renovation. I love it :)

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  37. I LOVE it all! But I have to concur with you on the dishwasher toekick! Ask Bryan what the point is to a built-in-looking dishwasher if it stands out at the bottom? Paint it, fake it, Velcro it... something white. I see the non-matching bottom in magazines often and wonder why designers don't complete the built-in look by at LEAST matching the toekick color somehow!! I mean, how often are you going to pull it out? Once in the next 10 years? Use something removable and cover that black baby up! :-)

    I LOVE EVERYTHING, though! 8 months is just fine, considering that we decided to do ours in phases 5 years or so ago, and we have yet to get to phase 2. :-( Kudos to you! :-)

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    1. Thanks so much Holly! I think I can get him on board if I find a simple and practical solution. :) Good luck with your kitchen and enjoy the process and phases.

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  38. I think it looks great. I always try to tell myself Rome wasn't built in a day when things are taking longer than I expected. I just have a few thoughts about the items that bother you. Yes to a window treatment, maybe a bamboo roman shade. That would break up the white and bring in some warm wood tones you mentioned wanting. Another way to break up the white, which I'm sure you've thought of, is putting some color on the back walls of those glass front cabinets, maybe even some patterned wall paper. Yes to a white toe kick, somehow, some way. Finally, the stained french doors, have you considered using some white liming wax? It might tone down the orange tone, and bring some wood tones in line with the rest of that space.

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    1. I am hoping to give the stain one more try, but then I could definitely try the liming wax as well. I still have some leftover from a previous project. :)

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  39. Hi Jen - You kitchen looks wonderful. I appreciate you being human and admitting goofs/rethinking things along the way. Bumps, bruises and head bashes are part of any remodeling project. I'm tripping over a deck remodel right now - it started with a "bit" of dry rot on a support beam - so we moved applicable deck boards, and replace it. Then found other support beams with rot, so they were replaced. Then a majority of the deck boards seem to have patches of rot... and new boards are different sizes from old boards, so it's deck board puzzle time! One weekend job has gone to four and more... AND we have the dog and her dog door which leads to the deck, so each evening we must replace enough deck boards to provide her safe access to the backyard...

    Hang in there...

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  40. I have to say, I prefer a post like this. Reveals are fun and all but they just aren't real life. Reading through your successes and struggles is really helpful. My husband and I are currently remodeling our kitchen and have only made it as far as building one wall of cabinets. Reading your posts gives a more realistic idea of how things go in a kitchen remodel, instead of the, "poof, look at my pretty new kitchen
    " Thank you!!!

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  41. Jen, It has been sooo fun following ya'll's kitchen/livingroom reno! Ya'll have done an outstanding job! Thanks for being an inspiration!

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  42. I love this post, your honesty, AND the overall look of your kitchen and dining area. You've done a beautiful job with your home!

    I really like the idea behind the bifold doors--they must photograph better than they look in real life, because I think they look a little rustic and pretty great. I think if I were you, I'd want to remove those upper cabinets and go with open, rustic shelving. It would bring in some warm wood tones to help offset the white, and connect to your doors (which I think you can totally salvage with a bit of sanding and some walnut stain).

    I hear you on the other hiccups... I'd probably want a valance and outlets moved and a toe kick, too. But all the big moves look so good. Fingers crossed that your new appliance installation goes smoothly!

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  43. Hi Jen, I love when you post about your "mistakes!" That makes it that much easier to relate to you. I really love everything about your new kitchen. I've been thinking about your dining room cabinets. Have you considered putting a chunkier slab of counter top on the bottoms? One that overhangs the edge a bit? That might solve the problem of the tops being too heavy.

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  44. Your honesty along with your creativity is one of the biggest appeals of your blog for me. Thanks for keeping it real ~ and your kitchen is coming along beautifully. :0)

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  45. I love the kitchen so far! I love that you are taking your time and working on it organically, rather than rushing to make for a better photo online. I'm looking forward to seeing how it evolves!

    Kristi | Be Loverly

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  46. This was exactly what I needed to see today! My husband and I have been working on our nursery all summer (something I thought would be finished early July) and we still aren't ready to move in anything. The baby comes in a month, we go back to work in two weeks, my laundry room is filling with baby gifts, and with every few steps forward in the nursery, we seem to fall a step back. While I know our baby isn't really in need of the nursery right away, I want it finished and checked off the list.
    It is really nice to know we aren't the only ones hitting surprises, missing deadlines, and completely having to rethink our plans. After reading this I feel so refreshed and have the motivation I need to keep pushing through.

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    1. Thanks Carolyn! Best of luck to you and your new family addition. :)

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  47. Hi Jen...you and Brian have done a fabulous job on the kitchen! I know you're frustrated at the time it's taken but if you take your time, I hope that you won't end up with any regrets once you're completely finished. It seems a lot of us are in the same boat with how long projects take so you're in good company!

    I didn't notice the beam either but I think the valance box might help conceal it the way the wine cabinet does on the other side more than a roman shade might. I like the idea of the toekick being velcroed on so let us know if that works since it sounds like option 1 on your list. I do agree that the top of the "hutch" looks heavy but I'm curious to see how you feel once you finish filling/styling it. You might want to take it slow on that side of the space to ensure removing the top is really what you want to do.

    I'm sorry you've had some setbacks but I thank you for sharing them with us since I plan to do a full gut kitchen renovation sometime in the years to come. Although I will most likely hire help, I've already experienced some lessons when it comes to working with contractors as well...always nice to know you're not alone!

    I agree with another commentor, the six-week challenge is a great motivator if you've already planned on redoing that space and have some of what you need so you're not choosing items for the sake of having something but I don't know that I would take that kind of thing on. It seems that I've yet to learn to slow down and take my time when it comes to the finishing touches and then I have regrets about spending money I didn't need to. The older I get, the happier I am with less and with allowing myself time to add items that I really love. Can't wait to see where you go next in your kitchen...

    Peggy

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  48. I wish I could give you a bug hug! I love your blog, and I adore your honesty. As someone who has not one iota of do-it-herself energy, I think everything you do is amazing. Your organizing ideas always inspire me to make my home tidier and more functional--and more fun.

    As my son says, "you do you, cause you = pretty awesome."

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  49. Remodels are hard! We hired a small contractor to do our kitchen and first floor this year and it was still frustrating! Things went wrong and we'd do things differently today too. Ours was complete in April, but we still have the kitchen backsplash to do along and we're still living with a 90's gold fireplace door. We're living in our space and adding personal touches as we go and hoping to not rush decisions just to rush them, which we've done in the past too. Live and learn, right?! Looks beautiful.

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    1. I agree; living, learning and sharing is what it is all about. Best wishes to you as you continue to work on your kitchen and first floor.

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  50. Beautiful kitchen!
    Do you find you have enough space with the counter depth refridgerator? I'm looking to buy one, but am worried about losing the depth... specifically with the freezer.

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    1. Great question! I was surprised how much I was able to fit into the actual fridge portion, I had room to spare and we eat a lot of fresh foods. The freezer is another story. If we didn't have a second freezer, I would have been really struggling with the space factor. But being able to do the counter depth option really saved us a lot of needed floor space.

      xoxo!

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  51. Oh wow, I am busy planning my kitchen remodel right now, and am having nightmares trying to wrestle everything I want into the space. I was kinda hoping that it would be smooth sailing after the basic plan was nailed down :-/ a tad unrealistic perhaps?

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    1. Hi Alexis! I think the more you plan and prepare ahead of time, will ultimately help you down the road. But from what I have experienced and read, there will always be little surprises along the way. I think knowing that it won't all be smooth sailing going in, will also help you stay grounded should something unexpected happen.

      I hope that your kitchen remodel goes off without a hitch, and that you get the dream kitchen you are after. ♥

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  52. I am so impressed! I appreciate your honesty and humor because who doesn't have mess ups?! I haven't taken on a project as large as yours, but I've definitely messed up smaller ones. Moving slow is my jam, too, and I appreciate how you plan and re-plan. And your kitchen as it is now? Is absolutely gorgeous!

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  53. Well it all looks gorgeous! Thanks for your continued honesty as you work through the project, I appreciate the real look at a remodel!

    With regards to your dining wall upper cabinets...why not just use the understated moulding on top instead of the bigger crown moulding? Seems like that would match the kitchen with all the shallow cabinets getting the smaller moulding treatment. Just an idea!

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    1. That is definitely an option we are considering Melissa, thank you for chiming in. :)

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  54. Jen - Oh My Gosh! 1. your kitchen is lovely, 2. you've done amazing work and 3. The problems you mentioned look absolutely fine to this reader! I'm wondering if you need to take a step back from the beam and the stain on the door etc and just let it set a bit? I know I drive myself crazy in the middle of projects over the slightest imperfections and then sometimes .....much much later I think - wow, what was I worried about? When you look at the whole space it's so fantastic. I hope you can really enjoy it!

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    1. Hi Katie!

      Thank you so much! We are definitely taking our time with those few decisions. I am still going to try and tone down the orange in the door and not rush into painting it until we work on a few other updates first. I think it has also been hard looking at a blank slate, I know once we start layering in curtains and rugs and accessories, that everything will begin making more sense.

      xoxo!

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  55. Hello there!

    Beautiful work Jen, and those floors and Lucite stools (*love*)! Not sure if this will help at all but can I offer a few suggestions to some of the areas you're reconsidering?

    Window - Since you have three heights going here, I think a valance box going from the ceiling (cutting into the beam) may help with the visual (although trying Roman shades as a start is a wise idea).

    Dining Cabinets - You could take down the cabinets and install decorative shelving or another option could be to link the upper cabinets with the lower, use a decorative treatment (wallpaper or temporary wallpaper or a fun paint colour) for the insides of the cabinets and the wall between the uppers and lowers so that it looks like one unit!

    Wood door - If you find the wood door colour too harsh for the space, maybe a whitewashing treatment could help?

    All just small suggestions which I hope will help! Again beautiful job to not only your kitchen but to your whole space! (Very inspiring!)

    From a loyal Canadian reader,
    Lidia xo

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    1. Thank you for your ideas and thoughts Lidia! And for checking in all of the way from Canada. ;)

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  56. I think every square inch of it is gorgeous and wouldn't have even noticed the dishwasher toe kick and some of the other items if you hadn't mentioned them. We have yet to remodel our kitchen though, and I know when it's your own house, you notice these things more than anyone else does.
    Looks great and I'm sure you're happy it's done!

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  57. I keep thinking a fake "drawer" under the dishwasher would work well. The handle will make it easy to pull out and covering the opening will make cleaning a lot easier.
    The kitchen is looking beautiful, you guys did such a great job. Still dreaming of our own home one day where I can have a beautiful, PRACTICAL kitchen with no little tiles as countertop!

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  58. Oh and I played around in photoshop. I think the bottom of the cabinets in the dining area becomes a bit more balanced if you match the colour of its top to the dark of the dining table.

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  59. Hi! your kitchen looks lovely! As far as the upper cabinets in the dining area I think they should be removed. With the White kitchen cabinets and the built ins in the living room, I don't think they are necessary. It would be a good place for a gallery wall or a simple big piece of art. Then you could utilize the lowers as more of a buffet? I think visually you would like the way it looked better. Hang in there renovations are hard! You have good taste, trust your gut! Hope you have a good day.

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  60. Congratulations on getting this far! My house was built in 1843 and the five years we have owned it have been a steady march of home renovation, including a complete kitchen gut. Don't give up the dining room storage! I get where you're coming from with the top-heavy thought, but I think all that you need are some substantial painted-to-match corbels on each side between the top and bottom. That would connect the two pieces visually and make them appear more as a single piece of furniture. I'm sure you know that you can find them online on renovation catalog sites. Good luck, and take your time! (Believe me--I know that is hard to do.)

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    1. Good idea! I was going to say how about some substantial feet on the bottom to balance them out? I wouldn't give up the extra storage space either!!

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    2. Thanks for the ideas! As of right now, unless we move some electrical, we are having a hard time finding corbels to fit. However, we do have some pretty furniture feet ready to be installed so hopefully those will make a bit of a difference. We are still toying around with all of the other great suggestions as well.

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  61. Jen, I really enjoyed this update and I love how honest you always are! I think it looks beautiful and you will look back and laugh when you think back on this hectic year. Of course, you may be laughing from a padded room but laughing nonetheless… Seriously, thank you for being so transparent about your home and your feelings. That's why we heart YOU!

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    1. Haha, I hope so! The laughing part, not the padded room part. :D

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  62. THANK YOU! Thank you for being honest about the living room because as you were designing your living room I started working on my son's bedroom, my own 6 week challenge. I was amazed at how quickly you accessorized and found furniture for the room. I am on month 4 of decorating his room and still working on building a bookcase. I'm glad to know that it really takes longer to make a room part of your home.
    On the upper cabinets in the dinning area could you add wood to connect the uppers to the lower cabinets?? To make it look like one piece instead of two.
    Good Luck! and thanks for the honesty

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    1. That is definitely an option Almaelou, thank you! And enjoy every minute of working on your son's bedroom. ♥

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  63. I love, love, love, love, LOVE this honest post. I love that you are doing real-time, real-life posts about your renovations. My parents had their kitchen/downstairs flood and the restoration company took over a year to fix everything (and then go back and fix poorly fixed things...). Renovations are simply not fun a lot of the time. Thank you so much for keeping it real.
    My couple thoughts... All I can imagine keeping the empty space below the dishwasher is all that dirt and dustbunnies that you'd be unable to get! I think that you're best off putting in a piece of toe-kick maybe just using a couple of finishing nails or something? So you don't have to rip out a ton of stuff in case of repair.
    I love the upper cabinets in the dining area... that's one of those judgement calls about money I think! If you're stubborn (like me) and you feel like you paid for those cupboards, so they are staying, that's fine! Once you fill them and style the counter you'll stop seeing the difference. If you decide to remove the uppers, I think that open rustic wood shelving would look phenomenal in that space!
    Do you think the problem with the stained door is just too dark/wrong color of stain? Maybe if you go over it with a grey wash or even dry brush white paint over the stain, it would neutralize the color. I love that you added the natural wood element there though!
    And if that is your cabinet with dishes "unstyled"... you have gorgeous dishes! Looks pretty enough to me! haha.
    Finally, I love the posts where you just show little bits and pieces of progress. Before and afters are fun, but I know I always love to see each step because otherwise the "after" picture is hard to appreciate... I think showing every little piece along the way is fun because if you've been following you actually know each project or purchase that went into it and can really appreciate all of the design choices and DIY projects. Anyways, I have loved reading along on your kitchen/living room renovation, and I am excited to hear about some of the topics you mentioned like how it is to live in an open concept space, etc. :)

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    1. Thank you for chiming in and for your sweetness Amanda! I really appreciate it!

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  64. I think your kitchen is wonderful and will become even more so as time goes on, you live in it, and add touches that are *you*. There are advantages and disadvantages to the time crunch. Sure there are mistakes made but sometimes it's worth it to be able to live in the space and see what works. (Hopefully it's the cheap items that are the mistakes). As for the upper cabinets in your dining room area, have you thought about painting the bottom cabinets a darker color? This may balance out the top.
    My Bright Blue House

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    1. Painting them is definitely an option, thank you for the suggestion!

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  65. The most important part about all of your spaces is the beautiful family that fills them. The kitchen looks gorgeous, and all the problems will work themselves out. In the meantime, you're modeling patience, good humor and the importance of resilence for your 3 P's. That's a win on any day!

    I have a few tiny ideas: I love the idea of a cornice box over the sink and a roman shade under it. I think it would absolutely do the trick. For the dining area situation, is it possible to "scooch" the lower cabinets out? Could you build a spacer behind them that could still support them? If the uppers felt recessed a bit and the lowers out a bit farther, maybe even on some decorative legs, the whole thing might feel more balanced and cross a worry off your list. I think you'd ultimately regret losing the storage space if you were to take them down, and the cabinets with the glass are so lovely.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Jen, today and every day. You are an inspiration and a virtual friend to all of your readers, and your honesty and realness make you an even better example of how to patiently make a house a home.

    xox
    Carolyn

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    1. Thank YOU sweet Carolyn! And I love the idea to bump out the lowers a smidge, but more importantly, your comment regarding the family that fills the space being the most important part to keep in mind. :D

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  66. Eight months is not at all ridiculous for a complete kitchen/living area do-over, and you've done a beautiful job! It's a breath of fresh to see and hear the real, honest frustrations of a renovation like this. As far as the cabinet wall in the dining area, have you considered a combination of floating shelves and a layered gallery? Hanging some of the frames out from the wall a bit may take a little more work and creativity, but it adds so much more depth to the display. Whatever you do, I'm sure it will be lovely. :)

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  67. I am so impressed with all you did! You got this!

    Her Heartland Soul
    http://herheartlandsoul.com

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  68. Jen,
    The remodel is BEAUTIFUL! I think when it's yours, you have a more critical eye. Plus, all those decisions in a short period of time can really fry your brain. Oi! We built our own house 19 years ago & there are still some things I wish we'd done differently, but we survived it & are now "remodeling". ;) A tip on the doors: my husband builds furniture & when using open or grainy wood, he always clear coats it first to keep it from absorbing too much of the stain. If that doesn't work for you, I think the doors would look lovely in your island color. Shar

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    1. Great tip for the doors, thank you so much for sharing Shar!

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  69. I LOVE the kitchen! This reno has been so perfectly timed for me as we were also planning a kitchen upgrade with the exact same IKEA units and similar floors! Ours has been postponed so it's so great for me to see how yours is panning out and hear about the things you would change! I love that you share the good, bad and ugly! It helps the rest of us to learn what to change or do differently and let's be honest, no one gets everything right first time. I think it looks fantastic just as it is. I think it would be a shame to lose that lovely bank of glazed cabinets in the dining area but I can see where you're coming from. Would it be worth looking into slightly deeper cabinets at the bottom? That way it would prevent the 'top heavy problem' whilst providing the extra storage you are enjoying. Any way you change it, it's probably going to cost. Might be worth looking into? Anyway, thanks so much again for always sharing so honestly. Your home is beautiful and inspiring xx

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  70. Oh my swoonage I think it's gorgeous!! All of it! Funny how we nitpick at the little things, all I see is beauty! I hear ya on the 20% extras that creep up on you, we experienced that in our own recent kitchen renovation, I have similar "oops" moments and little victories to share. I love the new glass cabinets on the hutch! I know you mentioned you haven't gotten to the backsplash, are you continuing the tile under those glass dining room cabinets? Perhaps some tall corbels underneath the ends? Whatever you do I'm sure it will be DIVINE! Wonderful post!
    xo
    Kate

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  71. First off, let me just say, bravo!! You guys have done a wonderful job with the renos!!! Like, amazing... Just thought I would share my opinion on a few points...

    Like yourself, I would also be bothered by the break in toe kick. The velcro sounds brilliant and would give it a more finished look!

    I didn't even really notice the beam above the window until you mentioned it. Can see where you're coming from, but it is a beam... Not just a decorative object. I think after you dress the window with a nice roman blind you won't think about that beam anymore (I kinda cringed a little when you mentioned a valance box, sorry!).

    I actually thought you did a good job with the wooden doors! ;) A nice juxtaposition...

    I also think a beautiful piece of modern artwork or a beautiful mirror above the dining room cabinets would work much better. Too many glass-front cabinets can sometimes hinder, more than help, with everyday-family living.

    Sorry to hear about the island debacle! I can just imagine the frustration... And extra expense... On the other hand, from what I saw in the picture, that new slide-in range looks soooo good!!! Would love one of those myself! I think you'll actually be happier with this option when completed.

    The two different sizes of crown moulding on the uppers was a smart move and a good compromise.

    Lastly, try not to put too much pressure on yourself to meet deadlines in hopes of not disappointing readers! Your house is your home to live in, not a model home to stage. Do what works best for you and your family! That being said, you are amazing at what you do, and I love keeping up with your organizing projects that improve the functionality of your home!! :)

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  72. I love what you said about the big "reveal" in a world of blogging and Pinterest worthy images. I started redecorating our bedroom this past spring...shared "before" photos and had felt like a bad blogger because there is no reveal yet, since decisions and projects are moving slowly. You are totally right, better to take our time than rush through and realize we don't love it.

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  73. First I want to give you (((Hugs))) for all of the stress you've been feeling. Don't worry at all about things taking a long time for the blog. Take your time. I enjoy your posts with small changes like the spice jars and under-the-sink organization just as much as a big reveal.

    Your kitchen looks beautiful! I want to hear more about your counters when you have a chance. I believe you said they are quartz. Your blog is my absolute favorite.

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    1. Hi Barbara! I can definitely share more about why we selected Quartz in one of my future posts, but yes, they are AMAZING so far. We really couldn't be happier with them (we went with Cambria in the Torquay finish).

      xoxo!

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  74. Your renovation is beautiful. My favorite part is the ceiling. I saw what you meant in the picture of your dining room cabinets before I even read the accompanying text about it. I think you should DEFINITELY keep the uppers. The solution is not to add feet to the lower cabinets but to add some corbels underneath the uppers. Obviously they are not needed for support reasons but I think it would add more balance. Either that or add a piece of wood on the sides that "connects" the uppers to the lowers (it only needs to span the gap between). It could be either straight or a curved.

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  75. renovations are not for the faint of heart that's for sure!! and i totally feel ya on the fact that blogging makes you do silly things like "reveal" and style shelves! #crazytown

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  76. I'm loving how your "open concept" kitchen is turning out! I'm soooo jealous. Husband and I discussed this option to do the same with our kitchen when we remodeled (we have very similar floorplan to yours), but would've required us to move appliances, gas-line for stove, new cabinets, etc. and I was concerned with the added costs involved. I wound up doing a less involved renovation -painted/glazed existing cabinets, new granite countertops & farmhouse sink. I do love what we did, but we still have the wall separating the kitchen from the living room.
    In regards to your little design dilemma's:
    - MAJOR bummer about the stove/downdraft :-(
    - I don't think the wood beam over the window looks bad at all. Once you add a valance and/or roman shade, it will just blend in and not be that noticeable. And I am curious to see what window treatment you choose for the sliding door as well :-)
    - I LOVE the solution you did for your cabinet crown moulding. I think the varied heights actually accentuates the cabinets even more. -)
    - I agree that the dishwasher would look better with white kick-plate. Either Velcro or glue just on that section. (small seams would look better than the black space now).
    - I like the upper dining room cabinets. Have you considered trying to "connect" the uppers & lowers (ie. beadboard, etc.). But if you don't need the extra storage space...having a beautiful art statement piece would look stunning as well.
    - Oooohh, I love the French doors on your coat closet! I like the wood tone, but it would also look good toned down a bit w/either whitewash or lime wax technique.
    - What are you planning to use the space above it for? I like the idea of open shelving to not close off the space more, unless you're wanting to store bigger items that you would want to hide behind doors.

    Just a few more design choices to finalize, and I can't wait to see what you decide on your backsplash. :-) Then onto the fun Jen's "golden touch" finishes with the layering & accessories :-) Great job so far!!!

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  77. I LOVED reading this post! So many of us love blogs and Pinterest, but start to feel guilty that our houses aren't picture perfect. It was refreshing to read such an honest and open post.

    Keep up the beautiful work and don't be so hard on yourself :)
    And I think the wood tones on your pantry doors are beautiful!

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  78. I so appreciate your honesty and "keeping' it real". It's so so refreshing :) As for your dining room upper cabinets, if you choose to remove them, you could do some cool reclaimed wood floating shelves (perhaps even with a live edge). I think that would lighten up the heavy feel while bringing in some of the warmth you crave. You could coordinate the stain with your french doors. The cabinets are glass, so open floating shelves wouldn't be that different storage-wise. Just an idea - it's beautiful no matter what you decide, though.

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  79. I love the velcro idea for the kick plate for the dishwasher. Ours just sits tightly in the spot (it will occasionally fall). I think I might try the velcro trick!

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  80. Your blog is amazing! And the reason I read blogs is for their authenticity rather than their magazine readiness, so thank you for your honesty. Another reader mentioned liking small reveals, and I agree. Watching the process is more enjoyable than seeing a finished space. After all, that is how we learn how to refine our style and our own process. When we share our triumphs and mistakes, we learn together.

    We did a major remodel of all the bathrooms in our 100 year old craftsmen house when we moved in 8 years ago. Are there things I'd change? You bet! But does it look good enough? Yes. I have an outrageously expensive jetted tub that I never use, because I live in California, and can't justify the water use. And the accent tile I chose, while beautiful, isn't quite the right color (too green, wanted more aqua). And like you, I spent years dreaming and thinking and picking out just the right finishes. The kitchen looks beautiful, and you will always find the imperfections, so I encourage you to breathe, and say, "but look at those counters." Focus on the best parts.

    As for advice, a faux toe kick could work under the dishwasher. My contractor made a piece of wall with the baseboard attached that fit very snuggly to access the motor of the previously mentioned jetted tub. He felt it would look better than a door put into the side of my master bedroom wall, and I agree. It just slides in and out. There may be some sort of rubber gasket on the edges to make it fit snug, but I'm not sure. You and Brian are very creative, so I'm confident you could do something similar.

    While I'm not a big fan of the valance box, I think something that fits your style could work. I didn't notice the beam above the window at first glance, but I can see how it might bother you.

    The dining room cabinets are difficult. I thought some of the same things others mentioned. Adding corbels under the top cabinets, moving the lower cabinets out by 3-6" with a faux extension, to give it more heft (but a new counter would need to be made), or take down the top cabinets and add artwork or open shelving. I'm certain whatever you chose, it will be beautiful. And the beauty is that it doesn't need to be perfect, because it can transform and evolve over the years to suit you.

    Finally, that unstyled cabinet is lovely! I like it so much better than a styled one. Maybe I'm on Pinterest and blogs too much, but something that is neat, tidy, beautiful, and real, is preferable to something that is magazine styled. Not to say that we should just let things go, but we should ask ourselves why we are styling something, and if it is more useful, more beautiful, and more satisfying this way. I'm sure sometimes the answer would be yes, but I'm sure there are times that it is just too much.

    Thank you again for such a fun blog to read. I love following the process, the transformations, the tweaking, and the evolution of your spaces. And the organizing tips are great, too! I look forward to following along the progress of the kitchen for as long as it takes.

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  81. What if for the back bottom cabinets you added a thicker wooden top? It might solve two problems: 1) Breaks up the white and 2) Makes the bottom more substantial. You could build a thick molding around it to mimic the upper cabinet molding which should help weigh the lower cabinets back down?

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  82. I think that you and your husband should be very, very proud of your achievements! I know of no one else who could take on a project such as yours and have it turn out so spectacularly. As far as the kitchen window, ignore it. Also, I thought your first reveal of your living room was just beautiful! Please don't be so hard on yourself, living in chaos is hard I know, but your home is warm, welcoming, and just stunning. Well done!

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  83. Suggestions based on my regrets....move kitchen plugs up under cabinets so they don't show at all!
    Have you considered beadboard for the wall betwèen upper and lower cabinets in dining room? We trimmed ours, so it looks like a hutch.

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  84. I am so impressed with you and your vision, patience, creativity and stamina. You have created a lovely welcoming home and I so appreciate being part of your journey in creating it. Be kind to yourself. Most of us would not take a hammer to our home much less build vaulted and beamed ceilings. It's stunning and impressive. Thank you!!
    Elizabeth

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  85. It all looks fabulous! For the dining room cabinets, what about tiling the wall like a "backsplash" to connect the floor and wall cabinets, so that it looks more like one unit? You could match whatever material you're planning to use for the kitchen backsplash. I like the comment about adding a stained wood countertop with a bit of overhang, too.

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  86. I know what you should do to the dining built-in cabinet! Paint the bottom cabinet the tourqoise color that is on the bench! Then paint the inside of the upper cabinet a much paler shade of the tourqoise ! The lack of color in your room is

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  87. I absolutely LOVE the doors you stained!!! really!!!! I think they are gorgeous and fit in perfectly to add some color. I saw those and was blown away..

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  88. It is always easier to focus on the problems rather than the accomplishments. Your house looks beautiful. I think that the upper glass cabinets in the dining room will prove to be very useful as your family grows. The thing that I think is weighting it down is the large crown molding on top. Maybe switching it to a slimmer profile will bring it to a scale that will let the glass cabinets not be overshadowed by the crown molding and will mesh with the cleaner lines of the lower unit. If you don't like the change you can always reattach the larger molding again.

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  89. I love your honesty. I think for many of us it's easier to slowly makeover a space rather than try to execute a tv-style quick makeover. But it's fun to try!

    I like the idea of removing the top cabinets and doing rustic shelving in the dining area. I think that would warm up the space nicely. And agree that the cabinets are a little heavy. Also, to me they seem too kitchen-y for a dining room. But that's just my take after seeing a few photos. I'm sure you'll come up with a great solution.

    I wanted to suggest building foam board valance boxes (upholstered with fabric) for the sliding door and the kitchen window. I did it for my baby's nursery and holy cow, it's so inexpensive and easy yet provides such a big impact! Here is a link to explain: http://theborrowedabode.com/2015/02/the-nursery-building-lightweight-window-cornice-boxes/

    Loving watching your progress. I'm on team toe-kick-under-dishwasher :)

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  90. Hi Jen!
    Your project is turning out beautifully! I think you are being too hard on yourself for your "mistakes". I love reading your blog because we have a very similar ranch home, and you have helped me see so many possibilities for what could be done with our house. I didn't read all of the previous comments, so maybe someone has made a similar suggestion in regard to your lower cabinets by the table. I wonder what it would look like if you replaced the countertop on the lower cabinets with something thicker and wood-toned. It would add more visual weight and maybe look more balanced with the crown at the top. Also, the top-heaviness may seem more pronounced without all the pretty stuff around it. When you add curtains to your glass doors by the table and other accessories, it may not be as much of an issue. Whatever you do will look fantastic!!!

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  91. I was actually waiting for this post! My heart skips a beat when you post something, that's how much I love your blog!!
    I personally think that this was an EXTRAORDINARY job considering you planned it all out yourself and did a bunch of the remodeling yourself (and your hubby) . You are one talented girl! Kudos to you!
    My biggest question is how you managed to do things without a kitchen... is there a post about this? I would absolutely love to read how you actually did/mangaed to feed your family. Sounds incredible.
    Thank you for the honest post as well. Is this renovation also affecting other areas of your home? (Besides your guest room) All this is very inspiring to know and what to kind of expect if so to say someone was doing a renovation all by themselves. Thank you, thank you again. Love the progress. :)

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  92. I'm sure many others have given great advice. But we have the exact same Ikea kitchen and dishwasher you have. Take this as free advice (worth what you paid), we did put the toe kick over the dishwasher, but we didn't caulk it. So when we've had to get in there, we just pop it off. We actually meant to caulk it, but were slow and lazy, and now we know the benefits of not, we don't plan to anymore. Sometimes there are benefits to laziness. ;) Secondly, I think the dining cabinets look great! But I do see why you think the tops are a bit heavy. I actually like it better than the buffet you had before, but to address your concern, would you be able to get the smaller (30 in) uppers, same style door? We have the same glass doors from Ikea, and it looks like you got the 39 in ones (what we have). They have dropped Akrum as you know, but the door styles are the same (different names is all) and you could just pick out some shorter cabinets. It would cost a little bit, but still tie in with your kitchen. Everything looks really good. I hope we get to see the new "yoga pants" living room! ;)

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  93. Jen, My kitchen was remodeled just before yours began. Imagine my surprise when your choices mirrored mine. I was so pleased. It was like a pat on the back from someone whose design sense is well beyond mine. Great job. I love my white kitchen. I added pops of red here and there to give some color and I'm in love. Mary Jo

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  94. Thanks for the update. I think it is always helpful to know that no matter how prepared you are for a renovation this size, there are still things that go wrong and you just have to work your way through them. My suggestion for the dining area cabinets would be to add something to the sides to "connect" the top and bottom sections - so it will look like a hutch again! To me, the uppers look lost hanging on the wall. Fabulous job though with all your hard work and I can't wait to see more.

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  95. I think your kitchen looks amazing!! You guys are doing a great job and don't worry about the perfect 'reveal' time. Everyone prefers the genuine over the seemingly 'magic' before and after's. I agree about those upper cabinets in the dining room. Just too heavy for the space. If the lower cabinets were deeper then them it might have worked but they will never look heavy enough at the same depth. I am sure you could get a good price for them on Craigslist if you can't use them elsewhere. I like the idea of building a bridging bit above the kitchen window to help the beam recede. That with a roman blind should direct attention enough away from that beam looking lonely there. Honestly, no-one would really notice it though unless you point it out. As for having to replace things you don't get right the first time? Lordy, I have done that so many times! I think I am up to dining chair version number 8! Still on the hunt for perfect dining chairs. Sigh. Good luck with the new stove set up!

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  96. Jen, I have been following your blog for a few years now. I've learned so much from you and your blog... so to read this, I feel like a friend is spilling her heart to me. Listen here girl, you can do no wrong. I know you feel the pressures from the blogosphere and fellow bloggers, but this isn't some project you're working on. this is your Home and it will require you to slow down and take your time, make changes and change your mind and that's A-O-K! I've struggled with this same pressure as I've tried to get my blog off the ground. I feel like I'm never "reveal" ready, and I find myself spending every waking hour making it "cool enough" for my blog. But that's not what its about. Its about inspiring others through your lessons and creativity, even the small ones. Take it from a girl who reads your blog weekly - just for inspiration: your home is perfection just as is. Xo

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    1. Absofrickinlutely! We love you Jen!

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  97. I wanted to reply but haven't read all the comments so sorry if I repeat myself. Love what you've done so far and that you're pointing out your problems. If anything sharing this with us can provide you different perspectives. When you showed us the wide shot of your kitchen (last photo?) immediately I thought that a deep red would look amazing for your window treatments. I think if you play around with the sink window treatment placement, you may be able to distract from the random beam.

    Secondly the wood doors, in my opinion, look great and really DO add warmth to your space. I think you're being hard on yourself here. Really love how it looks. You've captured a rustic look.

    I agree that the "top hutch" looks heavy. But there's a lot of potential. Not to throw you another idea but would it be easier to extend the bottom cabinets by replacing with deeper cabinets or a wooden furniture piece (adding more warmth?) I don't know. Maybe play around with accessorizing it to see what it could look like done? It'd be a shame to remove the top.

    Jackie

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  98. In my new kitchen the toe kick below the dishwasher is only lightly held in with a tiny dab of glue on each side so it can be easily removed when necessary. Could you do something g similar? It doesn't even need to be fixed in if you size it right

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  99. Hi Jen! This will probably get lost in here but I also have an island with a range in it and wanted to share some knowledge.

    My first range I think had a built in downdraft, but maybe not. We just replaced appliances and I was looking for a downdraft to add in behind the range since none come with built in downdraft (and a hood isn't an option). After some research and reflection on how the current one functioned, I realized I didn't even need a downdraft. With such an open room (& low oil cooking) I don't have a problem with grease, even with open shelving nearby. Also, according to Illinois Code (which I'm assuming is at least similar to Wisconsin) - you do not need a hood/downdraft IF you have a big enough room (don't remember the size) AND you have a window within 5 or 6 feet. Therefore I felt comfortable leaving out the downdraft - and good thing - we got the new range and it said a downdraft cannot be installed behind it (because of heat).

    So, legally you do not need a ventilation system if you have an open space with easy fresh air access, it depends more on what you find your grease situation to be. It's definitely not necessary. If you want to be sure you can always have that chat with your contractor.

    PS for the hutch - I think it would look great with a woven basket next to it, something to add a little substance to the base. Don't think removing the top cabinets is necessary. Maybe add some bun feet to it, to mimic the style of the dining table?

    I definitely want to know more about your counters & what you're thinking for backsplash because that's up next for me (and I can only talk about it to my boyfriend/parents because my friends don't own and have a lower tolerance for my ramblings about granite vs quartz).

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  100. I think it looks lovely and I love your honesty and perspective. You will always be one of my faves, Jen!

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  101. Also wanted to let you know that for a complete renovation 8 months doesn't sound so bad! I'm merely painting my cabinets & replacing the hardware (using the YHL process) & I've been painting for over a month. The frames were finished the 10th of July & the doors all had 1 coat paint. I'm JUST finishing the 2nd coats. I'm blaming the fridge though - it was delivered broken (leaked refrigerant) & I didn't get a new one until the 30th of July - so I didn't start painting again because I thought it would be interrupted (also I couldn't be in my apartment much because I don't have A/C & I rely on ice water to stay cool). I still have to do countertops, sink, backsplash & faucet. And install the hardware I finally decided on. So yea. Taking my sweet time. Also we have the same fridge! Though I got the 30" (it's adorable & small & a powerhouse). I've also taken like 2 months just to decide on a fabric for 2 dining chairs. It's really hard to imagine & be sure. I was so sure of everything when I made my design mock-up, then once the cabinet paint went up I was suddenly unsure of EVERYTHING.

    You are definitely right that we are designers - it's a journey and the best way is to just go one step at a time.

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  102. I love all of your honest opinions and thoughts. We all have them and it helps to hash them out / so thank you so much for letting all of us learn from you and with you!

    I had a random suggestion for your stained door. We recently updated our banister and handrail (painted the new newel posts and spindles white and stained the handrail) and we came across the same coloring issue with the hand rail. I shed many tears and started over twice - I shudder to think how many hours were spent sanding - but right as I was about to give up I came across this random blog post that totally saved me. I stained it as best as I could and then put watered down rustoleum cheap-o paint (I think it's called painters touch) in a kona colored as a top coat. It was enough to give it the darker more consistent rich color I was looking for but diluted enough that it looked like a stain and you could still see the grain. My husband thought I was completely crazy but I was at the end of my line and ready to give up anyway. It's worth a $7 try as a last resort. I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. And as a side note - the paint looks purple in the can and when it goes on but it dries a nice rich brown. Like Barney purple. Makes the adventure all the more exciting. Good luck! You have an incredible eye and immaculate taste and your house looks incredible! Thanks for sharing!

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  103. Renovations are tough! Give yourself a pat on the back for doing such a fantastic job. My husband and I renovated our attic into an 850 sq ft master bedroom retreat...ourselves. We, like you, did all the work except the mechanicals (HVAC, electrical, plumbing). Built 3 dormers, framing, tiling, hardwood, cabinets etc. It was supposed to take 1 year...it took 2 1/2. But it is also the most beautiful, well-constructed space and WE did it together. We had many set-backs along the way, but each one was worth it. When you get a little distance, you will realize just how much you accomplished. Be proud...you guys have done a great job!!!

    About that dishwasher...we had the same issue with ours. We installed cleats on each cabinet at the bottom (screwed them in so they could be removed) inset to the depth of the toe kick. Then we used the Command Picture & Frame Hanging strips (Velcro type) to attach the toe kick to the cleats. Make sure take the strips in account when figuring your inset. This way you can take the toe kick off if you need to.

    Great job!

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  104. I just wanted to give you a huge shout out (and hug) for your honesty. It's refreshing to hear other people say things they did didn't necessarily turn out how they thought they would. That being said, your new kitchen and living space are beautiful. You and your husband have much to be proud of. And I will totally be digging the updates, even three years later ;)

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  105. i get what you mean about the top cabinets... and my first thought would be replacing them with high level, half height glass fronted cabinets. or even an open shelf or two?

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  106. Oh Jen, I just love your honesty and posts like these! I don`t like those big reveals either, because they don`t really show the design work behind it all and at least in my home things change little by little.

    I didn`t have time to read all the comments, so I don`t know if anyone already suggested painting those dining room lower cabinets with the same gray paint as your island! Then it would balance the look! The idea of using a wallpaper in the glass cabinets and below them is another great idea. If you end up taking the upper cabinets out, you could add a large art piece. But in reality I do miss the turquoise hutch all together! It`s so beautiful! So I can relate to your need of color!

    Best of luck with your future decisions and projects! Best wishes from Finland :)

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  107. I love your kitchen! I also love how real you are. A big reveal is nice but never feels "real" to me. I like the little reveals along the way 😊
    Just my thoughts (not that I'm great at decorating so forgive me if they're rubbish!)
    I would find rhe beam distracting, building it in so it matches the cabinets would be nicer to my eye. Then it's like all the others. 😊
    The top glass cabinets do look oddly heavy. Maybe nice rustic wood open shelving? Not sure if it would fit the style of the room but it would add the warmth you're craving and be lighter up top!
    Totally agree on the dishwasher kick plate. Velcro! 😊
    Otherwise I have to say I've been reading your blog for years now and I love how your style has evolved and changed. I can't do the big renos but the little projects are so fun! Plus it's forcing me to use colour when before I always chickened out and went cream. Thanks to you my bedroom is now grey with one dark navy wall! 😊

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  108. I really think your open space combo of kitchen, dining and living room is fresh, stylish and happy. I strive to get there in my own home too. So don't worry, with your tweaks, in due time :-), everything will fall into place.

    As for your "issues":
    Hutch area - I like the upper cabinets, but I too feel that they look a bit heavy. Maybe "bulking up" the base cabinets with a larger top will improve the situation?
    Wooden door - I think "greywashing" it or sanding it down to raw wood (no stain, just clear wax on top) would work
    Moulding - Sorry but the only thing I don't like in your reno is the chunkier moulding on top of some cabinets (esp. when mixed with the more minimalist one on other). I think it's what makes your top hutch too heavy. Your style is so fresh and this chunky moulding is so traditional. But, since you ike it, if I were you I would rip out all mouldings and do a custom made moulding that covers the span of all top cabinets, "embracing" the beam situation. This way all tops would be integrated in a seamless flow that covers the span of the cabinets from pantry to fridge.
    Dishwasher - Removable kickplate all the way!

    Let us know what you choose to do, and don't worry of timing ;-)
    hugs

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  109. Hi Jen, I have been enjoying your blog for a little over a year now and this post has compelled me to comment for the first time.
    Your honesty is a breath of fresh air! Reading about the realities of your renovation - the things you are happy with and the issues you have had - ring so true to me. Thank you for blogging with genuineness! And for what it's worth, I think your kitchen looks fantastic.
    Thank you!

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  110. Hi Jen. Your new kitchen is totally gorgeous! Having recently gone through a whole house remodel myself, I totally get the second guessing part. And I totally get the feeling rushed part too. :/ One of the rooms that we gutted an remodeled was our kitchen and I ran into the same decision about the toe kick under the dishwasher as you. I didn't like the gap in mine either. I don't know if it would work in your situation, but could you cut a piece of toe kick that is exactly the width of the dishwasher and attached it with Command velcro strips? That would cover up the gap, make it blend in with the rest and still leave it accessible if you ever need to repair or replace the dishwasher.

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  111. We are our worst critics and it's really hard when we have visions in our heads as to how it's all going to look when it's finished. (Only then to be met with a womp womp.) I have been following you for YEARS now and I must say I am impressed by what you have tackled. That takes some major guts! But you just show that even the best laid plans will come with it's own issues, and it's ok. I was very fortunate to meet you at Haven, you are very down to earth and your posts reflect that as well. I loved the finished product of the living room, but I can't wait to see the pony tail and sweat pant version too. Having young kids myself, I'm finding that they're not ready for cocktail hour. ;) Just keep on keeping on and we'll be right there with you! Otherwise, you are always welcome to come to Charleston, we have a spare room and can easily add padding.

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  112. Jen, thank you for such an honest post. We've been working on redecorating our family room (nothing compared to what you've done!), and I've been feeling like I need to get it DONE. Why? I don't blog (yet), but still I feel like I can't let anyone see it until it's finished. The world of blogs can so often make you feel like you're not good enough or that your design/style isn't up to par. It's so refreshing to hear that I'm not the only one that has shed a tear over a design snafu!

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  113. Yay for updates! Booooooo for bummers!! So sorry for your upsets, but so glad to hear how you've been brave. <3 I know it's selfish, but everytime you post some kind of apology for not being 'done' with an area or hint at dissatisfaction with something 'done' and intentions to do over, I do a happy jig because it means MORE POSTS!! You take such nice pics I believe you could make your garbage look pretty. And everytime you rethink something I learn something new, sometimes from you, sometimes in the comments! I want you to know I read this blog bc of the content, and bc of the inspiration, somewhat for the projects and rooms, but MOSTLY for the courage and motivation to tackle things in the first place! Because we ALL know things are never permanently 'done'. It is the process that I so enjoy, and if I'm antsy for updates it's not because I'm impatient for reveals, it's because I SO enjoy getting to be along for the ride, bumps and all. <3

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  114. I think your kitchen and living room look great! I can totally understand where you are coming from. We did interior renovations 5 years ago and still have no backsplash in the kitchen, nail holes to be filled on the baseboards and no pictures hung up in the living room. I figure I'm just taking my time to figure out what I truly want. Just know that you are not alone. Thanks for sharing.

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  115. Hi Jen! Thanks so much for sharing this post! Sometimes the DIY tv shows just make everything look so easy/quick, but those of us who have lived through remodels know they are not even close to easy or quick. Remodeling/home dec is the no. 2 thing my hubs and I knock knoggings about. And I completely relate to your reaction to the white, although I LOVE what you've done. I am normally a dark color person, if there is such a thing. When I met my husband, my bedroom was PURPLE, not lavender, deep dark purple with white accents, and I loved it. Fast forward 20 years, and we just renovated an old office space here in our house. Totally gutted the paneled room (I love paneling - this was really icky old and not good stuff.) We painted it Parchment - not really white, not really ivory, because we're thinking about moving next spring. I'm using a lot of aqua/turquoise details in there and in the attached bathroom. During the day, it's glorious. The leaves dance over the pool and the reflection shines right in the new bedroom window. At night, different story. The first night, which was 2 nights ago, I laid wide awake, and teary-eyed. I felt terrible, "convincing" the hubs to do this, and now I can't sleep in a room so bright. It felt like I was in a hotel, and not my own room, and the worst part is I picked the color. I wondered if I ran out and bought some aqua/turquoise paint for one wall if he'd forgive me later. Instead, I focused on the aqua/turquoise details. I'm knitting a throw for that room, which I now leave out on the dresser in progress, so I can focus on beautiful color. I picked up a couple turqouise bowls at the $store to keep coins/keys in, and some turquoise circle placemats to sit on our nightstands, and hung a bright blue sheer on the door to our patio. Later this week, I'm reupholstering the headboard with some more color, and then I'll work on the big artwork for the space. Even though we're moving, I can't live with bare walls for a year. So, thank you thank you thank you for sharing your concerns about color. I thought I was going bonkers after dreaming about this new room for so long, and then sleepless over the reality.

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  116. What a great post. I love how real you were and I completely agree in going slow. As I am working slowly on loving my place (no big reno's for us) and finding peace with doing things slowly (as I am not the most patient person). It's nice to hear from someone whose experienced and going through it as well. Its definitely a hard thing to admit and live with when you rush, make mistakes or aren't as happy with it as you thought. You will find it though, I found living with it and not stressing over it for a little while, made me have a light bulb moment randomly and it all comes together.

    I was going to suggest the roman shades for above your window, I can just envision them there. Maybe in a bright or pattern fabric. I know it may feel sterile now but once you have fun with the little touches and adding colorful accessories it'll make all the difference. P.s I LOVE your table and chairs, beautiful set up.

    Your door dilemma I can see how you would be frustrated but I do really like how the wood looks there. I hope if you sand and re-stain with a different stain it works out!!

    With you our upper cabinets I can see how it's a little top heavy, but maybe taking off the crown molding or adding short/less decorative molding will help take away from the heaviness. If you do take it down reclaimed open shelving would look awesome (would also match with your closet door) or placing artwork on the wall and making it more of a buffet style. Also just a suggestion, I know you were talking about a teal hutch you had there before. Maybe painting the top cabinets or the whole cabinet in the same teal, would take away from the heavy look (just an idea I am not sure how it would work though).

    Thank you for sharing, and I really do hope you find your way and get it all done (even if it does take 3 years!)

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor
    xx

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  117. I would leave those upper cabinets in place and try adding some large bun feet or some type of molding to the bottom of your lowers to make them look more substantial. I think the crown just made that a little top heavy and you need to balance the bottom out. One can never have enough storage!

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  118. I love posts like this! I actually prefer reading about the 'oops' moments and the mistakes and the "third time's the charm" moments because it makes things all that much more real to me. I mean, I'm obviously sorry these things happened to you, but I would much rather read about your realities than your glossed over 'reveal' moments, you know?
    I LIKE honesty in blogging. And I LOVE your kitchen. I love it all that much more knowing how much heart you've put into it. And I will happily read all the mini updates you want to post about your progress. :)
    You're one of my favorite blogs to read, so thank you for the endless entertainment while I 'work' at my desk. :) And thank you for the genuine look at renovating a room!
    ~ Abbie

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  119. I think this should be your "REVEAL". I enjoy seeing your REAL LIFE kitchen, and don't need it staged with perfectly placed counter top items and pretty fresh flowers and a coffee cup sitting there perfectly placed. Most of us out there are all tweeking her and their and changing with seasons, lives, trends, etc. IT IS BEAUTIFUL - Now go enjoy it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Few thoughts - I just read on another blog about Gel Stain. It was on something like "designer trapped in a lawyers body" or something like that. Might be what your closet door needs.

    As for your build in thing in the dining area... would adding funky BRIGHT wall paper (or even wrapping paper) to the back of the inside, or painting it your fun teal make it POP more and provide that fun splash you are looking for?

    Please, please, don't be so hard on yourself, as your kitchen looks GREAT and I bet everyone else who walks in LOVES IT and gushes about it to you! Am I right??? Take their compliments to heart.

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  120. I think the kitchen looks good. I understand that you may feel rushed due to the way things are typically reveled, however, we aren't those people. Take your time. I just appreciate you sharing so when it's my time, I can refer back for information. Thank you!

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  121. What a beautiful, blank canvas just ready to decorate and personalize! Looks great!

    Kadisha @ Chaoticclassiness.blogspot.com

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  122. I love seeing your updates on your kitchen, and your whole house in general! We're going to be getting a fixer upper pretty soon and you always give me ideas as to how to decorate it whenever we do end up getting it.

    I'm sure 100 of the previous 143 comments have mentioned this already, but have you thought about painting the lower cabinets? You love that teal color, I know, and you also have the option of that grey color on your island. I don't know that making it the same color as your door will work with all the white, but that's an option too. Just my two cents!

    On a random note, do you have a post somewhere about your favorite tools of the trade? I see references to what you like to use, but it'd be nice if you have/will have a post about that.

    Love your work!

    Jana

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  123. Your spaces are beautiful. I know you have worked so hard on them. I've done my kitchen in the last few years and am so happy with it now that it's dialed in. Yours will get there. I know it.

    I have thoughts on the cabinets in the dining room. IF you want unsolicited ideas.... What about painting the lowers a darker color, maybe the color of the island to give it weight. Also the crown moulding on the uppers make it feel very top heavy.

    For the back splash we used a product called Eco Timber. It's basically a wood flooring material made from remnants from furniture makers. It added the wood tones we wanted in the kitchen and added some warmth. So maybe add some wood backsplash type of thing and paint that door white.

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  124. Jen, your kitchen is just lovely - you and your husband are to be commended for all the hard work and patience you've put into this project, and the blood, sweat and tears you've shared with us.

    I'm sure you could install a "non-permanent" toe kick for the dishwasher, as some of your other readers have suggested. And you may want to fashion a mockup of a cornice box from cardboard or plywood, paint it white and position it where you would a permanent one. Buy an expensive shade, cover it with wrapping paper or fabric (maybe bringing in the turquoise from the dining room?), and hang it up. Live with it for a bit and see if you like the idea before committing to it. The beams you installed are terrific, and look as if they were part of your home's original structure. Are you considering a tile back splash? If so, you can add color there with an warm accent tile against a simple white field tile. Also, I've recently seen white tile with a type of subtle veining that might work.

    You may want to paint or stain the "orange" door in a color similar to driftwood, maybe with a hint of blue? And while I agree the upper cabinet in the dining room seems a bit top heavy, try styling the piece before you make a final decision. You might also (like someone else suggested) build up the bottom of the base cabinet with the crown molding and install the simpler molding used on some of the kitchen cabs on the upper cabinet. Or, opt for purchasing deeper lower cabinets, if your "20%" will handle the additional cost. I have to say, I do miss the original cabinet you refinished:).

    I'm sorry, I don't have any input regarding your range and downdraft, but I think the new installation will solve that dilemma.....at least I hope it does!

    I'm amazed that you and Bryan completed the update for your "One Room Challenge" in less time than I've taken to choose an interior paint color. (Actually, I still haven't made a final decision, sad but true!). And while every renovation seems to bring its own set of "would have, could have, should have's," you should hold your head high, Jen - just look around at all you've accomplished!

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  125. Well, for the recrd, I think its coming along nicely. But I do know what you mean about little quirks to design around. As for the side board and upper cabinets, I think once you install the feet it will feel more substantial...and if you werent planning on it consider installing the same backsplash as in the kitchen and maybe it will make it look more like one piece!

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  126. You are way too hard on yourself! You have great style, and the kitchen turned out great. As an Interior Designer, I have done many, many kitchen renovations and I can assure you that there is no such thing as a perfect renovation. Anyone that tells you otherwise is lying! Keep up those spirits, and all the great work that you do.

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  127. I really am about to have your kitchen. Not intentionally, but we're remodeling a house we just bought white cabinets, a gray island and that same Torquay countertop. I swear I didn't see your choices when choosing mine!

    (If you tell me that you're going with a gray subway glass tile for a backsplash, it's over. I will be officially weirded out.)

    I am anxious to see what you do with the upper cabinets in the dining room. Thus far, I'm delaying cabinets on that side of our kitchen, but only because there's a window installed too low such that I would have to raise the window. So I'm going to live without cabinets there for now and see if I have enough storage without them. But I'm anxious to see what you end up doing.

    Looks great!

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  128. Best kitchen reveal EVER. Thanks

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  129. Your home is beautiful and it will all come together. Have you thought about adding corbels to your upper dining room cabinet? Something to bring the upper and lower cabinets more together might help what you missed from your hutch. Just a thought.

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  130. I think your living room looks so much better toned down. Not that my opinion matters, but there was a lot of color and prints in the reveal and it appeared that you were trying to make things happen with such a limited timeline. I also miss that tray mirror. That idea was perfection! Hope to see it pop up again.

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  131. Love it! So beautiful! Where did you get your food scale? I've been shopping for one and have had a hard time finding something that looks pretty on the counter!

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  132. I love your honesty - I'm so afraid of change because "What if I don't like it?" and I've gotten over that and tried so many small changes since I started reading your blog. Some of them have worked great, some not so much! But thanks to your willingness to admit mistakes and change things that didn't work so great, I never feel defeated, I just think, WWJD? - (that J stands for "Jen" in my book) ALSO, I'm not the type who could purchase all new decor for a room and just redecorate the whole room at once, so I love the small changes you do much more than one big reveal - and I appreciate that we don't have to wait the full reno time for updates from you! It feels like getting to watch a weekly show for a few seasons versus just ONE movie one time. ;)

    I will say, I have a slight touch of OCD, and I think the reason the cabinets in your dining room look top heavy is because the top cabinets are 4 larger doors, and the bottom cabinets are 6 smaller doors. I think if the top ones were also 6 smaller doors, it would feel more balanced. I LOVE the idea of replacing the top cabinets with floating shelves, but I also think that just adding the legs and/or some sort of connecting backsplash or corbels as you mentioned might do the trick!

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  133. I think it looks great and agree I prefer to take time to style a place gradually. The kitchen will fall into place also once you finish and have time to make it your own with fun decor.

    The stained door....for sure try a white or gray wax over and that might tone it down.

    The upper cabinets....yes a bit top heavy. Maybe take off the crown moulding and again once that buffet too is styled they might blend in better.

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  134. Oooh, I have loved seeing your kitchen reno progress. It's not pinterest perfect (yet) but its still completely beautiful. Does the center island photograph differently in different light, or has it been repainted? Just curious!

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  135. What if you added a wood top to the hutch area? Overall looks beautiful.

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  136. Hi Jen, I just wanted to say that I think you have incredible taste and talent. Your home is so beautiful and put together, far more than 99% of Americans' homes. :) I gain inspiration from your posts and ideas all the time. I think blogging probably adds an extra element of stress to your life with times like this because you are showing thousands/millions of people as you go! And so of course you want it to look perfect. I love the kitchen. I especially love your glass paneled cabinets (hello, even "un styled" they look amazing!). Re: the upper cabinets in the dining area. I personally don't see the imbalance but I know what you're saying. If you decide to remove I would do open shelves to store/display your pretty pieces with maybe a piece of art work on the shelves or off to one side. Finally... I am sure you realize this but this is all very small potatoes in the big scheme of things. You have a wonderful husband and kids and a warm and safe home. You're healthy and talented and blessed in many many ways. I totally get that in the middle of renovations or big projects it all seems so trying and frustrating, but I am sure that in a year or five, you will smile looking back at these times. It is all so stressful but it will all work out. Breathe! And good luck, it looks lovely. :)

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  137. I can't believe it's been 8 months! I've been following it along since you've started. We did a very similar reno of our kitchen last year, and of course had our own set of mistakes and fixes, and I too am searching for our 4th set of chairs that will add some warmth to our white kitchen and hold up to my kids' wear and tear, to pull it all together. So I wanted to offer my two cents since you asked. First, I'll mention that before I read that you didn't style the inside of your cabinets, my initial thought was, "oh I like how she styled it." Next, I can see how the beam might bother you, I've learned to listen to my gut when I hear that because I know unless I find a fix, it's still going to bother me. I would say to try to add moulding to where it reaches the beam to try to fill in the space and detract from the position of the beam. Overall, I don't think it stands out much.

    I also have a space under our dishwasher that I'm trying to fix, but since ours is in need of repair, we haven't gotten there yet. I don't know if you can use the same or similar feet on the dishwasher and the dining cabinets to tie it all together. I think once you add feet to your lower cabinets and corbels to the top, it will help to balance them out. But I have to say, I LOVE the idea of hanging shelves also. We have the same set-up in our kitchen, but for us it is now our new command center/drop-off zone, and I went with the deeper cabinets on the bottom even though it ended up taking up a few inches in front of a double-door entry, I really wanted it to be balanced too, and it did work out much better for us that way. I hope you find a solution either way. Thanks for keeping it real! I hope you enjoy all the awesome updates you have done so far! Your ceiling is amazing and I totally hope to have something like that someday!

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  138. I can appreciate all of your hard work. I do see many competing elements. There doesn't seem to be cohesion. Cottage ceiling. Glam chandelier. Industrial pendants. Wood tone bi-folds. The paint color does not mesh well at all with the island color. I love your floors. The different sized crown makes things look unfinished. The chandelier is gorgeous but those pendants do not bridge the gap. I wasn't impressed with the family room reveal and the kitchen is feeling the same way. It is so much fun to mix elements, but you have way too many things going on. And again....the stained doors look awful. It does not mesh well. It's like you pulled out your favorite things of blogs you read and tried them in this remodel. I am signing anonymous because I don't have a blogging account. I will share my name...it is Jackie

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  139. I think everything looks beautiful! With the exception of those stained wood doors, but that's easily remedied. This may sound odd, but we attached a toe kick to the front of our dishwasher with velcro. No one can tell, and it is easily removable if necessary. Just a thought!

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  140. Super random question, but what brand is your toaster? It's adorable (as far as toasters go). We're building (and I'm sure we will have our own list of should haves and would haves by the time we're through) and my black toaster is just not going to work with my new gray cabinets and white quartz!
    And I think everything is lovely. We are always our own worst critics.

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  141. It looks amazing and I am BEYOND AMAZED that you all were able to do so much of this yourself.

    As for the dishwasher toekick, we attached a piece of trim to velcro, helps with the gap but can be removed if you need to work on the dishwasher, or in our case when it completely stops working while full of water.

    For the bottom hutch, have you thought of putting a piece of wood on it? Maybe something a little chunky or bigger than the top on it now. I hate to waste the counter top material that is on it, but the wood would help to warm things up and hopefully help the bottom pieces look like the more weighty of the two. Maybe stain in the same as the doors, once you settle on how you want those to look.

    I can see your issue with the beam, if you have any doubt I would just fix it now. I can't tell you how many times I got that feeling in my stomach and said no I could live with it and COULDN'T.

    It really does look lovely.

    You give me the courage to try more projects at our house. Currently changing out our carpeted stairs for wood. We ran into a snag and my other half suggested we hire the job out. I yell at him if Jen can remodel her kitchen we can do stairs. He looked at me like the crazy person I am, as I don't have any friends named Jen.

    Such a good job, keep up the good work. You have so much to be proud of.

    http://chelleslittlecorner.blogspot.com/

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  142. Thank you so much for sharing! As a new blogger this really makes me confident to share my mistakes along with my successes knowing that readers are just happy to read about the bloggers journey :) Your home is lovely, keep hanging in there!

    Lauren @ Flip This Rental

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  143. So while I agree that your one room challenge reveal was rushed, so many small bright colored things everywhere that the eye bounced all around with nowhere to land. BUT as a professional blogger with a beautiful design style and eye for excellence (as you are and have) I think you are too hard on yourself. If someone came to your house they'd never look at those swing doors and think anything at all. You are hard on yourself and always view everything through the eyes of what a million and a half people will think since they are judging it so closely. Or you may say "sorry for the bad lighting" and the average person can't even tell which photo has bad lighting .Ha! I say that to say, cut yourself some slack, you do great things!

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  144. I saw what anonymous Jackie wrote above and I think she's being really unfair. Yes, there are a bunch of elements going on, but it's not yet a finished project and none of the things she mentioned are jarring, they all work (well, other that the bifold doors...which you already said are not what you wanted and you're going to fix them!). I've seen so many of your other projects where you tied things together beautifully that at first glance didn't seem like they'd work, so I know the varied elements in your kitchen/dining area will come together wonderfully once the little finishing details are in place. As for the frustration and your time-frame, we did a kitchen remodel that was totally not DIY (we did *nothing*--not even the painting) and it took five months with a very good contractor who came in on time and on budget. That's five months of professionals working all day most days (but some down time waiting for things, of course!), and it wasn't a much bigger remodel than yours (we did swap a window and a door, plus widened an archway, but no major building. You guys should be really proud of what you've accomplished...it's really awesome. :-) --Janey

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  145. Being a feeder reader I usually don´t leave comments, but this post made me come to the page just to say "you rock! keep up the great work!"
    It´s so brave of you to not only say these things to the world, but first and foremost to admit them to yourself and your family.
    How many times do we settle for something that doesn´t turn out the way we expected or isn´t even working for our families simply because we are afraid of admitting we made a mistake!
    It sucks to make the wrong choice, and having to hand out the cash for a replacement or a do over --hurts--, but making our families live with the consequences can be a much bigger cost.

    Personally, I´m a big settler. I hate to put the work, time and money to do again something that *should* be finished. And to admit I was wrong the first time around is even worse sometimes!

    This post was inspirational. You are one brave woman to take honest stock of how things are really working out and act accordingly. Kudos to you and your family!

    --Isabel

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  146. I just wanted to say "thank you" for this post. I am also having GET IT DONE NOW issues, and this post is reminding me that slow is probably better. I love that you reveal what really goes on in your house, it makes your blog and home more real.

    I agree with others that you should think about painting the lower cabinets in the dining room, that will give more weight and balance things a bit.

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  147. I love seeing big reveals. But I also love (and prefer) to see the chugging along progress photos. It reminds me that it really does take time to redo a room and that it will continue to develop as furniture or accessories get swapped out.

    I find it hard to believe that you can actually put a room together in a week, and then be so happy with every detail that it stays just like that. I personally move things around the room, or swap things out until it feels right. So seeing you do that makes me feel more normal.

    Velcro or some other easily removable attachment for the dishwasher toekick. You really want that toekick there because it is visible and will probably drive you mad.

    I had to go back and look at the picture with the beam over the window. I'm sure you notice it, but it doesn't draw my eye to it. I would do whatever window treatments you LIKE vs what you think distracts from the beam.

    The wall mounted cabinets in the dining room are 2 boxes right? Can you change the doors so the middle section has doors and the outer sections are open shelves? You might have to add in a vertical divider at the end of the doors so it doesn't look strange at an angle. But open sides might make it feel less substantial. Maybe try painting the back of the cabinets teal like the hutch you moved out? Not sure if that might help at all either

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  148. I have a suggestion for the wall mounted cabinets that might be a quick and easy fix- those do sometimes happen. Have you thought about adding thick fancy brackets under the uppers? It would eat into the counter space on the lowers, but it might help balance out the top heavy uppers and tie it all together.

    I love the two different crown moldings on the cabinets- it looks perfect. The deep molding makes the bigger cabinets look more like furniture and the thinner molding looks like it has been there forever.

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  149. Jen, I LOVE your kitchen. It is coming out fantastic. I am super OCD and pretty much just cry the whole time we do renovations, so you are a champ. And I have to say, I have read your blog for 4 years now and your living room reveal was my favorite post to date!! I thought you pulled it together beautifully.

    I agree with some other comments--just add lemons or limes and some rich wood cutting boards for color now, if that is what you are craving. :) You are so good with color! And bravo to you for taking your time. Maybe adding some rich wood to the dining hutch would be good? Are you adding a backsplash?

    Also, can I ask you a question? We recently installed the Ikea kitchen cabinets into our boys bathroom (hack), it worked, but when we installed them we noticed that we didn't get the soft close parts for the drawers...so then I was confused because I thought that maybe they didn't come with the cabinets so I ordered some soft close parts from Ikea on their own....but then those didn't fit...SO what I'm asking is: did your cabinets come with the soft close parts for the drawers and doors? I am so confused and our Ikea is 5 hours away and I can't seem to get a clear answer.

    We gutted their bathroom in March. It's almost September. :) I feel a bit of your pain!

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  150. Loved this post, so beautifully honest and so refreshing to hear. We moved into our new home in January and I had timetabled a ridiculous schedule to get the whole house redecorated in a year. Instead of 5 weekends, our bedroom has taken 4 months and counting, mainly because I am taking the time to source the accessories that I really like for the room and renovating the furniture to our specification. Heck it took us an entire weekend to reupholster a chair, so honestly I am in complete awe of you and your hubby and what you've achieved in 8 months!! On the toe kick, I see what you mean - I wonder if it would be possible to create some kind of "dummy" toe kick in the same material as the rest of the toe kick but leave that section as a removable section should you need to pull the dishwasher out? Thanks for posting on the realities of your experience and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest as and when you find the right fit for you x

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  151. Everyone else has already said what I was going to... You are amazing, you have incredible talent and a great eye for design/decor and I truly appreciate hearing about the good and bad! I love every space you've shared and I'm currently obsessed with your old navy ikat curtains and am trying to figure out if i could make them work in MY living room! It will all work out, but I'm sorry you're having to go through all of this right now!

    On another note, my suggestion for your dining room cabinets is to perhaps do something that would make the bottom cabinets more visually heavy. A chunky wood countertop? Some beefed up side panel trim? Paint the bottom cabinet color same as the island? (I test stuff like that out by taping scrapbook paper in my chosen color to the piece). To lighten the top, You could always take the doors off the top cabinets (free and easy) and see if it helps. Paint some foamcore the same as your walls and cut pieces to fit the back of the shelves to make it look less like a giant chunk of white on the wall...might help test out the open shelving idea too.

    Good luck, we'll love whatever you choose!

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  152. Your kitchen looks great and don't sweat the "renovation realities!" It happens! Someone may have already suggested it, but have you considered painting the base cabinet in your dining area the same color as your island?

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