Kitchen renovation ideas and details

Kitchen renovation ideas and details

Before I break down this post about my Kitchen renovation ideas and details I am going to get real with you. We are almost 1 year into this kitchen renovation, yep a whopping twelve months of work, DIY, so much dust, unfinished space and a weird place of being in-between.

Part 1, Kitchen renovation ideas and details

When doing most of the work yourself it always takes longer, I knew that going in. Dale and I cannot devote all day to working on the kitchen, we have kids, a job, school volunteer work, kids activities, and the normal humdrum or everyday life to contend with. We also got rocked with a few personal setbacks that took a lot of attention away from everything else.

However, this kitchen renovation has been plugging along all year in spite of the lack of updates and it is sooooo much further than I have shared on here. I have been DIYing like crazy but forgetting the blogging side of things. The kitchen moved fast right away and was 100% unusable for about two weeks, then only the bare bones of function but zero pretty for a long time. I always told myself I would share more of it all if I just finished the entryway, island, window, cabinets, back splash…. it went on and on. This picture below is how the kitchen looked for a long time, functional but nothing blog worthy at all.

Now here we are with about 75% of the space finally done and only small tidbits shared here. I am finally throwing my hands up and accepting defeat. There will be no perfectly wrapped and delivered package for this kitchen, I will roll out updates and reveals with or without a shiny and new after picture. I need to start somewhere, I have been teasing this for so long you deserve some major kitchen blog content! Let’s jump into the Kitchen renovation ideas and details, this is going to be a long post with me explaining why I planned it the way I did. This ended up turning into a two part post, halfway through writing I realized it was very long. Part 2 will be shared next week. Within this post and next weeks I am sharing the finishes I chose and the runner ups that I also considered.

Here is how the kitchen looked before –

When renovating a space there is so many options and choices to make. The original layout of the kitchen was very closed off and tiny. I always photographed it with as much light and space as possible, it appeared much bigger on camera than it actually was. I guess pictures adding not ten pounds to my kitchen but square footage?

Small kitchen with just a few changes and DIY projects is transformed

The biggest goal for the kitchen renovations was moving the sink to be next to the dishwasher. As it sat originally, standing at the sink meant the dishwasher door could not be opened, try and make sense of that when loading the dishwasher.

The next big goal was to remove the peninsula/breakfast bar. My kids loved utilizing that space for breakfast but it was wayyy too close to the back door, (the back door slammed into this every time the door got opened) and it was the entire reason our kitchen was so small. The kitchen needed to be opened up and the room itself had the space to do so. Just needed to finagle and move a few things. Lots of things, including walls but we will get to that soon enough. With those goals in mind the most important part was I wanted to do this without spending a ton of money! Kitchen renovations can get crazy expensive, doing the work mostly ourselves can cut down on costs a ton but I wanted to save in other ways. We had a budget and if I could squeeze as much out of it as possible and knock some money off the final total new appliances would be able to happen. I was on a mission to save, save, SAVE!!! Spoiler alert, I got my new appliances, yep I saved that much. I will share how I kept the cost down in an upcoming blog post.

The next obstacle was the doorways, both were small and in weird spots. One doorway from the living room was right next to the stove which always made me nervous while cooking. Any slight bump and a hot pan could get knocked off of the stove. We also have a lot of extended family in the area and many close friends that come over a lot, so at times there is a ton of foot traffic in the narrow doorways. The solution seemed easy enough, knock out the wall to make one larger entryway into the kitchen. I have watched enough home renovation shows to know that demoing a wall is possible and can also be a great way to get out some aggression. We confirmed it was not load bearing once I decided on the desired layout. I did not want to have everything planned and then realize the wall could not be taken down.

Just getting started on the kitchen renovations!

DIY kitchen remodel

Truth be told I am not a huge fan of open concept. I like walls, designated spaces, quieting the noise and not seeing the dirty dishes in the sink when you walk in the front door. So knocking the wall out completely was not an option for us. I came up with open concept-light. No this is not an actual term but it describes my home perfectly at the moment.

Old kitchen layout –

Closing up the doorway into the kitchen from the living room, this gets rid of the danger of the stove by the doorway and also limits noise going from the kitchen into the living room. Then knocking down almost the entire wall going from the dining room into the kitchen. Knowing the wall was not load bearing gave us a lot of options, we could knock it down completely. However, as I said earlier I do not like complete open concept, keeping the doorway but widening it felt like a good compromise on function and improving the space/flow of the room. Leaving one wall up separating the living room from the kitchen also allows my kitchen to be more or less hidden from the front door, which means no dirty dishes in full view!

New kitchen renovation layout –

This also meant moving the refrigerator, sink, and dishwasher to new locations. I was able to utilize the original cabinet for the sink, it fit perfectly next to the dishwasher against the wall. With this being an exterior wall I made it known to Dale that this meant a window above the sink would be a necessity. I did not want to stand at the sink every night and stare at the wall, now I get to stare at the side of my neighbors house like a good suburban housewife does.

Sneak peek to the back splash options! Next week I will be diving into the style choices I made for this kitchen renovation!

There is a standard flow to a kitchen work space, it has been called the kitchen triangle,

Per Architectural Digest – Developed in the early twentieth century, the working triangle—also known as “the kitchen triangle,” also known as “the golden triangle”—is a theory that states a kitchen’s three main work areas should form, you guessed it, a triangle. Specifically, the sink, the refrigerator, and the stove.  Source

With the new planned layout the sink will be on one wall with the stove and refrigerator on the other wall, all in an L shape configuration. With work space in the center on the island. Since this kitchen renovation has been going on for almost 1 year we have had a long time to use this new space. The tearing down of walls and moving cabinets went pretty fast, it is the pretty finishing touches that have taken longer. Which means cooking, meal prep and living with this newer kitchen set-up has been happening for months. I find myself constantly moving around the kitchen, with two kids sitting at the island and another helping cook while Dale is at the stove and think about how amazing our kitchen is. No it has not always been pretty but the function and footprint of it is such a huge improvement!

You read that right, with the new configuration in this kitchen renovation I added an island! The biggest draw to redoing my kitchen was so that my family of 5 can all cook, prep and be in the kitchen at the same time. Before that was impossible to do, maybe two people could work in this room at the same time. But there was still a lot of bumping into each other or moving out of the way. Installing an island meant the kids could be in here while we cook and all of us can now work together preparing things around the island!

There is also a rule of thumb in terms of space for walkways between island and wall cabinets. The general rule is passageways through the kitchen should be at least 36 inches wide. Which means the wall cabinets and kitchen island should be 36 inches apart from each other. The kitchen layout allowed for 3 ft 2 inches of space between the island and the L shaped cabinets and appliances. I am well within the recommended space.

We are not replacing any of the existing cabinets, of course getting shiny and new kitchen cabinets would be amazing, but these ones are in great shape still and built solid.   

In the quest to make this kitchen remodel happen without spending a ton of money I also realized two of our cabinets could be carefully removed and utilized for the island! This brought the grand total of new cabinets to purchase to one! Yep, one kitchen cabinet needed to be purchased for this entire kitchen renovation. There is however three cabinets that need to be made. The custom ones will be one in the island to accommodate our microwave, a cabinet above the refrigerator and a cabinet that will start at counter top level so we can have the toaster hidden away but easy to use. Because of their weirdness in use and size it was easier (and much cheaper) to make them ourselves. I also planned to add small upper cabinets to the wall cabinets, taking them all the way to the ceiling for a nice finish and helping the space feel as big as possible.

Above the refrigerator there is a massive cabinet that comes to the front of the fridge. Typically the cabinet above a fridge is only cabinet deep which makes it impossible to get to.

The plan is to utilize this space to add racks for the cooking sheets, cutting boards and other thinner but large containers. Also there will be doors added to this cabinet eventually. Since this cabinet was made custom it is a weird size, there was no prefab doors to purchase.

One of the new cabinets will sit right next to the stove, where the doorway used to be. This is where pots and pans will be stored and any cooking utensils in the drawer. Functionally speaking this is a huge improvement from having to walk to the other side (of the admittedly small but still not convenient) kitchen to grab a spatula or spoon.

Once the cabinet above the refrigerator get racks all of those items will be moved from the smaller cabinet to the left of the stove and a pull out spice rack will go in it’s place. Dale is the main cook in out house and has a ton of spices he uses. He is geeked out with excitement to have the spices organized and easily view able.

Another great organization and function aspect is the cabinet on the right of the stove. With the cabinet going to the counter top it allows the toaster to be hidden in here but used. When moving the electrical we had an electrical outlet installed within this cabinet. So when using the toaster it is not a hassle anymore! The upper part of this cabinet will be storage for baking items such as flour, sugar, measuring cups, bowls and anything baking specific. All with an ease to use and put back. That is one aspect I love about us doing this kitchen after having lived in the space for so long. Of course renovating a kitchen before moving in sounds like a great idea, but waiting until you are in the space and using it gives a whole new perspective on priorities and the flow of the room.

Another addition I am excited about in the island is what is under the island! The microwave has been moved below the counter top allowing more usable work space on the counters. I also hid the trash and recycling in two pull out cabinets within the island. Hiding all of these smaller appliances and trash cans makes the kitchen look less cluttered. The end plan is for us to install a drawer microwave to improve the ease of use but for now our current one works fine.

The plan is to add a large drawer under the microwave cut out to hold all of our storage containers and Tupperware.

Now that the layout is explained let’s talk style! I wanted to keep this kitchen authentic to my decorating style. I am coastal (without going nautical crazy) with blues, grays and whites bringing out the coastal feel. Mixing modern patterns, rustic elements and a light/casual feel. Is that a known decorating style? I am not sure but it feels like home to me. I wanted this kitchen to reflect that.

When we did a small kitchen refresh about 10 years ago we painted the cabinets a very, VERY light green. Take a look at where this kitchen started 12 years ago! The color I chose for the first kitchen refresh was a mint color but looked white most of the time. I knew this time around I wanted to go a little more bold with the color. As I have taken bigger chances with decorating and loved the results I trust my own decorating instincts more. Going bold with choices does not feel as scary.

Of course with my home the obvious choice for color was blue. I also love gray and white kitchens, but most of the living area walls are painted gray and I was already leaning towards a white back splash. I did not want a complete white kitchen. Blue it was! I debated going with a dark navy blue or a subtle blue similar to my original cabinet color and the last consideration was big and bold with turquoise.

Very early on navy blue did not feel right to me, I love incorporating it in my home but dark blue kitchen cabinets did not have the light and bright feel I was going for. Which led me to turquoise as the cabinet color. I selected a few shades and put them on the cabinets in a few spots. Letting light hit them at different times of day and also seeing how the color changed at night.

The cabinet paint options –

Pittsburgh paints, Misty Aqua

Pittsburgh paints, Aqua sky

Nautica At Home, Peninsula

Since this kitchen remodel has been a slow burn I also had the color options up when we had people over so I got their input as well. Yes, we are that house that still has friends over with a half done kitchen. They accept our craziness and excitedly ask what has been done, oohhhing and ahhing when something new has been added. Everyone needs friends that can cheer on the progress and not mind coming over with plywood for counter tops.

In the end I went bold, really bold! The winner was Pittsburgh paints, Misty Aqua with a gloss finish!

I will be honest, as the paint was going on the cabinets I kept saying “It is blue!” in an unsure way. In Pinterest world bold colored cabinets are definitely a thing, but in the real world I know no one that has blue kitchen cabinets. I worried I went too far, got too into decorating and the overall look and out of touch with real. However once the paint dried and the counter tops and back splash went up I absolutely adore how they look. It all worked together beautifully, I am happily in my dreamy turquoise hued kitchen! My kitchen may not work for everyone and I am sure someone has seen it and thought to themselves they hate the cabinet color. Which is fine, this is our home and that is what counts.

This is our home and yes I did reconfigure the kitchen partially because I want better flow for when we have people over. But that is about comfort and function for entertaining. The colors and style can be perfectly us, needing no consideration for others. A home should reflect the people in it completely. This is our safe haven, where we make memories and feel the most comfortable. To me and now my family shades of blue and light and airy feels like home. Turquoise kitchen cabinets for the win! I will be sharing the tutorial for painting the kitchen cabinets as well as installing and building the custom ones. First I have to build the doors for the custom ones and install the crown molding. Then I can share that tutorial on the blog!

There is so much more to talk about with all of the kitchen details and ideas, counter top choice and how I scored my counter tops for a total of $70!!! Along with the counter tops there is back splash options, new sink, lighting, island counter tops, island style, adding wall paper to an unexpected spot and entryway wood trim. So many smaller details to share and I want to explain why I went with all of them and share the other options I considered. But we all have a life and talking home decor all day is not realistic. I also have to photograph a project, sand and paint the kitchen doorway wood trim and clean up the dust that comes with sanding wood trim. After this kitchen renovation is finally done a deep, DEEP cleaning is happening. I have dust everywhere!

Whew, I feel like I have written a novel here, this Kitchen renovation ideas and details turned out to be a lot longer than I anticipated. I am going to be sharing a part 2 next week. I don’t want to leave it on a cliff hanger or anything but also don’t want to rush the explanation of things for this kitchen. I really enjoy this process and sharing the hows and whys with you all brings you into this journey with me. I also understand how helpful it can be as a reader to see options, hear plans and get ideas yourself. I have scoured blogs, read updates and gotten ideas in the same way. So I feel that breaking this down into two separate blog posts is the best option to share all of my Kitchen renovation ideas and details.

Let me know if you have any questions about what I shared today. What do you think of my cabinet color choice? Be honest, I can take it. What cabinet color did you prefer? Any layout red flags I overlooked?



  1. Stephanie Bonds says:

    I love what you’ve done especially the contrast of your island with the natural wood top! The color of your cabinets are beautiful and give the coastal feel which I love.

  2. Wow, amazing! I love how it turned out. I do want to renovate our kitchen. It’s rather drab at the moment. I want brighter colors.

  3. fantastic changes! Congrats on getting to redo it…again! in my experience, we always say something will hold us over til we really renovate but then we end up just dealing with it forever…so for real, congrats! 🙂

    the only recommendation i have is that you figure out a way to attach the door on the garbage cabinet to the actual drawer so you don’t have a two step process to get to the can….all the difference in the world! we now have the pull out garbage and its fantastic.

    we have large pull out drawers on one side of the kitchen and on the other side we did doors with pull out shelves and i honestly hate getting things in/out of the latter cause of the extra step…totally lame but true. hope you’re not as easily annoyed as I am:)

    • Thank you, this has been a long process for sure! We first redid our kitchen with the small refresh about 10 years ago so there was a pretty big break in between projects luckily. Thank you for pointing out the idea and problems with the drawers in the cabinets for the trashcans. It is definitely on my to-do list to customize that cabinet with the trash cans attached to the door itself. Once the cosmetic parts of the kitchen is done I will start tackling the organization and smaller features like this. I am all for improving this kitchen and making it be as efficient as possible, thank you for the tips and insight!

  4. Oh I absolutely love the color of your cabinets! I think blue evokes a calming sensation so I am very much into that. It’s a unique choice for a kitchen, I think. So kudos to you!

    • Thank you so much! I was a little nervous about going so bold with the blue but I love the results! It is very calming in the kitchen with the light blue color.

  5. Gorgeous! Which cabinet brand did you use? And where can you find them? Thanks!

    • Thank you! Most of the cabinets I used were the ones already in my kitchen, just reconfigured them. A few are custom ones I made and one came from a home improvement store. They are standard wood cabinets with no frills. I will be adding a few smaller details to them soon to match the other cabinets that were already in my kitchen.

  6. I adore the color you chose for your cabinets! Such a fab Reno. Thanks for sharing!



  7. I really love the cabinets. I did mine in the kitchen and I did them all white. I need to re do the lowers a darker color because I live with a husband lol.

    • Thank you, I was unsure of the color at first but really do love it! I understand completely on the struggle of white cabinets and husbands… sometimes those two do not mix well. 🙂

  8. Amazing choice of color. I love it. Great makeover. Finally, I got some helpful ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  9. What beautiful photographs. You have always had such a good sense of style and how best to embrace it.

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