The kitchen renovation: Part Three

By Caitlin Kelly


It’s starting to feel like a kitchen, kids!

We gratefully — while away on vacation in Canada — missed two weeks of noise, dirt and dust while the crew demolished our 30+ year-old kitchen, with its ugly molding, not-nice wooden cabinets and peeling tile floor.

Gone is the dishwasher whose replacement basket, (can you say rip-off?!) would have cost us $300. Gone is the chipped porcelain sink. Gone is the complete lack of a place to safely and cleanly stow garbage; we now have a slide-out bin with two containers.

We still await the installation of: counters, sink and faucet, outlets and the staining and finishing of the floor. And we got herringbone flooring, as my heart had fervently desired, a gift from the contractor who scored it for a fraction of the original price.

The crew of two, both Turkish, speak Turkish to one another and step onto the balcony to have a cigarette or make a phone call. They work crazy hard with no breaks. One, Mike, did our bathroom four years ago and it’s good to have someone I know, like and trust with me in my home all day.

I’m honored that Mike, whose career expertise is working with tile, (and these guys normally work on much larger and wealthier projects than ours), loved my tile choice. Yay!

The workmanship is terrific — the wooden drawers slide smoothly and stop slowly and firmly. When I noticed a 1/8th of an inch (probably less) difference in one, it was fixed within seconds. We could have saved some money by buying Ikea cabinets, but I wanted exactly what I wanted, and the smooth, solid, heavy wood, with dovetailed drawers, made to our exact specifications, feels good.

It’s helpful to actually be here now, as a few surprises showed up — like the installation of the wrong accent tile. The right tile arrived and is even prettier than I’d hoped.

It is both gratifying and terrifying to watch my design — even road-tested with 3D scale models — come into full color and shape. A lovely surprise? The insets which replace drawer handles reflect daylight from the nearby windows. So does the glossy, creamy tile, making the small, narrow room much brighter than before.

Here are some photos of it…the final blog post will be the Big Reveal.


You can see the herringbone floor; gray-green cabinets (which will not have exterior hardware); the stove; wall tile (yet ungrouted), and the space where the accent tile will go.


This is the cost of doing business…a corner of our living room filled with tools for the duration.


And there goes our balcony…needed as a place to cut tile. Mike did it there — in February! — last time.


With his permission, Mike…and the sink side of the kitchen.


There will be three of these Restoration Hardware sconces, each 10″ in diameter. An unpleasant surprise? The illustration on the RH website shows a lovely glow — but not the fact that the bulb protrudes and is visible.


Here’s my lovely husband making a silly face as he grills a week’s worth of meat on our balcony — with our table as a windbreak.

28 thoughts on “The kitchen renovation: Part Three

  1. Caitlin, I can see this is going to be a wonderful kitchen. The cabinets are beautiful. And I was impressed how neatly the guys put their tools away, even if they were in your living room. Your whole mood will be lightened just walking into that kitchen.

    1. Thanks! I’ll post the finished pix next weekend, but have already started putting objects on the shelves and the proportions are just right.

      The guys are terrific and I will miss them. They are super-nice and very tidy indeed. I try to recommend my contractor to everyone I know to keep them busy.

  2. How exciting! I love your back splash and scones. I can’t wait to see the final product! We are in the process of painting our kitchen cabinets ourselves. Holy crap; I had no idea how much work this would be!

    1. Thanks. I like the sconces very much — but now have to seek out a very specific sort of bulb that won’t protrude and glare. I’m pissed with Restoration Hardware for their totally misleading photos!

      We had planned to paint the cabinets ourselves, but caved and paid the difference. As it is, we have a fair bit of painting to do in the adjoining (small) dining room, as they’ve had to do work there as well.

  3. There’s a special place in heaven for contractors like yours! Don’t they just make all the difference? Congrats on reaching the home stretch (and Jose keeping his sense of humor intact)!

  4. Those cabinets with their recessed grips look fantastic. I honestly thing the trouble you’ll go to finding the right bulbs for the sconces will make all the difference to you. They look good now, but lit up as you would have seen them in the catalogue, they’ll be stunning, especially against the cream tile.
    I’m glad to say I’ll beat you to the ‘show and tell’ as my lounge has finally been decorated and the big reveal is tonight’s blog. I’ll have read all the opinions about my papered doors before you have your turn next week when I’m sure we’re going to be knocked out by how it looks. Judging by the quality of the workmanship and the care with which you’ve chosen everything this will be quite an event.
    xxx Sending Huge Hugs xxx

  5. Steve

    WOW! Do you want a job? What a nice combination of color and textures. Love the floor and the oiled bronze light sconces, they go great with that cream colored tile and the floor. It looks like you pulled off the modern look but without losing the character of the apartment. That’s actually pretty hard to do. I can’t wait to see the finished pictures

    PS. That looks like an individual serving to me not a “weeks worth of meat” that your husband is grilling up. No wonder the poor man has a funny look on his face…you’re starving him.

    1. I do, actually, want to find work as a designer, even part-time. Email me!

      The sconces have an odd/interesting finish — it’s sort of a rusted look.

      The apartment is from the mid 1960s, so I wanted something simple, vaguely mid-century but with a hand-made feeling to it; the tiles are not hand-made but look as if they are. When they fool a professional tile guy, they must be good.

      He’s fine, believe me. The NYT has one of the nicest cafeterias I’ve ever seen, so he’s been having great lunches.

      1. Steve

        Try a clear incandescent bulb in your sconces. The lower the wattage the shorter the bulb length. A 60 watt should work pretty well and give you enough reflective light with your shiny tile. 40 watts probably won’t. If you find an old school hardware store an oven or refrigerator bulb should work and are really short. Stay away from those squirrelly government bulbs they take too long to warm up and give you lite. LED bulbs should e short also if you can stand the glare from them. Hope that helps.

      2. Thanks!

        Went to my local hardware guy and bought one of those teeny SATCO jobbies…with the focused beam. We’ll see how that looks…it certainly fits the fixture better. We also have two high hats, so this not the only illumination.

  6. I feel your pain. When we built our house we miscalculated how long the counters would take to deliver, moved in without any AND hosted Thanksgiving with nothing but a few strategically placed cutting boards to cover some of the cabinets. (As a side benefit we could grab a fork without having to open a drawer.)

    Delivery day saw an ice storm and the truck couldn’t get up our road. I cried – literally cried – when the delivery guy called from the corner to say he couldn’t make it any farther. He agreed to wait 15 minutes for my father-in-law to come with his pick-up truck and we took delivery on the street. Ah, such happy memories.

    I wish you many years of enjoyment in your lovely new kitchen!

    1. I think it’s gone extremely smoothly…the troubles have been minor: wrong tile in and removed and quickly replaced; wrong door ordered needing $1,000 hinges; reordered and replaced; one shelf 1/8 inch too thick which they took to the shop, planed and put so the new surface doesn’t show. Give the crappy initial condition of our walls and floor and ceiling, I think 4 weeks’ work, start to finish, is damn speedy.

      I am most annoyed with Restoration Hardware for totally misleading advertising. I plan to write them and make that clear.

  7. Beautiful! I love the way the tiles reflect the light and i like the sconce too. There are some cool shaped bulbs that might make you happier with it.

    We have new hallway ceiling lights and the pointy tipped light bulbs have a shape that adds to the effect. Your new floors are gorgeous and give the eye a nice since of motion and direction. I love the look of the recessed handles on the cabinets too and there’s nothing to whack your new hip on as you pass by.

    Looking forward to the ” Big Reveal ” post.

    1. Thanks!

      It’s been really nice to find pleasant surprises, when so many reno’s bring nasty disappointments. The floor will be a lot nicer after it’s stained and finished, this week. Nervous about the green stone counters, but think they’re quite lovely…The contractors keep telling me these are very unusual choices.

      Indeed. πŸ™‚

  8. Awesome!
    We renovated one house, and that was quite enough for me, so you have my respect and admiration. I’m looking forward to your finished product pictures. I like the idea of green stone counters, but, you know, there’s green, and there’s green. πŸ™‚

  9. This looks like so much fun. The CEO and I will be tearing out part of our kitchen at the cabin later this fall. Our plans are a little more modest. Only half the cabinets are coming out., New floor and a 1923’s sink is being installed into an antique cabinet. It will open up a one person kitchen into a two person. And, we are planning to have the majority of the work done in three days! I’d be happier that way but I have a few doubts on the timeline.

  10. Love those handle-free drawers! They look elegant and efficient at the same time. Can’t wait to see the final pics. And you are so lucky to be working with a team you like and trust.

    1. Thanks! I didn’t design that element, but I really like it a lot. I may have to touch up the paint now and then, but it also probably saved us another few hundred dollars on hardware.

      I will miss my guys!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s