Designing a Kitchen Space You Love To Spend Time In

We are in the middle of home renovations. Last week, I had three men working in my kitchen, installing new subway tile backsplash. It wasn’t until my kitchen was overtaken by these kind, hardworking, and talented men that I realized how much time I spent in my kitchen.

I’ve never been much of a cook. I have tried. Believe me, I have tried. I have gone through very short seasons of making homemade meals from scratch (in an effort to be super eco-friendly). In the end, the food wasn’t that great, I was worn out from all the effort, and had a sink overflowing with pots, pans, plates, and other utensils. I just didn’t enjoy it. Can I just make a peanut butter sandwich and call it a meal? (That is what I ate daily for lunch as a kid - ask my mom. She can confirm my love of peanut butter.)

While I didn’t inherit a love or talent of cooking from my full blooded Italian grandmother; who made amazing pasta, ravioli, gnocchi, and meatballs from scratch; I do find myself spending my days in my kitchen.

Whether or not I’m making a meal from scratch, I still have to make (or assemble) 3 meals (often with the help of my husband) and plenty of snacks. Then, there is the time spent washing the continuous flow of dirty dishes and filing or recycling the endless stream of papers that love to cover my countertops.

When I’m not cooking or cleaning in the kitchen, I’m sitting at our island typing on the computer. It’s my favorite place to hunker down and write, check Facebook, or start learning how to use SketchUP.

Our Original Kitchen

Our kitchen island is a new feature in home. When we first moved in, our kitchen was a beige nightmare - oak cabinets, beige countertop, beige backsplash, and beige linoleum flooring. Our kitchen, while functional, was boring and downright blah. Who wants to spend the majority of their day in a room that feels blah!

I wanted to spend my days in a room that felt bright and airy and filled me with inspiration. I wanted something classic, almost vintage, but with a modern edge. And as you know, I am not a fan of clutter, so I wanted clean lines and spaces.

Our original kitchen had a peninsula that ate up space in the dinette. I couldn’t wait to get rid of it and open up the flow of our home. I love taking a space in a home and reimagining how awesome the space can be with some fun changes. Transforming a blah space, into a room that you can love spending time in is the best!

Finding Inspiration

While, I knew I didn’t like my kitchen, I didn’t always know what I wanted (except that peninsula - I always wanted that to go!). I didn’t always know what I liked. Luckily, I’ve always been drawn to design.

In middle school, I had an amazing art teacher. He taught me how to draw 3D pictures. And I used that knowledge to constantly draw home designs. I remember once, drawing a home with a wrap around porch. I thought it was so cool!

In high school, I use to rearrange my bedroom constantly. I would follow a very precise routine of removing all my clothes and items from my closet, refold all my shirts so it looked like a retail store and take any items I deemed clutter to my sister’s closet or the unfinished area of the basement. Then I would repeat this with my desk and dresser, and finally move my bed to a new wall.

For design ideas, I use to grab my mom’s Pottery Barn and Ethan Allen catalogs and rip out pages of rooms I liked and tape them to my closet door for future inspiration.

Then, my friend, Bethany, and I discovered TLC’s Trading Spaces and would hunker down in her room and watch a Saturday marathon during sleepovers.

Once I was out of college, I discovered HGTV. I was hooked. Every day I would go to the gym and spend an hour on the elliptical machine watching Property Brothers, Love It or List It, or Income Property. And every week I now look forward to watching Fixer Upper!

I also discovered the website I love wandering through this website and saving photos of rooms that inspire me.

Inspirational Kitchen Photos

Below are photos from that inspire my dream kitchen design. I have found that I love the color white (bright spaces are the best), but I also like to see a little warmth added to the space with wood elements (either in countertop, shelving, flooring, or a combination).

I want the space to be eye catching in design instead of in clutter. This means using different materials to create dimension and texture. The kitchen can still be an appealing cozy room without the cluttered counters.

I also, want a small, yet open and airy kitchen. To make this happen, I looked for pictures of small kitchens with and island.

Small design: oven and stove on island
Photo by Mark Rockwood Photography
Small design: everything on back wall
Photo by Smallworks Studios & Laneway Housing
Small design: sink on island
Photo by Horrigan O'Malley Architects
Love: subway tile & grout
Photo by Tecnica Construcciones
Brass lights and floating shelves add character
Photo by Jennifer Cavorsi Design
Love: shiplap walls
Photo by Betsy Lornbram

Our Kitchen Remodeling Journey

2013: Our Original Kitchen
2013: The wall that divided our kitchen from living room. Our peninsula is hiding behind the wall.
2016: The wall comes down!!
2016: The view from our entry. The wall is down. Walls are painted. The peninsula is gone. I’m starting to paint the kitchen cabinets.
2016: New flooring is in. Cabinets are painted and have new hardware. You can tell where the peninsula use to be based on the cut off countertop.
2016: New sink and countertop installed. Also, you can see that we had our ceiling renovated - gone is the old popcorn ceiling, and in it’s place a painted wood ceiling!
2017: Island from IKEA and new subway tile backsplash installed.
While the kitchen renovations aren’t quite finished, I’m passionate about completing this space. What’s left?

1. painting window over sink
2. floating wood shelves
3. new appliances

Do you have a kitchen that makes you feel blah? Explore and find pictures that inspire you. Try to make changes yourself or find a contractor you trust. Your dream kitchen awaits!