Kelle's Kitchen Reveal!
Our kitchen has been in the making for the last FIVE years! FIVE. YEARS.
When a project takes THIS long to get to picture time you can guarantee that I’ve not been happy about it.
That’s why we’re so excited to finally share our kitchen with you!
“So, what the hell took so long???”
Welllllllll, real love takes time!
Plus, I don’t settle.
When I fall for something, like, say, pendants that cost two kidneys and I only have one to spare, it might take me three years to make them mine.
More on those obnoxiously expensive lights and how they made me fall for them later. There’s a long, dramatic story involving tariffs, leaps of faith, and a decision that technically looked bad on paper, but helped me prove to myself that my gut does actually know what’s best. Then, a good ol’ high speed internet chase for good measure. But for now, let’s dig into my design process and what my priorities were while designing our kitchen from the ground up!
FIRST PRIORITY: Seating!
Our first kitchen offered zero seating and we hated it. We really enjoy cooking and having people over so a big island that felt like a huge table was my number one priority. Preferably enough seating for 6 conscious people or 2 unconscious people.
I started the kitchen layout with the island in the middle and then worked outwards placing the functional aspects and appliances along the perimeter.
While configuring the island with the room for seating, I made sure to place the cabinets towards the center to leave room for stools on three sides in order for conversation to easily flow. Also, with seating on three sides, you can stuff yourself and pass out across three bar stools and still have friends on either end to make fun of you.
Insider secret: Sometimes those bar stools are filled with dogs and not people. We don’t care. Nothing is too precious in our house to exclude dogs from. Dogs are the real loves of our lives anyway. Don’t act like you’ve never let a dog make out with you with those preciously gross doggy slobbers.
Would you ever guess that my top choice for stools are the Henriksdal from IKEA???
That’s right. These stools are genius.
They are extremely comfortable and those white covers are removable and washable. Do you know how incredibly rare it is to find stools with removable covers that also do not look “slip covered”?!
Bravo, IKEA. Bravo!
Having removable covers means that you can have new covers made whenever you want in whatever fabric you want too! You know I’ve been thinking of green covers and then monogramming my initials into my favorite stool!
P.S. those removable, bleach-able covers are why dogs get to hang out on them. My only stipulation is that they wear bows or bowties and mind their manners.
SECOND PRIORITY: Lots of natural light!
Natural light was extremely important to me. Our old kitchen didn’t have any windows and relied on the windows from the surrounding spaces for natural light. That meant artificial light was the main source. No one wants to spend time in a kitchen that feels like a dungeon. Okay, maybe calling it a dungeon is a tad dramatic, but I knew that my next kitchen would need some real natural light.
My first plan for the kitchen had ~all the windows~ : three windows by the sink instead of two, and then two more windows flanking the stove. We quickly learned that I had tripled our window budget and that I had included ten more windows than the average home. I guess I really love windows? Whoops. Two windows it is!
One good thing about having to remove some windows was that it freed up some wall space for art, which leads me to my next priority…
THIRD PRIORITY: Space for art!!
One of the most exciting and fulfilling feelings in both my career and designing my own home, is finding artists that I love! Establishing new connections with people over social media that you would otherwise never meet is nothing short of magic. I am not only constantly searching for art for myself, but for possible pieces for clients. I could write twelve chapters on this topic because it’s so important to me and brings me so much joy, but I’ll save that for my actual book and summarize with this:
ART HAS MAGICAL POWERS!
Art creates connections, supports and uplifts the beauty in others, and creates what I call, a “circle of happy” for your home. Circles of happiness are real and feel awesome to be a part of, so priority three, was making sure there was plenty of space to display art around the kitchen. Because art belongs everywhere! The soul of a space isn’t truly singing without it.
I move art around all the time just to shake things up. See…
...It’s fun to play around and move your things. The more our spaces change, the more we notice and appreciate them.
FOURTH PRIORITY: NON cabinet-y storage.
Being the pain that I am, I wanted a ton of storage, but I didn’t want it to LOOK like I had a ton of storage.
Asking for the impossible is my thing, I guess? It all happened though, so I guess I wasn’t asking too much. Boom!
Kitchens that are too “cabinet-y” feel utilitarian and cold. Even when the cabinets are made of warmer materials like wood, an entire space filled with wood boxes feels exactly like a space filled with wood boxes.
In order for a kitchen to feel less like a kitchen, it needs the elements of cozier spaces incorporated into it. Like, bookcases, books, lamps, mirrors, art, soft seating, and storage that looks more like furniture than cabinets.
A bookcase in the kitchen is actually my favorite…
Are you wondering if I went to the bookstore and specifically bought cookbooks with black spines? You bet your ass I did and I LOVE the cookbooks I got, too! You guys...Mostly Plants has been a game changer for me. I love some of these recipes so much that if Nick makes them for me I consider it better than taking me out somewhere. That’s a pretty significant thing for me to say considering all I ever want to do is go out and eat amazing food. You know what? I might just do a giveaway I love this book so much!
Behind the scenes story: I actually went to a thrift store to find cheap books with black spines but there wasn’t a single one that I wanted. I realized that I don’t believe in filling my house with things I don’t want in order for it to look a certain way. I went to the bookstore and picked out some books that I ended up loving! #winwin
It’s OK to put non-cookbooks in the kitchen. Put all of your books, magazines, notebooks, sketchbooks and yearbooks in the kitchen if you want. It’s your story!
And you can rest assured that I’m no spine racist, I have cookbooks with all color spines, they just aren’t on the bookcase. They’re inside the ginormous cabinet with a zillion other books because I have a book collecting problem.
About those ginormous cabinets…..I honestly didn’t even mean to incorporate the huge French casement cabinet or the black hutch. I knew I wanted some cabinets that looked more like furniture but I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant UNTIL I DID.
Each cabinet found me and they were love at first sight! This is how it went:
Big Cabinet: “Hey baby, like what you see?”
Me: “Gotdammit. Yes.”
Big Cabinet: “I know you want me. You want me so bad you’re willing to pay someone to deliver me and then pay to store me somewhere for two years.”
Big Cabinet whispers softly: “I’m on sale.”
Me: “FML. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick……”
And the rest is history!
Tell me you could say no to this hunka hunka burning love...
OR tell me you wouldn’t risk this GINORMOUS cabinet falling through the wood floor of a good friend’s old store front window because it wouldn’t make it down the stairs to your storage space…
I legitimately redesigned the kitchen just for these two cabinets. Turns out they actually saved us money in the end too!
The overall price difference was $1800. Cha-ching! That NEVER happens for me. Reality for me is more like, “no pain, no gain, sister.”
Speaking of pain...
FIFTH PRIORITY: Spectacular lighting.
You see, I fell in love with these Saturnus fixtures as soon as they first came out like, three years ago. As I mentioned earlier there’s a long and dramatic story here that I will save for another time, but just know, those lights did not come into my life easily. It was actually easier to carry a baby and give birth. I guess that means I have twins now? Meet George and Louis. Royal names since they were royal pains in the A to get my hands on.
SIXTH PRIORITY: Authentic and timeless materials.
I wanted real wood floors that would actually show their age and grace over time. I love the soul of old houses and figured real wood throughout was the surest way to incorporate some of that soul. Nearly four years in and we’ve definitely added some soul to the floors! It’s all good, though. Sweating the small stuff like scratches and dings isn’t cool. Plus it makes everyone feel uncomfortable. Nothing stays perfect and that’s okay!
I will always say, “Never care about the condition of your things more than the comfort of your people.”
I’m not saying it’s a great idea to play racket ball in the dining room. I’m just saying it’s okay to relax and let perfection go. When’s the last time perfection brought you any happiness, anyway?
Speaking of relaxing and letting go of perfection, we went with honed Danby marble for the countertops and basically throughout the house because 1. LOVE and 2. To hell with the consequences!
We have zero regrets about it, too.
Fussing over marble’s durability is soooo yesterday, guys. No one actually dies when marble etches. And for the record, marble does NOT easily stain when sealed regularly. Like, at all. We are huge wine drinkers and very serious about cooking and we don’t sweat staining. We even forgot to seal the marble for over a year and half and we still didn’t get any stains. I’m not saying that was smart. I am saying that if you don’t sweat it, it’s likely going to be fine because that’s the way the universe works. If you freak out, crazy things will happen in order to teach you that these things aren’t that important, so don’t even give it the opportunity.
If you’re like me and your love for marble knows no bounds, just go for it! Practically all of Europe has since the beginning of time and they’re not all whining about it. Push past the fear and negativity and do what your heart is telling you to do! The nay-sayers just don’t share the same love that you do and that’s okay. Let them live with whatever material they love, and you go ahead and do you, boo!
I mean, there isn’t any part of me that’s capable of saying “NO” to this natural beauty queen….
Just in case you haven’t seen how far we’ve actually come…
If it weren’t for Mr. Dame (AKA “Poor Nick”), most of this kitchen would not have happened. Either because of all his hard work (overachiever alert) or for being supportive of my addiction to enormous cabinets, he just makes it all happen! He doesn’t even complain while he’s doing it either. Which, honestly, is kinda weird sometimes...Like, IS he an alien? HOW is he so patient? WHY hasn’t he run away yet?
Especially after I change the grout color after he’s already done with half of the grouting… Yeah…Angela Lansbury showed up because that was almost an episode of Murder, She Wrote. It’s the most frustrated I’ve ever seen him and even that only lasted thirty minutes. I don’t know, guys. Pretty sure he’s an alien.
Well, I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve come a very long way, so excuse me while I pop the bubbly to celebrate this enormous feat!
Also going to try to stay off Pinterest and Instagram, because the idea of all black cabinets has been calling to me…Shhhh…let’s not tell Nick about that ;)
I hope you’ve enjoyed the story behind the longest kitchen project in the history of kitchens!
Next up is the long, dramatic tale of the lights!
Then, we’ve written a special post just for subscribers where we share our KDI Design Rules for a successful and unique kitchen design! *** It may, or may not, include a video of me testing out faucets and acting like a big dumb idiot.
I hope you have a beautiful day of NOT settling!