Inside Our Home: Our Kitchen

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Next in the series of posts about our home is my favorite room in the house – the kitchen! To fully understand my love for this room, you have to see the “before” pictures of it:

old kitchen

When we did our home remodel at the end of 2008, not only did we add to the back of the house to create a living room and master suite upstairs, but we added five feet off the front to have a main-floor half-bath and extend the kitchen. As a reminder, the original house was just over 700 square feet so the kitchen was teensy. So teensy that the stove only had one large burner and I could never find a cookie sheet to fit in the oven. So teensy that when the refrigerator died a month after moving in, we had to custom order one small enough to fit in its place. When the old dishwasher died, we would have had to custom order it so we just used it as a dish drainer.  Not only was it teensy, it was cheap. Peeling laminate counters, pressed-wood cabinets that were sagging and pulling from the walls… I could go on and on. It all just made me love the remodel even more.


The new kitchen makes our house a home. I saw this in a boutique in Rehoboth Beach in 2009 and had to get it for our “new” home.  Little did I know that this “unique” sign was mass-produced and now every single townhouse in America has one like it, but at the time I saw this sign as a proper and unique representation of how our house had developed with our family.

The bulkhead shows where the house used to end. Emerson's Rody keeps watch at the front window while looking tres festive.

Just five additional feet meant a full-size range, a full-size refrigerator, and a reasonable amount of counter space. We put the most thought into the kitchen – we researched appliances, cabinetry, and drafted up layouts multiple times.  The cabinets were an overstock – not our original choice but such a great deal (and now we ADORE them).  The floor was a must for me – my husband wanted to do something cheaper, we compromised, but then our contractor scored the very same tile I lusted after at a great price (it sometimes pays to have a small kitchen).  By purchasing our appliances through the company that provided the cabinetry (and the bamboo flooring we have in the bedroom and throughout the downstairs – also an overstock), we saved a lot of money.

Oh to no longer deal with drip pans on electric burners, to have a dishwasher that works, and a built-in microwave so the entire counter isn't lost?  Heaven!

The paint was a sticking point for me.  I picked this color out before I was on full maternity bedrest.  We went to Home Depot and I decided I wanted a deep shade of berry, I could just imagine it with wood, brushed stainless, and the floor tile.  My husband thought it too crazy and wanted a cadet blue.  The contractor also found me crazy, and the painter found me annoying because I made them paint the room almost a dozen times to get the really deep hue I desired.  But it's totally worth it – I have yet to tire of the color, and as soon as you walk in the house you see this amazing color.  I think it really fits our personality, and yes now my husband too loves the color!


I love our extra-deep sink.  And this kitchen comes with a garbage disposal!  So very 21st century!  You can see when we finished the kitchen, we still used paper towels – the paper towel holder is now a nice towel bar for our reusable dish towels (we keep a basket in the nearby half bath/laundry room for cleaning rags).  We also use reusable sponges (can find great ones on Etsy), and make our own foaming hand wash from a combination of Dr. Bronner's and water.


When we moved into our house in 1999, I bought these canisters from Williams-Sonoma as a housewarming present for myself.  You can see my tastes in kitchen decor haven't changed much in the past decade.  They hold regular flour, steel cut oats, and brown rice.


It's amazing to have this much counter space! The French press is a recent addition to the home – a Christmas gift to my husband from my mom to replace our old press which was getting wonky. The Le Creuset artichoke holds sugar. Have to have music – we have iPod speakers in many rooms of the house so we can carry our music everywhere. The knife block is Henkels for Target, but there's a real random variety of knives now residing in it. Most of our cutting boards were in the dishwasher at the time of this photo – the ones we use most often are bright colors like lime, orange, and turquoise.


The other housewarming gift I bought myself back in '99 was this same Le Creuset teakettle in yellow.  Back then, I wanted a sunny yellow, blue and white kitchen and slowly collected a lot of yellow accessories.  That teakettle had an untimely death – I forgot about it, it boiled all the water out and melted the bottom.  By then, I was on a green kick (pretty clear from the kitchen I am still on that kick) and got a lime replacement.


Two years ago, our toaster kicked the bucket and I got this toaster oven for only $25 on Overstock.  We love it – we use it a lot so we don't have to use a ton of energy to heat up the full-sized oven.  The coffee and tea pots belonged to my husband's paternal grandparents – we use the teapot regularly.  And you can see Emerson's bottle drying rack hasn't gone to waste once she stopped drinking milk – we use it to dry her sippy cups and our travel mugs and Camelbaks.

Okay, finished with the pretty pictures – now to the nitty gritty and not so pretty.  We love our kitchen, and we use it a lot.  Here's how we organize it (or attempt to organize it).  Starting with the cabinets closet to the window (the ones above and below the toaster oven):


The top cabinet.  You'll soon see a pattern – things I use are on the bottom shelf, things my husband uses or I rarely use are higher up.  Bottom shelf are sippy cups and travel mugs, higher up are baking tools.


The drawer below the counter keeps a hodgepodge of spices, powder mixes, and leftover sauces from Chinese take-out. Probably not the best place (right next to and below a heating element) but we're working with limited space.


The bottom cabinet holds our appliances and most of our cookware (we store cookie sheets in the oven, and the really large cookware in the drawer below the oven).


This cabinet is directly to the right of the microwave.  Bottom shelf holds our cooking essentials, while the top shelves hold baking supplies, coffee and tea.


First drawer below the counter holds our silverware and most-used utensils.


The next drawer holds bulkier utensils, tools we don't use as often, measuring cups, and most of our dish towel collection.


The bottom drawer holds our reusable food storage containers.  We'd like to switch to glass, but it's pretty pricey and not in our budget.  I found the idea of containers in a drawer so strange, but my husband was raised with a drawer for them and we have never had enough cabinet space to stack them on shelves.


Under the sink is typical under the sink stuff.  Above the sink are these five little drawers and a glass door that opens up.  My husband chose these details for the kitchen and I thought they were both really goofy; now I love them.  Obviously we use the glass cabinet as our liquor cabinet (also stores our olive oil which is too tall for the other cabinet); the little drawers hold things like beer cozies, toothpicks, drinking straws, and wine stoppers.


And here is where we keep all our plates and glasses.  Again, a few are in the dishwasher.  Our glasses are these from Williams-Sonoma – my cousin got them for us for our wedding.  The small square bowls are Crate and Barrel, the round ones are Anthropologie.  The plates are a mix – the dark ones are these from Crate and Barrel – they were on our wedding registry and while they are beautiful we hate them.  We recently inherited a gray stoneware set from my husband's paternal grandparents that are far more our style – they have a navy brushwork pattern on them.  I think I'll sell the C&B plates on Craigslist – I know many people love them and may need a few cheaply-priced plates or bowls to finish their collections.

The drawer below the counter is our junk drawer – pens, scissors, business cards, rubber bands, that sort of thing.  Below that is our trash can – this was a biggie for us with the remodel.  Ruckus used to be able to knock over and open any sort of trash can we ever got and this “trash drawer” is completely Ruckus-proof.  We use regular grocery bags for our trash – we compost so we really don't have a ton of trash – maybe two or three bags max per week.  The grocery bags fit perfectly in the plastic can in the drawer.


And then we have the refrigerator.  The cabinet above it holds things like serving bowls and vases and lunch bags.  I was so happy to be able to get a brushed stainless fridge that was able to hold magnets – we have a pretty big collection of them and it makes our kitchen look more like us and less like a model home.  Your typical collection of baby announcements, family photographs, and receipts.  The white door is our pantry.  The pantry opening is very shallow and just has shallow shelves holding canned goods and pasta; below the shelves we store dog food and unopened bottles of wine.  The pantry then leads to a deep short space below the stairs – in there we store cans of paint, gardening tools, camping equipment, and a bin to collect cardboard and paper for recycling.  We use the slatted door to display birthday and holiday cards – usually I display Christmas cards in the living room but this year I was lazy so they ended up here!

That mishmosh to the right of the pantry has been part of our kitchen from the get-go.  It's a dinner bell that my husband inherited.  After his first marathon, he slung his medal around it and the rest is history.  The “bar” is pretty much a catchall for keys, wallets, baby monitors and the day's mail.


And that, my friends, is my kitchen!  All the nooks and crannies, the less-than-exciting parts (which I personally love to see myself which is why I shared), and the fun parts.  My happy purple and green favorite room in our home!

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  1. I love this! We met once with our youngsters at a playground and I didn’t realize it was you that wrote this blog! We’re thinking about adding on or finding a new place in the neighborhood since we’re starting to feel like we need more space – or at least another half bath. I’d love to chat with you sometime about who you got for your remodel, how you planned it, etc. if you don’t mind sharing! Thanks!

  2. I randomly stumbled upon your blog, and had not read any of your background info, but as soon as I saw pics of your original kitchen, I knew you lived in the DC area.  When my husband and I were house hunting, I saw that style all over the place!  Your upgrade looks great, btw.  : )

  3. I just want to chime in about those Williams Sonoma Picardie glasses/tumblers. Aren’t they awesome? I spent a pretty penny buying mine and have not regretted it one bit. My kids have bounced them off our ceramic floor more than once without even a chip! I can’t believe how durable they are – sooo worth the money vs buying cheapos from somewhere like IKEA! Love your kitchen and the bold colour! — Helen

  4. The two main ones are Crate and Barrel. We registered for one set (bit bigger and more brushed of silver) and got 5 sets. Then for Christmas last year or another my mom got us 3 more sets of a very similar C&B pattern (I think it’s Iona – more slender and more shiny).

  5. Allie, What is your silverware pattern?  I see several in the drawer but the predominant one is simple and lovely. 

  6. I have toyed with painting our closet bright Barbie pink because I love the color and know there is no where else in the house where it would be accepted or appropriate. I do have such pink accents in E’s room but as she gets older and becomes an individual I know we will be replacing them with other shades and I’ll need my fix! 🙂

  7. I have had this post open for ages now, just ogling your kitchen! I LOVE the royal purple…I’ve been lusting after a similar paint color for ages but I have no idea where to put it (and my husband isn’t thrilled about it, even though he’s big on color, too). Maybe when I’m no longer pregnant and exhausted I’ll paint the inside of the master bedroom closet or somewhere else semi-hidden, so that I can enjoy the bold color without panicking my husband. 🙂

  8. Allie, I’m sorry people so frequently decide to turn off their brain filters when they
    come to your blog. Lesson learned: you never know the details of anyone
    else’s circumstances, so it’s best not to judge!

    I always love how gracious you are in the face of such blatant rudeness.

  9. Even at night the room feels large. The white ceiling, the recessed lighting that gives a glow without adding an extra detail, and you’ll see the big window is unadorned and trimmed in white. Also there are two doors to the room, it’s almost open to the hallway/dining room but for that maybe 5′ wall where the print hangs. I’d say cozy, not dark. 🙂 Actually, the smallest rooms in our home seem to have the darkest or brightest colors – I think the color being so dramatic distracts the eye. 🙂

  10. I love the colour.  Do you not find that it makes the room quite dark though?  Clearly in the photos it’s quite a sunny day so it’s not much of an issue, but how about when it’s cloudy, or in the early evenings? 

    [I ask because for as long as I can remember, every room in my house has been “apricot white” (not my choice!) and “making the room feel larger and lighter” has always been the reason given when I’ve tried to suggest a change!]

  11. It’s a shame that people will write down what they would never say.  Double kudos to you, Allie, cuz I don’t think I could be so pleasant. Tsk! Tsk!

  12. I love the shade of purple! We will hopefully be redoing our kitchen this year and I got alot of fun ideas from your post. I like how everything has a place. Thanks for being so open and honest I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  13. Oh no, that’s dangerous! I just got Catalonias from them and will be picking them up from the cobbler (had to slightly alter the shape of the calves for my wonky legs) in the next couple of days. I could use another pair of Berns but don’t think I can afford them right now, even at that great price. Thanks for the heads up though, if my ship comes in… 🙂

  14. Gorgeous colours, but then that’s no surprise considering your wardrobe. … 

    Just thought I should also let you know that the Duo Bern’s are on sale (£90) here in the UK in case you feel you might need another pair.  (Just had the sale email and went perusing with little squeak of excitement!)


  15. What a beautiful kitchen! I especially like the cabinets and the piece your husband chose. It really adds visual interest to the place.  (And thanks for sharing inside the cabinets. I hate to organize, but love to see it done.)

  16. Anonymous, you’re ignorant. And kudos to you, Allie, for handling this so well. I often think of becoming a blogger, but I don’t think I’d have as much grace as you in dealing with this sort of thing.

  17. I love your kitchen!  Is it sad that it looks like a giant kitchen to me, compared to my tiny galley kitchen?  I’m also trying to buy quality items to stock my “someday” kitchen, and I’ve found that trolling the kitchen section of places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx have yielded very good prices on Pyrex and Anchor glass storage dishes.  Some day I hope to have all glass and get rid of my plastic/tupperware.

  18. I just lost 20 minutes at work because I got so totally sucked into this post – gorgeous, creative work in that kitchen.  Thanks also for the “inside the cabinet” tour – I too like to make organizational systems, and it always helps to see how others have done it.  Quick Q:  what kind of flooring is that – slate?  It’s beautiful.  We have old linoleum we definitely want to change before too long, and I love the look of yours.  Thanks!

  19. LOL I am so not a neatnik, I am such a slob, but I create systems to keep myself organized and find that the less stuff I have the more tidy I can be. But even this morning I spent 15 minutes looking for my left shoe! But the kitchen is usually tidy, since it’s pretty much the entry to the house and my husband is quite the neatnik (all that Navy training!). As for your kitchen, a floor can make such a drastic change for the better in a room! 🙂

  20. Royal purple is my favorite color, so I can really dig the wall coloring and the touches of green are a perfect accent shade!  At minimum, I am looking forward to remodeling our kitchen floor since it doesn’t match either the countertop, back splash, cabinetry or much else.   By the way, I know that you’re a neatnik, so I have to ask, is your kitchen always this clean?  It’s admirable.  Thanks, Allie!

  21. Allie, if you go to Costco, you can get glass tupperwear for super cheap! I got a box set of maybe 10-15 pieces of all difference sizes for $20-30? They frequently have different brands so you can eventually get all sorts of sizes.  Def look at Costco though!

  22. That wall color is absolutely delicious, and the perfect example of how complimentary colors work together – blonde wood and red grape.  Gorgeous!

  23. Incredible.  I love the use of color AND space!  I totally understand about how a kitchen makes a house a home.  Growing up, it was always the place my family hung out while someone cooked.  So many great conversations and moments were had in our kitchens.  One day I hope to have a kitchen suitable for creating new “moments!”  Yours is wonderful.

  24. I guess it goes with the blogging territory… 🙁 But thank you on the house! I too was wondering what to do with color because our house is semi-open (the wall with the hanging is only a few feet long and that and the bar are the only things that separate it from the foyer and dining room); the foyer is green on two walls and purple on the other since that wall goes into the kitchen. Glad the two colors look nice together! 🙂

  25. I LOVE that you’re doing posts like that – it’s great to get a glimpse of your life outside of style [though the kitchen definitely stylish].  We just recently bought our house and took advantage of some good deals going on to update all the appliances – wouldn’t have been affordable out of pocket but by negotiating with the seller, it really worked out so I completely understand taking an opportunity to boost your living environment. I love that you have so much color in here!  It really makes the place lively and it’s refreshing to see a kitchen that isn’t white on white on white.

    Hope you’ll do more posts like this in the future!

  26. I love your color choice – I always want to go bold and then chicken out. It doesn’t help that our house is open concept and has rounded corners – it makes it hard to figure out where you could stop one color and start another. I also think that it’s great that you were able creatively solve space issues and were flexible enough to find great deals. We’re looking to redo our kitchen, but keep hemming and hawing over various design choices. 

    I also really admire the way that you handle people’s totally inappropriate comments – you have a much thicker skin than I do, that’s for sure! 

  27. Love love love it! The purple walls are absolutely gorgeous. They go so well with the color of the cabinets and the counter. I’ve really enjoyed your posts about your home- it looks fabulous!

  28. Your home is so beautiful and has so much personality! I’m not daring enough to go for such a bold color choice as purple, but you made it look so good! I look forward to no longer being a renter; it must be amazing to have that kind of decorative freedom.

  29. Such a drastic change! I love the bold color – it takes guts to paint an oft-seen room a bold color. We painted our hallway red and was hesitant, but loved it in the end. I love the color of the cabinets in combination with the purple.

  30. That is really a fabulous colour and such a bold choice! One day, when I eventually get a place of my own, I’ll keep this in mind. I am in awe of your style and impressed by your conviction.

    I always look forward to your posts and appreciate your willingness to share your style, suggestions and opinions.

  31. That’s really awesome. I would love to do that, and wish we had the ability to do that with this house. Unfortunately we were on quite the time crunch. However, go forward we plan on doing the work ourselves – it means more and you really appreciate the home!

  32. Thank you for sharing Allie,
    It is always nice to see how people solve their house design problems.  We live in a house over 100 years old and the kitchen is a narrow galley kitchen that is poorly designed.  We are “remodeling” a breakfast nook area into extra cabinet and counter space along one wall and a breakfast bar on the other side.  It won’t cost us much in actual dollars but the labor will be all us.  I know we will enjoy it more because of that. 

  33. So awesome!  I absolutely adore the paint color.  My powder room next to our kitchen is a similar color, just a tad deeper–my painters had to do a dozen coats, too!  But it’s so worth it.

    Amazing what 5 feet and some great choices will do, even (especially?) on a budget.  I find that the choices I make when constrained by my checkbook are often the most perfect for the space–seems like you did the same with the cabinets and tile.  

    Just a lovely, organized, livable kitchen with lots of personality!

  34. I’m sorry but how were you able to afford this remodel? If I am not mistaken, your husband doesn’t work and I can guess what you do for a living and it isn’t making six figures. Makes me never want to click on an ad on your site because your kitchen and whole house is way nicer than mine and we’re struggling to make ends meet and don’t have stainless appliances and stuff from Willaim Sonoma.

  35. Thanks Ana! DH is the gin drinker, so is his extended family so we’re always stocked for when they come to visit! I’m more of a wine gal myself (though I do like the occasional vodka tonic!). But come on over, as you see we have plenty! 🙂

  36. Love your choice of stiff drinks ;-P If I’m ever in DC I’ll drop by for a G&T.
    Definitely agree on the tiles! The price difference more than makes up for  the headache and agony of having cheaper alternatives. And I love, love your berry coloured walls.

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