• Brit



Here we go! This is going to be my third One Room Challenge and I’m feeling super confident this time around and SO STOKED to share what’s up my sleeve. The first time I finished by the skin of my teeth and the second I failed miserably and finished two months late. Ya win some, ya lose some I guess. Not this time though! This time I’m well prepared and so ready to rock n’ roll. Shall we?

So here’s the thing. As many of you know Derek and I bought our home as a foreclosure five years ago and have been working on it ever since. It was a gut reno and at the time it seemed like such an almost insurmountable task that we tried to make everything as easy and affordable as possible. That and the fact that we’d initially planned to sell immediately really influenced my design choices. When it was time to do the kitchen, it wasn’t so much a matter of designing the kitchen of my dreams as it was an attempt to create a kitchen that would attract your average buyer and help sell the house. I chose wooden countertops because it was an awesome alternative to laminate, which was all our budget at the time would allow. I used subway tile because it’s timeless and affordable. I picked out IKEA shelves because they’re inexpensive and we didn’t think we’d be here long enough to watch them start to sag in the middle. Oh and the wall microwave and oven combination? We found it in the scratch and dent section at Lowe’s for only $800! Someone had apparently “damaged” it during installation by bending the frame around the microwave door so slightly that it was unnoticeable, but prevented the door from popping open. I hadn’t intended on getting a combo unit like that, but at such a discount it seemed like an awesome upgrade for the future owner.

I’m assuming that some of you are wondering why I decided to renovate our kitchen again because it was already so “nice” and I totally get that. However, after living with it for the past five years, there were things that I wished I’d done differently both aesthetically and functionally. As far as aesthetics go, I disliked having the micro and oven combo as the central focus of our entire main living space. Does that seem silly? Maybe! For someone like me though, who’s so visual and so affected by my surroundings, that darn thing came to feel like a monstrosity. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very nice appliance and I’d be more than happy to have it in a different kitchen. However, I didn’t necessarily want to see it from the sofa.

I also particularly disliked seeing the refrigerator so blatantly hanging out right next to my desk, separated by an almost nonexistent little wall. When we bought it, the main part of our house was comprised of four teeny tiny rooms. When we took all the walls down and decided to do open concept, I didn’t realize that a little bit of a partition just to help divide it into zones would totally help the feng shui in the space. LOL, as if I really know anything about feng shui! What I do know though, is that there was just something a little off about how the two areas were so wide open to each other. I also got sick of the mess spilling from the living area to the kitchen and also the laps the kids would run around the whole entire thing. The total lack of any architectural detail whatsoever was also kind of a bummer.

Now onto the practical part. From the get-go I knew I wouldn’t keep the wooden countertop along the wall forever. We sealed it with a tung oil, which not only gave the pretty maple a horrid orange finish, but also had to be redone every six months! Pssshhhh! Yeah right! We resealed them once in five years! And what I don’t let y’all see on Instagram is how nasty it looks around the sink. So yeah. Replacing them was a no-brainer. And then If You Give a Mouse a Cookie syndrome came into play – like, “If we’re getting new countertops, this would be the time to reconfigure a bit and get a regular stove.” So one thing led to another, plans were made, materials were purchased, and we started working!

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The main things I wanted to address were: the wooden countertop, which wasn’t holding up well; the cheapo cabinet doors, which also weren’t holding up well; the kitchen faucet and cabinet pulls, which were chipping; the lack of architectural detail; and the whole entire main area of the house feeling a bit too open. So here’s the plan, man …

First and foremost, we decided to build a partition to separate the kitchen and dining from the living room while still leaving it feeling relatively open – just not too much. It’s basically a wall with a huge opening comprised of two arches turned sideways between the two areas. I’d say it’s actually kind of like a massive keyhole arch, but really big and stretched out. Since we were trying to add architectural detail, we decided to go ahead and make both of the openings leading from the main living area archways while we were at it. Trendy? Yep, but also so timeless. In fact, I’ve always wanted to own a house with arched openings.

We also removed the wooden countertop with plans to replace it with Formica solid surfacing. We swapped the micro and oven combo as well as the cooktop for a traditional slide-in gas range and a microwave hidden in one of the lower cabinets. Also in the plans: DIY fluted dining table; DIY cabinet doors and hardware; tiling the underside of the island; installing a new sink and faucet; enclosing the range hood; getting a new chandelier for the living room; and installing a new flush mount light above the kitchen sink and different pendants over the island. I mean, it’s essentially all one big space – with one area segueing into another, so it’s all getting a bit of a once-over. We’ve sure got our work cut out for us!

I drew the partition wall because I’ve honestly not seen anything exactly like it. Sure I’ve seen arches on arches on arches all over the place, especially recently. My dad’s old house was built in the early 1900s and had several archways. I’ve also seen other homes built around the same era with beautifully shaped openings between rooms, providing just a little bit of separation and a ton of visual interest. I haven’t seen anything just like what we have planned though. If you have, send pics my way because I’d love to check it out!

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So anyway, that’s the goal. A bit of separation and lots of visual interest. My biggest inspo is the (1) Casework Hightower Showroom in Chicago. The unusual arch partition wall really got me thinking “HEY! Now there’s an idea. It doesn’t have to be a basic archway. Let’s try something different.” SO brilliant! I also love the classic Art Deco style of (2) Sister City NYC. Then I legit rediscovered this space by (3) Elsie & Kel Design yesterday and was so surprised to see the crazy similarity between it and my living room design. It just goes to show how we’re subconsciously influenced by everything we see. Last but not least, the pill shaped opening used by (4) Bri Ussery in her recent kitchen renovation is such a killer idea.

Well, that’s it for now! Thank you so much for reading! Make sure to check out all of the other ORC participants. You can find them here!

I also want to give a HUGE thank you to all of my sponsors: Hudson Valley Lighting, Mitzi Lighting, Formica, Samsung, TIPTOE, and Winnoby.