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Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 | 7 comments

Katie’s Kitchen Reno Part I

Katie’s Kitchen Reno Part I

A couple weeks ago I shared my living and dining room and mentioned an upcoming kitchen renovation. Well, that kitchen reno has started and a lot of progress has been made in just one week. First, full disclosure: This is not a DIY project. I don’t have the skill, patience or sanity to embark on something like this myself, but I wanted to share the process for anyone out there who is planning a similar project.

When we moved into our house 10 years ago, it had an original 1950s kitchen. The cabinets were dingy, there was no dishwasher and the room was incredibly cramped and closed-off. I don’t have any pictures from then, but my neighbors Peter and Elin’s kitchen shown below is pretty much the same.


After about 9 months, we (and by we, I mean a contractor) made some improvements. He removed an empty bulkhead, installed new cabinets and countertops, added a dishwasher and tore down the wall between the kitchen and dining room. The appliances were new when we bought the house so we kept those.

RIBBA Shelves in Kitchen

It was a “mini-makeover” of sorts and for just me and my husband the space was fine. But as two kids joined the family, it became more and more difficult to function in the kitchen. Despite the work we had done, the room was still cramped and we didn’t have enough storage and workspace.

I thought about my neighbors David, Amy and Peter and Elin who all had kitchens that functioned well. The difference: Their kitchens had built-in peninsulas and the walls surrounding their fridges had been moved into the living space.


1950s galley kitchen renovation

kitchen reno after - island

Not wanting to move, but still needing a more functional kitchen, we decided it was time to complete the kitchen project and do what we should have done nine years ago. Also, to be perfectly honest, after seeing so many fabulous kitchens in Del Ray through this blog, I’ve had a bit of renovation envy. I wanted a kitchen I could love.

So here’s the plan. We’re adding a 3-foot peninsula between the kitchen and dining room for additional workspace and storage. The peninsula will extend 2 feet around the small wall that holds ducts and water lines. We will also move the wall around the fridge 3 feet into the living room. This will enable more than one person to work in the kitchen and widen the space that leads to the basement.


We spent the weekend before the crew arrived last Monday emptying the kitchen. After moving the fridge into the dining room, here was the kitchen the morning of demo. The new peninsula cabinets and countertop will match the existing ones on the opposite wall. We spent a good chunk of change adding those in our earlier reno, so we didn’t want that to go to waste. We’re also keeping the appliances but buying a larger fridge to fit the new space.


And here’s what we came home to that night. The contractors built a temporary wall around the work area, covered with plastic with a zipper to go in and out. The wall helps minimize dust and keeps curious children safe from construction tools and debris.



Here’s the scene from inside the box. On day one, the crew removed the old linoleum tiles and tore down the wall around the fridge.




On day two, they rerouted the ducts inside the old wall, framed the new wall and removed the old subfloor. If you looked through the floor boards you’d see the laundry room below. In order to route the ducts, unexpectedly they had to remove the laundry room ceiling.



On days 3-5, more progress came with a new white subway tile backsplash and a gray wide-planked tile floor. The crew also added three recessed lights to replace the semi-flush mount light (it put off awful light), re-wired the electrical in the new refrigerator wall and installed the cabinets for the peninsula.



In all, the project is supposed to take three weeks. Here’s the to-do list for this coming week:

  • Add the finishing touches to the cabinets.
  • Measure the cabinets for the new counters.
  • Schedule an inspection with the city for the electrical work.
  • Hang drywall.
  • Tear down the temporary black box!


On week three the new counter will be installed and the walls will be ready for paint. I still haven’t figured out the color, but that’s the one part we will do ourselves (color suggestions are more than welcome!). I’m also considering wallpaper or a stencil to mimic wallpaper. Finally, we’ll move the pot racks from the basement door to the wall to the right of the stove.


I’ll be back next week with more progress. In the meantime, if you have a renovation project (DIY or non-DIY) to share on the blog, please let us know!


  1. Wow! It’s going to be great! I always thought the trickiest part of the classic Del Ray townhouse was working around the fridge placement so it didn’t feel like you were entering a cave when you headed to the basement. I bet that 3′ of flush square footage you gained will transform the kitchen. Question, when you completed the first renovation, did you add drawers underneath the upper cabinets above the sink and dishwasher? Is that what the fronts that are there are for?

    • We’re already seeing a huge improvement without the fridge there. There was probably less than a foot between it and the stove which made it especially tricky to get downstairs with a laundry basket. Dinnertime was always hectic — one person trying to cook, someone else wants to get in the fridge. Yes, those are drawers! People tell me it’s odd but we didn’t have anywhere else to put them since we didn’t install a peninsula. The dishwasher took the space formerly reserved for drawers. The other thing we didn’t do before was add hardware to the cabinets/drawers so we’ll probably add those this time.

      • I’ve never seen drawers mounted like that before but you should pat yourself on the back because that is some small-space genius right there.

        • Haha, thanks Joanna! The one issue is I’m 5’3 and when I don’t wear shoes, I need to stand on my tippy toes to see inside the drawers. I’m sure the next owner of this house will look at them and think WTF but we’ll enjoy the storage space for now :)

  2. I’ve seen drawers like that more recently and seen people using them for knives or objects they want to keep out of little hands reach. pretty smart!! I love the reno, it looks really great!

  3. Can I ask who you used for your renovation? We’re looking to have some work done on our little Del Ray kitchen.

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