A Completed Cottage Kitchen

First off, sorry it’s been such a long time between updates!  We’ve been busy with client remodel work, which we’re grateful for.  Between work, kids, and all of the end of school year craziness, blog posts have been put on the back burner.  But, we have a few projects we’ve wrapped up and can now share, along with others we’re just starting.  Without further ado, here’s the finished cottage.

Remember the cramped kitchen before we got to work?  The cabinets were original to the house, with the soffit taking up valuable useful space.  Finishes were dated and slowly falling apart.


Now, with the wall removed and fresh white cabinets taken to the ceiling, the room feels twice as big.


Before, the range was crammed into a corner with a tiny cabinet and little working counter space.


By centering the range between two cabinets, there’s twice as much work space.  The additional cabinet space easily accommodates cooking essentials while balancing this side of the kitchen.


In a small home, maximizing space is crucial.  Previously, the wall dividing the kitchen and dining room cramped both rooms.

Cottage Kitchen from Hall Before

With the wall out, flow between is so easy, making both spaces are more functional.  Moving the dishwasher directly next to the sink allows space for two drawer stacks.



Taking a step back, it’s easier to see how dramatically the wall removal opened up the little space.


Continuing the hardwood floors into the kitchen also helps the rooms feel larger without the visual breakup.



New trim and paint were quick and affordable upgrades to the remaining rooms, blending well with the new kitchen.


With all of the neutrals, the colorful tile stands out just as we wanted.  It’s fun, but not overwhelming.



We love the finished rooms, but what really matters is what our clients think.  After all, they’re the ones living in the home.


They’re over the moon, thrilled at how much bigger and more open the home looks, feels, and functions.


No more shimmying to get out of the dining room.  More light, both natural streaming between the rooms and from added recessed cans.  Loads more cabinet space and personality to boot.

Cottage Kitchen Progress

Back at the beginning of the year, we started working on a kitchen remodel in a small 1940’s cottage.  The kitchen was small, but didn’t maximize the space.

A wall between the dining room and kitchen divided the already cramped rooms, making both feel even smaller.


A soffit held the cabinets down one foot, which is valuable real estate in a little kitchen.  The original cabinets had seen better days.  Dated finishes on every surface, with a hodge podge of decades of updates.


Removing the load bearing wall was the first order of business.  In order to support the load above, a beam with a header at door height divides the two spaces.


Though the layout didn’t change drastically, boasts more storage and a balanced layout. The open door frame at the back leads to a back entrance as well as the stairs to the basement.


Now, the range sits centered between cabinets, rather than awkwardly tucked against the wall.  A microwave doubles as a vent hood, saving valuable counter space.


Before, this was the view from the hall:

Cottage Kitchen from Hall Before

Now, it’s open, bright, and cheery.


To bring a little cottage charm into the otherwise neutral kitchen, we went with a colorful back splash tile.


From that back landing, this was the dreary view:


Now, the white cabinets look fresh and clean, simple black hardware add a touch of contrast.


The tile is still missing grout, but it was such a fun addition I had to share.


A few cabinet doors were damaged in shipping, so we’re waiting on the replacements, then a few little touch ups to wrap up this kitchen, so stay tuned for more.  Until then, what’s your favorite way to brighten up a kitchen?

Closet Configurations

With all of the major projects finished in our house, I’m hoping to turn our attention to the smaller tasks.  Assuming we have the time and desire between client remodels.  The biggest to do is updating our master closet.  When we moved in, I was thrilled to have a walk in closet, but it was a bit beat up and seemed to have a lot of storage.


I painted the shelving white and the walls a fun teal color before moving our stuff in.  It certainly has plenty of space for our needs, but not the greatest for our needs.


While I love the shelving stacks, the shelves aren’t adjustable, leaving big gaps.


The flooring is also cheap commercial like carpet tiles, which I’d love to replace with hardwood floors to flow seamlessly.  Replacing the flooring would require tearing out the current shelving, so I’ve been planning what I would like to change, and here’s what I’ve come up with:


The double hanging rods are great, so we’re keeping that set up.  A tall center stack to divide our sides is also really nice.  I’d like to widen the center tower, adding a tilt out hamper to the bottom.  Shelving with an adjustable track above will allow us to store shoes within easy reach, not in bins along the top shelf.  I’d also like to add a shelf above each hanging bar.


Each end of the closet is currently set up with a shelf stack.  Again, it’s good storage, but not great.


Drawers on the lower 36 inches to store socks, underwear, folded shirts, and pajamas will be a game changer.  More adjustable shelves above will allow flexible storage, from bins to purses to seasonal items.


At 4 feet deep by 11 feet long, there’s not much wiggle room for other configurations, so it’s more about smart solutions.

Apparently it’s closet planning season, because a few weeks after discussing my plan with Ben, I was asked to help plan another closet.  Currently, it’s an unfinished shell with loads of space and potential.


I recommended cabinet doors below the windows, allowing easy access to the deep storage while keeping everything hidden.


It’s a unique shape for a walk in closet, with the option to create zones for different types of storage.  Daily access, seasonal items, and over-sized/infrequently used items.


Daily access items on the far end and right side of the photo below.


The far end would allow for a shelf stack and a spot for long dresses and such.


On the right side, a bigger version of our plan:


I love the combo of stationary and adjustable shelves to maximize storage options.  Shelves can easily be lowered to fit oodles of shoes.  Or raised to accommodate a taller bin for hats or other items.

What are your favorite closet organizing solutions?

Simplifying and Styling a Bookshelf

Last week I shared my thought process for clearing off and painting the bookshelves surrounding the guest bed.  Though the version below was the more calm, neutral styled shelves, it recently started to feel too chaotic.


Normally I don’t think there is such a thing as too many books, but I realized I thrift a lot that look good at the time.  Then, when looking for a book to read, I  decide it doesn’t seem interesting enough and pass it over.


So, when I cleared the shelves, I touched every. single. book and asked myself whether I’d want to read it or not.  If the answer was no, it went in a pile.  If I didn’t like it enough to recommend it, it also went in the donate pile.  Soon enough, I had gotten rid of nearly half of the books.


I had already gone through accessories and have made a strict policy not to buy things on a whim or because I like the clearance price enough to get it.  What we now have is a pared down collection, a pretty equal mix of books to accessories.


When it came time to load everything back on, I first sorted my books into fiction and non fiction, then sub groups like thrillers and biographies.  The left side holds the fiction, while the right is dedicated to non-fiction.  Before adding a single accessory, I put a row of colorful books near the bottom, spines facing up to minimize the color, but still leave the title visible.  From there, I worked my way up, placing groups of books in a zig zag pattern.  This prevents any single area from feeling too heavy, and leaves pockets for accessories later.


With the books in place on one side, I repeated the process on the other, making the sides symmetrical.  Now, time to accessorize!  The shelves at bed height double as nightstands, so I kept those pretty clear.


Each side has a framed black and white photo from trips taken, a small vase with feathers, and something decorative but still useful.  A ceramic tray to collect items and a carafe.  I like that the photos have significance to us, but aren’t overly personal for a guest space.



On the top center shelf, I placed an interesting log to simply fill the space.  On the lower center shelf, I placed a turtle shell in the middle, flanked by a stack of travel books and interesting rocks.


Very few of the accessories are decorative items purchased from a store.  Most are items we’ve collected from various places, from walks around our neighborhood to items collected on trips.  A clear plastic tray holds teeny tiny jars of sand and such, pressed pennies, favorite shells/coral, and little trinkets picked up.  To most people, these are worthless items that cost a few bucks at most.  But to me, they’re priceless reminders of time spent and places visited.


A photo taken by a local artist fills one wall, and I love the view from this bedroom toward ours.


I also love catching peeks as I walk from our boys’ room, spotting a little bit of a fun bit of color.


More than anything, I’m happiest with the breathing room I now feel.  It feels amazing to let go of some things, making what is kept even more noticeable and worthy of space.

Going Green

A week ago, I posed the question on Instagram: To paint, or not to paint the guest bedroom bookshelves.  Here’s how they looked last Friday:


White with lots of items filling the shelves.  This whole paint or not situation started festering in me about six months ago, but I always talked myself out of it.  Not because I didn’t think the change would look great, but because I didn’t want to take the time to clear off the shelves and take the time to paint everything.  So, I made up a quick Photoshop rendering to convey the idea of painting the shelves.


Many on the Instagram poll said yes, but about one-third said no.  I found this inspiration image, which I think better showed my intention to paint than the above Photoshopped design.


I’ve been on a purging kick, so I had already started to clear out unwanted items from the shelves, so I took painting as an opportunity to start fresh.  On Saturday morning, I went to Sherwin Williams with my color, Olive Grove, selected and bought a gallon of the Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel paint.  I started with the backs, before moving onto the rest of it.



The paint is on the thin side, but two coats covered most everything.


I decided to keep the upholstered linen headboard for contrast, but did paint the walls to match.  Just after putting the bed back in place, the sun came out and made it appear much bolder, more Chartreuse on camera:



In actuality, it’s a deeper, muddy, but not too muted olive-green, more accurately shown below:


I love the way the headboard and sconces now stand out against the colored shelves.


Letting fresh paint dry and cure before loading everything back up tends to be the hardest part for me.


In the time I wait to load back up, I’m going through every.single.book and brutally whittling down to only those I truly want to read, have read and would read again or recommend.  My goal is to keep about half, making the shelves appear simpler.