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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sista's Fabulous Kitchen Renovation

Hello, dear friends.  I have a very special treat for you today.  Sista did a kitchen renovation over the Summer and I have been pleading, begging, blackmailing, and bribing her to do a post about it.  Evidently, something worked.  I wish I knew which one so I could do it again.

Sista and her Mista and two sons live in a beautiful home in Connecticut.  You can read past posts about her home and  her flair for entertaining herehere here and here.

Without further ado, please welcome my Sista.


The previous owner of our 1810 house told us that our kitchen was featured in House and Garden magazine in the 1970s.  Apparently, the owner at the time was a graphic designer and bartered with the mag to redo her kitchen.  Her husband enjoyed cooking and insisted on commercial appliances (before people were putting them in their kitchens). 

When touring the house fourteen years ago these appliances somehow overshadowed the salmon walls and globe lights leftover from the 1970’s.  The Garland stove (same model as Julia’s)…

….and the Traulsen refrigerator sold my husband on the house. Before we knew it, we were the proud owners of a 200 year old money pit.

Before moving in, we did a partial reno of the kitchen and adjacent butlers pantry – leaving all the original cabinets.  The renovation included replacing old wallpaper, painting the cabinets,  hanging new lighting and laying reclaimed barn wood on the linoleum floors that covered the original wood flooring (they couldn’t be touched because of the presence of lead…oh the joys of an old house).

While our old vintage kitchen had a certain charm, and we have many great memories, 14 years was long enough to live with cabinets that were older than me (and perhaps even older than Sista!).

Time to renovate!

I knew exactly what I wanted:  floor to ceiling white subway tiles with dark grout, white cabinets open shelving and black window frames.  I was going for an industrial/chef’s kitchen kind of vibe with a French touch.  I wanted to try and keep the original stainless steel countertops that I love and would be a fortune to replace.

We began by getting bids from contractors and found that not only was our budget off (by about 100%), but some of the contractors would not even bid on the project.  Many did not want to risk putting subway tile over wallpaper.  Removing it was just too big a job (apparently, there is no shortage of work in the Litchfield Hills).

While meeting with a carpenter one day – I had a Joanna Gains moment …. SHIPLAP!!!  My carpenter initially did not know what I was talking about, but when I showed him pictures he said it was doable – and we could still use the subway tile sparingly.

To keep the budget down I decided to act as the GC and hire everyone individually – I expected I was asking for trouble, but believe it or not, in the end it was a good decision – it went pretty smoothly and we estimate we saved about $20,000.

So here is the quick tour of the finished product.  It is probably not Houzz-worthy, but I must say I really love it.

A big change was replacing the farm table with a round table.   Sista can tell you I am obsessed with round tables.  To accommodate the new table, we needed to cut down the bench that we had put in 10 years ago.

 In doing so, I decided to make a sleeping area for the dogs which has worked out great.

Well only sometimes.

I knew I wanted comfy armchairs and looked all over the flea markets.  I finally found these, they were only $100 each – but they were yellow.

They were like new – it seemed such a waste to reupholster them, so I thought I would try to paint them.  I painted the frames first.

And then I painted the fabric.

I used Annie Sloan’s chalk paint, and stenciled them for a grain sack look.  It seemed like a crazy idea so I was fully prepared to have to reupholster them, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well they came out.  I was concerned that the fabric would feel stiff – which it did until I sanded it. Now the finish is soft – no one can believe they are painted!  I stenciled them with our house number and date.

Salvaging the stainless steel counter caused a little drama. My husband called me on a business trip to say that our dramatic   carpenter was concerned that the replacement of the countertop on the new cabinets might end up crushing them.   No problem – only thousands of dollars and another eight weeks, Well, we took the risk and we are glad that we did.

The dramatic carpenter also did not think he would be able to drill directly into the tile for the open shelving…. But if there is a will there is a way.

The one thing that didn’t work as planned was that I had envisioned using an old beam to hang over the sink for my copper collection.  We bought the beam, and for a myriad of reasons it didn’t work out, but I actually like the way the pots look against the brick over the stove.

In the original kitchen, we had 3 doors lined up – one to the upstairs, one to the pantry and one to the basement. I decided that barn doors would give us a lot more space and delegated the construction to my mister (not historically handy) and my # 2 (handier).  They thought I was crazy – but guess what?  With some instructions from the carpenter, they did it… and are so damn proud of themselves!  The chalkboards are great for grocery lists and messages.

Now… to the room we call the butler’s pantry.  Originally I wanted marble counter tops, but opted for butcher block to save cha-ching.  I must say I like them at least as much and maybe more for this room. 

Here we kept the original cabinets painting the bottom cabinets a high-gloss black and the top cabinets semi-gloss white.  I decided to go with un-lacquered brass hardware.

OK – so this is what I am particularly proud of:  I had the carpenter take out the panels of one of the cabinets so I could replace them with glass.  I then etched the glass with a bee/ fleur de lis pattern – it is hard to see in the picture, but it came out way better than I thought it would.  Who knew?

We also replaced an antique ice box (original to the house that actually had an external door in which the ice man would place the ice) with a wine fridge and my very favorite thing in my new kitchen…….  an ice maker!  (Sista does not get this obsession I have with clear ice!)

I think the butler’s pantry is my favorite part of the renovation.  Now all that I need is a butler.

Finally, in a Chip and Joanna moment, we decided to ship lap the ceiling of the kitchen and painted them semi-gloss (walls are satin).  Glad we did this as the light reflects nicely.

Etsy, paypal and I became very close through this renovation.  The lazy susan, hand painted fabric for the bench, barn door handles and light switch plates are just a few of the things that I found on etsy. 

So that is it – my kitchen.  It may not be perfect, but it is a reflection of me and it is our new happy place. 

Thank you dear Sista, for a fabulous post.  Remind me to put an extra little something in your Christmas stocking this year.

Linking up with: 
Home Sweet Home
Friday Favorites
Foodie Friday & Everything Else

Preppy Empty Nester
Preppy Empty Nester

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Feel free to contact me through comments and email. I love to hear from my readers!


  1. Wow!! Absolutely beautiful! How do you two decide where to spend the holidays? You both have stunning kitchens! Thanks for giving us a peek into your home!

  2. Your SISTAH did a fantastic job. It looks great and I am glad she stood firm on insisting on doing things the way she wanted them done. There is nothing worse than getting talked into something and then disliking it for years. We have rehabbed 15 (17-but didn't live in two of them) and I have acted as general contractor on the last 10 or 11 houses. It is so satisfying to see your ideas and dreams come to fruition and I can see that is exactly what happened fo ryour sister. Love it! Tell her THANKS for sharing!!! xo Diana

  3. I love the reno but I am looking for a butler like the one on Southern Charm!!( my guilty pleasure.) I have thought of painting some fabric as well. I have some bar stools that the grands have RUINED. I hate reupholstering so I may be borrowing this idea.

  4. FABULOUS kitchen! I love it, and am storing away inspiration!

  5. Gorgeous kitchen! So impressed that Sistah acted as her own GC. She did a fabulous job on painting the chairs. She is now ready to open her own Etsy shop.

  6. I love so many things about that kitchen from colours, to light fixtures, to ceiling... I even love how she etched the glass. Very impressive! -Jenn

  7. Looks wonderful, and I love the shiplap on the ceiling! I have been general contractor on two houses we have built and it does save money! Plus you know what you are getting. she

  8. Oh my gosh it's gorgeous!! i love it! You girls are super crafty : )

  9. Katie,
    your sista is so talented, she did a great job renovating her kitchen! Her painting and stenciling of her chairs is amazing along with the etching on the cabinet doors. Glad she did things her way, sometimes "we" know best as to what "we" want which may not be what "they" try to talk us into!

  10. Katie- I am so glad you shared this with us . Your Sista's 'voice' is just like yours.Her kitchen looks like a place where great cooking goes on.
    How much fun.
    I have know my share of dramatic carpenters so I know what that is like.
    Please tell her thank you!

  11. Katie, glad you got Sista to share this story. Beautiful kitchen! The stainless counters look fabulous as do all the special details. It's a big job to be the GC, but it makes a difference. Sista did a great job!

  12. Wow! There are so many things I love about your Sista's kitchen! The semi-gloss ship lap ceiling, the etched glass cabinet doors, the chairs! I actually thought the chairs had been upholstered with vintage/antique grain sacks. I've always wondered if fabric paint felt scratchy or transferred onto your clothes, skin, etc. Sista was so very resourceful, and like her, I am no stranger to Etsy either. I plan to return many times to this post for ideas and inspiration, and when I'm ready to do my own kitchen reno/remodel. Great post!

  13. It's wonderful!! Everything about it! I love those barn doors, the chandelier over the island, the bee pattern...I could go on and on. So glad Sista shared. :)

  14. Fabulous! Sista, your etched glass doors and the glossy ceiling are my favorites!

  15. Wow! I am so impressed by this huge undertaking and Sista's skills. I never would have thought of painting and stenciling dining room chairs. And the glass etching is just beautiful. I love the whole look. Does she post DIY tutorials on Youtube?

  16. Beautiful!! Well done sista! Love the etched glass. Actually, I love everything.

  17. Awesome, I'm pinning. Would your sister be able to share her story about painting the cabinets? Did she do it herself? Hire a professional and was there a special process? I'm decorating a family room now that's open to the kitchen and we're debating painting or replacing the cabinets. Thanks to you and your sister for sharing!

  18. Katie your sister's taste is as impeccable as yours! What a gorgeous space! I love her can-do spirit! Those chair are amazing and the barn doors divine! Thanks for the tour!

  19. This was an absolute JOY! I adore all of it! Your darling sista' had a vision and boy, did it transform the kitchen into a showstopper! I would love to prepare dinner in her kitchen! BRAVO!!!!

  20. Katie you have a very talented sister. I am so impressed etching glass! Wowza!

  21. Wow!!! It looks fabulous! Your sista did a wonderful job! Does she hire out?? Love everything -- painting the chair fabric --who knew you could do such a thing? So beautiful!

    Have a great weekend!

  22. I love the painted fabric on the chair ♥

  23. Oh my - Love the barn doors with the chalkboard.. so perfect!!


    WHY do HER DOGS look like YOUR DOGS!!!!!!!!!!!!
    DO you two have the same MUTTS?
    BEAUTIFUL CUCINA......and I am SO IMPRESSED with her HANDY WORK!Painted chairs and etched GLASS.............WOW!NOT to be forgotten the STENCILING!!!!!!!ANOTHER WOW!
    SISTA.............YOU are ONE TALENTED DAME!

  25. Yippie! The comments are working for me now!

    I thought I was going to do the happy dance at the doggie hide-away, but then I saw the painted chairs and did a double dance of joy! This is such a comfy and elegant style and I love it!

    Thanks for jumping in on Katie's blog!

  26. I love the chairs and the white ship lap walls and ceiling. A lovely space to live in!

  27. My in-laws home also had stainless steel counter tops which proved to be a big selling point when they sold their home several years ago. They loved telling the story when lightening came straight through the kitchen door and hit the counter while my mother-in-law stood there in shock! And to this day, the counter still shows the mark and the new owners pass on the story!
    Sista's home is beautiful and I love her style. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. OMG! What a story! Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

  28. Incredibly gorgeous! I don't know where to begin but the painting of the chairs and the etching of the glass are amazing on their own! There is so much to love about this kitchen and the shiplap, open shelving, doors...are all so perfect! Love, love, love it all!

  29. I love seeing the dark window frames like I have it really lets nature right in, this turned out fabulous you give her a two thumbs up from me!! XO K

  30. I love every inch of this fabulous reno! What a warm, welcoming and functional kitchen -- I could just move in tomorrow!

  31. Really fun story, I love DIY, white cabinets and subway tile. Someday....

  32. Love your Sista's kitchen renovation, the white with black accents! It really works with the style of the home. I have an idea for the toaster oven and microwave area: separate the two appliances with a rectangular basket of pretty black and white linens to add a touch of softness to that area.

  33. Wow - Sista is a seriously talented decorator and DIY-er! It is stunning! xoxo

  34. Now I want to visit Sista's home, too! What an amazing kitchen redesign - so warm and inviting. I love the copper pots, butler's pantry, subway tile, etching on the glass cabinet fronts, barn doors...love it all!! Happy weekend to you both ~

  35. The renovation came out fabulous. And that was a good idea to act as your own contractor. I may need to borrow some of your ideas. Oh and I also love the etched glass.

  36. Wow is that ever pretty...love her vision and that she kept the integrity/character of the home intact while adding all the creature comforts we all "need":) As lovely as she is, talent and good taste runs rampant in the gene pool for sure!

  37. This is seriously amazing! I love every single thing about it. We are in the early stages of kitchen reno planning. Early stages = I'm planning to do it, husband is not.

  38. Absolutely every detail is inspiring. Y'all have given me reason to consider adding some Joanna Gaines chic to my home!

  39. How fabulous!! Very nice indeed! Thank you for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  40. I love the etched glass. Such fabulous attention to detail, I would never leave that kitchen and my envy knows no bounds over the Garland. Bon Appetit!

    annie g

  41. I will feature this today at Home Sweet Home! On second look I decided this looks like a Nancy Meyers movie set. Some of the best design in Hollywood! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  42. The kitchen renovation has had wonderful results. I sincerely hope you enjoy it for many years to come.

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