Even though our kitchen is outdated (it was last renovated in the mid 1990s), it has good bones and there’s a lot we like about it. We have an ongoing list of ideas for major upgrades, most of which we plan to do ourselves in stages, starting next year sometime. But for now, we’ve made several smaller changes around the kitchen to make it a little more functional.
Ours is a galley-style kitchen that leads from the dining room into the breakfast nook. The motherlode of cabinet space is one of the first things we noticed (and liked) when we viewed the house. These cabinets were custom-built for one of the previous owners, and the cabinet doors and drawer fronts are natural solid wood with some kind of light varnish on top that’s kept them in good condition for the last 20+ years.
Some of the cabinets even have pullout drawers inside that make it easy to access things far in the back. But we noticed that these were not treated with any kind of surface protection, and some of them looked a little worn.
So John took them all out and brought them down to the basement for a coat of clear polywhey, which is a natural low-VOC wood finish that seals and protects wood just like a more conventional varnish. We’ve used this product before and really liked the results.
The finished drawers will hold up to any stains or spills that might happen in the pantry.
Another update we made was to the kitchen sink. The sink itself – stainless steel, double basin – is in good condition, so we won’t replace that for a while. But the faucet was another story. An too-short, old-white-plastic-with-mystery-residue story.
Since the sink has a stainless steel finish and we plan to upgrade our various white appliances (one day) to stainless steel ones, we wanted a coordinating kitchen faucet. So we went faucet-hunting one weekend and found this one at Home Depot. It’s much more functional and its tall shape fits proportionally in front of the greenhouse window. So far it’s been a fantastic faucet experience.
But our biggest kitchen update has been a new dishwasher! The dishwasher that came with the house was old and broken, so we removed it soon after closing and started researching new ones. We never took a specific picture of the old dishwasher, but you can see it a little in the photo below. All I remember is it was white and from KitchenAid (all of our existing kitchen appliances are KitchenAid).
Since I do a lot of cooking, and we are two working parents with a hungry toddler, we accumulate dirty dishes in our family very quickly. Having a working dishwasher frees up time for us to tackle other house projects instead of washing dishes by hand for hours. And since John has official dish duty in our household, he was especially eager to find us a new machine.
We considered several different avenues, including finding a good used dishwasher from Craigslist, or buying a reconditioned one with a few dings but otherwise functioning well. In the end, we happened upon a good deal on a brand new Bosch at Lowe’s, so we ordered it online and had it delivered, but not installed. John decided to do the installation himself.
Here’s the space where the dishwasher goes. We discovered some previous floor tile underneath the current flooring when John removed the old dishwasher.
It took several hours, but John figured out how to hook everything up (even with our old plumbing and weird electrical connections) and the dishwasher runs like a dream – basically, it’s quiet and it gets our dishes nice and clean. Aesthetically, it’s got both a stainless steel exterior and interior, and we decided on a model with a recessed handle instead of the outwardly-curving bar handle – our toddler likes to go through the kitchen opening and closing all the lower cabinet doors, and the recessed handle keeps her from including the dishwasher in that routine.
These updates were mostly functional, but there are a lot of design/color/surface renovations on the horizon. Our future plans for the kitchen include:
- more stainless steel appliances: refrigerator/freezer, gas range/oven, microwave
- replacing the white laminate countertop with something nicer and darker (granite, or quartz, or maybe soapstone)
- changing out the current 4-inch backsplash tiles with subway tiles
- hanging our pot rack over the sink
- putting cork flooring over the existing vinyl floor
- removing the wallpaper and painting the walls
- painting the cabinets white (or maybe two-toned?) and getting new hardware
- installing curtains for the window above the sink
- replacing the track lighting with ANYTHING else!
Which one should we tackle next?