My 2021 Kitchen Remodel

I’m so excited to share my major project for 2021 – our kitchen remodel.  While I work in the kitchens of other people all the time, it’s going to be fun to do some great work on my own home this year.   And when I say remodel, I mean remodel.  I’ve painted the cabinets (twice), and lived with the finishes since we bought the house 10 years ago, and it’s been fine.  However, I just don’t like the finishes, and can’t make it the kitchen that I really want without investing some money.

The Current Situation

This is an old photo – lots has changed since this photo was taken.  I’ve repainted the walls (and cabinets), but you get the general layout.

We contemplated replacing the floors, counters, backsplash, and redoing the ugly hood tile situation (it reminds me of the Pyramids for some reason).  But those are big $$ investments in and of themselves.  Then we got to talking about the layout, and how I really don’t love it.  Everything is on an angle, the island is small, and while it’s nice to have an island with a sink (which we do use), it’s just not big enough.  And in looking at the blueprints for our house, the island wasn’t even in the original plan.  This brought us to the conclusion that if we’re going to make these changes, we should go all in and do a full remodel.

The Plan

“Full remodel” means that this whole project is spilling over to include much of our main floor.  The tile (a very porous travertine, which I would not recommend because it always looks dirty), carries through our kitchen, breakfast nook, entry, dining room, laundry room and powder room.  It’s everywhere.  You can see that when I say that we’ve considered replacing the floors, that’s a huge undertaking.  It’s also in part what brought us to doing a remodel vs. keeping the existing footprint.  We want to open up the walls into the great room, and essentially eliminate the cabinets that run to the left of the range top (and move the range top as well), replacing it with a huge island.

Here is one of the design mockups I have, to give you an idea of what we’re planning.  I know the clarity isn’t the best, but hopefully you can see my vision.  And as you might expect, things have already changed from this plan…

Here is what has changed so far:

  • Originally, we considered raising the ceiling to 10 feet, but decided to keep them nine feet and take the cabinets to the ceiling.  I think once the kitchen is opened up, and the cabinets go to the ceiling, it will feel less boxed in like it does now (compared to the rest of our main level).
  • Instead of adding in a wall oven and convection microwave/oven, we’re going with a 48″ range.  I like the aesthetic of keeping the cabinet wall clean and “uncluttered”, if that makes sense.  Especially since we’re opening up the wall.
  • I should mention that the first rendition of these plans didn’t include cabinets along the left wall.  In seeing those plans on paper, it proved that there is such a thing as having things “too open”.  The wall will give a bit of separation, plus some additional functional cabinetry.
  • Also, just as a clarification, we are doing away with our breakfast nook since we rarely use it, and it feels like a lot of wasted space.  Instead, we’re adding a wine/beverage fridge, and planning on making it the spot for coffee.  We’re going to add some comfy chairs and make it more of a place to chill out and relax.  We still have our dining room for sit down dinners, but more often than not, we seem to find ourselves eating at our breakfast bar, and the current setup lends itself to that as well.

The Floors

This flooring conundrum extends into our great room, where we already replaced the carpet with hardwood floors.  Now that everything is going to be open, we want the flooring to be continuous and to flow throughout the main floor.  We had originally planned on refinishing the existing hardwoods, but after much time, thought and research, we’re planning on replacing them with what we really want.  Since our floors are hand scraped and pre-finished, much of the charm and character of the hardwoods would be lost in refinishing.  And, we would be hard pressed to match them.  Since we have such a large swath of flooring that needs to be replaced anyway (and we’re no longer raising the ceiling), new floors are on the agenda.  Honestly, I’m as excited about this as I am about the remodel itself.  This is going to change the whole look and feel of the main floor, and I can’t wait.

Here is the direction I’m leaning with the floors…

This floor is from Bellacera.  It’s a wide plank aged French Oak and it’s beautiful.  

This one is from Mullican Flooring, White Oak in Seashell.

This is also Mullican Flooring – White Oak in Vienna.

It’s a big decision, so as you might guess, I have started bringing in the flooring samples, and anticipate a lengthy deliberation process.


You would think with as much as I’m in other people’s kitchens, that I would have this nailed down right away.  No sir.  Now that we’ve decided to replace all of the floors, it’s opened up all sorts of options in terms of cabinet/island color.  I can tell you for certain the cabinet style that I like though.  Inset cabinet doors.

Allow me to illustrate.

See how the doors in this photo are flush with the frames?  That’s what an inset cabinet looks like.  Sometimes people choose to have the hinges show with this style.  In this example, the hinges are hidden (and that’s what I’m leaning toward).  This is also what I’m leaning toward in terms of paint color.  I want something light and beautiful, but I think I’m opting out of white cabinets.  I want something different.

For awhile now, I’ve noticed that I’m drawn to European style kitchen design.  There is something very timeless and elegant about the style, and I want to incorporate that in my own kitchen remodel.  If you want to go down the rabbit hole of gorgeous European kitchen design, look no further than Humphrey Munson.  Their kitchens are new, but they feel like they’ve been there forever.  

Their attention to detail is impeccable.  And their cabinet hardware is just beyond beautiful.

And they have some seriously amazing pantries in their portfolio.

Large Kitchen Island

We’re trading in our tiny island for a big island, and that feels like a big decision.  Do I go with the same color as the perimeter cabinets, or change it up?  If I change it up, do I go with a painted or stained finish?  I’m leaning toward doing something different than the color of the perimeter cabinets, but I’m not sure if I want to go with a painted or stained finish.  They both have their own appeal.

The warmth of a stained island has a timeless appeal, and I love the warmth that it brings.  Plus, the combination of stained and painted wood is just a beautiful mix.

This is another beautiful look.  Don’t even get me started on the pairing with those moody bookcases.  Love it.

The thing I like about a painted island is that it’s another way to bring color into the space – especially when you’re dealing with a more open floor plan.  The kitchen below is really a trifecta – painted cabinets in more than one color and the warmth of beams above – beautiful.  Take note – the counters are quartzite – more on counters in the next section.


While I know that quartz is all the rage right now, and perhaps I’ll find a slab that I can’t live without.  But in general, I don’t feel drawn to quartz.  It feels a bit too cold and dare I say, generic in most cases.  Not all of the quartz you see looks generic, but it doesn’t always feel natural in the way a natural stone does.  This reminds me of something I saw under the microscope in high school biology.

I really love the look and feel of natural stone.  But I realize I need to be practical.  Sure, who doesn’t love a beautiful honed marble?  But is it practical?  From what I’ve read, no.  For me, I think the middle ground may lie with quartzite.  A natural stone with the look and feel that I love in marble (see my photo above where I mentioned quartzite).

Here is a slab that I spotted while looking at options for a friend’s kitchen.  It’s a honed quartzite called Blanco Supiriore, and it is just stunning.  Not too busy, but not too generic looking either.

Lots and lots of decisions to be made in this process (and I haven’t even talked about appliances), and it’s overwhelming at times to say the least.  Luckily, my remodel doesn’t start until June, so I have plenty of time to dwell and obsess about things in the meantime.  It’s something to look forward to this year, and I think we all need more of that in life right now.

Do you have any big house projects in the works this year?  I’m looking forward to sharing more of this 2021 kitchen remodel project as we get things narrowed down.  It’s going to be stressful, exciting and rewarding all at once.



  • Reply
    January 11, 2021 at 9:36 am

    Do be careful with the size of your island. I live in a new build with a huge island and I actually find it TOO big; I can’t reach across to pass food to my kids when they’re sitting in the stools. Perhaps try a reach test to see how deep you want your island.

    • Reply
      January 11, 2021 at 2:23 pm

      That’s a good point Stacey. I think in our first rendition, the island was too big. I will definitely add that to my list!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    I completely understand your dilemma as I can walk into anyone’s house and know what they should do to renovate it, but with my own, it’s so much harder!

    Love the last of the floors best, we are trending away from greys into warmer tones and that one is quite timeless. No hinges showing for sure. Island should be a different colour or stained wood in my opinion. Upper cabinets should always go to the ceiling (again in my opinion) or else it’s a waste of storage space and a gathering spot for dust. Big island is great, but good point Stacey made about it not being too big. I don’t like sinks other than a prep sink in an island and no cooktop for sure. Love your quartzite choice! Nice to have a colour other than white for the cupboards, but still something light. That wooden pantry is gorgeous, but I could not cover it with doors as it should be seen. Great idea to get rid of the breakfast area as no one needs three different places where they could eat. Counter and dining room are plenty.

    Aren’t you glad you asked for feedback? Oh wait, did you ask for feedback?!? Sorry, you got it anyway 🙂

    • Reply
      January 11, 2021 at 2:24 pm

      I always like hearing what people think, especially since this is my first serious remodel. I am jumping into uncharted territory!

  • Reply
    January 11, 2021 at 2:46 pm

    Love those wood ceilings.

  • Reply
    Mark Walter
    January 11, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    What design software did you use for the mockup above?

    • Reply
      January 11, 2021 at 6:06 pm

      That came from the kitchen designer.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2021 at 5:30 pm

    I agree about island size. In my own home, I asked for the biggest island possible when building. Plus it has no appliances on it…I ended up with an 8’x4’ island of bare empty counter (hello craft space!) I loved it in every way possible, but one! My layout is different than yours, in that my traffic flow is between a second bank of cabinets and my island. We quickly discovered that when someone was seated at the island, it cut off traffic flow, forcing guests to travel through the living room to get from one end of my kitchen to the other, or to get into the dining room. It also prevented me from rummaging through those cabinet…which is where serving pieces are stored. I recently did a smaller renovation which included new floors, and I decreased the size of my island to 8 x3’ at the same time. I didn’t loose storage, but we no longer have seating at my island. I don’t miss it, because we have more than enough seating elsewhere. Guests still stand there and interact while I cook, and the empty counter space makes a great buffet! Excited to see where this renovation takes you!

  • Reply
    January 12, 2021 at 8:10 pm

    Excited to follow your progress. We are considering the pros and cons right now. The tail wagging the dog is that we hate our current range/cooktop which is electric in our large island with no vent. (I know, probably not up to code. Previous owners did this). We want gas and need a vent, so unless we purchase one with a downdraft I’m afraid we’ll be moving things around. It could be a very expensive new stove!

  • Reply
    Stacy A
    January 19, 2021 at 11:04 am

    I’m local in Dayton and would love any recommendations on a kitchen designer and contractor. We are looking to plan our kitchen remodel and looking for reputable contractors. Can’t wait to follow along on your remodel.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2021 at 3:24 pm

      I’m working with Bob Kniess as my contractor and Refined Cabinetry as my cabinet maker. I have done work with Bob personally, and have seen the quality of his crew and his work, and most importantly, I trust him! I have also seen the work from Refined Cabinetry, and am really excited to bring their cabinets into my own home. I have two other friends who are going to be working with Refined Cabinetry as well. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 14, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    Love all of the inspo photos! What color do you think you will choose for hardware? We are redoing our kitchen currently and originally I was thinking gold but now I’ve seen a few with polished nickel that I love..

    • Reply
      February 28, 2021 at 7:03 pm

      I haven’t gotten that far in my head yet for the hardware. I’m considering a brushed brass, but I think it’s going to depend on who counters we end up choosing. All of these small, but big decisions!

  • Reply
    March 20, 2021 at 7:10 am

    Can you share your budget? I would really like to know what things actually cost. We are doing a renovation and received a quote for a quartzite for our countertops at $30k. Is that realistic when white carrara would be $7k?

    • Reply
      March 23, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      Our budget started out at one number, but seems to have grown as our project has expanded (specifically, the flooring throughout the main floor). As for the quartzite – did you say $30K?!? That sounds like someone added a zero where they shouldn’t have. Our quartzite counters are comparable in price to quartz.

  • Reply
    March 23, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you- I needed to hear that. I wasn’t sure if everyone doing kitchen renovations with real atone were spending that much money. Perhaps we need to go to a different fabricator all together.

  • Reply
    Sue Brinkmeier
    May 18, 2021 at 9:15 pm

    Is your dog a Duck Tolling Retriever?
    Also, your renovation is going to be beautiful!

    • Reply
      May 23, 2021 at 3:46 pm

      We adopted our pup through a rescue, but we’re thinking he might be a duck tolling retriever (or at least have some of that in him!). Thanks for your kind words – I keep telling myself it’s going to be great when it’s all done!

  • Reply
    Joanne Chavonne
    January 7, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    I am trying to find a source near me (Fayetteville NC) for the Blanco Supiriore Quartzite. Everytime is search it takes me to bianco superiore quartzite. Are they the same?

    • Reply
      January 10, 2023 at 3:21 pm

      I believe they are different. I thought that myself – they may be similar, but from what I saw, they are actually two different names. I have Bianco Supiriore.

  • Reply
    June 24, 2023 at 7:43 pm

    Hi! What is the size of the finished island?

    • Reply
      June 27, 2023 at 11:24 am


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