The most commonly asked question from readers is, “where do you store everything?!” After that, are numerous inquires related to my kitchen design and layout. These are prompted by the glimpses seen when I share tablescapes, place settings at the island, and vignettes on the counters. 

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So today, I’m launching a multi-part tour of my remodeled kitchen. I hope to address most questions and satisfy those just a little curious.

Many of us are stuck inside during the winter months. That makes it a great time to think about home projects and improvements for the year ahead. I’m hoping a ‘behind the scenes’ tour might provide some inspiration or ideas for changes small to large to your kitchen design, layout and organization.

This three-part series of posts are not meant to compete with luxury, designer showcase kitchens. But, to show how my remodeled kitchen works in real life — through normal use and wear. I’ll open cabinets and drawers; sharing warts and all. And, I’ll offer a few insights, tips, and suggestions.

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Cabinets Drive Design

It’s been many years since we gutted and remodeled the original builder’s grade kitchen. Hubby and I were just newlyweds when we built our home. Back then, the four-bedroom house seemed grand and empty for just the two of us. Soon the boys were born; going from nursery to their own bedrooms.

Since everything about our home was brand new when we moved in, we spent the first decade primarily furnishing it. Over time, the kitchen and baths became worn and dated. I dreamed of a more open, grander kitchen design and layout; with stainless steel appliances and high-end finishes.

So, we hired a kitchen and bath construction specialist found while attending the annual Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show. There, we fell in love with birch cabinetry in a designer showcase. This was in the days before Pinterest, so I didn’t have a board filled with kitchen design ideas and inspirational photos to work from.

I wish I had before photos of the original kitchen to share. You wouldn’t recognize the place! The remodeled kitchen design and layout has worked and worn extremely well.

Let’s start the kitchen design tour at the table.

Have a Seat at the Table

Here we are in the open kitchen dining area — where you’ve seen many a tablescape. Set on the round glass table are my everyday placemats and napkins.

Going from an oblong wooden table (now in the basement game room) to the round glass, makes for better traffic flow in the tight kitchen design and layout. When more tabletop space is needed for serving pieces and beverages, I simply place them on the adjacent island and countertop.

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From here, you can see the hallway leading to the front door. To the left is the family room with a French Baker’s rack. Part of the remodel was to open up this area, by removing a half wall and ugly spindles between the rooms.

Overhead is the unadorned chandelier, which I frequently decorate for the various seasons, parties and holidays. Here it is in, Bee Decorated Chandelier Compliments HapBEE Birthday Table.

Sometimes Simple is Best

When we redid the kitchen design, the lighting fixture was one of our last choices. Hubby spotted the gray chandelier from a sea of fixtures hanging overhead at the lighting store. It was hard for me to see the forest from the trees!

My initial reaction was that it was kinda of plain and not the wow chandelier I envisioned. That’s when the lighting designer gave me some good advise — every element of interior design shouldn’t be a ta da, or else they’d all be competing for attention.

She and hubby were right. The more neutral gray chandelier, with nice architectural details, blends in well with the kitchen design. As you will see, it also compliments the gray countertop and stainless appliances.

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Nowadays, gray is hot; whether its a modern millennial look or farmhouse chic. Who knew back then?

Shade Sticker Shock

I remember having sticker shock on the cost of shades, and I wasn’t wild about the consultant’s insistence on boring white. Rather than being a kitchen design element, the shades do blend nicely with the low white ceiling above. Especially since I only have 7 1/2 foot ceilings — a feature of my home I’ve gripped about before. 

Before the remodel, we had textured (not popcorn thank goodness!) ceilings. They were all the rage in the 1980’s when we built the house, LOL!  Because we moved the laundry upstairs where two bathrooms were also being remodeled, it was more efficient to just tear the entire ceiling down and replace it. So all the bathrooms on both floors, laundry and kitchen now have smooth ceilings. I wish the entire house did!

Even though I dust the chandelier shades several times a year, they are looking a little dingy these days. Right now, I’m debating replacing them with a black and white check pattern. I think they’d go with the kitchen design elements and most seasonal decorations. But with those low ceilings, maybe I should stick to white? What do you think?

Fabulous Fabric Inspires Kitchen Design Elements

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Behind the table are sliding glass doors leading to our covered porch. Over the doorway is a black fabric valance decorated with a fruit print. There’s a similar, but smaller valance over the kitchen sink. 

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That fabulous fabric became the inspiration for most of the kitchen design elements and decor.

Yes, I was even a Queen of Theme back then!

Mom used the valance fabrics to make rounded edge, reversible placemats and napkins for the kitchen table. To the right is the complimentary check fabric from Fall on the Farm Rooster Table.

Don’t you think a similar check fabric would make nice replacement shades for the chandelier? If I kept the white ones as backup, I could switch them from time to time.

Perfect Plates

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this trio of black, fruit plates. They hang on a pewter plate rack in the corner by the sliding glass doors.

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It’s like the decorative plates were made to match the valance fabric!

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Plus, the metal finish in the plate rack compliments the nearby gray chandelier.

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My open kitchen and dining area actually has very little wall space. Most of the walls are covered with cabinetry. So, what space there is, I added decor, color, and texture that worked with the kitchen design.

Walls are hand-painted with a rag technique (by a professional), using three colors and a bit of pewter metallic luster. That helps to blend the walls, tan cabinets and stainless appliances together in the kitchen design.

Pull Up a Chair

Four painted black chairs decorated with fruit surround the table. A fifth sits directly under the plate rack, in the corner by the sliding doors. It’s convenient for adding a place around the table, or to pull into the family room for extra setting.

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Stripes in the seat upholstery coordinate with colors in the kitchen and family room. 

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I love the sage green and little black stripe in particular. Clay red shades in the fabric are seen in accents around both rooms.

In Rooster Kitchen Decor and Tableware, I shared this wooden rooster and other decor. The glass shelf matches the plate rack.

Across from the rooster is my favorite piece of cabinetry in the entire kitchen design.

Cabinetry Resembles Furniture

Originally, there was a pantry closet that bumped out awkwardly into the room and broke up sight lines. It’s white, sliding metal doors matched the six-panels interior doors around the rest of the house. Inside were white coated-wire shelves.

In a minute, I’ll show you the much larger pantry that replaced that narrow closet. Here’s the birch cabinetry that stands in its place now.

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For some reason, I refer to this floor to ceiling cabinet as a china cupboard. I love that it looks like a free-standing piece of furniture. Adding the ‘feet’ at the bottom is a design trick to give it that appearance. However, the open area underneath does seems to be a magnet for Fibber’s balls — much to his aggravation!

I store alcohol and liqueur in the bottom cabinet of the china; using it for bar storage. A wide drawer holds paper napkins and plates, straws, coasters and odds and ends like a flashlight and matches.

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One of two smaller drawers holds seasonal napkin rings, while the other is filled with wine stoppers and other bar accessories. All nice and handy to the kitchen table and island bar for entertaining.

Glass-Fronted Cabinets for Display

Mostly glassware is stored and displayed on the three heavy-duty glass shelves of the lighted, clear-fronted top cupboard. Can you find the hand-painted, Queen of Hearts goblet from Alice in Wonderland Table and Party Favors?

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Decorative pieces rotate with the season. Muffy and Hoppy’s attire also changes throughout the year. Right now they are dressed for winter sledding and skiing.

You might remember them from Thanksgiving Figures, Pilgrims and Indians Decorate Home. In Patriots Table With Betsy Ross and Paul Revere, I incorporated the pair into the centerpiece.

Tile Floor Conundrum 
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When we built the house, I was frustrated that vinyl flooring was the only option for kitchen and baths. As soon as we could afford it, the ugly builder’s grade vinyl was replaced with 12-inch tiles.

It was challenging, however, choosing a single tile style to extend from the front entry and hallway, throughout the kitchen and eating areas, to the powder room and then first-floor laundry. We would have preferred using two different flooring materials — one for the more formal front of the house vs. another for the back. But, there where no good stop and start places.

Fortunately, we had planned ahead and purchased several additional boxes of the neutral 12-inch tiles. Hubby the engineer had already figured out what would be needed to remodel the kitchen design and layout. Tiles would cover areas where the closet, peninsula and half wall were torn out.

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I’ve never been really happy with the tile. It’s okay, nothing special and now it’s looking it’s age. We plan to replace it and maybe even add a heated floor in the kitchen area. I’d love a black and white pattern, but I’m not sure how that would work with the rest of the first floor.

Squeezing in Decor Elements

Between the door to the basement and dining room are a trio of Italian-made ceramics — peach, apple and cluster of grapes. I brought them home as souvenirs from the medieval town, Orvieto. Perfectly sized to not only fit in my luggage, but also in that narrow strip of wall space!

On the side of the pantry closet hangs my much-loved rooster clock; featured in Rooster Kitchen Decor and Tableware. As I explained, that took some pleading and insistence to get hubby to drill holes into the new cabinetry.

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Beneath the rooster clock is a black and white cow. I rarely use it for its intended purpose as a door stop — just like the way it looks! Surprisingly, it doesn’t impede traffic flow into the adjacent dining room.

In the kitchen design, the ceramic fruit, clock and cow provide some visual interest and pops of color.

Pantry Placement

Here’s a full view of the pantry from the other end of the kitchen island. We initially considered removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room, but decided instead to use that valuable ‘real estate’ for storage.

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Removing a row of cabinets hanging in the middle of the kitchen, plus that half wall to the family room,  already opened up the area considerably.

Behind the Cabinet Doors

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Inside the pantry, the top two shelves are stationary, while the bottom two are pullouts. You probably already know that every pull-out shelf/drawer adds not insignificant cost. But, but boy do they make a ergonomic difference! Our consultant gave good advice to splurge on pullouts for only the lower shelves in the kitchen design.

Looking at this photo I’m a bit embarrassed how messy the inside of the pantry looks! I’ve gotta do some restocking and reorganizing.

Storage Space for the Plate Addict

In the top cabinet, I primarily store dishes and serving pieces. There’s a lot of space in the deep cabinet with three shelves.

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Often-used items, like pasta bowls and white dinner plates, are placed to the front of the lowest shelf for easy access. A few wire racks help to maximize space for dishes that can’t be stacked on top of each other.

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Trays, cookie sheets and the like go on the top shelf above the utility closet. Two dividers create three spaces. I use old pillow cases as dust, scratch and chip protectors. Some storage bags I made myself out of inexpensive flannel. They help to reduce tarnishing with silver plate trays too.

Handy Utility Closet

Underneath is a utility closet; primarily for  cleaning supplies.

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Recyclable bags hang in a detachable stainless basket on the door. Adjacent to the pantry, Monkey Decor Adds Impact to Small Powder Room.

More to Come

In Remodeled Kitchen Design & Layout Tour (Part 2), we get into the main body of the room.

You’ll see my appliances, countertop, backsplash, and cabinetry. I open cupboards and drawers to see how they maximize space or cleverly organize storage.

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