the white and wood kitchen, before and after

If you're new here, welcome! Just to catch you up, we moved to our forever home on 40 acres in rural Nova Scotia last summer, just a few minutes from where I grew up, and are learning a lot while keeping bees and chickens and establishing some gardens. We renovated an old farmhouse, and I had the luxury of designing a new kitchen from (almost) scratch. Since this is the sort of thing that I love to read about others' experiences with and geek out on details, I thought I'd post some before and after pictures for you and tell you about what we chose to do. It's a long one, so grab a cup of tea and settle in. Enjoy!

First, the "befores":

The kitchen before was... sad. The floor sagged (a lot, although you don't see it much in these shots), there were sheets of fake brick print, there was no dishwasher or real place for a stove or fridge, and the bathroom was directly off of the kitchen. I originally intended to keep the existing bank of cupboards where the sink is, but because of some of the changes we would be making (moving the stove to that wall, adding space for the dishwasher and needing to access the inside of the wall for plumbing and electrical) it turned out to be easier and less expensive in the long run to tear out the old cupboards and start fresh.

And... after!

I originally wanted flush doors on the upper and lower cabinet doors, but I also wanted drawers for the pots and pans next to the stove. The configuration of the drawer sliders didn't allow enough room inside to accommodate the doors inside of the cupboard box, so I compromised with flush doors for the upper cupboards, and sticky-out ones on the lower doors and drawer fronts.

The butcher-block countertops were made locally and are maple. I love them! We've oiled them several times (and probably should again soon) and they just look so warm and inviting. They're durable and forgiving, too. I wanted something that would last a long time, that I wouldn't get tired of, and I especially love that they can be relatively easily sanded and re-oiled if needed down the road, and at the end of its life, it's just wood and a bit of glue - it will break down much better than laminate options. 

The dishwasher was placed right next to the sink (rinse dishes, turn, place in dishwasher) and the silverware drawer is next to that (pick up the clean utensils, put them directly in the drawer.) The cupboard for dishes is right above that, also making clean up a bit smoother. 

The taller pantry cupboards on the far right have pull-out drawers for storing dry goods. Above there, and over the fridge, we have seasonal appliances stored. 

The stand mixer is too heavy to lift and move around every time I use it, so it gets to stay on the counter; other appliances are stored in cupboards when not in use. I tried to think everything through that we do in the kitchen and make a really efficient and tidy, but also warm and welcoming space. So far I'm very pleased.

I am a fan of a fridge with things on it! It's a sign of life, and we have a constant rotation of pictures, cards, drawings, invitations on it. They remind me of all of the people we know and love, and that's why to me, a busy fridge is more important than a perfectly bare one.

Another major change we made was to move the doorway into the bathroom from directly in the kitchen (ick) to off of the laundry porch. It also makes handwashing after chicken-tending or for quick trips inside much easier, since it's now a straight path, and that dirt doesn't have to go through the rest of the house. And best of all, it allowed us to use that whole side of the kitchen for cupboards, making a huge difference in how efficiently the space is used.

I have a bit of a cookbook collection, so I wanted some open shelves to allow easy access to them. A few glass doors let me display a bit of thrifted pottery when it's not out and being used. Under that, the top cupboard (with two doors) was originally going to be an open shelf for a microwave. But our microwave died just before we moved, and we decided that we really didn't need it after all. And I'm so glad we didn't just go out and buy another one! Now it's a large slide-out drawer with snacks and lunch boxes in it. In the corner below, we have a Spin-a-Bin (3 bins for garbage and recycling), and it's great.

Over the sink, we have two windows where we can see down to the pond and the barns where the chickens and bees are. These and the little window on the opposite wall all open, allowing for good air flow to clear cooking scents and steam. I very intentionally have no window coverings on them - it would be visual clutter that I don't want, and one more thing to wash. And the light! It's so beautifully bright in the kitchen at almost any time of day, and I don't want window coverings to block the light. 

We opted for no backsplash in the end; I had originally thought I would like horizontal white shiplap, but it would have been a pain because of the thickness that was available. And I really like it white. (No big surprise there.)

There are two 'contractor special' light fixtures on the ceiling, each with three bulbs in them, and there's a single bulb fixture over the sink, under cupboard lighting under the bookshelves, and the extra light built in to the range hood. So we have many options for how to light the space. The house is so bright that we barely turn the lights on during the summer, but during the winter, having a well-lit kitchen with lots of options is a sanity saver.

To the left of the stove, the small upper drawer houses our spice jars, which are labelled on the top for easy identification. Before you have a fit and say it's too warm there, we buy them in small quantities, and the cupboard wall provides enough insulation that they're not exposed to much heat. The lower cupboard is actually a large, tall, pull-out drawer which holds our cutting boards and cookie sheets. I love it.

And if you're looking for more details and specific sources...

First, colours. The walls throughout the house are Window's Dress, a Style at Home colour from Home Hardware. The kitchen cupboards and trim throughout the house are Benjamin Moore's Simply White. The sink is Kohler, the stove and fridge are Kenmore. The dishwasher is made by KitchenAid, and was a floor model that I got a steal of a deal on ($700 off!). The cupboard knobs and drawer pulls are from Home Hardware, in the bulk packages of handles in the oil rubbed bronze finish. The floors are cognac oak from Home Depot. (The colour on my monitor from that link to a sample looks absolutely nothing like the colour in real life; it's much more as it appears in my pictures.) We have the same floors throughout the house (except for the bathrooms and laundry porch) and I absolutely love that. It's so easy to clean, and I haven't had any issues with wood in the kitchen whatsoever. And I love how it looks. I found the New Zealand wool mat at Frenchy's, a local thrift store, and it's probably my favourite find of all time. It's super durable and big enough to catch any water drips from dishes, but small enough to quickly vacuum and shake outside. After a long process, the light fixtures are the least expensive options from Kent; we thought that we'd be able to raise the ceiling quite a bit higher, but because of how it was built, we weren't able to, which also means we weren't able to install the school house light fixtures I purchased; (they're now in the office and at the bottom of the stairs.) So I had to find ones that very tall husband would have ample clearance with.

We also now have a shallow broom cupboard next to the fridge, with cleaning supplies above. I LOVE IT. (See the laundry on the floor in the porch? Real life!)

Really, truly, my overall favourite thing about the kitchen is how efficient it is. Everything has a place, there's easily room for Adam and I to be cooking or getting ready for the day at the same time with the boys coming and going, everything works well and every inch of space is used. Even if it's just used as a small empty place to rest my eyes - I looooove opening my silverware drawer - all that's in it is cutlery. One small tray, cutlery, and space all around. That's it. I'm so pleased every time I open it.

Phew! If you've stuck through all of this, congratulations. What have I forgotten? Is there anything you'd like to know? Ask away!