The kitchen at the house we purchased in early 2018 was small, dark, and straight out of the 80’s. With three doorways like most old kitchens. Plenty of cabinet space, a large closet filled with dirty glassware and pickles canned in 1997. Virtually no counter space, and ancient appliances. The last renovation, actually in the 1990’s, removed the original doors and windows and added some Pellas and covered up some old yellow plaid wallpaper from the 1950’s or 60’s. The solid surface sink and white faucet were ready to be retired and the dishwasher was actually being used as extra storage. The vinyl floor tiles were worn to the point that the pattern was no longer visible. You see where this is going. Here are some photos of the before:

So it was clear that this room was going to need a complete overhaul. My thought process on the colors: the whole house is oak and chestnut and warm wood tones. So much of it that it’s almost overwhelming. The kitchen needed to be a contrast to that, a visual break from all of that glorious but brown wood. SO MUCH BROWN. So blacks & grays were where I wanted to go with this room.

We got the room cleared out fairly quickly and pried up the subfloor that the vinyl floor tiles were glued onto. Underneath the subfloor was the original pine plank subfloor. We discovered the yellow wallpaper. We spent a few wasted days sanding it down, scraping off old mastic, to see if we could salvage it and refinish it. But ancient water leaks had stained and rotted so much of it that we decided to abandon that plan and tile instead. It was a bummer but in the end it was the best decision.

The tile floor we ended up with is a combination of some stock gray tile from a local big box and an encaustic tile that we carry called Cemento Queen Mary Storm. We decided to use this beautiful tile as a carpet in the work area of the kitchen and border it with the inexpensive gray tile, we did this to keep costs down. Jim did the tile work himself, as he always does, and had to do some magic to make this thicker encaustic tile level with the cheaper field tile we selected. He stacked an additional 3/8” thick sheet of backerboard onto the first level of backerboard to make this work. It worked and looks amazing I think.

We used the same tile as an accent on the backsplash behind the stove. The rest of the backsplash is another tile that we carry here, called Antic Craquelle Gris Soho, a 3” x 6” subway tile that is handmade with a crackle finish. The irregular edges of this tile provides a more rustic and casual look than traditional subway tile, which felt right for this space. The soft gray color coordinated well with the floor tile and brightened up the room. 

The countertops are salvaged Carrara marble, we pulled these slabs out of a job we did at University of Buffalo. These slabs were formerly divider walls in a restroom in a men’s dormitory building. The stories they could tell! We sent them out to MCM Stone to be polished, honed, and cut with an ogee edge. We do have more salvaged marble slabs in stock in a variety of colors. They are beautiful and bright, and coordinate well with the other tile elements in the room.

We kept it pretty simple with stock cabinets from the local big box store for the lower cabinets and dressed them up with some antique drawer or bin pulls that I sent out for chrome plating. These say “Hamilton” on them, they are off of old printer’s type drawers. The house we bought is on Hamilton Street, we call the house “Hamilton House” so these were perfect!

We added some floating shelves made from salvaged barn joists with floating shelf brackets. We just cleaned and used a satin poly on these for a simple look. We mounted them with the nail holes out for visual interest. The wall with the 1990’s Pella windows on it became our focal point wall where we decided to use two pairs of antique cabinet doors from our inventory to create two wall cabinets. We used salvaged chestnut for the side panels to match the wood used in the pantry and on the existing kitchen doorways, and kitchen closet. We used an ebony gel stain for these, which seemed blasphemous but it still shows the original woodgrain so in my mind it was a perfect solution. We debated long and hard about the rest of the trim, on the opposite side of the kitchen – I wanted to stain all of it black, Jim flat out refused to allow me this, so we have natural trim over there and black over on this side. Since we spent a lot of time stripping the paint off those three doorways, and one door, I understand and conceded this one. We used traditional polished chrome spring-loaded cabinet latches which we carry here on these new cabinets, along with a friction catch on the inside. 

We added some tin ceiling panels which we carry here to the lower walls to do an inexpensive and quick cover-up on the old yellow plaid wallpaper that was still on the lower section of the walls. We had a crappy looking 1960’s radiator to contend with on one wall, actually built into a cavity in the wall, we created a simple cover for it using salvaged oak boards to create a frame, and stainless steel mesh screen which came from the big box store. 

When we bought the house, it was filled with stuff from attic to basement. One item that we found in the basement was an old-ish butcher block table top. That became a freestanding storage unit, shown here. I tried so hard to find some old salvaged pieces from our warehouse to use as legs for this beast but because of the need for drawers plus a lower storage shelf, it was not to be. I ended up getting these beefy legs online. They worked out perfectly, and saved time. Our warehouse manager, Phil, is the craftsman behind this amazing piece of furniture and also the wall cabinets and shelves. 

Our lighting in this space is uncharacteristically all new. I’m an antique lighting nerd and use vintage or antique in most projects. This space needed chrome though, and it’s not easy to find antique lighting in chrome. I used some products we sell from Westinghouse over the peninsula and sink, and another one we carry in the center of the room, that one does have an antique glass shade on it at least! We used LED strip lighting in the glass cabinets which we ended up building a strip in front of, to soften the lights. Everything is on dimmers, in fact we used our push-button dimmer switches throughout the entire house. I did add new outlets with USB ports on them in the kitchen too, for added convenience. 

I forgot to mention the sink! I love this deep double bowl stainless sink with the sharp edges and zero-radius corners. It’s one we sell, from Kingston Brass, seen here. This faucet is also by Kingston, shown here. This is a budget-friendly faucet, and the sprayer really has great pressure, much better than the one at my own house!