Our Kitchen Renovation

Or, How Missy Got Her Groove Back

Let me tell you the story of our kitchen renovation…

It was 2004 and we were house hunting. The first time I saw this house, I knew. This was our home.

And when we bought our home 17 years, we were thrilled with the bones of the house. And the decorating possibilities? Whoo Hoo! I had MAJOR dreams and ideas. We loved the kitchen space. Won’t it be great when we update it?… said “younger Missy” in that moment 17 years ago. Flash forward to 2019…still the same kitchen.

As you well know, life steps in, in ways both beautiful and complicated.

Two full time jobs. Twin daughters. College tuition. My mother’s broken hip. Open and close a retail store. Hard to slip a kitchen reno in when the calendar and the budget just don’t jive.

I was absolutely able to decorate our home in many ways and loved every minute. But the larger projects? The really big projects? Honestly, too costly and too intimidating. We lived in our home with love and basic maintainence but didn’t necessarily create the home of our dreams.

Many a pancake was flipped here for two hungry girls!

Then it happened. The empty nest. (This dreaded moment when our daughters left for college deserves a post of its own.) Suffice it to say, it was hard. But, once we found our new normal, we got it. There is an empty nest freedom, both emotional and financial, that is pretty empowering. Some go to Disney World. We RENOVATE!

Getting My Groove Back

Where to start? I’ve never designed a kitchen before. I have lots of decorating courage but this was a kitchen! After lots of brainstorming (Thank you husband, daughters and sister!), measuring, sketching, remeasuring, and a healthy dose of self-talk, I found the courage to take the kitchen reno plunge and rediscover my design groove!

I viewed this as a two part project.

The first and biggest hurdle was the floor plan. In the middle of the room was the breakfast bar. This was great when the girls were little and I could flip pancakes directly from griddle to plate. We did have a space for a table and chairs. But it meant that, between bar stools and table chairs, we were shuffling at least 7 seats as our family and pets navigated the room. Plus, in order to access the separate dining room, you had to walk briefly through the living room. Stalled Groovin’.

Solution: Take out the breakfast bar and dining area and replace with one large kitchen island. But what about sit-down dining?

Solution to the first solution: Open up the wall between the kitchen and the dining room to create a cased opening. Now the dining room can go either formal or casual for dining.

The view from our formal dining room…piled with temporarily displaced dishes.

The second issue was the general dated state of the room. From cabinet finish to appliances to finishing details, the room was dark and tired.

My list of “yucks” included: blue and white (yellowed) tile with 25 year old grout. Yellowed laminate countertop in only one area. Appliances that are not energy efficient nor really working well at all. Oak cabinets with a dark finish that was faded in many areas. We were Groovin’ like it was the 1995!


I’ve wanted a white kitchen FOREVER! Yes, I know they are harder to keep clean. That’s ok with me. Bring it on! While the kitchen does get full west sun, I knew that when we eventually would paint the trim in the rest of the house, we would want a fairly bright, crisp white. So, Sherwin Williams Pure White (SW7005) on the cabinets won the day and I couldn’t be happier! I chose Sherwin Williams Serious Gray (SW6256) for the walls and Sherwin Williams Peppercorn (SW7674) for the island base.

I did, however, have another structural request that definitely utilized my powers of persuasion with my husband, Brian. This request focused on the built-in plate rack. You know, the one that holds plates beautifully but is a pain in the caboose to dust.

I was ALWAYS dusting this!

Here was my solution…

We removed the plate rack spindles and installed a flat panel to cover the entire space. As luck would have it, the pantry underneath the plate rack has an electrical outlet. We drilled a hole in the flat panel and, using our lucky power source and mounted a small tv on the panel. This solved two problems: 1) no longer do I have to clean a dust magnet and 2) the counter space that previously housed the tv is now usable space! Creative Groovin’!

Plate rack replaced!
My tv view when I’m getting dinner ready!


Two words. Stainless and Bosch. We got a bundle deal and are now enjoying smart-looking, efficient appliances. Practical Groovin’!

The Island

This is the DIVA of the kitchen. By taking the original breakfast bar out, we were able to add a new cooktop, quadruple our prep space AND dining space by re-orienting the island, making it one level, extending the quartz edge on the north side and incorporating storage underneath. With new bar stools, We are now able to seat at least six people at the island and I can still flip pancakes for my daughters! (Flippin’ Guests!)

Here is where my fan-girl affair really begins. Once we decided on using quartz for the island, we headed to the kitchen showroom to choose the actual quartz. I love Cambria quartz and all samples were beautiful. Then I saw her. (Yes, the quartz is a her!) White quartz with black flecks and random, JAGGED swathes of black. Hello drama! (If I could purr for you now, I would!) Yes, the price higher than the mid-level price but, in the end, so worth it! Besides, we saved money by not replacing the cabinets! (“She said with confident rationalization masked as justification!”) Full on Groovin’!

The Wall Tile

This was a BOLD choice and I LOVE it! I believe that sticking with black and white keeps the overall classic style of the kitchen but gives the backsplash a real PUNCH!


Oh, this was fun! We already had can lights in the ceiling. We just needed a few more installed to cover all areas of the room now that a wall was gone. My favorite purchase, though, was this George Kovacs light fixture over the island. With mixed metal frames and an expansive rectangular shape, it felt like adding a beautiful piece of jewelry to the room. Two words of advice: Dimmer Switch! You want the flexibility to adjust the level of light. (With all lights on, you could probably perform surgery on our kitchen island!)

The Wall

This was a game changer! Who knew that putting in cased opening, we would not only give our kitchen a more spacious feel, but we would have easy access to the dining room…and actually USE it!

It was a messy view but such an open, welcome view!

The Compromises

Yes, this is my dream kitchen. But not everything on the wishlist was feasible at the time. Because the rest of the house currently has stained trim, I decided not to paint the window casings for the time being so they flowed with the rest of the house. (Plus, we had our daughter’s wedding approaching! We had to kick it in gear!) We are currently tackling the trim project throughout the rest of the house (LOTS OF PAINTING) but the wood trim had to remain for the time being. (Soon to be gone!)

The other compromise (or “hold off” project) was the floor. When you remove a wall and try to merge the flooring from the existing rooms, you run into problems. Our hired professional could not get a seamless stain to connect the rooms and so there is currently a visual “surge” of stain between the rooms. (Another “hold off” project” soon to be rectified.) Realistic Groove.

The Finished Product

Renovations are definitely a labor of love and our was no different. Stress is inevitable but the reward is amazing. We spend so much more time in our kitchen than we ever did before. This was your typical “this is taking forever and I tired of washing the dishes in the tub” project. But, (pause for dramatic effect)…I LOVE our kitchen! And even better, I realized that I love my empty-nester creative side and that I can handle intense projects. (Says me as I literally GROOVE around my kitchen island!)


p.s. Would you like to see the adjoining living room. Here is our Bright and Colorful Living Room Refresh!

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  1. Missy!!! This is incredible. Wanna know my favorite thing – besides that island??? The TV!! That’s so genius. Putting that in my bag of tricks if we ever renovate a kitchen or if we don’t and I just want a TV!

    1. Thank you, Jen! I kind of hate to admit that I do have the tv on pretty much the whole time I am in the kitchen. I may not be watching but I like to hear voices in the house. (Maybe this is empty nester syndrome!) It was a controversial move because my husband liked the plate rack and wanted to keep it. Thankfully, he went with it and is now 100% “Team TV!” Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Oh how I enjoyed your journey today. You did an amazing transformation. I love it all but especially the quartz and light fixtures!!

    1. Hi Nelda! You were actually at the beginning of this kitchen journey! I remember talking to you about our kitchen and thinking “We are doing this NOW!” So, you get a lot of credit for this project!

    1. You are so nice! I chuckled at your “brave” comment because I was so nervous throughout the process. I guess I have learned to trust myself a little more through this process!

    1. Thanks, Wendy!We are definitely loving the space. The white cabinets take a little more diligence with cleaning, but so worth it! Now to the living room!

  3. Your kitchen is STUNNING and it’s so you! I bet you feel like a million bucks in this space now. I’m drooling over the details, pausing as I glance over at my own walls I want removed. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

    Do you have recommended local contractors who helped you?

    1. Hi Rebecca! You are so nice! We have truly loved the change and spend so much time in there. Even room for our big new puppu! LOL. We actually worked as our own contractor and found our own subs. Do you have specific work you are considering? I am more than happy to share the people who did the work. I can message you!

  4. What a huge makeover. Your kitchen is gorgeous. Love the black and white. My love for white cabinets goes back forever. In my opinion white kitchens make a home. Light and bright! So glad you had the opportunity to do your kitchen. The stress was worth it. Go Designer! Awesome Job

    1. Hi Mary! Thank you so much. It’s funny because we did actually like the kitchen when we bought the house. And, of course, I have wonderful memories of raising my children in that kitchen. But when we painted the cabinets white, it was literally like a breath of fresh air went through the house. Like you, I love black and white and I can always add some color pops with accessories if I like. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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