Tackling The Kitchen – Week 1


After seeing so much inspiration on kitchens lately and knowing that Summer is right around the corner, I’ve decided to tackle our own. In addition, the ladies involved in the One Room Challenge have officially kicked my butt into gear. I don’t plan on wrapping this project up in a mere 6 weeks, but I like the idea of sticking to a schedule.

Let’s get on with it, shall we? Our kitchen is by no means horrible…it’s a standard Ikea kitchen with Adel doors in medium brown. The kitchen was redone by the previous owners. They did pick a great quartz counter-top and high-end appliances, which makes for an easier update on our end. I’m still not in love, but it could be much, much worse. I didn’t like the color of the cabinet doors to begin with, but after staining our floors a dark stain…it clashes even more!

Have a look – and please excuse my horrible I phone pics and the mess! I was running out the door!

kitchen cabinets

The two-colored woods next to one another, here is just yuck!

kitchen sink

I love that we have this huge window that peacefully gazes onto the ginormous highrise next door. I would have much preferred trees and blue skies, but at least we’re not on eye level with another apartment! Plus, for a city condo- we do really get a lot of natural light. Also, we have in-unit laundry and we are one of the few condos in our building that does. Hallelujah! This was definitely a deal-breaker when looking. While they managed to fit it in and the units are white and not an eye sore, it still sits right at the doorway to the dining room. I don’t need all my guests seeing my dirty laundry- literally speaking that is!


I don’t know what happened here. It feels like an afterthought. Like, we might need a fridge. In the kitchen. Let’s plop it over here. It looks sad and unwelcome. Something’s gotta happen over here.


A nook between the fridge and the sink island. This door leads to the back, outdoor stairs and the garbage. I feel like there’s so much unused space here but the door still has to be able to open.

So, there you have it. Overall, it’s a funky layout for a kitchen. That whole “triangle” concept is significantly larger here. Large enough to glide from one side to the other. No updates were done to the kitchen since we moved in besides painting the door black and adding molding.

Here are my thoughts…

  1. I would love to add a vintage kilim of some sorts. The size might be a bit funky to find.
  2. Paint the kitchen cabinets (if this is possible?) Leaning towards white but yet to be decided.
  3. Add a vertical pantry next to the fridge for extra storage and a more finished/built-in look.
  4. Add floating shelving
  5. Additional lighting- sconce(s) by the sink area
  6. Update hardware and fixtures
  7. Find a way to close-off the washer and dryer units and make them less protruding
  8. To backsplash or not to backsplash?
  9. Debating whether or not to keep the ceiling fan or swap out for a light fixture.

I have a lot of ideas circling in my mind right now and will be sharing a more concrete idea next week with an inspiration board. Ideally, I would like to open the whole kitchen into the dining room and move walls but I’m being realistic. This update, while time consuming, will be on a budget and will be more so to serve as an aesthetic update.

P.S. It’s almost Friday! Yes!



  1. Ryan
    April 17, 2014 / 4:50 pm

    Previous owner here (someone told us about your web site, and I just happened to peek in today). I figured I could share some info with you that might help you as you revamp the kitchen. First of all, the little wing-wall between the laundry and the sink is the plumbing stack for all three building levels, and unfortunately it can’t be moved. This is why everything needing water supply or a drain is on that wall with the window. This was our starting point, as the sink, laundry, and dishwasher all had to be crammed on to that exterior wall. We hated how the washer and dryer protruded out more than we originally anticipated, but our plumber couldn’t get the washer/dryer hookup and drain as far back against the exterior wall as we originally wanted/planned. One fix was to move the doorway to the right a bit (towards the range), but that was costly and would have required that our stove’s gas supply move as well, so we decided we would live with it. The LG washer and dryer was definitely the best one that would fit in that 25″ space, and is probably the nicest combo available in that size.

    This left us with the fridge and stove. The gas supply was already on that end by the door, so that is why the stove is there. It has been there for decades, but you could move it. I always hated how you could see the side of the range.

    Originally the fridge was on the wall facing the foyer, which left us with no counter space whatsoever. We moved it to it’s current location, hoping we could put a pull out pantry to the right of the fridge hiding the side of it and integrating it more in to the cabinetry. That was our original plan, but the pantry would have blocked access to the back door once we fit the sink and the dishwasher left of the “wing wall”. Ikea only has certain sizes of things, and you would certainly have more flexibility with a more custom solution.

    Anyway, good luck! I look forward to seeing what you can do with this kitchen, and agree that the wood tones clash with your paint and new floor color (we almost went with a semi-gloss white!). The L-shaped plan of this kitchen is a bit awkward. We previously had some very old particle board cabinets that were literally disintegrating and collapsing, so we did this Ikea renovation in 2012 as an affordable option, largely for the purpose of re-sale. The countertops are indeed quartz, and were the only “splurge” other than the washer/dryer, since most Chicago condo buyers are looking for solid surface counter tops and stainless steel appliances these days. The fridge dates back to the previous owners (circa 2004?), but the dishwasher, microwave, and range were brand new.

    Ironically, we are looking at our new kitchen in our new home and wishing the cabinets were white… 🙂

    • Yana
      April 18, 2014 / 10:14 am

      Hi Ryan,
      Great to hear from you. Thank you for all of this information, it will make the process much easier. We are also looking at this as an aesthetic update and for re-sale purposes down the road. We have a fun home tour coming out soon that I would love to share with you both. Hope you are enjoying your new home. We surely are! 🙂