The 10 Best Steps of Our Kitchen Remodel

Along with all the Details of the Space
Jennifer Lake Kitchen
photo by Aimée Mazzenga
Jennifer Lake Kitchen Decor
Dress: Cara Cara Blue Hill Black Floral Dress {c/o} {also available here} | Shoes: Tory Burch Crystal Buckle Pumps {c/o] | Cutting Boards: Caitlin Wilson {c/o} | Tile: Artistic Tile | Wallpaper: Phillip Jeffries | Faux Hydrangea: Frontgate {c/o} | Brass Decorative Box: Anecdote {c/o} | Bookends: Crate and Barrel {c/o} | Ceramic Vase: Frontgate {c/o}

Hi, friends! Today, I’m excited to take you behind-the-scenes of our kitchen transformation. Last spring, we did a small preview, but we just put the finishing touches to the space over the past couple months. I’m thrilled to share some additional design details, features, and materials! Overall, I hope this blog post sparks new kitchen remodel ideas for those of you who are considering updates! I narrowed things down to the best 10 steps of our kitchen remodel.

Kitchen Remodel Ideas

When we first bought this home, I fell in love with the floor plan. Our layout is similar to most single family homes in the city. The only difference? Our kitchen has a slightly odd shape.

One side of the kitchen is perfect – cabinets, sink, appliances, etc. However, the other side? Slightly more narrow due to the placement of the center island and especially the wall shape.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around the layout. Sure, we could fill the angled space with a long table and chairs. Yet, I worried it would make the space feel too stark and empty.

The challenge sparked an idea – create customize built-ins instead.

To be transparent, custom built-ins are not cheap. Depending on the size/scale/materials you select, expect to invest a sizable sum for a single quality custom built-in. However, kitchens and baths hold the greatest value, and we were willing to make the investment to increase our home value.

Jennifer Lake Home Kitchen

Kitchen Remodel Ideas and Steps

An important lesson we learned during this process? Follow the correct order of remodeling steps! One wrong move, and you’ll pay for the mistake.

Therefore, we continue to lean on Amelia and her extended team for their expertise. They’ve been so helpful with guiding us through the timeline, what to do, and when to do it. In fact, we had zero issues. Pretty crazy!

Here’s the order of how we did things in case you’re looking for kitchen remodel ideas:

Kitchen Remodel Step #1: Electrical Work

Planning to add or move an electrical outlet? Start with those changes first. I am so thankful Amelia walked us through the options of where we could place new outlets in our kitchen – especially for our new Viking wine fridge. We also evaluated the placement of new features – including under-the-cabinet lighting and other ceiling fixtures.

Jennifer Lake Cara Cara Dress

Step #2: Countertops

We changed out the existing beigey-black granite countertops for clean, white quartz. Once again, Amelia walked us through all of the different options – marble, quartz, and even porcelain.

We chose quartz because it’s the most durable material. Furthermore, we picked all-white instead of a veined, marble-like finish. Amelia explained that while there are decent veined options on the market, the industry still needs a couple years before it’s perfect. So we opted for all-white.

Additionally, our kitchen is in the middle of the first floor, so it doesn’t get a lot of natural light (thanks to the narrow lot sizes in the city). Therefore, the crisp white quartz really helped lighten the space.

Step #3: Sink and Faucet

Thinking about adding a new sink or faucet? Be sure to add them in conjunction with the countertop installation. We fell in love with this granite composite sink and this Delta faucet – both recommendations of Amelia. While I love a farmhouse sink (and they’re really popular right now), we decided on a more streamlined, classic look.

City Kitchen Remodel Ideas
photo by Aimée Mazzenga

Step #4: Paint

To freshen up the look of our space, we painted the olive-grey cabinets to a fresh, crisp white. Amelia suggested Benjamin Moore Advance Interior paint in a custom color (it was custom was since we wanted the hue to match the existing trim).

The paint is FABULOUS. We’ve tried a LOT of different paint brands during our home process, and Benjamin Moore gets top marks every single time.

Step #5: Lighting

Lighting is one of my absolute favorite aspects of a room. From our living room chandelier to the new powder room sconces, I adore researching fixtures. In terms of our kitchen, my heart was immediately set on this style. It wasn’t even a question, lol. The brass and glass pendants are a fantastic collaboration between Hudson Valley Lighting and Martyn Lawrence Bullard.

Jennifer Lake Kitchen Update Renovation

As a fan of Bullard’s work and design sensibility, I knew these pendants would add warmth and visual interest. To see more of his work, check out the gorgeous spaces at Sands Hotel & Spa in Palm Desert. He’s such a brilliant interior designer! I also love his Melrose and Everly Pendants.

Step #6: Built-Ins

I haven’t mentioned this before, but we actually made an offer on another home before this one. We lost during a bidding war, and we ended up continuing our search. Looking back, I am SO thankful we didn’t buy the other property. Everything happens for a reason. 🙂

Colorful Glass Stemware Vintage

While touring the first property, we fell in love with the kitchen set-up. The countertops and cabinets wrapped around the entire room, and everything was centered by an island and stools. It felt cozy, communal, and so warm and friendly.

Therefore, we decided to create a similar layout in this home. We added custom built-in cabinets and a breakfast nook. The built-in’s were produced and manufactured by Amelia’s extended team right outside of Chicago. I love the way they match our existing Shaker cabinetry style! I’m especially obsessed with the bench in the breakfast nook. It just feels homey in the best possible way!

The built-ins house our serving pieces, glassware, and formal flatware. You’ll also notice that the shelves house my collection of English bone china, tea cups and saucers. They’re a constant reminder of some very special memories with my mom and Aunt.

Step #7: Tile

Alright, let’s talk tile. Friends, the update to our backsplash was a nearly impossible decision. There are SO many cool companies and products on the market. It’s overwhelming! Originally, I wanted to select a bold and over-the-top style.

However, upon further reflection (and candid chats with Amelia), we picked these beautiful, hand-painted Artistic Tile in blue. It has an almost ombré effect. Totally timeless.

Jennifer Lake Kitchen Design
photo by Aimée Mazzenga

Plus, we have a very open layout, and the blue tile creates a seamless transition into the family room. After nearly a year of living with the tile, I can confidently state we made the right call. The color is serene and calming. I’m such a fan!

Step #8: Wallpaper

The next hardest decision? Wallpaper. After reviewing no less than 50 samples of grasscloth wallpapers, we ended up buying this Philip Jeffries sisal style.

I’d also been eyeing Thibault’s 1886 Sandia’s wallpaper, but it was a bit too bold (and would compete with the stripes in the family room).

Kitchen Remodel Ideas
photo by Aimée Mazzenga

Step #9: Window Coverings

One of the final steps was sourcing new window coverings. Bob’s late mom was a former interior decorator (it’s one reason he’s always been 100% cool with my colorful design choices). He grew up around wallpaper, floral prints, bold patterns, and a lot of color. Nothing fazes him! His mom also specialized in window coverings. Therefore, we had high expectations going into the process!

Since we live in the city, our lot is close to other buildings. Trust me, it’s not fun to look at brick walls outside of our windows, but it’s just a part of city life! To add privacy and a tough of glam, we decided to invest in custom roller shades from The Shade Store. We’d already worked with the brand for a roman shade in our family room, and we were happy with the results!

Caitlin Wilson Cornice

Additionally, I sourced this fabulous floral fabric from Caitlin Wilson Design, one of my absolute favorite home brands. We used the fabric to create two custom window cornices. My amazing PR client, MegMade, helped design and create them for us (we paid for the services). We ADORE them. They’re seriously perfect.

Step #10: Finishing Touches

Lastly, we did a lot of work to find, buy, source, and partner with brands for the finishing touches. Serena & Lily gifted us with four of their Rivera Counter Stools in Fog for our island. The brand just released it in a swivel option, too. We also purchased and additional two dining chairs for the breakfast nook. They not only look great, but they are surprisingly comfortable. I can sit and work on my laptop for hours.

Some of my other favorite additions? The Caitlin Wilson Design accent pillows. I’ve featured Caitlin’s pillows, furniture, and accessories in a bunch of blog posts in the past. However, I really need to stress how much I love her brand. Everything she touches turns to gold.

In fact, I’d go as far to say that Caitlin’s aesthetic aligns most closely to my personal interior design style. Bob has to stop me from perusing her site as I get lost in it for hours.

Appliances

Next up? Appliances! While our home already came with Viking appliances, we wanted to add a Viking Range wine fridge to the built-in. I’m SO glad that we did. It’s well-stocked for when friends come over after the pandemic!

Viking 15 Undercounter Wine Cellar

In case you’re looking for inspiration and ideas for your home, I highly recommend going to check-out Viking’s Showroom at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart or the New York Design Center. The space is full of innovation and inspiration for your kitchen and home.

Art

We can’t talk about finishing touches without talking about art. Kitchen remodel ideas are often rooted and inspired by great art. We commissioned the incredible Jenn Thatcher Art to create two original Inner Circle paintings. The circles represent relationships, and we decided to have two separate ones made with two circles each. The first represents me and Bob, and the second is in honor of our moms, who we know are watching over us and our home.

Best Kitchen Remodel Ideas
photo by Aimée Mazzenga

The other art piece is by Dolan Geiman, a past birthday gift from Bob. I originally came across the piece years ago at a street art fair in Bucktown, but it was out of my price range at the time.

It’s unlike Geiman’s other work, but it struck me thanks to the mixed media components. Newspaper clippings and paint blend together with a silhouette of a woman wearing a fit and flare dress. Is the woman the headline or do the headlines make the woman? As someone in PR, the piece really resonates with me. A couple years after I first saw it, Bob surprised me with a commissioned recreation of the original. We ultimately had it reframed in white to blend in with the kitchen.

Kitchen Remodel Ideas – In Closing

Friends, I can’t tell you how much I love the space. Beyond adding value to our kitchen, I love the flow of the space. Now, the floor plan makes complete sense, and we spend a ton of time in the room. I hope our kitchen remodel ideas sparked new ideas for you and your home.

Jennifer Lake Cara Cara Blue Hill

For more information from a few of the brands that made our remodel possible, please find details on the brands below:

To see more of our amazing interior designer’s work, please visit her website here. A very special thanks to all of the partners who helped bring this space to life!

Dress: Cara Cara Blue Hill Black Floral Dress {c/o} {also available here} | Shoes: Tory Burch Crystal Buckle Pumps {c/o] | Cutting Boards: Caitlin Wilson {c/o} | Tile: Artistic Tile | Wallpaper: Phillip Jeffries | Faux Hydrangea: Frontgate {c/o} | Brass Decorative Box: Anecdote {c/o} | Bookends: Crate and Barrel {c/o} | Ceramic Vase: Frontgate {c/o}

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  1. A
    Annaliese wrote:

    It’s so beautiful! Your home is just absolutely stunning- every room is gorgeous.

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

    Published 12.28.20 · Leave a Reply
  2. K
    Kristen wrote:

    Love your kitchen and style!! Are you able to share the details on the tile backsplash?

    Published 2.15.21 · Leave a Reply

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