Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen

An Update After Ten Years

Here's how we remodeled our kitchen, first revealed two years after completion and now re-considered after ten years. What decisions worked then and which ones still stand up now? Great news, only three of our favorites require a big investment. The other seven are small, do-able and even no-cost but still make a difference. Plus, it took ten years for me to figure out how to style a special, highly visible spot in the new kitchen: here I reveal how and its cost, all of $8.50!

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

Kitchen Before & After Reveal. How to Add Light to a Dark Kitchen. How to Add a Second Stove to a Kitchen. How to Blend Existing Kitchen Cupboards with New Cabinetry. How to Add Whimsy to a Kitchen. Low-Cost & No-Cost Ways to Improve Kitchen Efficiency & Function.

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Ten years ago, we remodeled the kitchen. The surprising thing, afterward?

  • Three things we loved most about our new kitchen were indeed big and brand-new and cost real money.
  • But seven were simple things and just might offer an idea or two for easy additions to your own kitchen, no remodeling budget, no supply chain delays, no construction dust required.

Even back then, I waited two years to write about the new kitchen, allowing time and experience to shape the story, to completely understand what worked and what didn't work, what was worth investing in and what wasn't, letting the excitement of the moment pass and the reality of cooking in and cleaning up the new kitchen to take hold.

But now! I promised a ten-year update.

  • Have the "Ten Things" stood up over time? (Mostly, yes!)
  • What notable changes/updates have we made since the original remodel? (Four! One cost all of $8.50!)
  • Are there any regrets? (Oh dear, yes, there are.)

In case there's any question? We loved the new kitchen right from the start and ten years later, we still do. Our original goals and mid-removation decisions continue to serve well.

I hope that those decisions and real-life cooking experiences in the kitchen might be useful for others too whether contemplating a kitchen renovation or looking to make small, meaningful changes.

Let's dive in, shall we?!

Objective-Driven Decisions

Up front, we took time to seriously consider the real reasons we should even embark upon a substantial kitchen project. Formality helped! Along the way, our goals guided our decisions. Whenever we faced a choice, we'd ask, What accomplishes our goals?

From the get-go, we articulated three specific objectives.

  • Light!
  • Efficiency for two very active cooks!
  • Connection to the outdoors!

Honestly, we didn't know how our goals would take shape in a real live kitchen. But both knowing (and agreeing on!) our goals up front was so helpful while we spoke with potential contractors because they had information to create proposals that would turn our objectives into

And then, as we needed to make further decisions along the way, some decisions almost made themselves, thanks to knowing at some very fundamental level what it was we were trying to accomplish.

FUNNY STORY When my now-husband first asked, all very casually over breakfast one morning, what I'd do to make the kitchen work better for us, all I wanted was some new shelves in the pantry space. Ha! Thank heavens he had bigger ambitions!

#1 Floor-to-Ceiling Glass:
for Light and Connection to the Outdoors

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

BEFORE The old kitchen was dark, especially late in the day. We had two sources of light, a bay window facing east into the back yard and a little-used Dutch door with glass panes facing north. There was a large, farm-style table with six chairs in the bay window, the back chairs were always awkward to get in and out of.

THE DECISION We decided to tear out the bay window and replace that entire wall with floor to ceiling glass. We actually gave up a little square footage but it was a great decision.

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

AFTER Because just look at that light!

THE DECISION We installed two sliding glass door panels in the center plus a glass panel on either side. Sliding glass doors are a very economical way to put in floor to ceiling glass. My folks did the same thing in their three-season porch in Minnesota, three walls of sliding glass doors plus some fixed door-size glass panels.

HOW IT WORKED FOR US (AFTER TWO YEARS) We love these sliding doors!

  • These doors really open up the kitchen to the outdoors! It's so easy to move in and out.
  • When the weather's pretty, we open up the doors for breakfast or supper "outdoors" – without carrying everything outside to the patio table.
  • A concern up front was if so much glass would make the kitchen feel cold in the winter and hot in the summer. With our eastern exposure, this is zero problem except on very-very cold days (below zero, say).
  • All four glass panels have up 'n' down shades if it's gets too bright early in the morning which does happen a few days a year. The shades are inside two layers of glass, no cleaning!
  • The glass itself does need frequent cleaning (especially when sticky-fingered grandkids visit!) but when you keep up with it, the glass isn't at all streaky.
  • The sliding doors came with screen doors but we didn't install them because we didn't want to block the light. Mostly, we have no problem with bugs coming in although last spring, baby frogs kept hopping over the threshold!


All okay, it's perfect!


First, all that glass, the sliding doors.

We still love-love-love our kitchen-outdoor setup, the floor-to-ceiling glass, the sliding doors. Ten years later, the windows and doors still clean up like a charm, still slide easily, still secure easily, still really work for us.

A couple of years ago, we replaced a different sliding door with a new Pella sliding door. It was instantly noticeable that the new door, installed approximately eight years after our original kitchen doors, are even lighter and smoother-sliding. We're not in the least unhappy with our kitchen sliders but if you've nixed putting in sliding doors because of an experience with older, heavier, hard-to-slide doors, I do think the window technology has improved sliding doors over the years.

Second, a change in habits over time.

To our surprise, we no longer need an outside patio table in the way we once enjoyed. During the summer when it's cool enough for the doors to be open, sitting at the table is "as good as outdoors" and when it's too hot for the doors to be open, well, mostly, it's too hot to eat outside anyway.

That said, we do still eat outside, just not at a table. Some times we'll carry out breakfast plates to a spot with morning shade. Other times we'll carry out plates to a shaded summer porch with cushioned furniture.

But we don't miss the big patio table itself, especially because from the inside, it really blocked our views of the backyard gardens and pool.

#2 The North Counter:
for Light, Connection to the Outdoors & Efficiency

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

BEFORE Sorry, I don't have a "before" picture but trust me, this side of the kitchen was a no-mans-land. A messy bakers rack was stacked with cookbooks and collected random junk. A little-used Dutch door to the outside was blocked by a water cooler with those giant jugs of water.

THE DECISION We removed the door entirely and installed a large window and a new counter.

AFTER Look at all that light, even from a window facing north. And look at all that counter, drawer cupboard space!

HOW IT WORKED (AFTER TWO YEARS) Straight off, we loved this north wall!

  • The window was wonderful! First, it brought in so much pretty light, more than I ever expected since it's on the north side of the house and is below an overhang. But it also gives me a great view of the patio table, really good when we have people over.
  • The counter space was m-a-g-n-i-f-i-c-e-n-t! When it's just us, we used it for charging phones – yeah, the cords in the corner are ugly but we rarely forget our phones when leaving the house!
  • But for dinners with guests, we used the counter, depending on the meal, for drinks, for appetizers, for side dishes. It's just so-so useful.


  • SHELVING UNIT We intended to install a stainless steel shelving unit outside the window. In fact, we even had a special piece of stone cut as a "pass through" shelf connecting inside and outside. Turns out? We don't need it. With the new counter inside, we serve from there. People come in versus we carry the servings dishes out.
  • TRASH COMPACTOR & ICE MAKER We considered installing a trash compactor and an ice maker underneath the north counter. But these were expensive appliances, both space-wise and dollar-wise. In the end, we knew we could make a whole lot of trash runs to the basement and ice runs to the corner gas station to not spend $5000.

    Not once have I regretted these decisions.

WHAT WE'D DO DIFFERENTLY (AFTER TWO YEARS) We wish we'd installed can lights above the counter to put extra light in that space. The tall lamp in the corner is our "make do" light source, it's nice for light at night but doesn't light up the space as well as we'd prefer.


EVEN BETTER! We still love that northern window light, also that the window looks out onto our new summer porch.

I continue to have huge appreciation for the hard-working storage space for larger serving bowls, platters, vases, summer melamine dishware, flower vases, candles. The drawers, too, are hard workers: a "junk drawer" for my husband; a "recipe notes drawer" for me; table protectors; paper napkins, birthday candles, etc.

We no longer charge our phones here, there's a new charging station in the almost-as-convenient laundry room.

I still have zero regret about forgoing the ice machine and trash compactor, especially as I've come to understand how extra appliances not only cost money up front but for their maintenance and repair

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

But here's the big change in how I use this counter. I love this!

It's become a real seasonal feature in the kitchen. Every few weeks, I put out a different colorful table runner, then arrange cut flowers or plants, fresh fruit, candles, holiday decorations and more. It's always different, such fun! In the last year or so, I've started doing something simple on the kitchen table too.

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

#3 Blending the Old & the New:
for Efficiency & Economy

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

BEFORE This wall was home to an inefficient pantry with double doors. The pantry's left side had inefficient deep shelves. The right side had a shelf or two, then was pretty much nothing better than a broom closet. When we first started talking about changing the kitchen? All I wanted was new shelves in the pantry!

THE DECISION We pulled out the pantry, good riddance!

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

THE DECISION Create a second cooking space, including a new stovetop and more cabinet space above and below.

AFTER We achieved a very functional second cooking space! This is where I do 100% of my cooking for A Veggie Venture and Kitchen Parade!


  • We decided against replacing all the old cabinets and instead blended the "new" with the "old". Why? First, replacing the old cabinets would have added $$$ to the project without contributing to our objectives of Light, Efficiency & Outdoor Connection. Second, the old cabinets were in really good shape and I love-love-love the inside hardware; we tried to replicate that hardware but were unsuccessful.
  • Our kitchen designer recommended ordering the new cabinets in flat black, not the cream color of the old cabinets. I "got" that idea! The theory is, you make a change really obvious so it doesn't look like you're trying to slip something through without anyone noticing. My mom always talked about a girl who wore a really flashy ring so no one would notice she was missing a finger.
  • We lived with the designer's recommendation for a couple of weeks – and then, much to her dismay, decided to match the cream color of the existing cabinets, blending old and new in one long clean, uninterrupted line of color. Why? Because if we were installing all-new cabinets, we'd never in the world choose black cabinets. But most importantly, black cabinets would have sucked light out of the kitchen when our goal was to make the kitchen lighter and brighter. In the end? An easy, easy decision.

HOW IT WORKED (AFTER TWO YEARS) We love-love-love this new part of the kitchen!

  • Much to my surprise, many people who come into the new kitchen don't even notice that there are two cabinet styles. Matching color helped (we actually had the old cabinets repainted to exactly match the color of the new factory-painted cabinets), so did new matching hardware. We also were able to match the same countertop that had been put in a couple of years before. I envisioned one long clean line and that's what I got!
  • I'm told that two cooktops aren't uncommon in kosher kitchens but in my world, wow. His 'n' her stoves? Yeah, that's a luxury. But it really helps with our style of cooking, we're not constantly tripping over each other while cooking dinner.
  • Really important along this long line of cabinets? Under-counter lighting. It was an after-thought but is ever so important!


All okay, it's perfect!

Well – except one thing.

If anyone has ideas, I would love an idea how to "jazz up" the area behind the stovetop. I really struggled with what to do there especially since, other than the glass doors, it's the centerpiece of the kitchen when you enter the kitchen from the family room.

I'd love some sort of "statement" there versus the plain stone that matches the countertops. Ideas?!!

Update! It took a full ten years but I finally have a solution and it cost ... $8.50. See Recent Updates!!!


Zero regrets.

We bought new cabinetry but combined it with existing cabinets. I tied the two together with color, buying the new cabinets in a "close as we could get color" and then re-painting all the original cabinets to match.

How has that paint job held up, after ten years? Great. The upper doors, especially, get chips where the doors meet. Every so often, I apply a little touch-up paint, no problem. Interestingly, the new cupboards have a few chips/dings too, nothing big.

How do I feel about the older cupboards vs the newer cupboards? There's a definitely quality difference, the older cabinets are just sturdier, heavier, more useful. I still love/prefer the interior open metal hardware of the original cabinets and still prefer it to the wood-ish shelves that came with the new cabinets. That said, the new cabinets' drawers open/close like a dream, makes me realize I should look into doing something with the metal rails in the old ones to make them slide more easily. Dry silicone?

So all this said, if I were to do this again, I would at least consider replacing the doors of the existing cabinets to match the new cabinets. Did I know replacement was even possible, back then? Maybe not! I paid wayyyyyy less attention to home design/renovation back then, for sure.

Still. Painting the older kitchen cupboards really worked.


Recall, the new stovetop was an addition, a "hers" second stove for our kitchen. On the other side, "his" stove is a high-BTU Viking stove. IT IS AMAZING.

I don't remember exactly why but the new stovetop that went in was the only one which would fit our space. It is a Wolfe (and has required several repair calls) and hardly high-BTU, more like a "big box" store stove. I don't cross over very often but while I love cooking on the Viking, cooking on the Wolf is just a so-so everyday thing.

What I wish we'd done, had I known? What I wish we'd done, had I been aware of its very existence? The direction I'll turn, the next time the Wolfe needs a pricey repair? Induction.


Ugh. I just can't imagine. I keep thinking that people who like open shelving just don't cook much. Maybe?

To my mind, open shelves more about Instagram-pretty styling/decoration than real-life form/function.

Open shelves collect dust. Worse, they collect oil residue (you know, from cooking) and then collects dust. It's horrible to clean. We have an open shelf for spices and it's impossible to keep the shelf itself let alone the spice containers clean.

So. No open shelving, no regrets.

But Let's Switch Gears

Not every kitchen needs an overhaul.

More than that? Not every family can invest the money it takes to remodel a kitchen.

Still, I think all of us who spend much time in our kitchens are always looking for simple ways to make our kitchens work better, look better, fit our lifestyles better.

So the next seven things I love about our new kitchen? They just might work in your kitchen too, no contractor, no budget, no complications required.

#4 Cafe-Height Kitchen Table:
for Efficiency & Connection to the Outdoors

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

BEFORE The traditional farm-style kitchen table sat eight: talk about extra chairs when 90% of the time it was just the two of us! What we "really" wanted, we thought, was island seating, just two or maybe three tall chairs to create a convivial communal space for cooking, cleaning up, chatting, just hanging out in the kitchen.

THE DECISION We decided against island seating. We just couldn't make it work, no matter how we tried, without completely rebuilding the existing island which essentially meant that we would have to remodel the entire kitchen – a much bigger project than we wanted.

So many center island seating configurations set the sitters facing into the kitchen, the messy stove, the dishes in the sink, the food that's left out. Whattt? In our situation, I was adamant that any seating would be facing out, not in. Remember our goal of connecting our inside and outside spaces? Yep. Adamant.

AFTER By happenstance, we had a like-new cafe-height game table in the basement. We brought it upstairs – just to see if we liked the cafe height in the kitchen – fulling expecting to buy a new table. That table worked so well, we kept it!


We love this table!

  • It seats four easily. For some years, six would have been better (and we do have six chairs, two which live in the basement until needed) but four it is. I love-love having another couple for dinner on a Friday night for a casual supper in the kitchen. So relaxed, so conversational.
  • And it so connects us to the outdoors, one of our three main goals. The extra height really enhances the outside view, the pool, the herb garden, the bird feeders.
  • Because it's a game table instead of a traditional kitchen table, this table has drawers, totally handy for napkins, reading glasses, medication boxes, even binoculars for close-up views of the deer and turkey and other wildlife outside the fence.
  • For parties? I pull the chairs away and use this table for appetizers. During the winter, I push it against the glass so there's more standing room in the kitchen.
  • Best of all, once we moved the cafe-height table upstairs, we never once talked again about island seating. We don't miss it, we've "almost" got it!




We still love this table!

The table is perfect for two, which is what it is, mostly. We sit side-by-side, looking out into the back yard, entertained by the birds, the dog, the light in the trees.

We keep napkins plus our running game of gin rummy cards/scores handy in the drawers. I am definitely Team Drawers when it comes to kitchen tables, like pockets for pants.

During the years my elderly father lived with us, the taller chair height was difficult for him to get onto/off of. (That said, he had trouble standing from usual-height chairs too, so it was kinda six of one, half a dozen of the other.) The issue wasn't the height but the seat cover. It made a huge difference when I bought a special chair for him, a café height chair with a smooth leather seat cover instead of a rough fabric cover, much easier to slide onto into position.

#5 Re-purposing a Corner Pantry:
for Efficiency

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

BEFORE Lots of kitchens have these awkward corner cabinet spaces. I inherited one with two levels of lazy-susan style turning shelves.

Frankly, it was a disaster of a pantry, impossible to tell what was on the shelves since cans and jars all look alike from the top! And I was constantly pulling out cans/jars in front to dig for something further in the back. What a total PAIN.

AFTER I repurposed this space, converting it from food pantry to small appliance storage.

HOW IT WORKED (AFTER TWO YEARS) Beautifully, just beautifully!

Here's where I store the coffee supplies (the coffee maker itself sits out), the slow cooker, the ice cream maker, a full-size and a mini food processor, the spice grinder, all visible and easy-easy to pull out to use.

WHAT WE WISH WE'D DONE DIFFERENTLY (AFTER TWO YEARS) My only regret is that the the standing mixer doesn't fit, it's too tall and too heavy.


This corner space remains very functional, very handy, very useful. Given the chance in a new kitchen? I would totally put lazy susans into a corner space, top and bottom. Everything gets a spot in the very front row!

The top shelves function as a pantry but just for a few things: oddball spices and spice blends, mostly random containers my husband picks up; bottles that don't require refrigeration (soy sauce, vinegars, orange water, Worcestershire, Tabasco, etc.); quart-size glass mason jars of rice and grains; the all-important peanut butter jar!

The bottom shelves still hold small appliances, but way more than I see in photos of "appliance garages". For us, it hold the Cuisinart, the slow cooker, the mini food processor, the spice grinder, the popcorn machine, the blender, the ice cream maker. It also holds the coffee supplies, the coffee itself, extra filters, a thermos carafe, some to-go cups.

#6 Hot Water Spigot:
Just Because

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

BEFORE We had one of those rental bottled water cooler units, expensive and clunky. We did love the hot water tap on the cooler, it made surprisingly good hot tea by the cup.

THE DECISION Ditch the water cooler.

AFTER We installed a small prep sink near the new cooking area. The thinking was, it would work for washing fruits and vegetables, maybe even a little clean-up. We added a hot water spigot to the sink.


Frankly, the sink itself is a waste of space. It rarely gets used (it's too small, the workflow is awkward) and it would be nice to just have a long expanse of counter.

But the hot water spigot? THAT we love!! It gets used several times a day.

  • For warming cold eggs for baking.
  • For warming coffee cups in the morning.
  • For making cups of tea before bedtime.
  • For getting a fast-start on boiling water for pasta, etc.


We'd skip the prep sink but install a hot water spigot near the main sink area.

HOW IT WORKS FOR US NOW (AFTER TEN YEARS) I still wish we'd skipped this sink. I still wish we'd installed the hot water spigot by the main sink.

In part, it's because the spigot on top may look small and sleek but underneath, there's a heater and all the cords/pipes that go along, equivalent to a garbage disposal. It really limits what can be stored in the lower cabinet.

#7 Magnetic Knife Racks:
for Efficiency

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

BEFORE Knives were in drawers, stacked upon one another, hard to find, hard on the blades, etc.

THE DECISION Install magnetic knife racks to keep knives out in the open and handy.

AFTER We installed three knife racks, one in the new cooking area and two near the original cooktop.


We love these knife racks!

  • The knives are right where we need them, just a reach away, no need to open a drawer to rifle through a stack of knives.
  • The racks use vertical space, rather than drawer space or counter space.
  • I also appreciate that it limits the number of knives, they're too easy to accumulate. The knives you see? That's all I use!
  • That "knife" on the right is called a bench knife or some times a bench scraper. It is sharp enough to cut with (pastry, say) but I use it for scooping up chopped foods to move to a skillet, slow cooker, etc. Totally handy, much recommended! We have two, his 'n' hers!


All okay, it's perfect! I've added a Microplane here too.

#8 My New "Water Cooler"

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

THE DECISION Every morning, put out pitcher of fresh water, lemon and herbs. Alongside are glasses to remind me to take a drink, now!

HOW IT WORKED FOR US (AFTER TWO YEARS) It works! When I forget to put out the pitcher? I don't drink enough water. When I do? The reminder is there every time I walk into the kitchen.

Also? The tray is a Moomintroll melamine tray, a souvenir from the wonderful week we spent in Helsinki last year. Every day, I drink water and remember what a great time we had on that trip. A small thing but it reminds me to "live happy" every day.


Hmmm, I've lost this great hydration habit. As of today, I'm re-instituting it.

#9 The Man Cave

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

BEFORE Before remodeling the kitchen, this corner was the main and only real cooking area. Oh such a mess, it was!

  • The stove itself had no prep space alongside, it was across the way on the island. There was no keeping the floor between the two clean.
  • Pots and pans were stacked willy-nilly underneath the stove. It was a pain to pull out the right one, we were always stacking and unstacking pots and pans.
  • Kitchen utensils were in three large containers next to the stove.
  • The spices were waaaaay across the kitchen in a cupboard. Yeah ... total disorganization.
  • This back corner just felt dark.

THE DECISION We decided against re-working that entire cooking area, it would have meant a total kitchen remodel, we just didn't want that. We did, however, take some important steps to create a functional cooking space for a highly creative and talented but impatient and (let's be real) messy cook.

AFTER Hanging pots and open spice rack.


Frankly, we both love this "man cave" area of the kitchen!

  • AWKWARD PREP SPACE / COOKTOP Oh it's so totally awkward to have zero prep space next to a stove! Unfortunately, there was no easy way to fix this. And the thing is? A $10 bench knife makes it much-much easier to move chopped foods from a cutting board on the island to a pot on the stove. Total win.
  • HANGING CAST IRON Did you ever see so much cast iron? :-) In the beginning, we hung other pots and pans too but now reserve it for cast iron. In part, it's an aesthetic decision. But from a functional perspective, cast iron is for cave men, keep it handy! And once the cast iron was hung, we had plenty of room in cupboards for easy access to other cooking vessels like Dutch ovens, roasting pans, baking sheets, etc.
  • OPEN SPICE RACK It's so great, having spices so handy and so easy to find. The downside is that every six months or so, you have to give this a really good cleaning, both the spice containers and the rack itself. We've both resisted the idea to line up "all new and pretty looking" spice jars from Penzeys. After all, this is a working kitchen, it wouldn't stay pretty long!
  • HANGING UTENSILS Again, wow, what a luxury to reach for the most-used kitchen tools, right there and ready for use. We do still keep a crock of a few things next to the stove, a sharp two-pronged knife fork pointed down for safety, a few things that don't hang easily. But this is a great system for us.


All okay, it's perfect!


We've made minor changes here but it's still a hard-working space. I'm all too aware that it could easily become a real visual mess. To create a sense of continuity / design, I devote this space to cast iron and stainless steel / silver-ish.

  • CAST IRON All the multi-size, multi-shape skillets and griddles plus a couple of things with some "look" of cast iron, a handmade carbon steel wok and our charcuterie for two tray.
  • STAINLESS STEEL All the kitchen tools here are stainless steel, we've definitely added more hooks too. We still keep one utensil holder beside the stove, it holds just a few things that aren't stainless steel or are too sharp to hang or can't be easily hung.
  • WHAT'S UNDERNEATH You can't see what's below, but I've kept to the same black/stainless steel look below too, where we have the garbage can, a kitchen broom, a wire basket for recycling and the dog's water bowl. Do I wish these were out of sight? Of course. But there's no other place for them and keeping them in the same pair of colors really helps. I was really shocked, honestly, what a difference this makes.

#10 MEET "WILBUR": Cook with the One You Love

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

THE DECISION Add some whimsy!


In the last years, I've come to know all too well that once you no longer live there, a house fast becomes little more than four walls filled with stuff.

  • When the kitchen is no longer a busy, messy, noisy place?
  • When the dishwasher doesn't need emptying once or even twice a day?
  • When there's no garbage to carry out, no recycling to sort?
  • When you no longer run out of paper towels and ziplock bags and sink cleaner?
  • When there are no (or few) kitchen "chores" because, well, your life is elsewhere?

So please forgive me for feeling a little sentimental as I bring this post about our new kitchen to a close.

You see, I know just how very very very lucky I am.

And if I weren't already feeling so lucky, it would be this pensive-looking bronze sculpture of a pig (we named him Wilbur ...) who would remind me the truth about this new kitchen: that as much as we love its new light and its new efficiency and its new connection to the outdoors, it's only the space of pleasure it is because it's shared.

I need to start rubbing Wilbur's snout for good luck ...

Recent Updates

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

MY $8.50 STOVETOP BACKDROP Anybody remember how I've always wanted something cool-looking for behind the new stovetop? Finally, ten years later, I found something that I love.

It all started with having, for a reason I don't recall, a small magnetic cup hook in the vents inside the hood above the stove. At Christmas, I thought to hang a flat metal reindeer from it and oh! the light bulbs went off.

When Christmas came down, I ordered more hooks for $8.50 and started experimenting with different looks. I soon settled on a pair of baking racks, a large whisk and three beautiful measuring cups that a friend gave me many years ago.

LIGHT PLATES I switched all the light plates and electrical outlets from white plastic to metal bronzey/brown-ish/copperish plates. Great move!

NIGHTLIGHTS I added first one, then two and finally three LED Dusk-to-Dawn Plug-In Nightlights (affiliate link), such pretty light at night.

STAINLESS STEEL SINK This turned out to be a bigger project than expected. We needed a new faucet so I decided to move from a white sink to a stainless steel sink.

The good news? Once it went in, it looks wonderful, as if it were the right choice all along.

The bad news? It was complicated!

  • The first two sinks we ordered arrived dented in the same spot, it was a packaging issue so we switched brands and the third sink looked great.
  • But! Even though the old sink and the new sink were the "same size", the new one didn't fit into the granite countertop. Luckily, the people who installed it came out and shaved off about 1/8 inch all around.
  • But then! The dispenser wouldn't fit without re-configuring everything under the sink, ok, no problem, we just capped it off.
  • But then! The plumber couldn't get the Kohler touch faucet to work. He worked with Kohler support and some kind of replacement part soon arrived.

    But then! He couldn't get that to work either and they decided it had something to do with our power or our well or something that was way not getting replaced.

    I gave up. Remember the good news how we love the new sink? So much easier to keep clean!

Shop Our Kitchen: All In One Place

St. Louis-Area Kitchen Remodel Resources

  • CONTRACTOR Our most-wonderful, most-talented, most-capable St. Louis contractor, Rick Bruder
  • KITCHEN DESIGN Our much-appreciated kitchen designer, Adrea Jones from RSI Kitchens & Bath in St. Louis. We would totally use RSI again, the showroom is huge and very helpful as we made decisions along the way. During construction, two cabinets arrived damaged but RSI replaced them right away. And our designer, Adrea! She was a real stickler for details and listened to and responded to our needs. She was also really good at the behind-the-wall details, not just the the "up front and pretty stuff". We were very pleased with RSI!
  • PAINTING Chris Cannon did all the paint work, it was done on vacation so we didn't even meet him in person!

Other Sources

  • DOORS & WINDOWS Pella, the local sales office was super helpful, including offering a list of certified installers like our contractor Rick Bruder who ended up being way-way more than the "doors and window guy". He's amazing and ten years later, we still rely on him for work on the house, most recently new windows, new gutters and we so wish we'd used him for a new roof.
  • Our favorite glass cleaner is Perfect Glass from The Hope Company. It's actually a St. Louis company! but we find Perfect Glass and other Hope cleaning products at Home Depot, Lowe's and naturally, Amazon (affiliate link).


To my eyes, our kitchen reads as a "white kitchen" or not white, exactly and definitely not a cold, stark white but instead a "creamy white". That's because the cabinet color and the painted molding are the same color, a pretty creamy white.

I work really hard to keep us in a color palate: creamy white, the rust/brown colors in the countertops; the black in the table, the cast iron; metallic brushed nickel (aka silver) in the sink, the hanging utensils, and more.

  • WALLS I don't know the name of the brown paint color in the kitchen. Brown? Yes, brown! It's a lovely warm brown and it's almost an accent color, given that there's not much painted wall space. It goes really well with the island and countertops, both which I inherited.
  • CUPBOARDS The existing cupboards were already a creamy white so when we added new cabinetry, we ordered the color we wanted on them, then painted the existing cupboards to match. The paint color is Benjamin Moore Wood Ash. We use this trim color throughout the house, unifying the rooms.
  • CEILING We use two colors in the ceiling, including a ton of ceiling molding. The creamy white is also Benjamin Moore Wood Ash. Between the molding, we use a really pretty pink color. Yes, pink! It's really more neutral than pink, especially in person. We use the color elsewhere in the house including the foyer and a hall bath. The paint color is Benjamin Moore Basking Ridge Beige.


Sorry, I've lost track of the brand/name of the flooring.

But again, I started off with objectives.

  • Contribute to the "light" we were so seeking in the room.
  • Something easy on the feet/legs, especially since I spend so much time on my feet in the kitchen.
  • Something easy on the eyes, no big flooring statement, something that would almost disappear, almost not be noticed at all.
  • Something easy to clean, easy to notice that it needs sweeping or cleaning.

We knew that we could pick something that worked "only" in the kitchen rather than having to match/coordinate with the two adjacent rooms. It opens into the family room, which has wood floors. On the other side, it opens into the dining room which has stone tiles.

All this led us to nix several options:

  • Wood floors — would add an entirely new aesthetic in the kitchen, nowhere else is there any warm wood color.
  • Stone — or something looking like stone but realized it would fight with the brick in the "man cave" and is notorious for being hard on legs, to say nothing of glass shattering.
  • Tile — I just didn't want the fuss of tile and grout, to say nothing of it being hard for standing and breaking glass.

THE DECISION We went with a single sheet of what used to be called linoleum. It's that same creamy color, "looks" a bit like stone squares, has a little texture so isn't flat and shiny and is definitely easy for standing.



I like the looks of the texture but after 10 years, those little grooves do collect dirt that takes real scrubbing to remove every so often. It never "looks" dirty but it is. Somehow, the flooring also has three maybe one-inch gashes, no idea how they came to be.

Magnetic Knife Rack

  • For storing knives in vertical space, Magnetic Knife Tool Bar (affiliate link), comes in three different widths.
  • For cutting pastry or scooping up chopped vegetables to move into a skillet, you definitely want to check out a benchknife.

Swivel Cafe-Height Chairs / Bar Stools

  • These black bar stools (affiliate link) that swivel and easily adjust up and down, really helped my elderly father slip onto his chair for meals. If it hadn't worked, we were going to have to get a whole new kitchen table/chairs. I was glad not to!

Bronze Pig

We love the work of Sandy Scott, a bronze animal sculptor. By reading her blog, I learned that she summers on the Canadian side of Lake of the Woods, across the lake from my Minnesota hometown.

Extra Photos

Many of the photos are closeups to highlight the Top Ten Things. But I always love kitchen reveals when the photographer backs up and shows the whole space from different angles. So here you go!

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.
Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.
Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

Questions You Might Ask Yourself

  • Have you ever given hard thought to "why" you'd change your kitchen vs "how" you'd change your own kitchen, given the chance?
  • What's the biggest change you'd make to accomplish one of your own objectives?
  • Would you pull out windows and doors to accomplish your kitchen goals?
  • Would blending the old with the new put your own kitchen project within reach? And what do you think about ours, did we make the right decision to keep the old cabinets even while installing new ones?
  • Are you longing for a kitchen island or seating at a kitchen island? And what do you think about our low-cost solution, a cafe-height table?
  • What's in your corner cabinet? How does it work for you?
  • Would you put in a hot water spigot? Is there some small change that would get daily use?
  • How do you keep knives handy, would a magnetic rack work in your space?
  • Would a pitcher or water be a good reminder to stay hydrated?
  • Would hanging pots and pans work? Could we neatniks stand an open spice rack? :-)
  • Is a touch of whimsy important?!

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? good ideas? thinking that your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this kitchen reveal inspires you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Ten Things I Love About Our New Kitchen (After Ten Years!) ♥ KitchenParade.com. Surprisingly, seven don't require a remodeling budget or construction dust.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2015 & 2023 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Very nice! I love all the thought that went into it, and it's true, sometimes it's the little things that make the difference, like your tray. That is lovely how it reminds you of your trip.

    I use the lazy Susan for appliances as well, and it is so awesome! We moved last year to this house, and our kitchen and storage space increased immensely, but I still really appreciate having the appliances there.

  2. Anonymous9/01/2015

    When we moved into our new home, we knew that light in the kitchen was going to be one of our pain points.
    Previous owners had had a great idea of putting up a mirror behind the stovetop which really gives a modern look to the kitchen, adds depth and light to the whole area.
    If looking for ideas on how to jazz the whole area up, maybe you could consider a mirror. Cleaning wise, it's super easy even if some things splatter on it, just wipe it clean with a damp towel and some glassex.

  3. Anonymous9/01/2015

    This post is great! Full of ideas for the young and not so young cook. Small changes can produce great spaces; and moving things about can help when reaching and such becomes a challenge. I refer to the use of the corner cabinets. We are moving the "heavy" stuff for me to this new location and putting the "light" pantry stuff up in the cupboards. Love your idea for knives; we have knives we never use and they are taking up drawer space I really don't have. The wall rack is on my list. Thanks again for your ideas. Enjoy your new kitchen! Auntie

  4. RaiderGirl ~ Thanks! And I’m glad to know someone else has discovered that a lazy susan corner is not wasted space! And << smile >> I’m so happy that your comment, the very first for this post, mentions the tray from Finland. Yeah, happy memories!

    Anonymous ~ A mirror! That never occurred to me! If it had, I’d probably have thought, No, because of the reflection with cooking photos. But the thing is? I bet I haven’t taken a single shot at the stove in two years! So believe it or not, I’ve got a large mirror propped up in that space now -- and am totally surprised to realize that that space is the first thing I see when when sitting/working in my office in the family room down the hall. It reminds that how impt it is to find something “right’ for here. Thank you for the mirror idea, I’m testing it out right now!

    Auntie ~ Thank you! And you are so right about small changes. What a brilliant idea to move the light stuff up, keeping the heavy stuff down. Glad you like the magnetic knife racks, totally a space saver and an efficiency maker!

  5. I love all the light! Way to condense your vision into concrete points.
    Thanks for the tip for glass cleaner--I've been looking for one that works better than our usual suspects. I suppose I'd actually have to clean the windows then!
    Our knives are stored in a neat container--a vertical knife rack (with slots) that's hanging inside a lower cabinet door. So easy to open the door, reach down and pick up a knife, straighten up and chop. We don't have room between the counter and the cabinets, we didn't want to take up precious counter space with a knife block, and ditto precious drawer space. We saw the knife rack online, decided it was too pricey, then 2 days later found it at a yard sale a few blocks away for $3. Kismet!

  6. Thanks for sharing the evolution of your new kitchen. We are about to embark on a huge remodeling on a new old house we are purchasing. I have already taken a big hint from you and think I will skip the prep sink. We can use that block of space for more counter. And I'm going to check out the hot water spigot. That could be very handy.
    Stella from Richmond, VA

  7. Kirsten ~ re glass cleaner, the woman who comes to help clean always says, If you want streaky windows, use Windex. :0 What an indictment! Love your idea for knives kept inside a cupboard door, great work.

    Stella ~ Yay, well then the hours I spent on this post were entirely worth it, knowing you’ll give a prep sink a second look. The only good news I have there is that when the garbage disposal goes out in the main sink, all we have to do is transfer over the one from the prep sink. See? All is not lost, Alanna. :-) Good luck with your project! Feel free to ask questions, I’m happy to share our experience here.

  8. I did the "hot water spigot" when doing my kitchen. LOVED it. Unfortunately, I'm on well water and about a year later the spigot wouldn't work. Called the plumber and you should have seen all the sand packed in it. He told me it would just continue doing it, so I decided not to install a new one. The town close by is using the same aquifer I am and slowly I'm losing my well water. I ended up switching to a water machine that does hot and cold water (bought it at SAMs club) and I get bottled water. Turned out to be a blessing as I have people working on the ranch now and they can go in and get really cold water or a hot cuppa cuppa. Nobody wasting individual water bottles or opening and closing the fridge. We all know where to go for water. So sometimes the sad thing can be made into something that works better for you. At the time I built the kitchen I didn't have workers on the ranch cause "my man with the hands" was beside me everyday. He passed and I couldn't see myself leaving or stopping the most beautiful thing I had ever known. There are days when I'll be in a tractor crying (even now) cause the memories are so sweet but always the tears are with a smile. I'm glad you married your man, there really is something "different", more secure, more "settled in" about it. You just know you are home........

  9. I have lived with the same Orange-y kitchen for 7 years. I can't take it! It's slowly breaking me! Your kitchen transformation gives me courage!

  10. Auntie Karen9/24/2023

    Your new kitchen reflects your eye for design, the joy of cooking and tasteful efficiency. Very useful info for anyone building or remodeling.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna