I Have This Thing With Kitchens

When I stalk a house or apartment online or in print, I quickly flip through to get to the kitchen. It makes zero sense because I don't really cook. No, that's why I keep my spouse around, as my personal chef and manservant of course. Yeah, so I can't explain the kitchen obsession. I guess because I like food.

Anyway, I've completed several kitchen overhauls (like, say, this one) and today I present my 1920s bungalow kitchen renovation in Denver, the house I shortly thereafter rented out to someone else while I took off to live in Japan. Tragic, no? (Yes.)

Everyone loves a kitchen re-do. Here's how it looked when I bought the house – we all know the sweet-ass vintage '80s/'90s look.

That hurts my eyes. Could have been worse but you know I was dying to get my hands on it. After a lot of obsessing and a yearlong shitstorm of squirreling away every cool design I came across onto my kitchen board, I ended up with a very basic, affordable style with plenty of flexibility for personalization.

Here's how it all went down.

First, I emptied the old cabinets and made a temporary kitchen in the adjoining office complete with cereal, s+p, coffee press (in the bathroom sink for this picture), mini crock pot (unused), electric kettle, toaster, some other things I can't remember now, and microwave in the closet. This is all I need in a kitchen to survive anyway, so it wasn't a difficult adjustment. Luckily the refrigerator stayed in place and the renovation happened around it.
The crew removed the old cabinets in about 37 minutes. Amazing. If only the rest of the job had gone like that.

And off it went.

The new cabinets took weeks and weeks because the Ikea installation company assigned to my project had only one guy to spare. Fortunately he was a meticulous installer with an insane work ethic (14 hour days?) but I felt bad for him and helped out more than I ever thought possible. But hey, I learned a lot. Like, say, that I never want to install cabinets on my own.

Gradually the room started taking shape. I didn't change the layout much, which kept the project manageable and relatively short-lived.

And one day, the stove wasn't in the middle of the dining room anymore.

Then the counter went in ...
... and the sink.

Crazy amounts of stupid little decisions go into kitchen renovations, most of which I'm now suppressing. Fortunately.
At this point I started painting the walls and reluctantly began to contemplate backsplash ideas. Such a commitment! I've never been good at commitment.

Things were progressing quickly toward the end and I still hadn't decided.
The boxers weren't helping, they looked liked this through the entire ordeal.

Then one day it was done.
Just a simple, classic design with a little modernity thrown at it. Removing upper cabinets made the room feel bigger and open. I took the remaining upper cabinets way up to the ceiling so there's no shortage of space for all the cooking things. (We have a lot.) I keep the microwave in the un-pictured hall closet, microwaves are ugly and mess with my spartan vibe. This is why I built an under-counter microwave shelf in my studio kitchen.
Something missing? Ha-haa! No backsplash. But for once I was happy about my perpetual state of indecision because I started liking the minimal look I had going. I went back and forth ad nauseam on plain subway tile or marble slab or marble subway tile or hex marble tile but for now I really like the simple, clean, no-noise look. I used good paint so food splatter comes right off and I can touch it up if needed.
I considered painting that back plaster wall a dark color like (whaaat) black or streaky grey. Backsplash possibilities are endless, clearly a real problem for me. Suggestions welcome. But for now the best answer really was the simplest, and in this case the cheapest. I'm calling it Occam's Anna's razor.

Sorry about the shit photos, I mostly used my old iPhone due to laziness. The entire project took 8 weeks from start to finish, not including the faucet that was backordered for months.

And there you have it, my sweet little kitchen in Denver that I'm not even currently using.

The goods: Ikea cabinets and sink, Bosch appliances, quartz counters with matte finish (because concrete is significantly more expensive and curing would have taken too long and I have no patience), Vigo faucet, barn wood shelves on Ikea brackets, and the clamp light is from Amazon, also comes in white.


  1. I still get the goosebumps whenever I see your kitchen! Such a fabulous job. You can design or redesign my kitchen/house/whatever ANY time (hint, hint think about a trip to Oregon...). Don't worry, commitment is absurdly overrated, just ask me a (two time-egad) divorcee! Haha

    1. What's this about Oregon? You didn't tell me it's a sure thing! Regardless, count me in – you know I live for this shit.

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