It's been two years since we completely gutted and renovated the kitchen in our 1930s row house in Philadelphia, so I thought I'd share an update on it! I know I always appreciate hearing what others have to say about renovations after living with them for awhile and when I asked on Instagram if y'all would like to hear about our kitchen, the answer was a resounding YES. (Hooray!) I'm excited to talk about what we love, what bugs us, and what we would change if we could do it all over again.
(Psst - if you'd like to see the original blog post about our renovation or check out all of the sources, you can head on over here!)
As a bit of an introduction, when we bought our house, the kitchen was a bit of a disaster. In photos, it actually didn't look terrible, but in person, it was in rough shape. Most of the tiles were cracked thanks to some seriously uneven floors, the arrangement of the cabinets/counters wasn't making the most of the space, and it just felt worn out. It was also closed off to the rest of the house so it felt cramped and isolated - no good! In a small house (it's only 1200 square feet total), the more open we could make it feel, the better, so down came the wall that separated the kitchen from the rest of the first floor.
When we renovated, we ripped everything out and started from scratch. It felt SO good to start with a clean slate! My father-in-law (he's a contractor) and I actually did this project together and it was such a great learning experience. Overall, the bottom line is that I'm still extremely happy with how everything turned out! If you want more details on the specifics, read on...
I'll review the major aspects of our kitchen individually below, so if you're interested in one particular part, you can scroll down to that section. Let's start with our cabinets!
Kitchen Cabinets: IKEA Sektion with Veddinge Door/Drawer Fronts
After weighing several options, we decided to go with IKEA kitchen cabinets for several reasons: the look, the functionality, and the cost. I wanted to go for a modern style, so the Veddinge cabinet fronts fit right in with the look we were going for - I loved the simple white slab and the price was very affordable! I feel like the IKEA options are fairly limited, so I briefly toyed with the idea of having Semihandmade cabinet fronts made for them, but ultimately, since I landed on a simple flat front, I didn't need to go that route.
The IKEA system is beautifully engineered, and that, plus the affordability, is what ultimately sold me on it. There's also a lot of flexibility in functionality - soft-close doors/drawers come standard, and you can add various hidden inner drawers to organize everything to your heart's desire. It's fabulous!
I've got two great examples of that. The first thing I love is the hidden inner "drawer-within-a-drawer" that allows us to store a ton of cutlery and kitchen tools while keeping them separate and organized. We have these hidden drawers in three of our cabinets.
The second is our coffee station that's situated in one of our two tall pantries. In a small kitchen, I love not having our precious counter space cluttered with small appliances, and being able to store our coffee maker away is huge. It sits on a drawer that we can pull out to use. No issues with trapping steam or loading up the water basin here!
Countertops: Caesarstone Quartz in "London Grey" and Butcher Block
Quartz countertops were the splurge in our kitchen and we absolutely would install them again. They're durable and give us the marble look we wanted without the maintenance. They feel both modern and traditional, and we wouldn't trade them for any other material. The only thing we've noticed that you have to be careful with is red wine. We've left some bottles on the counters and realized that it tends to stain. BUT, a little bit of Bar Keeper's Friend and a sponge took it right out with a little bit of scrubbing.
We also have butcher block on a small section of cabinets. We decided to do that to add a little bit of warmth and to make the little run of floating cabinets feel more like a piece of furniture. Since it's not a main prep area, the wood has held up beautifully after two years of light use.
Tile Floors and Radiant Heat
One advantage of postponing a renovation for 9 months after we purchased our house is that we got to live with it through a few seasons, and we discovered pretty quickly that those tile floors are COLD in the winter! Our kitchen sits over a garage and the great outdoors, so it doesn't have a ton to insulate it from the elements. In Philadelphia, that matters since we have serious winter weather to contend with! We decided we would install radiant heat under our tile floors and it was the best decision. It not only heats our feet, but it warms up our whole kitchen as well, and it wasn't very expensive to add. The one regret? We didn't install it quite close enough to our cabinets and appliances. The installation guide recommended keeping the electric heat a certain distance from any fixed element, and I think we overdid it a little bit, which is a bummer in the dead of winter.
Brass Cabinet Hardware
We chose brass hardware in our kitchen and I still love it two years later. For the doors, we went with hexagon knobs from CB2 and for the drawer pulls are from Target.
The hex knobs are still going strong, but pulls are showing signs of wear and tear now in a couple of places. They seem to have some sort of laminated finish that's flaking off - you can't see it from a distance, but you can when you look up close. I don't think we'll replace them for that reason, but it's clear that they're not as well made as the ones from CB2.
Appliances: Whirlpool Gold Refrigerator, Range, and Dishwasher
Though the existing appliances were in OK shape, we decided to replace them at the time of our renovation since we wanted to move to stainless steel (the existing ones were white) and we didn't know how much longer they would last. We chose to go with the Whirlpool Gold series refrigerator, range, and dishwasher, and we're still happy with our decision. If I could change anything about those appliances today, I might have chosen a slide-in instead of a freestanding gas range just because of the sleeker look, but the freestanding was more affordable, so that ended up sealing the deal!
That wraps up my review of the major parts of kitchen renovation after living with it for two years! The bottom line? We still love our kitchen and are happy with about 90% of it - not bad, huh? If you have any questions about other aspects of it, I'd be glad to answer them. Feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me a note!