A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Kitchen Details

I never wrote about the finishing details in our low-budget kitchen remodel so now that the cabinets are finally painted it’s time for a wrap-up.

The plumbing in our master bathroom attic remodel necessitated a drop in the ceiling of the kitchen for clearance of the toilet trap. Instead of an odd-looking, random thing in the ceiling, I suggested that the contractor frame around the kitchen window forming a recess that looked intentional. Genius, if I do say so myself. We added lighting along with pot racks and a simple valance I sewed myself (haven’t really sewed anything since “Home Economics” in junior high so it was a huge accomplishment). It not only adds some mood lighting to the kitchen but also spot lighting over the sink.

We also bought the classic period light fixtures from Rejuvenation. The light fixture above is general lighting for the kitchen and the fixture at right is in front of the pantry.

On the opposite wall, the section in the photo below is mounted at bar height and acts as our essential drinks area (espresso, wine and carbonated water—what else does one need?). I saw the nifty under-cabinet mount for my iPad at the Apple Store, and it works great for reading recipes on Epicurious or listening to music through Pandora, Radio.com or iTunes.

The cabinets are reused upper wall cabinets, mounted below the counter in this case, so they’re much more shallow than base cabinets. We got the idea to mount the cabinets this way when we were shopping at IKEA for cheap countertops. Since we changed the kitchen layout, the old countertops weren’t going to work, but we also didn’t want to spend a lot of money on new countertops.

I saved up and used reward points to buy the Boos kitchen cart from Williams-Sonoma, which is an exclusive style for them and the one I liked the most of all that I’ve seen.

Space is at a premium in our cabinets, so this stores larger appliances like the rice cooker, food processor, toaster and mixer without looking too cluttered. It makes it easy to get to those items as well. With the counter at bar height it stows away under the counter and can also be pulled out and used as an island. Our kitchen is too narrow for a permanent island.

Speaking of counter, this was part of an “island-depth” counter from IKEA that has a concrete look (but is a laminate with fake stainless edge). Since it was meant for an island, it had the finished edging all the way around. This style was discontinued, unfortunately, but because of that we got it for something like $65. We had the counter cut lengthwise (which is a whole other story for another time) to base cabinet depth, shown below, which filled the space between the sink and refrigerator—miraculously it was the perfect width for our reconfigured base cabinets. The remaining section equaled the depth of the wall cabinets. so it formed the countertop on the opposite wall.

We also decided on butcher block from IKEA for the remaining sections: the corner counter space and a small section next to the stove. We had to jury-rig the section behind our stove with a piece of plywood to make it look continuous—this is definitely not a custom, seamless fit, but hey, it works.

Then, to expand the roll-out shelves in the base cabinets we sawed the post that split it into 2 way-too-small sections, screwed the post to one of the doors, and Pete made two full-width roll-out drawers that can hold way more stuff. We followed the instructions here on This Old House.

He did a great job building these.

Yes, you have to open both doors to access the stuff stored here, but compared to the amount of space you gain it’s a minor thing in my opinion.

Finally, we added drawer pulls and cabinet knobs in brushed nickel to go with the stainless steel. The cabinets never had any prior to this. We also replaced the hinges to ones that were more hidden. It made a huge difference.

So, all in all, it may not be my dream kitchen (I could really use more cabinet space, for one, and seamless countertops in quartz or recycled content is high on my wish list) but the changes we made are things that definitely make our kitchen easier to live with for an indeterminable amount of time.


  1. Josh on December 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Nice work on the kitchen, Denise! I especially like the Reuvenation fixtures with their striped globes and the DIY rollout shelves. I’m working on my kitchen, too, and like you have found some important pieces at (surprise!) IKEA. Cheers!

  2. denise on December 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Thanks Josh! I love our Rejuvenation fixtures too. IKEA definitely has some useful, attractive things for the house without making it look “too IKEA”–and it’s a great place to get ideas!

  3. jamie on May 6, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    I am in the curious position of looking at bungalow restoration blogs to get ideas for lighting solutions for a new bungalow that my husband and I are nearing completion on building. I have been impressed by Schoolhouse products and liked the big globe in your kitchen from Rejuvenation. Over time, have you found any other sources that impress you (and might not be limited strictly to true period pieces)? Thanks!

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