It seems I love to draw out kitchen reveal posts. But the wait is over; it's time to dive into my parent's kitchen renovation! So let's start from the beginning, the very beginning. Here I am in 1986 crushing raisins in our old kitchen. It had pine cabinets, red laminate countertops, white appliances, and a layout that didn't work. In '86, there was no "foyer."
My mom grew up in this house, yup. When she was young, the kitchen had a larger footprint that expanded into what is now the rental apartment. The highlight of the antique kitchen was a glass telephone closet where the current pantry is.
1980s floor plan
In 1990, the first of three renovations began. The result was a reconfigured and expanded kitchen with cherry cabinets, green marbleized Formica countertops, white wainscoting, a french door pantry, skylight, and black and white linoleum floors.
With a few changes along the way, the kitchen remained this way for over a decade. The walls morphed from yellow to dark green, to another color that time will not allow us to remember.
updated floor plan 1990s
Then, in what we believe was 2008, the kitchen was modernized. Mom attributes the inspiration for the second iteration to Jenna Lyons' kitchen. She said, "Before (in the 80s), you either had white cabinets or wood cabinets; nobody had dark cabinets."
Jenna Lyons' kitchen in featured in Domino Magazine
And so, the cabinets were painted and rehung. White uppers and near black lowers were accented by long horizontal pulls. The Formica backsplash was replaced by 4"x 4" white porcelain tile, the walls were painted a light gray, and a fresh layer of black and white linoleum tile was laid upon the old. Somewhere along the way, the range was updated. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of this phase.
Renovation 2.5 happened when my husband and I moved into our East Village apartment in 2013. We remodeled the kitchen and were unable to make the existing marble countertops work, but of course, my parents could. There was only enough marble to install on the range wall; remnants of Formica were hidden under sections of cleverly placed cutting boards and dish towels.
Some of you will say that the kitchen didn't need yet another makeover. It's true; in its last state, it looked great. But like most creators, Grace B. Keogh itches for change, and the fire to remodel was ignited late one night on Craigslist...
It's summer 2019, and mom is late night scrolling on Craigslist looking at flooring. She spots 10'' quarter sawn oak, and that's it, RIP linoleum. "John...? I need you to drive me to (insert location) to pick up (insert item)." I've heard this sentence innumerable times throughout my life.
We're calling this the kitchen that Craigslist built because most everything was found on Craigslist or at auction. As for what is not second hand, that'd be the faucet, sink, refrigerator, cabinet knobs, and the wallpaper(s).
You may say there are many similarities between my parent's kitchen and my kitchen. You'd be correct in that observation. My mom and I share the same birthday. In addition to that fun nugget, I've been living under the shadow of a glorified design legend, and artist. She helped me make all the decisions in my kitchen renovation, as well as ALL important design decisions.
Let's start with what remains the same: the layout, the 1990s lowers are going strong, the range, the wainscoting, the windows, and the front door. As with each previous renovation, everything was updated by the handiest guy, and executor of vision, John, my father. Sure, I helped along the way, but this man can do it all.
As aforementioned, the kitchen started with the dream floors, and everything snowballed from there. Next found on Craigslist was the Zellige tile from Clé. Grace was on yet another late-night sleuth session when she found them. Frantically, she woke my dad at 11 PM and pleaded that he drive her to the Bronx at 8 AM the next morning, a Sunday; the man is a saint.
I don't want to dive too deeply into the white concrete countertops. One, I have PTSD, two, I don't recommend that 99% of you try this DIY, three if you're brazen enough, you can find all the information you need on YouTube. Let's just say it was very intense work, and in the end, we found that the counters were staining even with water! After a painful process of having to sand them down, and then coat them with a particular sealant, they're finally OK, but I can't recommend you try this on your own.
The cabinets are painted the same color as mine. It's not that we can't think beyond Purbeck Stone, we just happened to have an extra gallon after painting the cabinets in the rental apartment, and it's a fabulous cabinet color. A local shop fabricated the floating shelf above the cupboards.
Mom was dead set on revamping the pantry. Sick of seeing all of her food, and having gone down the curtain route from 1990 to the early 2000s, she found an old door and had my dad reframe the closet. To literally top it off, dad added a transom window removed from the door that once lead from the kitchen to the library in my home.
One of the best moments in the kitchen is when you open the pantry to see more wallpaper, although it's actually wrapping paper from Clove & Creek, a shop in Kingston, NY.
I'm not exactly sure when the decision to wallpaper the foyer happened. I ordered a ton of swatches for another project and brought them over one day. We started pinning them up and fell in love with the idea. We landed on a classic Morris & Co. print.
The dining table was found at a local auction, as were all of the chairs. The folk art deer (also found at auction) was my Christmas present to mom. I wish you could have seen her reaction when she opened it. It came in a gigantic box, which always makes the present better. When she got through the packaging, she squealed and hugged the deer.
The lamp on the counter was my dad's Christmas present to my mom, found on eBay, which she clearly picked out. The chandelier was also an eBay find. The hutch is an oldie found on Craigslist painted a color that never fails, Hague Blue. The ever-talented Grace B. Keogh painted all of the art in the kitchen. Some are available for sale.
Over 30 years, this kitchen has been a labor of love thanks to the combination of my mother's creative direction and father's incredible handiwork. Version 3.0 is a welcoming and comfortable space for our family to gather, chatter, and celebrate.
Let this kitchen be a lesson to dream big, because one day, Craigslist will provide.