Choosing our Kitchen Floors
The builder thought I was crazy. Friends thought I was crazy. My husband, who believes in me, did not—and agreed we should go with wooden floors. Yes, tile floors do better with water and spills, but they are harder on your legs. When you regularly spend up to eight hours standing in your kitchen, the give of the floor surface matters a lot. Sure, those ugly rubber floors or the hideous mats we use in commercial kitchens have more give, but they are just too awful looking. So we ripped up the tile and subsequent layer upon layer of linoleum, and eventually ended up continuing the wooden floors that are throughout the house. We put wipeable Chilewich mats under the sink and stove to catch drips and splashes, and accept that every few years we will need to re-coat the floors.
While black stain on wood floors is all the rage now, we opted for the warmer dark brown, which feels homier, more fitting for the house and a more natural wood color. We kept the same tone of brown– though none are an exact match, which we like– on our counter stools (they swivel!) and the salvage doors we used on the barn door hardware made by White Shanty. (I found both the stools and White Shanty on Etsy, by the way).
Cabinets and Cabinet Organization
I love a white kitchen. Not stark white, which can be harsh and cold, but warmer looking linen or antique white. I wanted a little detail on the cabinet doors in keeping with the age of the house, but nothing fussy and grime-catching.
We chose to outfit our island with deep drawers rather than the usual cabinets with shelves, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, deep drawers allow you to see all your stacked pots and pans without having to take them out of the cabinet. Second, when cabinets have pull-out shelves, it is a two-step process to get to your equipment: first you open the doors, then you pull out the drawers. We chose to do away with the first step in the name of efficiency, but also because in our previous kitchen we would hurriedly pull out the drawers without fully opening the cabinet doors, and the inside of the doors got badly and deeply scratched.
The center cabinet is actually a pull out for the garbage bins, which you’ll see below.
This is what the inside of our new island drawers look like– you really can see everything at once.
We didn’t do a lot of specialty interior fittings, which are costly and mostly not all that useful. We bought a slide out garbage bin holder (similar to this) at Home Depot for the center cabinet, which the builder adapted so the top of the pails would be closer to the height of the counter tops. For some reason, most home kitchen built-in garbage bins are much lower the countertop, and you can’t easily slide scraps from your work surface into the bin. Raising it up is a back– and floor– saver. Jake, on the left, does not like it one bit.
We splurged on two pull-out base spice cabinets, but removed some of the shelves to use them for oils and vinegars on one side and frequently used cooking items like cornstarch, baking soda, specialty salts and sauces on the other.
Spice jars are more quickly identifiable at eye level, so we store them in alphabetical order on inexpensive two-tiered turntables similar to these in one of our few top cabinets.
Not having many top cabinets keeps the look and flow of the kitchen open and makes our relatively narrow room feel wider.
Everyone talks about cabinet hardware as being the jewelry of the kitchen, but I think that doesn’t give its design impact enough credit. Hardware can make a simple white kitchen turn 80’s pop-funk (think red, hot pink and yellow plastic knobs); mid-century modern sleek (straight tubular handles); retro industrial chic (bin pulls); or traditional classic elegance (glass and brass knobs).
I wanted quietly interesting design, but, as with everything else, couldn’t sacrifice on ease of use and cleaning. In our last kitchen, we had square knobs that looked great, but regularly caught and ripped my pockets and loose clothing. I definitely wanted smooth pulls this time around! Several pulls we tried were too narrow for Ebo’s hands to grab in a hurry, and many we looked at would have been bacteria repositories. I finally found the perfect look and functionality in offset un-lacquered brass pulls, (the handles hang down a bit from where they screw into the cabinet) which we combined with brass-backed glass knobs.
We think our KitchenAid range is mighty handsome…but good looks alone aren’t enough for us. We develop recipes for magazines (like this month’s Rachael Ray Every Day, which includes a feature on our kitchen), corporations, and books, and we need a reliable, hard working range to support us. If the stove goes down, we’re out of business.
After spending 15 years with our last range, it took us a couple of weeks to adjust, but now we’re in heaven. There’s plenty of space for us to each be working on our own projects, and the two ovens below heat more evenly than our last ones. Oh– see that pot filler above the range? We weren’t sure we wanted it (we got it to match our faucets) and now we think it is one of the best “extras” decisions we made in the kitchen. We fill pots right at the stove and don’t have to schlep them the sink. Love this.
We knew there would be a lot of stainless showing in the kitchen, but we wanted to be sure it would not feel like a lab. So when it came to the fridge and dishwasher, we went for the built-in look. The range, hood and double wall ovens (a 30-inch oven plus microwave) are all stainless. We think we hit a good balance.
The refrigerator, by the way, is counter depth, which means the shelves are shallower– which means we don’t lose items to the no-man’s-land in the back. We can see everything! (True story: I showed it to a friend and she said, “Oh, I just want to hug it!”. So yes, there is such a thing as fridge love.)
Want to read more about our kitchen design and renovation? Get the September issue of Rachael Ray Every day magazine, or read my posts below:
Coming Soon! Pantry Pornography
Please note: We partnered with many companies, including Silestone, KitchenAid and Elkay to produce our dream kitchen, and received goods and services along the way. We chose to work with products that meet our standards for quality, durability, functionality and good looks– and that we are happy to live with for the next 20 years.