Category Archives: kitchens

kitchen pendant lighting - via the sweetest digs

choosing pendant lights for a kitchen

29th April 2015

Guys, I owe you the scoop on our kitchen lighting (lots of you have been asking – sorry!). In terms of the lighting in our house, we had to come up with a plan with our electrician in the early reno stages. Of course we were putting potlights throughout, but I’m really not one for going potlight crazy. Have you noticed that a lot of new homes these days have a zillion potlights everywhere and no other types of lighting? What happened to some good old pendants or sconces? I am a big fan of layered lighting in a room, and find that light fixtures can add so much to the overall design of a space, so I really wanted to think through our plan carefully room-by-room. Here is how we created our kitchen lighting plan, including choosing pendant lights.

We decided on a three light source scheme for our kitchen: some potlights (6 in total), under cabinet lighting, and pendants over our peninsula and sink. The potlights provide the main light source, the under-cabinet lighting really helps brighten the countertop, and the pendants? Sure they provide light, but they are largely there to bring the pretty.

kitchen pendant lighting - via the sweetest digs

I have scoured lighting sources like crazy during this reno. From big box store options to more upmarket retailers and online companies, there are tons of places you can find exactly what you’re looking for. I knew that over the peninsula was going to be *THE* spot to highlight some beautiful pendants, so I was keen to get something special. Have you been on They have just about everything you could possibly want (lighting + beyond). I can’t even tell you how many hours I have spent browsing their lighting options.

I was pretty torn between a few different pendants for the peninsula, but I ultimately landed on these ‘Congress 1-light mini pendants‘. I thought they were simple and lovely. They wouldn’t feel heavy or block any sight lines, but would add some beauty to the space. I went with the antique nickel, which I thought would tie in with the chrome sink and faucet. I almost went with a gold/brass fixture, but then thought that having the silver would help balance the whole mixed metals thing (I was shaking in my boots a little before the pendants came, not sure if it was all going to work, but luckily I think it did!). The brand is Hinkley, who have SO many other gorgeous light fixtures. Oh and the vintage-style bulbs come with the lights!

kitchen pendant lighting - via the sweetest digsOver the sink I went with a simple pendant from IKEA – the Ranarp. I didn’t want another glass shade that would compete with the Hinkley ones, so this white guy was perfect. A good example of a high-low mix.

kitchen pendant lighting - via the sweetest digs

The layering of the light in this space is just right. When they are all on, it is such a nice and bright space, but if we don’t need it to be overkill, it doesn’t have to be. And I can happily say that pretty much everybody who has come over to the house comments on the pendants. It is nice to have a few little jewels, you know?

Please ignore the unfinished range hood in the photo below…

kitchen pendant lighting - via the sweetest digs

For my Canadian readers – ships to Canada, but don’t forget about the taxes and duties you might encounter from shipping cross-border. If you live near the US border, it can be worth shipping there and then driving over to pick them up (I do this frequently with the Ogdensburg UPS Store).

pendant lights, kitchen, kitchen lighting design,

Have you guys had to update the lights in your pad? Have any great lighting sources or tips? We had to get so many light fixtures so quickly when our reno was going on, that I was a bit light-crazy there for a while. Maybe I’ll do a roundup of my go-to sources at some point! 

Disclosure: I partnered with on this post, but of course all opinions are all my own! Thanks for supporting the brands who support this blog.

kitchen subway tile backsplash

kitchen subway tile backsplash: a classic

27th April 2015

Between the etsy shop, prepping for spring craft fairs, my contract work, chipping away at the house, getting our apartment rented, and you know, regular life, finding time to take photos and write up blog posts about our renovation and latest DIYs has become a challenge. Sometimes I feel like I’m not keeping you guys up to date enough! Forgive me? Let’s get back to the kitchen today, k? I never gave the scoop on our backsplash tile.

how to choose the right subway tile backsplash for your kitchen - via the sweetest digs

As our kitchen was coming together, I really hadn’t settled on a backsplash. My dream backsplash is one large slab of marble (like this, and this). I love the strong veining and the impact it has on a room. The cost of that option though, was totally out of the budget.

In the earlier stages of kitchen planning, I kept flip flopping between either going with a marble tile backsplash (more affordable than one big slab) and plain countertop, or a countertop with veining and a more plain backsplash. I didn’t want pattern + pattern – too busy for me. Kind of like how you don’t want to wear a skimpy top with short shorts- you need to pick where you’re going to show off the goods, you know?

Once we found our marble lookalike quartz countertop, I brought home a zillion samples for backsplash. Some grey, some white, some large, some small. I really didn’t have a clear vision of what I wanted. I laid them all out along the countertop and just lived with them for a while.


Some of the white ones got knocked out quickly because they really didn’t match the white of the cabinets (making them appear more yellow). Some of the grey ones clashed with the grey of the lower cabinetry and so got veto’d. Grey is sort of like white in that there are so many tones behind the colour and if you get two that aren’t in the same “family”, they can look awful. The marble tiles also got nixed as the veining was too strong next to the veining in the countertop. I also realized that I didn’t like anything too small as I didn’t want to see too many grout lines.


As much as I wanted something other than subway tile (I felt like that was too predictable), I ended up down to two choices: an elongated white subway tile and a grey subway tile. What can I say? Clearly the reason why so many people like subway tile is that it is just a classic choice. I liked the simplicity and that it wouldn’t steal the show from the other elements going on in the kitchen.

Ultimately I chose some of the longer white tiles – the “Manhattan” 4×12 tiles in white by FAP (I purchased them through Euro Tile & Stone here in Ottawa). I liked the longer look, and they have a cool glazed texture that was different from the usual uniform look on subway tiles. The white won out, as I felt like the kitchen might come off as TOO grey if the whole backsplash was grey, along with the lower cabinetry and stainless steel appliances.


We had our tile guy put these up, all the way to the ceiling with a plain white edging and medium grey grout. The white of these tiles almost perfectly matches our white IKEA cabinets and look great next to the countertop. I really like how they extend to the ceiling, helping to bring the eye up and make it look like a really polished space.

grey and white kitchen with white subway tile


DSC_1494Left on the kitchen to-do list?

-Installing our range hood and custom box to cover up the exposed duct work above the stove.

-Spray paint the white vent cover below the sink cabinet grey. Sticks out like a sore thumb, huh?

-The white trim around the window is waaaaaay too white now compared to the backsplash. Rather than painting it a more subdued white, I was actually thinking of potentially going grey (similar to the cabinet colour). I have very crudely photo-shopped it in in the photo below. What do you think? I’m pretty sold on the idea. (I also photo-shopped out the white vent cover below the sink in this photo – so much better).

kitchen - photoshopped grey trim

Other than that though, I think we’re just about there with the kitchen. Feels really good to have one space in the house that is so close to the finish line.

In case you’re looking for them, here are the other kitchen posts on designing our IKEA kitchen, installing the cabinetry, choosing our marble-lookalike quartz countertop, and installing slim gold hardware.

What do you guys have as backsplash in your kitchen? Do you love it? Are you bored of seeing subway tile all over the place (I thought I was… and then of course I put it all over our house.. ha!)? 

gold kitchen cabinetry hardware - via the sweetest digs

kitchen design: choosing gold hardware pulls and install guide

23rd March 2015

I’m all about the gold and brass and copper these days. Are you guys? When I was a teenager, I was a silver gal through and through, but I slowly migrated over to the warmer metal tones over the last decade+ and especially during these last few years, when all things gold have become on-trend again. So, it’s probably no surprise that when I was choosing the finishes for our kitchen, I immediately gravitated toward gold hardware pulls.

HOW TO install kitchen cabinetry - via the sweetest digs

With the dominating grey and white scheme in our kitchen, I knew that bringing in a bit of gold would warm up the room and add a little bit of glam. I knew I wanted something with clean lines (nothing too ornate) and a pull style rather than knob (just a personal preference thing).

I searched around and fell in love with a few different options – like these and these and these. Ultimately though, some sleek gold pulls from my go-to hardware source, Lee Valley, won me over with price AND look. No having to order online and pay for shipping, or deal with the Canadian-US price conversion. In a perfect world I would have loved to get brushed brass pulls that had a slightly more squared profile, but these were so close that I couldn’t really justify the price difference.

These are the ones – “J” on the far  right side (product number 00W5840). I almost passed them by as the ornate ones on the left aren’t my jam… but then… there they were! They were $5.25 a handle since I was buying more than 10.

lee valley gold pulls

A few notes about installation:
– Figure out exactly where on your cabinet the pulls look best to you. Maybe it’s perfectly centered, or up towards the top. Hold it in a few different spots and take the time to figure out what you like.
– Use a hardware measuring tool (that plastic thing with a bunch of pre-measured holes). You can get them from just about any hardware store, and it really helps make marking out the spots to drill so much easier. I also made a template on paper that I could hold up on my cabinet and make sure I was starting out at the same spot every time.

installing gold cabinetry hardware in a grey and white kitchen - via the sweetest digs
– Always measure twice (three times!), and then drill. Take your time. You don’t want to mess this up… no pressure.

installing gold cabinetry hardware in a grey and white kitchen - via the sweetest digs
– It’s best to drill 3/4 of the way through from the front, but then drill that last bit from the back, as that way you get a clean hole. If you go all the way through from the front, you can have a bit of the cabinetry finish flake off the back around the hole.

installing gold cabinetry hardware in a grey and white kitchen - via the sweetest digs installing gold cabinetry hardware in a grey and white kitchen - via the sweetest digs

Once your holes are drilled, it’s just a matter of taking a screw driver and mounting the pulls. The fun part!

installing gold cabinetry hardware in a grey and white kitchen - via the sweetest digs

There is something about the combo of grey and gold that makes me all kinds of happy.
installing gold cabinetry hardware in a grey and white kitchen - via the sweetest digs

installing gold cabinetry hardware in a grey and white kitchen - via the sweetest digs

The fun thing about kitchen hardware is that it is easy to switch up over time. If, down the road, I want to go for a more “farmhouse” kitchen look, I can put some matte black pulls in. Or maybe I will veer back into the silver arena over time. Who knows. The nice thing is that the big choices in this room – like cabinetry, backsplash, and countertops – are all neutral and long-lasting, and switching out the small things as tastes evolve and change over time, is do-able. Oh, and cabinetry pulls tend to come in standard sizes, so it’s fairly easy to replace pulls without having to fill and drill new holes.

kitchen design, gold hardware pulls, gray and white cabinetry, IKEA kitchen

installing gold cabinetry hardware in a grey and white kitchen - via the sweetest digs

So that’s how the kitchen is looking these days. I need to update you guys on that backsplash, lighting, and faucet (coming soon – promise!). And there are a few things that are still on the to do list: our hood range isn’t up yet, we don’t have the right size of garbage/recycling bins yet in the cabinets, and I’m not happy with the white of the window trim as it is too bright next to the tile… so thinking of painting it out either just a soft white or maybe a gray? You would think the “to do” list at our place would feel like it’s getting smaller, but somehow it just seems to be ever-expanding. Not sure how that works.. ?!

Have you guys ever switched out the hardware in your kitchen? Got a favourite style or colour?

quartz countertop options that look like marble - via the sweetest digs

kitchen reno: choosing quartz countertops

11th March 2015

Let’s chat kitchen countertops today. Specifically, quartz countertops that look like carrara marble. Warning: this is a seriously long post and if you have no interest in countertops and kitchen reno’s, I suggest you just close’r down now. Or take a shot for every time you read the word “quartz”. That’ll make things a whole lot more exciting for sure. Just don’t  play a blog post drinking game and drive.

Some of the decisions with our house reno have been made quickly, and others have been laboured over for a long while. This was the latter.

Here we are, countertop-less…


First step in any kitchen counter decision is material choice. There are so many options these days when it comes to counters – laminate, granite, quartz, quartzite, corian, marble, butcher block, concrete, soapstone, etc – and each have their advantages and disadvantages. We were constantly weighing looks vs price vs longevity and maintenance. Depending on your budget, needs of your household, and your style preference, your choice here is going to vary. I don’t think there are any “bad” choices – just different options to suit different needs. Our criteria came down to the following:

Looks: I wanted something that was light – largely white with a bit of grey – to tie the two colours in the cabinetry together. I like the veining that you find in stone, but didn’t want it to be overly busy.

Longevity & Maintenance: We are a young family and only just in the beginning of likely several decades of fairly major wear and tear on our house. We wanted something that would stand up to kids in the kitchen and would be as maintenance free as possible. I didn’t want to be having to wipe down a spill a split second after it happened because I was worried about staining, or have to seal the counters every year. I’m a low maintenance kind of gal.

Price: To get what we wanted in a) and b) above, we knew we would have to shell out some serious coin. In our overall kitchen scheme, we decided to save on cabinetry (IKEA) and backsplash (more on that in another post) in order to spend more of our budget on countertops.

carrara marble countertop alternatives


After considering all of that, the choice to go with a quartz was pretty clear. It is an engineered stone, so you can get that look of veining as you would in a natural stone, but it is super durable and maintenance free. No having to seal it annually like granite, or worry about spills and staining like a marble. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those choices – we were just trying to choose what would work best FOR US. Here is an article on Remodelista more about the pros and cons of engineered quartz.

Once you get into the world of quartz manufacturers, there are tons of choices. Maybe too many, as it makes the decision process hard! I knew I wanted something that had white and grey in it like a marble, so I went out and started collecting samples and looking at slabs in person where possible.

If I even moderately liked what I saw, I brought samples home with me so that I could hold them up to my cabinetry in the light of my kitchen. There is nothing better than seeing something in your own space – way different than in a showroom under fluorescent lighting. FYI that sometimes it wasn’t super easy to get the sample pieces – it took some persuading and promises of bringing them back to the show room, so be firm if you go out looking. If possible have some sample pieces of your cabinetry and other finishes with you, so that you can see everything together in one place, if you aren’t able to bring home a sample.

If you are looking for a quartz that has grey and white in it and looks similar to carrara marble, these are the ones you might want to check out (this list is current as of March 2015 – manufacturers are always adding new colours). Please also know that these were just the ones I came across, I’m sure there are others out there!

quartz countertop options that look like marble - via the sweetest digs

Here are bigger screenshots of each countertop option, with links to the manufacturer.

Caesarstone – Calcatta Nuvo:

calcatta nuvo

Caesarstone – Frosty Carrina:

caesarstone - frosty carrina
Caesarstone – Misty Carrera:

caesarstone - misty carraraSilestone – Lyra:

silestone - lyra
Silestone – Lagoon:

silestone - lagoonSanta margherita – victoria:

santa margherita - victoria
Santa margherita – lyskamm:

Santa margherita - lyskamm
Cambria – Torquay:

cambria - torquay

Belenco – Fairy White:

belenco - fairy white
Hanstone – Tranquility:

Style: "BEAU_swatches"

Zodiaq – Coarse Carrara:

zodiac - course carraraZodiaq – Snow Drift:

zodiaq - snow drift

After checking each one of those out in person, I narrowed it down to 6 for our kitchen. They all had a fair bit of white in them, and didn’t have the flecks or speckled look that you often find in quartz. It’s totally a personal preference thing – I just don’t like the little flecks and prefer a smooth look with grey veining.

marble lookalike quartz countertop options via the sweetest digs

At this point, I got detailed quotes for each one of these materials. All of these manufacturers are reputable, so price would definitely help us narrow it down. To be honest, I could have been persuaded to go for any of these.

Definitely the front runner for me initially was the Calcatta Nuvo as I thought the veining was just so striking and the grey and white were perfect in our kitchen. And of course, it was the one that was by far the most expensive. Isn’t that always how it is? Cut.

The Frosty Carrina was second most expensive and I wasn’t thrilled by how little veining there was in it, and it was predominantly grey rather than white, so it was nixed.

The last four came in at very comparable prices, so it was just a matter of looks: Tranquility was very white with quite dark, dramatic veining and lots of white space (I thought this one was going to be my favourite, but it just didn’t feel right in our kitchen); Coarse Carrara had some ever so slight flecks/speckles that I didn’t love; and Snow Drift ended up feeling just too busy. So left standing? Santa Margherita Victoria. Winner winner chicken dinner. I should also mention that I went out and saw a big slab of it in person before putting in my order. It’s such a major decision that seeing it on a small scale and on the computer wasn’t enough. I often found that I saw an option on the computer that looked ahhh-mazing, and then in person it looked so different from what I had imagined. So word of warning — always go in person!

Basically as soon as the installers were bringing the slab through the door, I knew it was exactly the right decision. The counters are bright and read like a nice white from a distance.

santa margherita victoria quartz countertops - via the sweetest digsBut when you get close up, the veining detail adds so much interest, without overtaking the whole counter.

santa margherita victoria quartz countertops - via the sweetest digs

I went with a squared edge profile. Simple and clean.santa margherita victoria quartz countertops - via the sweetest digs

They feel solid, smooth, and seriously lovely. Oh, and the seams (we have 3 in our corners) are barely noticeable. I’m totally in love. Bigtime. santa margherita victoria quartz countertops - via the sweetest digs santa margherita victoria quartz countertops - via the sweetest digs

You got some sneak peaks at other elements in the kitchen there… it’s coming together, hey? Things sort of happened quickly all of a sudden. Probably because I was feeling the pressure of getting it close to completion for my last Globe & Mail article (coming out in tomorrow’s paper – my last in the 5 article series I have written). Anyway, more details on those finishing details soon!

For local folks who might be interested, we purchased our countertops through Kemptville Interiors, supplied by Hiltz Marble & Granite. They were all an absolute pleasure to work with!

Find more posts on the kitchen reno here: designing the kitchen + installing IKEA kitchen cabinetry.

What sort of countertops do you guys have in your kitchen? Do you love ’em? We did butcher block in the basement kitchen, and I loved the look of those. So warm. Oh and I know some folks who poured their own concrete counter – and it looks amaaaazing. My parents have quite a stunning granite in their kitchen too, which has tons of veining and interest. It’s fun to have so many options, hey?

installing IKEA kitchen cabinetry - via the sweetest digs

installing IKEA kitchen cabinetry: our experience

3rd February 2015

A few weeks ago, in this post, you saw the design and direction for our IKEA kitchen. We purchased all of our cabinetry and some appliances (dishwasher, hood range) during one of IKEA’s kitchen events, which I totally recommend. We walked away with about $1600 in a gift card to use on future purchases. It has come in super useful already, considering we’re at IKEA on a near-weekly basis these days. Oy.

installing IKEA kitchen cabinetry - via the sweetest digs

Want to travel back in time a bit? This is what the kitchen looked like, post-demo, ready to get put back together…


And here is the space with drywall on the walls. Man, I remember that being such a game changer. Like all of a sudden it seemed like a house again.IMG_20141106_141015

And a reminder of our design from the IKEA kitchen layout

I’m going to start off by saying that we did not install this kitchen ourselves. Although we are almost always up for a DIY and learning a new skill, this was just beyond our scope. We’re both working while this reno is happening and frankly just don’t have the time. Plus, installing a kitchen is a tricky thing. We knew that hiring a contractor to install the kitchen would not only make it go WAY faster, but would also result in a fabulous looking space.

For all of the finishing details around the house (trim work, hanging doors, building our fireplace built in, etc) we have used a contractor – Andrew – that my parents had used when they built their home, and we had used briefly during our basement reno a few years ago. He has put in a number of kitchens before and is a great problem solver. Just the kind of guy you want for the job. Going with IKEA is fabulous in terms of the price point and the look (I’m crazy in love with our white and grey cabinetry), but installing it can be a bit challenging as you are fitting standard size cabinetry into a not-always-standard space.


Funny guy :)

I’m obviously not going to give a how-to for installing this cabinetry as we didn’t do it ourselves, but I will point out a few areas that were challenging. Oh, and these are the “Lindigo” cabinets from IKEA, which, now with their new Sektion line are basically the same as the ‘Bobdyn’ cabinets, as far as I can tell.

A corner of the kitchen proved to be tricky right from the get go. See in this picture below that triangular section in the ground? DSC_1309Well it is the top of the staircase that goes down to the basement. There was no moving that, so we knew we would just have to work with it (it has been built around in our previous kitchen as well). Andrew gave us a few options of how we could work with it, and ultimately we all felt like it made the most sense to have the run of cabinetry come around that corner on an angle and have a fake door on the front. The countertops will also make the same angle, so it’ll just blend in.


Andrew was able to still make it look intentional and built in.DSC_1296

The hood vent was another tricky area. Initially we purchased the Luftig range hood from IKEA (the one you see in tons of kitchens!). I like the streamlined look and we thought it would work in the space. Unfortunately, once a box was built around the duct work (again, something we couldn’t move), it didn’t leave enough space for the range.


You need to have a certain amount of space between the top of the stove and bottom of the range, and we weren’t going to meet it. Dan has been looking around for another self-vented range (ie. instead of being vented to the outside, it has a recirculation mode fitted with a charcoal filter). We have recently found one online that will work, and so are in the midst of purchasing it.


One of the other great ideas that Andrew came up with was that narrow shelf on the left in the photo below. Although we had thought everything was symmetrical in our plans, once we started to put the uppers up, they weren’t aligning evenly with the stove. I really didn’t want to have a bigger gap on one side of the stove than the other – really felt like it would look ‘off’ – so Andrew made up the difference by building that custom shelf on the left between the two uppers. Perfect for cutting boards and some cookbooks.DSC_1294

In our peninsula area, we switched from the standard deep cabinets to some more narrow ones. This gives space to tuck in stools around that back side. We thought about some open shelving of some kind on the side of the peninsula, but didn’t really have the space in the end. A waterfall effect with the countertops would’ve been lovely, but was out of the budget for us.


The other thing Andrew did a lot of was add little pieces of filler here and there to get a clean, continuous look between each cabinet. He also used a filler piece to make that box around the duct work above the stove. We went all the way to the ceiling with our cabinets and used the IKEA crown molding to tie it all in. All in all, we are super pleased with how it came out. I like having a few glass fronted cabinets, but also lots of closed uppers to maximise storage that might not be so ‘pretty’. We focused heavily on having drawers and corner units that pull out. So far, we are really liking the configuration of everything.


I feel like I need to point out that I will be spray painting that white vent cover below the kitchen sink area (couldn’t find a one in the “right” grey). I realize that it sticks out like a sore thumb – you don’t need to tell me! ;)

Living with a few areas of plywood countertops and no kitchen sink has meant that I haven’t really gotten full use of this bad boy yet, but we’re getting close. I have been narrowing down on the hardware choices and think I found the right one. Countertops are also imminent. Stay tuned for more details!

Have you guys put in an IKEA kitchen before? Any tips or advice to share? I am a little annoyed that IKEA has *just* changed to their new kitchen system, right after we purchased ours. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we won’t need any replacement parts for our kitchen for a loooong time to come. 


planning + designing a kitchen

13th January 2015

So, the kitchen. The heart of the home, right? Just to jog your memory, this was our sweet little diner-style kitchen we had pre-reno.

home tour 9

We had made it work by painting out the oak strip cabinetry, adding new hardware, and laying those fabulous budget-friendly black and white vinyl tiles. We lived with our kitchen like this for a number of years, which gave us lots of time to think about what our dream kitchen would look like.

One thing that was on the must-do list was to expand the kitchen. You can see in these pics that I snapped just as we were moving out, that our kitchen was on the right side of the supporting wall…


And the living room on the left side..IMG_20140609_111313

Well, one of our main re-design elements was to bring that wall down (a beam put up in place to support the house). Once our renovation was underway in the summer, things were looking pretty horrific.


When you do any kind of large reno, you just always have to remember that it gets worse before it gets better. Otherwise you would just want to hide under your pillow and wonder why on earth you ruined a perfectly functional space…


As the house was getting framed, we turned our attention to planning the kitchen. We kept the kitchen in the same general spot as it was before to save on costs related to moving plumbing, but we moved our front door over to the other side of the house so that we could expand the kitchen right up to the exterior wall. Where the door used to be, would now make way for a big picture window.

Before I go on, I just want to make it clear that we are newbie DIY kitchen designers and did these mock ups on our own. Once we got to our more final version, however, we consulted with an IKEA kitchen rep, which was definitely super useful. If you’re able to, I would always recommend chatting with a professional kitchen designer as there are lots of things that they can help guide you with, and point out things that you might not have considered.

On our first crack at using IKEA’s kitchen designer tool, we came up with this. We got the basic layout down, with the “work triangle” people talk about (you want a triangle between your sink, stove, and fridge for efficiency and ease of use). You can’t see the sink in this snapshot, but it goes under the window. The whole thing wasn’t bad, but the island was looking really dinky. We needed to leave a certain amount of space around the island for walking in and out of the kitchen, so this short island was basically as big as it was going to get. In the picture it looks decent, but when we measured it out and imagined it, I just didn’t love it. Plus, we ended up deciding to do a wall to help define the entryway/front door area, so that wall was going to come up and block the left hand space around the island. Plan #1 nixed.

possible layout3

In our second attempt, we switched from an island to a peninsula. Made way more sense space-wise, and this way we could build out the wall by the front door. I didn’t like the symmetry with the microwave built-in by the hood vent though (and it wouldn’t have been functional anyway, I have now found out!), and wanted to incorporate some glass fronted uppers.Kitchen Snip #2

Version 3 was the winner. I liked the symmetry of that far wall, the peninsula gave a nice big stretch of countertop while leaving enough walking room between it and the fridge (over 3 feet), and we could still have our wall to help define the entryway. See where there is a box on the floor of the peninsula that doesn’t appear to have a cabinet on it? That’s where the wall would come to from the far left side of the picture, leaving enough space to tuck two stools in to the peninsula. kitchen layout

Here it is with the new door, window, and wall framed up. See what I mean about wanting to define the entryway? If we hadn’t of put that wall in, you just would have walked basically straight into the kitchen. Not terrible, but not ideal either. I like having the bit of wall, and it gave an opportunity for a few more upper cabinets and a spot to run a bunch of electrical.


I had done up a moodboard a few months before on a bit of a whim, and I ended up sticking quite close to the design.


Flooring >> We decided to carry our hardwood through to the kitchen, both for continuity on the main floor and also because I just love hardwood in a kitchen up next to painted cabinetry. I like the warmth that it brings to the space. So our medium tone gray-brown hardwood (more details on that in another post) was what we started with.

Cabinetry >> We knew we would go with IKEA – great prices (most important factor for us), nice contemporary styles, and good reviews from friends and fellow bloggers. I went back and forth about going with all-white cabinetry, but in the end I fell in love with the grey of the Lindigo cabinets.

ikea kitchen gray lindigo cabinets

via IKEA

I like the look of a two-tone kitchen, so we went with the grey for bottoms to help ground the whole space, and white uppers. If I had a huge kitchen I would have loved to do some open shelving, but the reality is that our new kitchen, although bigger than it used to be, is still not massive. I knew we would benefit from having as much storage as possible.

As I type this, the kitchen cabinetry is actually in, but we are still waiting on countertops, and figuring out hardware, backsplash, etc. More pics and posts to come soon!

Have you guys designed a kitchen before? Ever gone with IKEA? Got any tips or secrets to share?


going retro with Big Chill

18th December 2014

So I have a direction for our new kitchen which includes grey and white shaker style cabinetry, gold hardware, marble-like countertops (quartz probably…), wood floors, and stainless steel appliances. I’m pretty damn excited about it (I promise pictures of it tomorrow!). But despite this being a totally dreamy design for me, there are many directions that we could have gone in. I’m not an only-white cabinetry kind of gal (don’t get me wrong, I *love* white, but not exclusively). In a different house with a different style, I could have happily gone with walnut wood or black cabinetry, a kitchen with concrete counters, one with vibrant morroccan style tile, or something retro.

Big Chill is a company that designs appliances. They have a ‘Pro’ line which are beautiful looking modern appliances in a variety of colours, but what gets me is their ‘Retro’ line. Yes, I’m talking about those rounded fridges in pastel colours.


How can you not love this mint beauty? It’s got that classic, stamped metal body but with all of the conveniences of a modern appliance.


The pale pink? Dying.


I would happily use these mid-century appliances in a kitchen. In fact, I have always dreamed that maybe one day when we make over the kitchen in our family cottage (waaay down the line – the current kitchen is great) that we could use coloured retro appliances like this. I just think they are so fun, plus they come with all the conveniences of modern appliances. It’s not like they are old school in the functionality.

I went to Big Chill’s celebrity page, and it’s pretty fun to get a peak inside some of their kitchens. Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Miranda Lambert, etc.


Would you ever use colourful appliances in a kitchen? What about just a punchy microwave or something? What does your dream kitchen look like?

*Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Big Chill, but all opinions are my own, as always. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog! 

photo 2

gillian’s kitchen – stripes floors take 2

21st January 2014

So you know how we used peel ‘n stick black and white tiles to spruce up our “needs to be renovated eventually” kitchen (see that post from way back when here)? Well Gillian (who you can check out at did the same thing – stripes and all! – and sent me in a few pics.

Here is the before:

photo 1

And here is the after!

photo 2

Such a simple and budget-friendly solution that totally makes the space feel fresh and fun. Don’t you think the cabinetry looks a lot more white and the counters pop more in the ‘after’ photos? Thanks for sending those in, Gillian. I love to see it when someone tries out one of my projects!

Have you guys been doing any decorating or DIY’s in your kitchen lately? After doing our tiles, cabinet painting, and hardware-adding, we have pretty much left our kitchen untouched. I am dreaming of an all new kitchen. New cabinetry, stone or quartz countertops, hardwood floors, backsplash tiles…. oooooh the fun. Let’s hope this whole renovation/addition thing becomes a reality!


some organization and granny smith green

12th March 2012

There has always been this somewhat secret spot in our kitchen that I tried to avoid getting in any photos. Not because it’s an ugly space, but because I had never taken the time to organize it. It housed our cookbooks, loose recipes, our drill (?), and our too-small recycling bin. And, there would often be a recycling-overflow situation going on in the bottom two shelves. See what I mean?

Well, after doing our mini kitchen makeover (see that here), I thought it was high time to do something about this small space. I emptied it, took out all the shelves, taped out the sides…

…and gave it a couple coats of the fun lime green paint left over from our office makeover.

To make better use of the space, I took some of our baking goods out of our pantry (which was also overflowing), grabbed these jars from the dollar store, labelled them (like I did for this project) and filled them up. Now these items are easily at hand, look kinda cute, and freed up a bunch of space elsewhere in our small kitchen.

I still have all of my cookbooks and recipe cards in this space, but I switched out the level of the shelves so that they could all fit in one nook.

And the basket? It’s one from IKEA that we’ve had for years. It doesn’t look like much but it is stuffed to the brim with random house improvement stuff that we like to keep at hand (most of our tools and similar stuff live in our garage). Sneaky, sneaky.

And that too-small recycling bin? Replaced by two white bins (also from the dollar store). Now our recycling is automatically separated into paper vs. glass/plastic and starts to overflow way less often. It’s still not ideal to have our recycling out in the open (I would so much rather have it tucked away in a cupboard), but when you don’t have a lot of space, you have to get creative.

I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. Sure, they aren’t magazine-worthy styled shelves, but they are practical and SO much better than we had before. Plus the pop of granny smith green just makes me happy. Not bad for a half-day project and less than $10 (paint already owned).

On a different note, a huuuge thank you to Barbara from hodge:podge who featured me in her ‘So Canadian, Eh’ series this past weekend. You can check out the feature here. And, if you haven’t been there before, be sure to browse through Barbara’s blog for a bunch of inspiration and eye candy!

So that’s it for today. How about you guys? Do anything fun over the weekend? Any home improvement projects? Do tell.

black and white striped vinyl floor tile

how to lay vinyl black and white flooring (in stripes!)

23rd January 2012

To cap off our kitchen mini-makeover (check out how we painted the cabinets and added hardware, we knew we had to do something about the floor. Enter: vinyl black and white floor tile.

black and white striped vinyl floor tile

Here is the before…

Remember that ultra-boring beige vinyl tile? It was clean and in fine condition, but it was just so dated and dull. Since we are saving up our pennies for a major kitchen rehaul (probably won’t happen for at least another year or so), we knew we wanted something super cheap and easy to install. Enter peel n’ stick vinyl tile. Okay, it’s obviously not the most glamorous of flooring options, but it can add a fun pop of colour or pattern to any room. We searched around the different options — we saw tons that were earthy/gray/beige colours that were relatively nice, but I just didn’t like the idea of using something that was *trying* to look like ceramic tile and so clearly wasn’t. That stuff doesn’t fool anybody. So when I saw the crisp white and black options at our local Rona, I was sold. They were fun and the best part? The 79 cents/tile price tag.

If you can’t find them at your local hardware store, I sourced some online options that are also a great price (and are delivered – hooray!):
Achim Home Furnishings FTVSO10120 Nexus 12-Inch Vinyl Tile, Solid Black, 20-Pack
Achim Home Furnishings FTVSO10220 Nexus 12-Inch Vinyl Tile, Solid White, 20-Pack

We grabbed about 50 tiles (25 white and 25 black) and got to peelin’ and stickin’. You can use a primer on your floors to ensure that they are really stuck on there, but since this is a temporary solution for us, we weren’t too worried. We gave our floor a good scrub and then got to work.

First step was to figure out the layout we wanted. Originally I had been thinking of the tried and true checkered pattern, but when I put it down it felt a bit too much like a diner.

So I tried laying them out in a striped pattern and was quickly won over. The stripes are something a little different and definitely make the narrow room feel wider. Sold.

These tiles are so, so easy to install. Seriously, even if you’ve never done anything handy before, you won’t have any trouble with these.

You may have to do a little cutting to fit particular spots (like around the perimeter of the room), but with a good quality utility knife, it is pretty cinchy. You want to dry-lay your tiles so you can visualize how the pattern is going to look and make sure things are centered properly, then start laying. Make sure the first stripe you lay has a perfectly straight line, so the rest line up nicely.

As you can tell from my over-enthusiastic smile in the third pic, it’s actually pretty satisfying sticking these tiles down.

And here they are in all their glossy glory…

You can see the edges between tiles a bit, especially in the white ones, but it’s not crazy noticeable.

Doesn’t it look so much better?

The whole price tag for the floor was a mere $45. Crazy cheap, right?

And here is the whole before + after of the kitchen. Three little projects with a ton of impact, don’t you think?

vinyl floor

I am so much happier in this improved space. It’s brighter, and just more fun.

This whole “mini makeover” was super reasonable:

  • Painting the cabinet: $0 (already owned paint and supplies)
  • Adding hardware: $150 (but remember, we’ll be using that hardware in our future kitchen reno)
  • Re-tiling floor: $45

Grand Total: $195. Under $200! Amazing.

budget kitchen makeover

What about you guys? Any kitchen overhauls recently? Or maybe you’ve used the peel n’ stick tile somewhere? Do tell.