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The Best (and Most Unusual) Decisions We Made When Designing My Kitchen

AFTER (photo courtesy of Alison Potter @ WB Magazine)

AFTER (photo courtesy of Alison Potter @ WB Magazine), artwork by Daisy Faith (

BEFORE (same view as top photo)

In April of 2022, my kitchen was selected as one Six Stylish Kitchens in the Wilmington area. It was featured starting on page 50. You can check out the magazine online here.

Here are a couple BEFORE photos so that you can see what a dramatic transformation it was. The old kitchen was original from 1958, typical knotty pine cabinets that had seen better days. Everything in the kitchen was dark and dirty and we lived that way for over 5 years before doing the renovation. I felt terrible about scrapping the old solid-wood cabinets. Mercifully, I advertised on CraigsList and found someone to come and salvage them and take them to their kitchen in Hampstead. It was a win-win! They even uninstalled them and hauled them away!

I wanted to fill you in on a few things that the artcile does NOT mention about the kitchen, including some of the decisions I made that were a little unorthodox.

1) We opted OUT of a gas cooktop and range hood. I felt that it would block the sightlines into the kitchen from the dining room too much, making conversation hard between the two areas. I also had gotten wind of the lawsuits against gas appliance makers because of the many new studies showing that gas cooktops are harmful to your health. They emit harmful fumes even when they are powered off. I have been so pleased with my induction cooktop. I love how it stays cool while cooking and is so safe around the kids.

2) I have an very high number of recessed lights in the kitchen. I think I could have gotten away with 6 or 9, but 12 ended up being the right number for me. The ones above the island are on a separate switch, so that helps when I don't want to light up the whole room. Also each switch in the kitchen is on a dimmer switch, so everything can be adjusted to exactly the right mood.

3) The cabinet installer asked me several times if this is really where we wanted the microwave. My reply was always "yes, under the oven, not over"... and "No I don't want a built-in microwave." My reasoning for this is that I wanted the kids to be able to reach the microwave. And I did NOT want a built-in one because they are around 5x more expensive. Microwaves die pretty frequently, so I don't invest in them. I got mine off Facebook Marketplace for around $40 and expect I'll do the same thing when this one gives up the ghost. The cabinet is large enough that most countertop models will fit. I LOVE how I can close the doors and make this unsightly appliance go away. I do keep the doors open when something is cooking!

4) My appliance garage and the cabinets above it are extra deep. Measuring 15" deep, the appliance garage holds the toaster oven, air fryer, and blender out of sight. The cabinets above are so deep they can accommodate wine bottles. A wine rack was originally in the plan, but when we realized we could increase the cabinet depth, that eliminated the need for one. These extra-deep cabinets hold SO much! They still hold a wine rack, but not it's concealed behind the door.

5) We recently added a backsplash behind the sink (see below). We were getting a lot of splashes on the wall behind the sink, causing mold and cracking and this does the trick! Funny enough, the backsplash behind the sink is really a door/shower threshold. It's a little thicker than a tile, but it's one continuous piece. It did not have beveled edges so it was perfect for this spot (see photo below)!

6) We spent a lot of time figuring out where to hang the 3 pendant lights above the peninsula. What ended up making sense was to take the length of the peninsula, subtract the depth of the floating shelf, and divide that into thirds. When it came time to add the brackets to the backside of the peninsula, we ended up putting them in line with the pendants rather than dividing the run into thirds (see photo above).

7) We recently changed the hardware. We opted for this beech wood handle, and love the result!

8) The wallpaper on the back of the peninsula as actually an afterthought! It was installed a few months after the coordinating roman shades (selected separately). Here is the resource for the peel-n-stick wallpaper we chose. You can also google "Roommates Synchronized floral" and options will come up. This is the lighter colorway of the two options. I got the idea from my favorite home blogger Young House Love. They used it in their beach house in Virginia.

So that's it for my details about the kitchen. We made a few unorthodox decisions but in the end it's perfect for our needs! Reach out with any questions!

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