I was waiting for the final, final finishing touches to the kitchen before showing you what all the fuss and feathers has been about for the past six plus months, but when Nancy (of the interesting art blog called "Namaste Nancy") asked to see it, I decided it was time!
The counters are an engineered quartz stone in almost-black with tiny flecks of the same golden tan as the cabinets, plus some gentle little sparkles. No grout! Easy to clean and easy on the eyes. There is now under-cabinet lighting as well as overheads and a light in the hood over the stove. Our somewhat obsessive electrician did us proud.
The floor is wood stained gray, a pre-finished product so we didn't have to suffer through days of stink as it dried. We ran that same flooring throughout the main floor of the house and we love the look, plus the ease of cleaning. When Cora's dog hair tumbleweeds appear, I just get out the big, flat mop with the washable cover and skim around picking it up. And about once a week, a quick sponge mopping does the rest.
The stove (my pride and joy) is a Viking gas stove. It has four, count 'em, FOUR burners. That may not seem like a big deal to you but to me, who has lived for nearly 20 years with only two recalcitrant electric burners, it defines "hog heaven" for me.The oven goes from zero to 400F in seven minutes flat (my old oven took about 25 minutes to heat properly) and I love the slate gray color. There will be a smoked glass backsplash behind the stove - it's here, it's just not installed quite yet.
My fridge is also a wonder to me - "French" doors open and close easily, revealing everything inside at a glance. I have my first-ever ice maker, which I love - no more balky ice trays! - and the freezer is larger by half than the old one. I loved our old fridge, so I was glad it went to one of the workers who made the kitchen so beautiful.
The cabinets are made of alder, a somewhat unusual wood, but we loved the warm color. You can't see the ceiling in these photos, but our ceilings are of natural pine with dark-stained beams, so we needed just the right wood in the cabinets to complement the ceiling. It worked like a charm. We also added a big skylight over the working kitchen, which floods the area with natural light so we don't need to turn on the lights until it's fully dark outside.
Between the new kitchen and the dining area is a fairly large area we are calling the "transition" for lack of a better term. It has storage drawers on either side of the room for my fancy china and glassware on one side and my lesser-used cooking stuff on the other. Separating the working kitchen and this storage/serving area is a slab of granite in reciprocal colors to the quartz - you can see a little bit of that in the second picture. The second and third pictures show you why all my female friends have storage envy. The drawers all roll out smoothly and close gently on soft-close hinges, and they have swallowed up an amazing amount of stuff. We love the mitered corners on all the drawers and cabinets - they play beautifully in the sunlight, highlighting the beautiful, smooth wood. We will use that long top for buffet serving when we have a dinner party.
In the third photo, you can see the other side of the transition and, beyond, the microwave oven and warming drawer, (which face the stove) plus tray storage on either side and more storage cabinets above, with Cora's bowls on the floor. We love the display cabinets at the top of the "hutch" for showing off some pretty things without having to dust them. We also use the appliance "garages" every day - the far one houses Cora's chow and treats, and the near one hides the coffee pot.
The green door in this picture is right next to the fridge - it goes out into the garage. We used "blackboard" paint on that door so we can make notes to ourselves or shopping lists, or write "Welcome!" when we have friends coming over.
So, there you have it! My friend Sunny, who is an interior decorator, complimented us on our choices and remarked that the house looks twice as big now as it did before with the smaller, cut up spaces. I think she's right - it all has a wonderfully open feel while still hiding the seamy underbelly of joyous cooking. We couldn't be more pleased.
Was it worth six months of construction noise, dust, and constant worry, not to mention significant expense (we had paid off the mortgage, but now we have one again)? Well, it's rather like the way my friends describe childbirth - no fun when you're going through it, but well worth the effort for the finished product.