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Designing a Kitchen

Alright, it’s time to start talking about the kitchen in the new house. We’re moving in just over a month, (because we sold our old house! In a day! More on that later) and in order to move in we need a functioning kitchen. As a reminder, here is what the kitchen looks like in the blueprints….

kitchen closeup

Actually, here is the complete floorplan so you can see how the kitchen relates to the rest of the house.



As you can see, it is really really open. Which means not only does the kitchen have to be extremely functional, it also has to be pretty. I want it to be unique and fun, but neutral enough that it doesn’t compete with the rest of the main living area (and make it impossible to decorate).

Shoji White interior

(future kitchen…we have our work cut out for us)

Anyway, we are DIYing the entire thing. Kitchens can get crazy expensive, and while we are building a nice house it doesn’t mean we have 40K (or whatever kitchens cost) to throw at a new kitchen. Instead, we have like 10K. We already bought appliances and spent about 4, so that leaves us about 6 to finish the rest. Let’s do this.

Anyway, I’ll get into all the DIY and nitty-gritty details in future posts, the point if this post is to get all my design ideas out so that you can see the direction we are heading. So here we go..



I know that all white or white and gray kitchens are all the rage these days, but I want mine to be green. I started out wanting a really barely there green like this (freaking amazing) kitchen…

neutral green and white kitchen(source)

..but we already painted the cabinets that color and didn’t like it at all. So I decided to go more green, like this…

soft green and white kitchen(source)

And then I started finding bold green and white kitchens and completely dug it.

green and white kitchen(source)

Okay, that one is a little too lime, but looks at the beautiful green on this one…

green and white kitchen

So pretty. Anyway, who knows where I’ll end up with the green, but it will be green. Mark my words.



We only have two upper cabinets in the whole kitchen (on the oven wall), which means that on each side of the window above the sink there is a big empty space just begging for open shelving. We added some open shelving to our current kitchen and I actually really like it. We put our everyday dishes on it, which means that dust isn’t a problem because those are the things we’re constantly using and washing. Anyway, I want wood and metal shelves like these…

rustic open shelving(Source)

Or like this.

wood, marble and blue kitchen(source)

Actually, those are pretty much the same. I like what I like. Also, isn’t that above kitchen amazing?!



Adam is the main designer for the kitchen cabinets (since he’s building them) and he is pretty set on not just having a kitchen with solid walls of cabinets. He wants some funky touches, like unique, non matching drawers. I’m imagining they would look something like this…

Mix and match drawers(source)

Or this (though I like the first idea better)…

basket drawers in kitchen



The default sink for a house like mine seems to be an apron front farmhouse sink, but I have my sights set on a giant vintage sink instead.

vintage sink(source)

How can you not love that sink? It’s so dang charming it makes me want to do the dishes watch someone else do the dishes.

sink and cabinet inspiration(source)



I may want green cabinets, but think the rest of the kitchen needs to be extremely neutral. Tile and countertops and not something you can really change (at least not as easy as repainting cabinets). Early on I decided I wanted a plain white backsplash. I’ve gotten sidetracked a few times with fun patterned tiles, but I keep reminding myself that I will quickly tire of them and they will date my kitchen.

gray and white kitchen

We have white planks as the backsplash in our current kitchen and I like it, but I want something more “wipeable” for the new house.

neutral green and white kitchen

Subway tile seems to be the default and is probably what we will end up with. I’ve been looking for something a bit more “organic” looking, but all those options seem to be crazy expensive. There is a reason everyone uses subway tile.

I’d also like white countertops. My perfect countertop would be white quartz, but once again the price has eliminated that option. Adam has continuously said we should do concrete, and I’ve always shot him down because I didn’t want grey or brown or whatever not white color you can make concrete. Then one day I ran across this tutorial by Chris Loves Julia for white concrete countertops.

white concrete

I was totally sold. They were affordable, DIYable, and bright white. The supplies from Z Counterforms are on their way and we should be pouring sometime in the next few weeks!



Rustic wood floors? Yes please.

Love the floors.

Rustic wood ceiling? I think I will.

rustic wood ceiling in kitchen

Rustic wood island countertop? Why the heck not.

rustic wood island countertop



So when it comes to cabinet doors and drawers there is basically three different way you can build them…overlay, full overlay, or inset.

Overlay is where the doors and drawers sit on top of the face frames and have space between them, like this..

overlauy cabinet(source)

This is the easiest and cheapest way to do it, which means it’s what you will find in most builder grade kitchens. This is the kind of cabinet we have in our current kitchen.

budget blue and white farmhouse kitchen

Full overlay cabinets are similar, except that the cabinet doors and drawers cover the entire face frame.

full overlay cabinets(source)

These are harder to build than the standard overlay cabinets and give you a more custom look.

white kitchen with colored base cabinets(source)

The last type is inset, where the cabinet door sits INSIDE the face frame.

inset cabinets(source)

According to my cabinet-builder husband, these are pretty much impossible to build since you have to be so precise. So of course, this is the type he wants to attempt. I’ll keep y’all updated on the progress…it could go great or could be a disaster. Either way it should be interesting.

inset cabinets and lots of windows(source)



Organization…I want it. Our current kitchen is organized about as well as it can be, but that still means that pots and pans (and lids) are just kinda shoved into cabinets awkwardly, and all the flat things (cookie sheets, muffin trays, cutting boards) are stacked horizontally and it’s like a game of kitchen Jenga to get them out. Since we are building the cabinets ourselves I feel like we should take advantage and pack all the cool features we can into them. So here are a bunch of pictures of ideas I’ve collected. Some of them may happen, some of them may not…but that pull out utensil drawer definitely is happening.

well planned kitchen storage(source)

dishes in drawers(source)

built in paper towel(source)

pull out trash can(source)

Urban Loft - Storage Solutions

chopping station over pull out trash can(source)

hidden utensil drawer(source)

So that is what has been floating around in my head! In the next post I’ll get into building the cabinets, which will be me showing you a whole lot of pictures of my husband working, and not in the least bit a tutorial.

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  1. You’ve given me some brilliant ideas I’ve never seen before. Your style is very much my taste, so I think it’s going to be a beautiful kitchen. I don’t know if you’ve ever had an enameled cast iron sink or concrete counter tops, but those would be my only two things I’d do differently in my own home. I currently have an old white enameled cast iron sink and I hate it. I have broken more dishes than I care to admit in it. There is no mercy if I accidentally bump something I’m washing into it. Plus the white is impossible to keep clean. Of course, it could be due to the fact that mine is probably an original 50’s version. But still. The breaking things is also the reason I would personally skip the concrete counters.

    We currently have a white bead board backsplash and I want to switch it out to white subway tile for the wipe-ability factor, as you mentioned. I dream of white honed marble countertops one day. We’ll see when we cross that bridge.

    I love your updates. You’ve given me a lot of ideas to both incorporate and avoid through these posts. Thank you!

    1. I spent forever looking for a vintage enameled cast iron sink in they style I was looking for (single basin, double drainboard, high back) but had zero luck. I ended up getting one from a place called NBI Drainboards that makes reproductions. It’s made from Bio-Lok, which is basically fancy acrylic. Anyway, it’s a softer material so I don’t think breaking things will be an issue. Breaking things in the concrete countertops may turn out to be, but only time will tell.

      1. I had no idea they made reproductions in acrylic! That is awesome. I do love the way they look, but I am so NOT graceful enough to pull off the originals. You may have no problems with the concrete countertops. I just know myself too much to attempt it. I look forward to seeing your kitchen progress. Best wishes!

      2. I love reading about you guys building your house. It’s so beautiful. Can’t wait to see it all done so excited.

  2. A magic eraser does a great job on white sinks! We have a vintage sink like the one you want, Ashley, and I absolutely love it!

  3. I once had a tiny little house and the best thing in that house was a narrow little cabinet. I could put all my cookie sheets, cutting boards, and muffin tins in there vertically. It’s so simple! All the houses should have that narrow cabinet.

  4. Hi Ashley! Did you consider a glass backsplash? They are on trend, affordable, easy to install and change if you want, easy to clean and the photo versions are a good piece of conversation.

    In Houzz you also can see them in colored glass o just transparent with the wall painted in a color.

    A good friend of mine have it installed in her kitchen with a huge landscape photo where you can see a lake, trees, mountains… it’s like a window near your stove. It’s so beautiful!

    There are nice examples:

    Cheers from Argentina!

    PD: my English isn’t the best, sorry about that :)

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, I hadn’t thought about glass. I wonder if it would work for larger applications? I was hoping to make the backsplash countertop to ceiling on two walls.

  5. I went for a green kitchen too! And the vintage sink! Only problem I’m experiencing is that the paint is peeling off the cabs something awful. The “professional” that painted the cabs didn’t prime them and the paint is cracking and peeling. Wish I could share a pic with you.

  6. I love all of your ideas! I’m jealous too. My hubs and I just bought the 1875 rental victorian we’ve been living in the past two years. I love it, but my natural style is more farmhouse, so I’m struggling now that it’s our permanent home, how to mix the farmhouse and victorian. My instincts say to plank the walls but they are super old plaster and that’s ridiculous :) My favorite picture is the one you put just after the white concrete coountertops picture – it’s a big kitchen with those neat wood floors. That kitchen is a dream!! The previous owners of our house renovated the kitchen before and they did a nice job but the cabinets are dark wood… they are actually pretty nice, they have a glaze and everything, but all I want to do is paint them and change the little tiled backsplash to a handmade subway tile… Oh well :) Watching your house progress is so fun! I told my husband a couple days ago that you guys selling your house in a day is such a testament to how much work you’ve put in there!

  7. I am SUCH a fan of your blog and never post comments. I love how you guys think and DIY. We just moved to the Texas Hill Country and I get your whole dilemma with a rocky yard now. Anyway, I used a color from Walmart or Home Depot (can’t remember!) called True Olive to do a bottom green/top white kitchen once, and really loved it. Green is my favorite color, so I’m rooting you on!

  8. That paper towel inset niche is a cool concept, but I’d want it higher. I can see my four kiddos zipping through a roll of paper towel in no time if it were so easily accessible. I have an under cabinet mount and I’m still repeating “use the towel” at nauseum.
    I second the recommendation on the narrow cookie sheet cupboard. Love mine. Love that it’s low so I can see things.
    Do you have an inspirational pic of a kitchen with rustic wood ceiling, floor and island? At first thought that seems a bit heavy. Maybe accent wood on the ceiling? I’m sure you’ll make it lovely, you have a good eye!
    I’m kind of bummed about the ” more wipable” reasoning for the subway tile. It seems obvious, but I maintain my fantasy about a easy clean plank backsplash.

    1. You are right about the paper towel holder, I can see that being a disaster. I’m already fighting Judah on constantly running through the house holding one end of the toilet paper roll.
      I don’t have a picture on hand with all three wood elements, but I agree with you that it may be a bit much. Thing is, Adam and I LOVE wood ceilings. It’s one of the big reasons that we designed a loft area over the kitchen and dining, so that we can add a flat wood ceiling. And the floor, well, the whole house is getting wood flooring eventually, so that one isn’t going to change either. The only one we may ditch is the wood island countertop. We’re planning to play it by ear!
      For the plank backsplash, cleanup really isn’t THAT bad. It’s mostly wipable, but it does stain too. Good thing about the planks is that you can repaint them when needed…we just did that to sell the house and it looks brand new.

    1. Oh yes, I have studied her posts about her countertops! Her posts are what took Adam and I from “we should hire a professional” to “we can totally do this”.

  9. So, you have posted about every one of the same pics I have on my pinterest page for our house, but remember that question I asked about Adam (you so nicely suggested Darin) lol, making our island top, well the pic on this post that has the giant square top on white cabinets…that is exactly what I want my island top to look like. :)
    I love reading your blog, because I hear your voice as I read.. it makes me laugh.
    Keep up the good work!!!

    1. Well I know you like to have options when it comes to friendly local carpenters, haha. Hopefully you can learn from whatever mistakes I’m about to make in this kitchen and yours will turn out better for it!

  10. I’m loving these green cabinet inspiration pictures. I’ve been leaning towards a blue-grey for a while but you’ve got me rethinking everything!

    1. I’ve read her blog before (and met her in person) but didn’t know she was working on inset cabinets. I’ll check it out for sure!

      It did get hot quick didn’t it? It went from weirdly cool and rainy to full on summer in like a day!

  11. Having just remodeled my kitchen (okay, I’m not completely done, but we have moved back in started using it) I can tell you what I love. Drawers! I left under the sink a cabinet, and everywhere else, I put drawers. Lots of drawers. I love them!

    And that’s incredible about selling your house in one day. Can’t wait to hear the story!

  12. Oh dear. The same almost happened to us, too. Except it was I think a week on the market. Anyway, we had no kitchen for a month. All the other stuff (oven, fridge, the lot) were there, waiting. So, since our oven and hot plates were built ins, the day after we’ve moved in we headed to IKEA and purchased the cheapest kitchen cabinet for ovens possible. Good old days. :) Also we had no door handles for about 2 weeks. On any door. Makes you appreciate things you would never have given a thought before. :)

    I am not saying your kitchen will be fabulous AND usable, cos others said that before. :) I really like the white concrete countertops!!! If only they had it here… :D

  13. I saw someone comment that you should try glasse tiles, up above; we recently had our kitchen remodel and we used glass tiles. We love them especially over the stove because they’re really easy to wipe down. They make a whole array of sizes from subway tile sizes to 24″ inch long tiles. I think if you want custom single sheets they’re going to cost a bit. Other then being super easy to clean (on a day-to-day bases) the second reason we choose them was because they are supper affordable. I think for about 30 sq ft we got it at 150-200. HOWEVER, if you do end up looking at glass options the one thing I would tell you is that once they’ve be tiled on to the wall and the grout goes on you have to be really careful that you wipe off all excess grout immediately or else it’s going to form a hazy layer on top of the tile and you won’t be left with that gloss smooth glass look. If you don’t manage to get it all off its not a big problem. You’ll just have to buy some grout haze remover and put a little elbow grease to remove that unsightly haze. Hope this helps.

  14. I loved this post! We are gutting our kitchen and DIY-ing it ourselves in just over a month! I’m doing white counters on top and blue on the bottom! I’m so excited to see how yours turns out and hopefully get some more ideas!

  15. That’s absolutely fabulous that your house sold so fast! It’s really happening, no turning back now. I think your plans sound exciting and it’s going to be lovely. (Though what you will go through between now and then is anybody’s guess…) The green and white inset cabinets will be beautiful. I second the above commenter who said the more drawers the better. Drawers are the best! The white concrete will be lovely as well. Good luck with the plans, the move and living in the space as you build it, may it all go as smoothly as possible.

  16. Some great inspirational kitchen pictures. Personally I prefer white cabinets, but I love how you are adding in some personan flair and “imperfections” for a bit of a shabby chic look. It will look amazing when you are finished.

  17. All of these kitchens are absolutely beautiful! I love the green and white color schemes. It suites the room very well. Nice post! Thanks for sharing these ideas!

  18. All of these kitchens look so nice! I love the idea of everything having a place. Thanks so much for the inspiration and I hope you enjoy your new kitchen!

  19. The open shelving and wood accent ideas are just gorgeous! This is a very inspiring post for my kitchen remodel, thanks for sharing!

  20. Hi,
    Glad to see your post….I am very happy to see your informative post which helps me a lot.

    I love all of these gorgeous kitchen photos! They’re so inspirational. What are your opinions on white cabinets? I am completely confused with the shades of white! Too pink, too yellow, etc! Our cabinet company has 5 shades of white and cream.
    And I love your colour selections!!

    Thanks for being sharing….Keep it up ?
    Charlie Pescott

  21. Wow. Great post. I like your style. Similar to mine (you would probably like Jenna Sue’s design blog since she shows same style with some DIY). I’m going to click thru your other remodel posts now.

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