This post is in partnership with Elkay, but all opinions are my own.
As many of you know, my home renovation has not been the smoothest experience. There is still a lot unfinished and a lot we are not entirely happy with. But, I do want to give a shout-out to Elkay, who I partnered with for a post on my big kitchen reveal, back before this all started. Of course, back then, I thought this post would be nothing but joy and excitement, and now we are finishing the kitchen with a different contractor than we started with, five months later than we expected. Through it all though, Elkay has been incredibly patient and lovely to work with, and I thank them for letting me write this post in a truthful fashion.
I also want to be clear that there are a lot of things I like about the kitchen. As a whole, it looks 10000X better than it did before. This is a before picture.
As you can see, the kitchen was very dark, with a black chalkboard wall, dark marble countertops and natural wood colored cabinets. We also had a double height countertop (it was split between counter height and bar height), which made the counter space where you could actually do food prep incredibly small.
Funny story. For the past ten years, Mike and I have had an ongoing silent battle about where items that live on our countertop should be kept. As the main cook in our house, Mike wanted the items on top of the bar so that he had more space on the counter. As the person who cares more about aesthetics, I wanted the items on the counter height so that they would be semi hidden behind the bar. I don’t know how many times I shifted the items to the counter height only to find them back on the bar later that day.
The first major decision we made for the kitchen was to make the countertop one height, giving Mike more food prep space and creating a cleaner look that is more pleasing to the eye. We also switched the counter to white quartz and extended it to make a waterfall on the side, which gave us space for one more drawer and cabinet underneath. Extending the counter also enabled us to put two stools on one side, instead of one on the end, which also looks more streamlined.
I think these were all excellent choices which dramatically alter the look of our apartment for the better. The lower countertop makes our whole space seem brighter and more open. I also think switching the kitchen from black to white makes a pretty dramatic difference, creating a happier, more modern look overall. And it’s awesome to have a junk drawer finally!!! You know, the one with all the pens, the scissors, the matches and the tape? We used to have to cram all that stuff into our silverware drawer. Plus, the extra cabinet gives us a place to separate the pots and pans from the storage containers— OH HAPPY DAY.
On the less remarkable side, we probably should have extended our counter a few more inches because two stools just barely fit inside. Two adults can’t really sit there comfortably. Also, the stools we had custom made arrived last week and we discovered that they each weigh about 50 pounds. They are in a highly trafficked area and I can’t imagine what they could do to the floors, so, now we are looking for smaller, lighter stools to hopefully make that space work for us.
I also feel the need to mention that Mike has become obsessed over inconsistencies in the quartz and the fact that there is a seam in an odd place next to the sink, although you can’t tell from the photos. For whatever reason, this doesn’t bother me nearly as much as other things, but everybody has their own home renovation regrets to lose sleep over. I accept what most bothers Mike, just as he accepts what most bothers me. Like the fact that the fridge and the stove are not fitted correctly for the space.
You see, when we originally set out to redo the kitchen, we were told that since we weren’t changing the layout, we should just resurface the cabinets instead of starting from scratch. Seemed like a good idea to me. What nobody mentioned, however, was that the fridge, stove and microwave wouldn’t fit exactly right in our new kitchen, since the space was originally built for 15 year-old appliances. The stove juts out so you can see the black on the side and the fridge leaves some weird gaps on the side and the top.
It’s nothing awful, but if we could go back in time, I would leave the cabinets on one of side of the kitchen (the side with sink and the dishwasher) and rebuild from scratch on the other side, which has very minimal cabinetry and houses the fridge, the stove and the microwave. We were debating whether we want to spend the money to redo that side next summer, but as more of the apartment gets completed, it is bothering me less.
But enough about granite scraps and ill-fitting appliances, can we talk about how happy we are with our sink???
Elkay makes a huge variety of both modern and classic sinks. We ended up choosing the Crosstown Stainless-Steel Sink because it’s deep, but not that wide, which is perfect for our tiny galley kitchen. We can pile so many dishes up without them being visible! Well, we can’t pile too many dishes up because our contractor didn’t properly attach the sink to the countertop and we don’t want it to fall right through the cabinet, but that is not Elkay’s fault.
Elkay’s sinks specialize in tight corners, which gives it a modern geometric design with straight sidewalls and a flat bottom for more usable space that’s super easy to clean. It has a smooth polished finish, a sound-deadening system which minimizes vibration, and a lowered faucet deck that directs water into the sink to help keep the countertop dry.
Elkay also has a huge variety of faucets to suit your needs. I know this because the first faucet that I selected with my designer was too tall and hit the cabinet above it, and we easily went back online and selected the Mystic Single Hole faucet– a new, equally beautiful, but shorter faucet that would fit the space.
All Elkay products come with an ultra-thin barrier between the counter and the sink which creates exactly the streamlined modern effect that I was looking for. I could not be happier with our choice of sink.
As for the rest of it, we shall see. I’m pretty excited about the floating letter board on the back wall which is going to be an excellent place to vent out all my frustrations. It’s currently naming all of our favorite breakfast items. The kids have adopted the countertop as their new breakfast space, since we got rid of their little table in the renovation. They sit there in the morning watching TV, while Mike and I push their chairs in and out so we can shimmy by behind them into the hallway to get ready ourselves.
I also love the hexagon tiled backsplash, the long shiny silver handles on the cabinets and the funky light fixture. Can we open the top cabinet above the fridge without hitting the light fixture? Nope. But it looks pretty.
Do the cabinet handles bang into the wall and the dishwasher every time I open them, because the contractor forgot to use hinges with a limited range? Yes, but I’m sure we can get someone to fix that.
Even if it’s not perfect, our new design has definitely made the kitchen more of a gathering space for the family than it was before. It’s no longer the place where mommy and daddy go to dole out food. The kids have started opening the fridge on their own (the stacked fridge and freezer make everything more accessible), climbing up to the pantry cabinets and sitting at the counter to do their homework.
Harlow is probably the most excited about the new kitchen. She thinks the lower, more expansive counter is the perfect place to produce her new baking show.
And I think our new sink is the perfect place to help her clean up. That’s the thing about a tiny kitchen. There is only so much mess you can make.
Also, I know I said my kitchen was “remarkably average,” but I must admit— it photographs beautifully.