It’s no secret that I built my kitchen from the ground up. We did everything ourselves, from building the cabinets to installing appliances. It helped to have a handy spouse, he’s an electrician by trade and a plumber by birth (well, sort of, his dad is a master plumber and he grew up learning the trade). With my history of furniture building, and the invaluable help from the amazing Ana White, it didn’t seem like too much of a leap to try out building kitchen cabinets. Overall, I consider our kitchen a resounding success!
I love my kitchen. So, so much. But. There are a few things I don’t love, now that I’ve used it for two years. That’s where Camille Finan comes in. Here I thought I had covered all the angles. I had dozens of magazine tear sheets, hundreds of pins on Pinterest, sketches for cabinets and house plans to study layouts. I got a few things “right”. I’m glad we moved our sink and dishwasher out of the island and onto the wall. Everyone told me that was crazy, that I would want to have a “view” when doing the dishes. Wrong. Doing the dishes means staring at dishes, so who cares where the sink is? I’m happier to have a huge solid space that’s basically indestructible (thank you, stainless steel!) and leave my huge piles of dirty dishes somewhat hidden behind the refrigerator. I’m still quite happy with our open shelving, and we use those island stools just as much as we do our dining table.
Before I read Camille’s book, I was happy enough with my kitchen. Sure, there were the annoying things. My trash can cabinet worked okay as long as you didn’t try to pull them too hard. And the uncovered bins did attract a lot of fruit flies. The flip-up drawer front above it where I intended to store paper towels lay empty, as we nixed the paper for cloth rags to save on waste. The baby is constantly opening up the island cabinet doors and pulling out all my jars. My upper cabinet with vertical dividers for baking pans is pretty much a joke since only half of my vintage oven is actually an oven, and I have two generous shelves on the other side for my pans. When I read through Camille’s book, it was like the skies parted. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? I should replace those door with wide, deep drawers! Then, I wouldn’t have to empty out half the cabinet to grab the big jar in the back. I would just pull out the drawer. Now that I don’t need paper towel storage, I can make a drawer for that space to keep our dish cleaning supplies. Adding in a few shelves to the pan cabinet would make several small cubbies that will be great for those odds and ends with no real “home”. Over and over I was hit with new, great ideas every time I finished a chapter.
Kitchen Love Story serves as a primer for your kitchen renovation. Gone are the layouts and floorplan examples and confusing jargon. Camille fills you in on the secrets behind the curtain. She shows you how to “Design From the Inside Out” when planning your kitchen. That’s one key step I missed. She advises to think about every last little detail. It’s great to look at pretty hardware and paint colors, but where are you going to keep the zip-top bags? I have small children, so I need to think up the best way to store sippy cups and snack bowls. What about the bakeware and food storage containers? She explains that those fancy custom cabinets don’t have to be as pricy as you think. And that some of the flashy add-ons are just that, all flash and no real substance. She shares where you should save your pennies, and where you should splurge.
Planning a kitchen, whether it’s a renovation or a new build, can be extremely confusing. There are thousands of choices that have to be made. Camille helps guide you through the process, explaining that really, it’s not so scary after all. Each chapter is chock full of great tips on how to avoid the “little lady” treatment from contractors, which I often faced. You don’t have to settle for builder-grade standard options. With a small bit of customization, you can achieve the kitchen of your dreams!
So by now you can probably tell that I loved the book, and 100% recommend it to everyone planning to make improvements on their kitchen. The only thing I feel the book was lacking was listing a few of the less standard, creative, or budget options for things. For example she mentioned solid surface or laminate countertops, like granite, marble, corian, etc. My absolute favorite surface hands down has been our stainless steel island. It’s fabulous. It takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. We’ve processed raw meat, rolled out cookies, made play dough, chopped veggies, and performed basically any and every kitchen task on that thing. It’s a simple wipe, rinse, repeat. I also wish there had been some mention of looking outside the standard procedure for a few items. As an extreme DIYer, I know we saved a bundle by doing things ourselves, getting inventive with materials (open shelving saved us a huge amount) and sourcing vintage and great used appliances on Craigslist. But that’s a pretty nit picky criticism. Many people plan to hire out all the jobs, and Camille has great advice for how to handle things as your own General Contractor. I wish I had read it before trying to work those issues through myself!
If you have any kitchen projects coming up in the near future, be sure to pick up Kitchen Love Story before you get started. And one lucky reader will have the chance to win a copy! To enter, leave me a comment with your favorite kitchen organizing tip. Whether it’s how to stack up the dishes or the best undercabinet lighting you’ve used, I want to hear about it!
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