Reno Before & After

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29 Jun Reno Before & After

Clearly my future does not lie in photo shoots for shelter magazines. While the colours look dull and some shots are too yellow, I assure you, in reality the rooms are actually quite bright despite the deep claret walls.

Looking back at the pre-reno kitchen I wonder how I functioned in it. To all those people who wrote to assure me that it would be worth it, know that you were right. Very-very-very right. So if I use a lot of exclamation marks in this post, I hope you will forgive me. The kitchen deserves them. I’ll return to normal punctuation tomorrow. Promise.

And without further ado, here are the before and after shots you requested!


The BEFORE shot was taken standing in the doorway between the dining room and kitchen. I was worried the claret colour from the dining room would be too dark if extended into the second room and had attempted a test patch. When I ran out of paint, the results looked more like a crime scene that a decorating experiment. How bad was it? I kid you not, it actually scared the cat.

The AFTER shot: We added crown molding to the ceiling and the cupboard tops. With the appliance garage gone, we extended the under cupboard lighting, tiled the back splash and replaced the counter top. After several years, my copper finished stand mixer has been rescued from my parents’ basement and now has a permanent home. I’m not sure who’s more please. It or me. So far it has been used twice to whip meringue for pies.

Fancy side-by-side shot for your viewing pleasure.


If you stood with your back to the counter shown above, you would see the sink area. Before we had an 18-inch sink with a 24-inch stove beside it. The vent above it was actually just a cheapo circulating fan that whipped grease around the house. How bad was it? I had to wash fat off the bathroom ceiling on an annual basis.

The AFTER SHOT:  Crown molding, tiled back splash and new counter tops. We removed the cupboards from above the stove, moved in the refrigerator and adjusted the counter cupboards to hold the wider sink. You can’t tell from this photo, but this arrangement accommodates all three garbage categories our municipality requires we separate. No more hanging gargage bags from door knobs. If you lived here, you too would be disproportionately pleased with this feature.

Fancy side-by-side shot:


This BEFORE shot peeks into the dining room from the vantage point of the sink. The useless bulk head to the left of the dining room door gets removed along with the wall. With so many angles, no wonder the room was so boxy.

And this BEFORE shot shows the fridge with its accompanying 30-inch wide pantry. When we couldn’t incorporate the pantry into the new design, we moved it to the basement to house seldom-used items. See the cupboards above the fridge? They reappear later above the stove.

In the AFTER SHOT, the wall has been removed and an island divides the two areas. See the ugly Ikea racks on the left? That’s where the new 66-inch wide custom-made pantry cupboard is going to go. Kind of ruins the effect, but in the meantime, it’s practical and keeps me humble.

Fancy side-by-side shots!


If you stood in the living room, the BEFORE SHOT shows the dining room, looking into the kitchen.

As the wall comes down, the contractor is working where the stove will go.

The AFTER SHOT: The stove is finally installed. The cupboards that were once above the fridge have been reduced in depth and now hide the hood vent’s piping. Bonus points to Master Carpenter Frank (Love him!!! He gets 3 exclamation marks all on his own for being so accommodating and professional!!!) for having the vision to add shelves and extend the crown molding so the area wouldn’t look clunky.

Even fancier side-by-side photos. Three this time!


From the dining room, you can see into the bathroom. In the BEFORE version, the tub had no shower curtain, just a semi-clear liner. A wire rack with baskets held our toiletries while we performed our ablutions at a tiny pedestal sink that provided no storage and didn’t even have the decency to hide the copper pipes that fed its taps. The primed-but-not-painted walls set off the scratched and stained linoleum floor. Early hillbilly at its best.

In the AFTER SHOTS, the room is painted a soft biscuit colour. My grandmother’s handmade bureau has been converted to a spacious vanity that boasts a vessel sink and a funky retro faucet shaped like a water pump. This vanity houses all the towels, toiletries and first aid supplies. My mom made the linen shower curtain from drapes I’d bought for this very purpose more than — gasp– 10 years ago. Heated tile floors replaced the cold linoleum. Since we were changing everything, we replaced the toilet that constantly ran with a low-flow, right-height toilet with an easy-close lid.  I now love this room and am pleased to report I no longer respond to guest’s requests to use the bathroom with, “Sure, but be sure to jiggle the handle!”

Another triple play side-by-side comparison set up.


Did I mention the island has a butcher block top? No? Well, it does! Here are some shots of the island/stove set up. I adore all the storage space it provides, but my favourite feature is the little open shelf at the end that holds my teapots and special serving plates.

Are you beginning to see why it took longer than expected? Beyond the changes we knew we’d make, there was a lot of custom cabinetry. Plus, we also …. refinished the wood floors in both the kitchen and the dining area, moved a lot of electrical outlets and switches, installed new ceilings, replaced the potentially dangerous pot lights and installed a reverse osmosis water system. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few items, but you get the point.

And when it all comes together, it looks like this:

Funny how knocking down a wall changes what people notice. See that big window? It’s 80-inches wide and almost 70-inches high. You’d think it’d be hard to miss. Yet since the renovation, two people have asked, “Was that window always there?” Yup. That’s one of the few features we didn’t even touch. It just got lost because the room was so small and crowded.

Now before you think I’ve gone all chi-chi on you, I admit, I decluttered a bit for the after shots. This is what our refrigerator front really looks like.

And as I was snapping the last shot, the glue holding the magnetic strip to the calendar’s back gave way.

Murphy’s back! My life returns to normal.

25 Comments
  • Monica Bhide
    Posted at 11:23h, 29 June Reply

    Wow! Lovely!!
    .-= Monica Bhide´s last blog ..EVENT Smithsonian Associates- Introduction to Food Writing =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:01h, 29 June Reply

      @Monica Bhide, Thanks Monica. I hope you can see it in person this summer! Maybe we can cook something together now that there’s room.

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 11:29h, 29 June Reply

    Amazing! I really like how the island wraps around the wall. A very nice feature. So happy for you, Charmian.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:02h, 29 June Reply

      @Cheryl Arkison, I love that feature too. Depite being only 8-inches deep, it’s very practical. I store the napkins in a shallow drawer and all our stemware in the cupboard below it. So handy!

  • Nancy
    Posted at 11:37h, 29 June Reply

    Oh, wow, it looks absolutely fantastic! And worth the quarter-of-a-year wait. It’s amazing how some creative thinking can completely change how a space looks and works. And the best part is now you can just settle in and enjoy it!
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..Friday puttering =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:07h, 29 June Reply

      @Nancy, so true.The weird part is that although the room is technically twice as big, it looks three times the size. I had no idea removing a wall would make so much of a difference.

      Most of the creative thinking credit goes to our contractor. He came up with the features that made the room flow. My plan would have been too broken up and boxy.

  • Rebecca McCormick
    Posted at 11:50h, 29 June Reply

    WAY TO GO! Beautiful transformation!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:09h, 29 June Reply

      @Rebecca McCormick, Thanks Rebecca. I actually walk around the room and think, “Is this my house?”

      But in a good way.

      When I did that during the renovation, I ended up packing my bags and moving home to my Mom’s. :-)

  • Susan Hoffman
    Posted at 11:59h, 29 June Reply

    Looks like a dream kitchen, especially for someone who can really cook!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 12:10h, 29 June Reply

      @Susan Hoffman, that’s how I feel, too. I have a lot of baking to do for my sister’s wedding and I’m actually looking forward to it.

  • Frugal Kiwi
    Posted at 14:51h, 29 June Reply

    Inspiring. I’m working on a kitchen reno as well, so I can use all the good stories I can find. So far I’ve only replaced the tacky plastic cabinet handles and accumulated appliances for the island we are planning, but even that much makes me *feel* better about the 1930s kitchen with the three corners of the work triangle in three different corners of the room with the dining table in between.

    We are planning on knocking down the wall between the kitchen and living room to create a great room. If our wall removal is as effective as yours, I shall be most pleased.
    .-= Frugal Kiwi´s last blog ..Get A Handle On It =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:13h, 02 July Reply

      @Frugal Kiwi, okay. You win the weird kitchen of the year award. I can’t imagine a dining area right in the middle of the work triangle. Lots of bumped knees?

      I hope your wall renovations go smoothly. If you go in knowing there will be setbacks it’s not that bad. I was totally naive. Think my rose coloured glasses got broken along the way. Fortunately, I don’t need them to enjoy the results — and I’m sure you will love your new kitchen, too.

      • Frugal Kiwi
        Posted at 23:20h, 07 July Reply

        @Charmian Christie, The kitchen was built pre-electricity in this area of New Zealand, so it originally had a wood stove to cook on and no fridge. However, times have changed a wee bit in the last 80 years and we’d like to make it easier for a modern cook.
        .-= Frugal Kiwi´s last blog ..Hide The Leftovers Apple Cake =-.

  • Lisa MacColl
    Posted at 15:13h, 29 June Reply

    One sure sign of a good renovation is that people can’t remember the house ever looking any different.
    I’ve been in your home, I’ve stood in the old kitchen and the new looks like it’s always been there. Glad the mug rack is back where it belongs!
    Wonderful job and glad you all survived it.
    coveting your space and your butcher block counter…

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:16h, 02 July Reply

      @Lisa MacColl, thanks. I think it looks like it’s always been there, too. It feels that way and I can’t believe we didn’t think of the renovation sooner. I’m loving the space and how easy it is to keep clean. No more standing in the middle of the room with my hands full and wondering where to begin.

      Of course the mug rack is back. It’s pivotal to the tea/coffee experience.

  • Cheryl W.
    Posted at 18:06h, 29 June Reply

    Wow, what a transformation. I like it. It has a Tuscany feel to it with the new color and the light woods tones. It also define the space better. Great choices.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:19h, 02 July Reply

      @Cheryl W., funny you should mention Tuscany. That’s one of my favourite places and the name of my dinnerware (bought for the new kitchen because my old plates were too bright).

      I was afraid the deep claret would be overpowering and was going to go with a lighter wall colour. But my contractor talked me out of it. I’m so glad he did.

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 21:02h, 29 June Reply

    Looks great! So glad you’re patience has been rewarded.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:20h, 02 July Reply

      @Dana McCauley, Thanks, Dana. You’ll have to come over and see the kitchen in person sometime (if your course load allows).

  • Carolyn T
    Posted at 17:07h, 02 July Reply

    Your kitchen looks marvelous, Charmian! We remodeled our kitchen about 3 years ago (pushed out walls, making it huge with a massive island) and I remember the dust, dirt, noise of going through it. Months of going through it, living underfoot the construction all the time. It’s hard to believe, but in a year or so you’ll hardly remember what your OLD kitchen looked like. Not really, but almost!

  • Sophie
    Posted at 09:57h, 04 July Reply

    Your new kitchen looks the MAX!! Absolutely lovely!!
    I would love to come cooking & baking in this splendid new kitchen!! Your gas cooker is looking great!!
    .-= Sophie´s last blog ..Gluten free corn spaghetti with garlic- red -amp yellow tomatoes- spinach- feta -amp mint =-.

  • The Diva on a Diet
    Posted at 11:17h, 07 July Reply

    Oh, Charmian, its absolutely stunning! I particularly love the stove area and I am completely in love with what you’ve done with your grandmother’s bureau. Gorgeous! Your dining room looks lovely too. I’m SO happy for you!!! :)

    By the way, I’ve been MIA lately due to the extreme heat we’re having this year. 103 here yesterday and it was truly awful. My computer lives in the only un-airconditioned room in my home … so I’ve not been spending much time online. I’m off to the pool now to cool off!
    .-= The Diva on a Diet´s last blog ..Xagave Nectar Cookbook Give-Away =-.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 22:43h, 24 September Reply

      @The Diva on a Diet, how’d I miss this comment? Anyway, thanks. My grandmother’s bureau is one of my favourite features.

      Hopefully, one day you’ll come join me at the dining room table for a meal.

  • Carrie
    Posted at 19:49h, 23 September Reply

    Oooh I love it :) You must be so relieved and thrilled with your new kitchen (and bathroom!)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 22:41h, 24 September Reply

      @Carrie, I’m loving it. Still waiting on the pantry cupboard, but I’m now at the stage where I wonder how I ever cooked in the old kitchen.

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