It’s been exactly one year since we first bought Whistle Haven.
One year since our vision of our family home began taking shape. Whistle Haven was a foreclosure that had been on off the market for a while. A house with great bones but in need of some TLC. One walk through that parquet laden house with an outdated kitchen, an oddly laid out master bath, and popcorn ceilings galore and we knew this was where we wanted to live. One year including six months of construction later and I’m incredibly grateful that God has allowed us to call this place home.
Last March we returned from China with Judah and moved into Whistle Haven just six days later. Looking back we aren’t sure how we managed such a feat and an even bigger feat of unpacking everything as we struggled to help Judah adjust to his new life at the same time. At the time we had one working toilet and sink and no kitchen. We hooked up the old refrigerator and microwave in the garage and that was life for us for a while.
The answer is yes! But we did it! And it was so worth it because now our kitchen is one of our favorite areas of the house. So before we get to all the pictures of the new kitchen let’s go back and look at what the kitchen originally looked like and how the floor plan has changed.
We ended up tearing all the cabinets out, saving the existing granite, and developed an entirely new much more efficient use of the floor plan for us. You can see the original layout of the kitchen in the floor plan below.
And then how we really increased the size of the kitchen just by opening up some walls, getting rid of the peninsula, and moving all the appliances to one wall and designing a large island as the main focal point of the kitchen.
You may remember from a post earlier last year that in an effort to save some major money we designed the kitchen layout ourselves using the IKEA design website. I helped with the overall design and selected the Bodbyn cabinet but Michael Luke did all the nitty gritty stuff like quadruple checking to make sure that ALL our measurements lined up and then each cabinet and drawer would function best in its placement. We put an incredibly large amount of thought and time into how we wanted the kitchen to look but in the end it was totally worth it.
When I envisioned our kitchen I knew I wanted it to be the center hub of the house. The place where everyone gathered as I prepared meals. Where friends could relax and make themselves at home. A place we could entertain large groups of people easily.
One year and countless meals later I would say we achieved that dream.
I can’t say taking the cabinets to the ceiling was Michael Luke’s or our contractor’s favorite part but I absolutely love how they create the illusion of higher than 7′ ceilings. When your working with a house that is approaching being 50 years old you can’t exactly expect the ceiling to be level. So getting the trim to look uniform while at the same time filling in any discrepancies in height was certainly a challenge. Just by extending the cabinets to the ceiling we created lots of extra storage.
The island is the focal point of the kitchen and the main gathering place for our house. With sitting for eight it’s the perfect spot to feed the girls and all their friends, create masterful Play-Doh creations, spread out their school work, or for adults to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. When possible we try to keep things child friendly and able to withstand lost of use… because we plan to do lots of entertaining here at Whistle Haven. That’s one of the reasons why we chose the Raskog bar stools from IKEA. These metal stools are comfortable and at $35 each we went ahead and bought two extra that we can pull out if we need even more seating.
The island is visually asymmetrical… another design feature that I struggled with. I truly had a hard time envisioning and feeling confident that it wouldn’t look strange for bar stools to wrap around one end of the bar. Now that the island is installed it’s easy to see that it works and that the visual symmetrical weight of the island top brings everything together.
The acanthus and clear dome glass pendants are from Shades of Light but are no longer available. These three lights alone probably stressed me out more than anything else in the kitchen. I went back and forth on how many we should have installed, whether I wanted clear glass, and how big the pendants should be. In the end I am extremely pleased with them and feel like they enjoy being front and center in the kitchen. The lighting in general was a design challenge but I believe we got it right by adding ten recessed lights, three pendant lights over the island, under cabinet lights, and a glass pendant above the sink.
I’ve already mentioned that the island is the focal point of the kitchen. Something that makes it extra special is that it is built from Southern Yellow Pine and came from my family’s sawmill, Hankins Inc. We reused the existing granite on the counters in our kitchen so from the beginning I knew I wanted something different on the island. As we were working on our house I thought it would be fun to integrate some of my family’s lumber into the renovation. I’ve seen distressed pieces used as headers above wall openings but I didn’t really feel like that would go with the style of our house.
Scolling through Pinterest one night I noticed some wood counters. I didn’t want exposed wood, or wood with a thin coat of sealer though. From those pictures came the inspiration for our island. I wanted something durable. That’s where the idea came to use a marine grade finish. The finish our on our island is probably somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″ deep. It turned out beautiful and is holding up well.
The back side of the island houses our microwave and pullout drawers for storage. The black stool serves dual purposes. It mainly works as one of our eight seats at the bar but also as my step stool to reach any items above two shelves up in my cabinet. At 4’10” all that extra space is useless without a step stool. I love that this one is always readily available for when I need it.
Ok, let’s talk appliances for a minute. All our appliances except for the vent hood are Samsung. The vent hood is from IKEA. We had a Samsung refrigerator in Birmingham and were pleased with it so we chose the same brand here. No big news… but some of the appliances do have some cool features.
Like the oven. From the outside it looks like a single oven but on the inside…
it can function as a double or single oven. If you look about a third of the way down on the inside of the oven you can see a metal shelf that slides in and out creating a single or double oven. I had a double oven with two doors in Birmingham and loved it because of how quickly the small upper oven can heat up. We knew we wanted another one because of what a time and cost saver they can be.
The new layout of the kitchen caused the oven and dishwasher to be side by side. I didn’t want to visually see two appliances directly beside each other. So we chose a dishwasher that can be covered with a cabinet panel letting it blend in with the rest of the cabinets. In the picture above the dishwasher is directly to the right of the oven. I like that it is conveniently hidden but most of all I love how quiet it is. I know quiet dishwashers have been out for a while now but previously we would have to avoid using our washer during family times because it was so loud. Now, I have to double check just to make sure the thing is running.
Running quietly will certainly be a top priority whenever it’s time to replace our washer and dryer!
Tucked over on the left of our kitchen is our work horse storage area. I’m talking about the space that corals everyone’s junk and keeps the counters from getting bogged down with stuff. I owe you some inside shots of it… I promise. For now, let me just tell you about them.
The lower cabinet to the far left is Michael Luke’s… minus the 40 lb box of sweet potatoes I have stored at the bottom. Inside he keeps his snacks for work, computer, and all the mail.
The middle lower cabinet is for the kids. They have hooks for each of their backpacks and other gear.
The lower and upper cabinet on the right is our pantry with pull out drawers for all our canned and dry goods.
Finally, the upper left and middle cabinets store our family games, Play-doh, and puzzles. This keeps them out of reach of little hands but easily accessible for me to grab for them to play with in the kitchen.
So that pretty much sums up our kitchen and one of my favorite transformed rooms here at Whistle Haven. As Judah has slowly gotten adjusted to life here with us we have had several opportunities to entertain, host a birthday party, and even a dinner party for 30+ comfortably. Our house isn’t extremely large but we purposely set it up in a way that we can accommodate large crowds. Hopefully 2018 will bring us abundantly more opportunities to open our home to others.
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