Tuesday This And That

Book cover My French Country Home: Entertaining Through The Seasons by Sharon Santoni. Details at une femme d'un certain age.


Yesterday I received an unexpected package, which once opened revealed a delightful surprise. It was an advance copy of Sharon Santoni’s newest book, My French Country Home: Entertaining Through The Seasons.

Book detail from My French Country Life: Entertaining Through The Seasons by Sharon Santoni. Details at une femme d'un certain age

Illustrated with stunning photographs of French country life, this coffee-table-size book shares inspired and inspiring entertaining ideas. Organized by season, the chapters cover topics from decor to menus and recipes, traditions and customs, and observations on living from a place of connection with the land and the seasons.

Book detail from My French Country Life: Entertaining Through The Seasons by Sharon Santoni. Details at une femme d'un certain age

Each page is a visual feast, and I’m looking forward to savoring this book, and even trying some of the recipes!

You can pre-order here, and book will ship on the release date of August 8.


We went to see “Dunkirk” over the weekend, and I highly recommend it. It’s a gripping story, and while there are some tense battle scenes, there’s a notable absence of graphic violence or gore. There are three interwoven story lines introduced at the beginning of the film, each with its own timeline. The film alternates between the three perspectives which can be a little confusing at first, but toward the end of the film the timelines and all of the characters converge. The storytelling is very well done, and the performances are skillful and understated. The score is excellent, and helps tell the story without distracting from it. I think this film is going to be a big contender come awards time.


modern farmhouse kitchen. Not my kitchen but love this look!

When we moved into our house a little over 20 years ago, the kitchen and existing bathroom hadn’t been updated since the late 1960’s. We had a very limited budget at the time, and the house needed a lot of work, so we did some “quick and cheap” surface updates while moving in. We’re now ready to tackle some serious renovation to both the kitchen and bathroom. We’ve begun meeting with designers and contractors, and getting some ideas and estimates. The idea of being without a kitchen for weeks is daunting (not to mention the cost), but we just can’t put this off any longer. I promise to document the whole painful process once we decide on what we’re doing and get underway.

(No, that isn’t my kitchen above. Just like the look. Via Pinterest.)

Have you done a kitchen renovation? Any pearls of wisdom to share?

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  1. Our renovation got delayed to the extent that it got started while we were supposed to be on vacation. That meant that they were working on our house while we weren’t there. I came home to find that outlets in another part of the house weren’t working after they had made some changes for the renovation. You need to be there. Take a vacation before your renovation is scheduled to happen and stay home during the project.

  2. I’ve survived several kitchen renovations as we’ve moved from place to place. I’d recommend packing and storing everything but the bare minimum of equipment, then setting up a tiny temporary kitchen elsewhere in the house where you can put a small microwave, a coffee maker, and (if necessary) a portable electric hot plate, and a plastic basin for carrying dirty dishes to be washed elsewhere. It will save your contractors time not having to reconnect services such as power or water to the kitchen each evening. Then just forget the original kitchen exists – apart from supervising the contractors – and have a holiday from any significant cooking for a while.
    Good luck with the process and enjoy the results!

    1. This is good advice. It is essentially what we did when we renovated our kitchen. Keep in mind that the work is rarely constant and there will be parts of days and even whole days when there is not any action on the renovation, like when they reach a certain point and are waiting on an inspection. Expect “surprises,” especially if your home is older. We had one whole wall fall down (it was being held up by the refrigerator and cabinets) but it became an opportunity to add more insulation; and opening the ceiling revealed that the electrical wiring had not been done properly during the prior renovation by previous owners. So be sure to have a bit of extra in your budget just in case you face similar. I did not find the renovation process enjoyable but love the results and it was very much worth it.

  3. Once you have decided on the appliances, buy them. The appliance store will store them until they are needed. That way you can be certain of the exact dimensions etc. during the work. I have renovated several kitchens and learned to do this the hard way (our planned for wall oven was discontinued causing expensive and delaying changes to cabinets.)

    1. Be sure to watch when the warranty starts. We bought a house with a brand new kitchen installed in February. The appliances had been bought the previous October and stored in the garage. When the refrigerator ice maker died in November due to a manufacturer’s defect it was no longer under warranty (fortunately when the oven died a few months earlier it was!). Fortunately we had a home warranty and were only out the deductible but we really had to fight to get them to pay it since it was a defect.

  4. Be prepared as it always takes longer than they initially say. Have a food plan in your head. Whether it is eating out, grilling outside or lots of take out. It is really hard to go about your day without a kitchen. Everyone I know who has done it, including myself says they wouldn’t do it again. But it’s worth it. So just be prepared!!

  5. Try and create a temporary kitchen. I had a basement bathroom I could use. I set up a hot plate, microwave oven and electric kettle. Washed dishes in the sink. The old fridge got shifted to the dining room. Worked fine and no take-out. Agree with both of the above comments.

  6. When we remodeled I kept a refrigerator in my laundry area but you could also keep it in your garage. I set up my espresso maker (important). Also a crock pot and toaster oven were kept handy. Along with disposble plates and cutlery. Its surprizing what you can do. It will be so worth it. Good luck.
    When it comes to bathrooms do them one at a time.

  7. No kitchen renovation stories but did want to recommend the movie The Big Sick…saw it last night and thought it was wonderful.

    1. I second that! It’s a wonderful movie, so funny, and poignant because it’s based on a true story.

  8. Lived through three kitchen renovations. Thinking back, none were too bad. Except for the time the dog jumped up to get a few crumbs of cheese left on a plastic cutting board on the stove just after the stove had been installed. He hit one of the burner knobs on his way down and turned it on, setting the cutting board on fire. Fortunately, my son saw the flames and quickly put it out. And, we were able to scrape off the cutting board with no damage to the stove. (Yes, I know: dumb, dumb, dumb to put a cutting board (or anything except a pot) on a stove top. And I never do this. We had been invited to a party on the spur of the moment and for some reason I cut the cheese on the stove top instead of the counter.)

    Hardest part of each remodel was washing up after a meal. I suggest disposable plates for the duration.

  9. Heidi (an architect and interior designer) of Adelaide Villa blog has just done a post on kitchens – and there have been several earlier ones too. You might find these really helpful though they’re essentially aimed at Australians. Best wishes with the reno, Pamela

  10. My renovation started in early October and finished TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS and I was hosting
    Christmas dinner! It was supposed to be done by late November/first week in December. First the granite I chose came in and was cracked, the tile I ordered for the back splash was incorrect (sea glass squares instead of rectangular), the refrigerator was delayed a week and then was broken and leaked all over my new hardwood floors warping the wood underneath. I could go on but the memories are painful. Designate one room for the little cooking you can do. We used our dining room. We kept the old refrigerator in there along with a hotplate and a microwave. We did takeout, microwavable food and grilled. I was longing to cook a meal or sit down to a decent one. Honestly, we gained weight and felt a bit unhealthy from all the takeout and microwavable meals. I wish you luck and patience and be prepared for it to take a bit longer than they tell you!

    1. We had a microwave, toaster and kettle in the laundry and washed up in the laundry sink. We grilled or boiled things outside on the BBQ, the fridge was in the family room. We also ordered pizza deliveries – from the healthiest pizza place available – am convinced we kept this place going. A couple of months after our kitchen was done and we’d stopped ordering, the place closed. it seems everyone else preferred the more unhealthy pizzas, eg from Pizza Hut.
      But our kitchen was done relatively quickly – it wasn’t even a standard kitchen – but the wonderful guy who had custom designed it for us already had all the materials ordered and delivered to his work shop before they demolished the old kitchen. They did a final measure-up on site and then made the component parts in their workshop in record time. The actual putting together in the house of the cupboard and drawer units only took a few days. Then the Corian people arrived and fitted the bench tops. Our guy had all the tradesman totally coordinated – the tiler, the plumber, the electrician. It all happened so smoothly and perfectly. We were really impressed with the high skill levels, meticulous detailing and the excellent coordination. We hired the same guy and his company to do our bathrooms and laundry after the kitchen.
      But I’d done a lot of work beforehand to select this kitchen design company. Some of my work colleagues had used him – and they all gave me the names of others. I contacted several of them and they invited me to their kitchens to see examples of his work. They all raved about him – and the kitchens though all quite different were superb, also saw bathrooms he’d done. One woman said he’d brought the project in on time and UNDER budget! He wasn’t the cheapest around, nor the most expensive either. It’s really worth researching. Also the other thing is to have it all worked out well before hand. If you change your mind about what you want once they’ve started it could make it much more expensive. The only thing I changed my mind about was one wood panel. I wanted a more expensive option – and was prepared to pay the extra which in our case wasn’t very much. Best wishes, Pamela

  11. I remodeled my kitchen about 5 years ago, and am so glad I finally did it. This is non-scientific, but I was surprised that eating takeout and, yes, frozen prepared foods, for 2 months didn’t really cost any more than cooking for myself. Also, be aware that there might be some dog mischief; while talking to the main guy, my food-obsessed dog raided the book bag of one of the workers and helped himself to a second breakfast. Finally, the remodel forced me to purge a lot of mostly unused kitchen items. Good luck!

  12. When I was a teenager, my parents were in full remodel mode. We went several days without a bathroom – sponge baths and a bucket toilet that got dumped in the woods each day. For the kitchen, I’ve traveled a lot and gotten along quite well with an electric kettle and an electric skillet. The skillet can be used like a saucepan or a frying pan. Stick to one-pot meals and all is good. If you have more than one skillet or an electric grill, your options expand.

  13. Trader Joe’s and a microwave got us through our kitchen renovation. Also – I severely underestimated the amount of pantry and china storage I would need. My parents recently moved into assisted living – and gave us their 50 years worth of their own accumulated dining paraphernalia as well as their parents stuff! And then my mother-in-law moved and we got more! We are inundated – and I wish I’d designed a specific part of the pantry for china etc.

  14. The crockpot is your friend when the kitchen is closed, but think about how and where you will clean it. A ceramic insert type is best, there are tons of good recipes on Pinterest for very course from breakfast to dessert. Good luck!

      1. They are probably very convenient, bit I am paranoid about anything plastic getting hot cooking, so I spray the inside of the crockpot with organic cooking spray to ease clean-up.

  15. Work with an excellent designer(interview potential like a job interview) and LISTEN to what they have to say but always have the final say. Think about how you will use the kitchen. I am a three kitchen ( total gut) reno survivor. Go through Pinterest and save all the pretty photos and really think about what attracts you. After awhile you will start to see similarities. Please don’t waste money on silly expenses like water spouts over your stove or six burner stoves or trends. A word about wood floors..they look like a good idea but are impractical especially with pets. Also consider resale ( if that is a possibility in the next decade) and don’t ‘over reno’ for your ‘hood. Spend your $$ on good appliances and counters…cabinets are just boxes and IKEA and Home Depot have great choices…that being said my custom solid wood 14 year old shakers just got quartz counters and look awesome. But those cabbies were mucho$$ which is why they had laminate counters for so long!! Take your time, think about your needs, add a few wants as your budget allows and enjoy the process…just don’t forget storage, people always forget storage…until they go to put away the Le Creuset stock pot and there is no room:)experience talking here…:(
    Good luck, can’t wait to see photos!!

  16. Choose and order everything well in advance of the renovation, so that’s it’s all in and you’re not held up waiting for something on backorder, etc. I used to do this for a living, so I do know a bit. I am a big believer in good cabinets, they hold a lot of heavy stuff and don’t agree that they don’t make a difference. I do use my 6 burner stove all the time – but I knew I would, cooking for a larger extended family. I also have wood floors in my kitchen because it’s open to some of the downstairs and I’ve never had a problem. Many kitchens I’ve had and done have had wood floors.

  17. To save your sanity, expect that the renovation will take longer, and probably cost more, than the estimates. We are fortunate to have a second, very small kitchen in our home which made the lack of the main kitchen during our renovation not quite so difficult. Recommend you develop a plan on how you will survive w/o a real kitchen for a time–if no access to main refrigerator, then at least have a small one (even dorm size) to hold a few things like milk. Other small appliances can help with meal prep, such as an accessible microwave and/or toaster oven. Meal planning will help you anticipate needs and determine when to schedule shopping trips (e.g. how much food storage space will you have during this time? Smaller, more frequent grocery trips are likely to be needed; put your local restaurant take out menus somewhere easy to reach and make them a part of your meal planning). Though the process can be a frustrating, you will be happy to have fresh living spaces in the end. Best of luck.

  18. Yay Susan! After 22 years in my home (built in 1918) I took out the wall between the kitchen and dining room and now I have the spacious sunny kitchen I always dreamed of. It was totally worth it. I didn’t do much cooking- just had the coffee maker set up and had cereal in the morning. I was finishing my doctorate at the time and figured the house would be chaos anyway. Renovating is like traveling; you have to be prepared for things To not go as planned. I had gotten a fantastic deal on a fridge that had a very small dent that wouldn’t show in my configuation. A huge spring storm hit and collapsed the roof
    of the Best Buy on top of my new fridge! Fortunately they were great and gave me another fridge at the same reduced price. It was quite an adventure. Now every day I take such pleasure in my granite countertops!! Go for it!!

  19. Been there, done that. Have disposable everything and a never ending supply of wine. If possible, prepare and freeze portions for two of some of your favorite meals that can be thrown into the microwave. A Nespresso or Keurig type of coffee machine is also very handy. No grounds to deal with.

  20. 1. Make sure everything (and I mean everything; be pedantic) is documented in the contract/schedule of finishes/electrical schedule. My kitchen was installed with the wrong cabinets, wrong light fittings (in wrong location!), wrong taps…and the list goes on…then corrected at the builder’s expense because they made assumptions rather than reading the contract and schedules.
    2. Before you choose a designer, detail how you use (and would like to use) your kitchen. What works/doesn’t? Pretty is good, functionality is better. So, if you cook multiple dishes at a time, or do Asian cooking, then a five or six burner stove with wok burner may well work for you. If you have and regularly use large appliances like a food processor, bread maker etc then you can have the designer make specific provision for them in the design.
    3. Drawers beat cupboards.
    4. At the end of the day, while designers have some fantastic ideas, and unmatched access to fittings, it’s your kitchen. I can’t stand pendants over my work space for example, and despite all the ‘advice’ from the designer, stuck to my decision to have specialised LED downlights fitted. Difficult to source, and expensive, but 5 years on and I still think it was the right call.

    Good luck!

  21. Over the years we’ve done every reno you can think of in our house, including kitchen. I learned something from each experience. I found that the designers/architects would try to talk me into layouts and designs that just would not work in my space or were not to my liking. Look long and hard at whatever design layout they give you and really try to visualize living in it. I remember the little half wall one guy wanted to put up next to my toilet. I didn’t want a little half wall. I had to tell him no more than once. As another commenter said above, listen to the designers, but in the end, you are the one who has to live with it, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

    At the end of every day, check out what they’ve done. Sometimes you are told something will be done one way, but the people doing the actual work don’t always get the proper instructions. I never followed workers around as they worked, but I definitely inspected every evening to make sure things were getting done right. And check everything over before it gets installed. We added shelves and cabinets in our family room and initially the wrong size cabinets were sent. The contractor tried to talk me into “making it work”, but I was stubborn. We had to wait a month for the right sized cabinets to come in, which was annoying, but I much preferred that month delay to living with something expensive that wasn’t quite right.

    Good luck, and have fun with it! The process is messy and inconvenient, but worth it in the end. I’ve never regretted any of our projects once they were complete.

    1. I was lucky enough to be able to schedule time off work during the actual installation. Was so glad I did because there were lots of smallish decisions I was able to have input to that made all the difference, eg position of electrical points just above benches. The electrician would have put them in different places if he’d been left to himself. I didn’t exactly follow the tradies around (a good design company normally employs good tradesmen) but I did keep a close eye on what was happening as it happened so I could ask questions and have an input. It might be too late at the end of the day. Our kitchen designer didn’t demolish our kitchen until everything required was already either in his workshop or stored in our house/garage. That is absolutely everything from new kitchen electrical equipment to drawer handles. Much more efficient and means less disruption in the long run and no delays.

      We also had LED lights installed above our benches – but there were no delays and it wasn’t terribly expensive. Cabinet and drawer fronts were solid wood – more like furniture than kitchen cupboards. They’ve held up well and will last over time. The Corian has been brilliant – so easy to clean and very forgiving of heavy handed husbands plonking glasses and china down hard. Suspect stone benches might cause shattering of glass and fine china. So many wonderful colours and you can have coving above the kitchen sink/s, also bull-nose or rounded edges. Didn’t bother with extra tap fittings over stove top. Our kitchen is small enough so this is totally unnecessary and quite a saving from all the extra plumbing that would have been required.

      Before the kitchen reno started I documented in bullet points all the main things we’d discussed and agreed on. Our kitchen designer loved this as it made it absolutely clear exactly what we wanted. If he then had an alternative suggestion he would email me so I could think about it and then we would discuss. I’d then adapt the points as necessary until we had the absolute final version we both agreed on. Better to spend time on this in the prep/planning stage before any work is done – than to try to fix things up later. Because he was so professional and a perfectionist himself he was happy that I put so much effort into it from our side. We’re still friends and I’ve recommended him to lots of happy people since. He even came to our house a few years later to put up a heavy Murano glass mirror in the dining room – it was not something my husband and I felt brave or competent enough to do ourselves. And he did it as part of his friendship and goodwill to us – at no charge. So it’s important to find the right person!! Best wishes, Pamela

  22. Run your renovation like any other project you might have done at work. Document all of your conversations with contractors and subcontractors, then email to all parties. Be brief (bullet point) and highlight all decisions made and timelines. Document phone calls as well as face to face meetings. This will make it easier for you to see what you need to follow up on, and will remind them of agreements made. There are SO many details being discussed, decided upon, *and later changed*, that you won’t regret the time spent keeping track of it all.

  23. The grill is your friend, as are takeout salads (we ate a lot of CPK salads!). Actually lost weight rather than gained it, astonishingly enough. Fridge in the dining room, paper plates (I’m the person who has service for 40 so she doesn’t have to use paper – this was a big sacrifice), and keep your eyes of that prize of your dream kitchen. Be prepared at the end to argue over your punchlist, and don’t settle for less than what you’ve contracted for.

  24. I have no advice, Sue, your other readers have tons of great things to say. We’ve been through a couple of kitchen renovations to our old bungalow which is always full of surprises. Stu has a hockey buddy who does this work and he’s done most of our renos… there have been a few. He groans every time he does something that nothing is straight or straightforward about our little house!
    Stu and I still laugh about our last kitchen work. We moved everything into the dining room and I kept getting up in the middle of the night and walking smack into the fridge which was in the middle of the floor. The third time I did it, and yelped, I remember Stu yelling from the bedroom… “Not again, Suz!”

  25. I’m echoing what many others have said. We set up a temporary kitchen in the laundry room where we have a second refrigerator and a utility sink. Coffee maker, two burner hotplate, microwave. Basic kitchen stuff and lots of paper plates. I made a “countertop” with plywood and oilcloth over the washers We rarely ate out. After the cabinets went in we had the ovens installed and working during the wait for countertops to be installed. It felt like a luxury after not having anything. I used to tell myself that it was like cooking in a French kitchen – many of them are that tiny. We probably saved money on food but then we are rural and aren’t close to good takeout or restaurants. It worked better than we expected. Well worth it for the end result. Good luck!

  26. We renovated our kitchen (which had not been touched much since the house was built in 1947!) two years ago. Yes, it was a little tricky using the dining room table as a temporary mini-kitchen, and the bathtub to wash dishes in. Really, we got used to it, and it wasn’t that terrible. The results are soooo worth it. Every single day we love cooking and eating in our beautiful kitchen. Go for it!!!!!!

  27. We did not do a total renovation, but did make the changes in bits and pieces. Partly due to cost, but also because I never go the whole way at once! I like to see the changes as they evolve so as to not make some awful mistake. My one recommendation is to take your time! I always leave paint splotches on walls for up to six months….it takes a long long time to be sure. In my opinion!

  28. I’m a cabinet designer who does many kitchens and find all the comments above helpful. My suggestion to all my new clients is to create an ideabook on Houzz of all the kitchens you see that you like. Don’t be too selective to begin with, just save anything that appeals to you and you will see a pattern emerge. And yes choose all appliances, hardware, flooring, counters and lighting BEFORE you begin. That will help streamline the process. Good luck and enjoy!

  29. One complete remodel, one “renovation” due to multiple slab leaks…. so, my advice for what it’s worth.
    Relax. You can’t control the timing so don’t stress over it. Hire a designer you feel in sync with – if they are designing something that doesn’t mesh with your vision, you’ve got the wrong designer. Don’t be seduced by the beautiful pinterest photos. At the end of the day, your kitchen needs to be a truly functional space – that is where the joy of a kitchen comes from! If you cook a lot I don’t recommend stone/tile for flooring because there is no “give”. Wood, laminate are both great choices. I work out of my kitchen (some days for 10 – 12 hours!) so chose laminate and honestly people always think it’s hardwood – it’s almost indestructable!!
    I agree quality cabinets are worth the money!
    As to temp kitchens. First time around, my contractor moved my range into the garage and ran a gas line from the water heater. No, it wasn’t to code but it worked out great. Had the fridge, microwave and coffee maker/ tea kettle out there as well on two six foot tables. Only thing missing was the dishwasher! Didn’t eat out that much – grilled a lot, used paper plates, etc., etc. … and my kitchen took 5 months.
    Ultimately, I think it’s all in how you approach it -view it as a grand adventure!!!

  30. We were able to do our kitchen remodel in October, which is one of the best weather months in Texas. Workmen had doors and windows open all the time, so it was a nice time not to need air conditioning or heating, and the weather was lovely to cook outside a lot. I agree with other comments that a temporary kitchen set up is essential. We used our wet bar area and a fridge in the garage.

  31. I agree with many, have a designer help with decisions. Many times I would tell thema to bring me just 3-5 choices and I would select from that. Otherwise it can be overwhelming. Lastly, we never regretted spending a bit more money for what we wanted. (Change order anyone?)

    We still entertained when our house was in shambles. Using the scaffolding and boards as a buffet table, flashlights, drop cloths etc. we had fun gatherings. The concrete floor was easy to clean up too!

  32. Good luck with the reno. As I am getting older, a few storage tweaks come to mind. Have a place for heavy pots and mixers, etc that are knee height or higher. It is a bummer getting my le creuset out of the cupboard under the cooktop. Also I agree that drawers are soooo great compared to cupboards. You will not regret the extra $$ for them. We store a lot of our dishes in the drawers under the counters. Also consider a wall oven rather than an oven with cooktop. I am really happy taking a hot heavy pan out of my wall oven and not having to bend over to remove a big turkey from a low oven. We have wood floors in our kitchen and do not regret it at all. They have been in place 25 years and are doing fine.
    Ask your designer to incorporate elements that will be friendly to older adults. You want to be happy in that kitchen for the rest of your days!

  33. just one small comment in the forest of comments re: drawers v. cabinets: we have a number of cabinets with pull out shelves, the best of both worlds in my estimation. Allows us to make full use of deep cabinets and pretty much all the undercounter ones are deep. We also have lazy susans in the corner undercounter cabinets. For the one deep cabinet without such access, not much utility to the back half. Best of luck!

  34. Lots of excellent suggestions here, and I’ll add a couple: One is to install a plastic dropcloth over the entryway to the kitchen so as to seal off the kitchen from the rest of the house. That will save you a lot of work and stress. The other is look at the blog http://manhattan-nest.com/ ,there are a lot of ideas and the author has a VERY amusing writing style.

  35. Good Luck Susan! We remodeled our kitchen a few years ago (and bathrooms before that). We didn’t have small children, and one of us was able to be home at all times. Still, it seemed to take forever. Most of the time was spent waiting…for cabinets, appliances, inspections in between. Codes had changed between the time the kitchen had been installed and our remodel, so various electrical outlets were moved or removed.

    Make sure your contractors are licensed/bonded/insured, and find out what your own insurance covers. If a workman is injured or a truck is damaged you don’t want to be liable. When our master bath was remodeled a workman put his foot through our family room ceiling (the room below) when he was preparing to install the tub. Fun times.

    Our temporary kitchen included an induction hot plate–won’t start a fire if you forget to turn it off, a toaster, a coffee maker and an electric kettle. We grilled a lot and ate on our deck all through the summer–we were really lucky with the weather.

    Make sure the work area is not accessible to your dog! And make sure you can easily get your cars in/out of your driveway!

    1. We booked our dog into boarding kennels for the duration of the reno (first the kitchen and one bathroom followed by the second bathroom and laundry). He was used to this place (during our trips away overseas) and they loved him and treated him so well. We used to drive out to see him a couple of times a week and take him for little walks. He was a Jack Russell and quite an escaper so would have been a nightmare with the workmen in and out all the time and also using the back garden to have a smoke or a snack. He was also very territorial and the presence of all the workmen would have upset him. Worth thinking about if you have a lively dog. Best wishes, Pamela

  36. I love the kitchen you posted! We did a complete remodel two years ago and I have a couple of thoughts for you. First the island shown will be fabulous. We have an all white kitchen with marble counters and though I love them they are fussy, both with marks and chips already. We also have a Shaws farmhouse sink. Within six months it had multiple chips, so now we have a removable stainless steel grid for the bottom. It’s a super pain! I absolutely love those sinks and have never chipped a sink before, hmm! Finally notice the base of the cabinets in the picture do not have a kick place. Not sure what to call it but your feet should fit under there when you are working at the counter. I recommend you put that in, otherwise you will scuff against the base of the cabinet constantly. However, non work areas can be flush with the cabinets. In a white kitchen every mark shows! We used our laundry as our kitchen which worked out fine, however you get really used to not cooking. Enjoy the process, it is intense but exciting!

  37. Design your kitchen carefully. Decide if you prefer firm over function – if you like to cook function should be your top priority. Designers focus on form, for the most part, so be careful. Arrange everything so food can go from the fridge to a sink to the main work counter to the stove with few steps and no obstacles. If you have an island put a prep sink in it. Go through all your kitchen gear and plates etc and measure how much space it will require – plan where each item will go in the finished kitchen

  38. If you want marble counters check out Danby marble. It’s from Vermont (so no child labor) and it’s more resistant to stains than other marbles. It comes in several looks. I’ve had “Royal Danby” which looks like Calcatta on my island for 3 years. So far, no stains.

      1. In Australia, Caesar Stone is extremely popular – not sure if it is in the USA though. It is not as expensive as marble, but looks modern. We had an island bench done 10 years ago and it has never scratched, stained or chipped.

  39. Get toe-kick drawers! You won’t want to climb on a stool to reach high cupboards (if you have upper cabinets) years from now. If you get them, I will get a vicarious thrill because I’ve wanted them for years.

  40. Just had our kitchen made over but not pulled out as it was only 5 years old (previous owners taste) and the layout was great. Best advice from being serial movers is, just like the picture, have lots of pot drawers rather than cupboards; so much easier access. Try and incorporate a butlers pantry to shut away the less pretty essentials. Ours is only a walk in cupboard formed from a previous access corridor. With a cavity entry door it works really well. Very best of luck for the reno. You’ll be on cloud nine after it’s finished.

  41. We’ve remodeled a kitchen, a bathroom and added two rooms to our house. Great advice from everyone. Mine:
    Plan how you will use the kitchen and lay things out to minimize back-and-forth
    You can never have too much counter space
    Never assume; it makes an ass out of you and me! ALWAYS confirm things with the contractor and if you don’t understand, ASK.
    Consumer Reports is your friend when appliance shopping (you can go insane reading reviews from individuals online).
    If you plan to eat out or get takeout a lot, just build it into the budget and it won’t stress you out as much. I couldn’t deal with cooking so it was PB&J, cold cereal or a microwave quesadilla or takeout.
    I particularly like the advice one person gave about planning for aging-in-place. Maybe considering some low work areas in case of a wheelchair in the future, wide doorways, etc.
    My one big regret about our kitchen (really, the only one) is not springing for those pull-out shelves. We were young and I was cheap…I regret it every time I crouch on the floor to drag out my pasta pots.
    Good luck! Like childbirth, you forget the pain when it’s all over. . . And you’ll end up with some great stories!

  42. If you are interested in white marble counters, but are apprehensive regarding their drawbacks, you might want to look into a stone called supreme white. It is like a cross between marble and granite in density. It looks more like marble, but behaves more like granite. I have had my supreme white counters for 5 years and love them. It can be hard to find, but is worth the extra effort of hounding the distributors in my opinion.

  43. Good luck! I hope you enjoy planning your new kitchen and bathroom. We did our kitchen two years ago. I spent months planning it, researching choices and thinking through all the decisions that needed to be made. To my great surprise, the actual work went really well and was not a painful process.

  44. Demolition on our new kitchen begins next week. We built our house 27 years ago and updated kitchen about 12 years later with granite, enlarging island, rearranging some cabinets. We kept the brownish orange stain on the cabinets which have finally worn out their welcome. A few tips I’ve discovered so far: I sold my current cabinets on Craigslist yesterday for a higher price than I expected. And to the first caller out of many I received immediately after the posting. Kitchen appliances are much different today. GE has a new single sized wall oven with double capacity – one smaller for biscuits and casseroles, the other large enough for a turkey. I’m changing out a stainless steel sink, which was scratched within a month of installation, for a mid gray new granite composite sink. Be sure to thoroughly research appliance options. I’ve hired a female contractor highly recommended by good friend. She has all the subs lined up and my appliances/tile are already sitting in the garage. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that all will move smoothly as planned. Will check back when we’re done. Estimated timeline 3 1/2 weeks.

  45. My son has had to move out of the kitchen in our old house so that major structural work can be done , partly by him (all the carpentry) and partly by a builder before the place is fit for renting out . I noted that he moved the dishwasher to his temporary kitchen rather than wash up anything by hand – depressing if you have to go to the basement for water . He is eating home cooked (by him) meals from the freezer in the basement and avoiding takeaways if possible – even the best ones because this has been going on for 2 weeks and is likely to take at least 2 more !

  46. As a veteran of more than a dozen renovations, I agree with many of these excellent comments. Here are a few other observations from my experience. Research absolutely everything with respect to appliances, including talking to appliance repair people about their views (you will be surprised what you learn). If you go for a wall oven ( and do, if there is space and budget) make sure you chose a standard size. Appliances don’t last that long anymore, and it is expensive to have to rebuild the cabinetry to replace a wall oven in 8-10 years. Seriously consider an induction cooktop and drawer dishwashers. The latter are the best appliance decision I ever made. Ergonomically fantastic, and scalable for 2-20 people. As to islands — I have had them both with and without appliances/sinks. MUCH prefer the without. The island is then usable as a big buffet table, a project center and stays much cleaner. Finally, think about what direction you like to move when doing food prep. I am right handed and like to move L to R from the frig, to the sink, to the cooking area — so want the appliances and door swings to work for that. And I hate having the sink and the cooktop across from each other! Your floor is always wet! The more time you can take to think about the details of what you want, the happier you will be with the result. And keep back 20% of your max budget as a contingency. As others have said, it’s all worth it. A good kitchen is a joy.

  47. There’s lots of good advice here about how to survive, so I won’t add to that. But I will say that we renovated our 1980’s kitchen, top to bottom, a few years ago and what I learned is don’t skimp, get what you want: you are in your kitchen several times a day and careful planning and luxurious purchases will make you happy every time you’re there! I had custom cabinets made by an Italian company called Valcuccine. They are awesomely clever with use of space. My countertops are the show piece, handcast glass!! Miele appliances. Franke sink with Danske fixtures. The look is modern, clean and unique. I wish you all the best in this project! I love my kitchen. Can’t wait to see it happen for you too!!

  48. Great tips above. I’ll add one. Consider interviewing an architect or two. Contrary to popular misconceptions, architects are not necessarily cost prohibitive. And, if you pick the right one, they can help you avoid costly mistakes. I have renovated several kitchens and without monster budgets. My architect developed options for using space and adding in light that made a bigger difference to the space than any one choice of countertop, cabinet style, etc. Creating an ideabook (or two) on Houzz will help you gather your ideas efficiently, and there are a lot of very educational stories on Houzz as well. Good luck!