before and after: airy kitchen redo

This kitchen renovation from Lauren Zerbey of Chezerbey proves a very valuable design lesson in my mind: “All-white” does not always necessarily mean “all-light.” The decision to vault these ceilings and add a sky light must have been a huge commitment, even for a couple of architects, but it completely opened up and lightened this space. Bravo! Even with the rich, dark woods and charcoal cabinets, this space has ten times the amount of light and air than it had before, and that alone seems worth every penny. There are many things to love about this new kitchen — the teal sliding doors (RAD!); the clean, open shelving; the cork floor — but I’m going to go ahead and say that the inset dog bowl area clinches it for me. It’s clear that so much love and consideration went into every detail of this kitchen, and it clearly paid off. Well done, Lauren! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

This post is brought to you by Sub–Zero and Wolf. Get kitchen design ideas at http://subzero-wolf.com


Time: about 6 months

Cost: $18k

Basic Steps: Our old kitchen was inefficient, outdated and in poor condition. Since we’re both architects, we spent a lot of time brainstorming and sketching different layouts before landing on a solution that worked for us and our budget. After gutting the space, we reconfigured the layout to achieve better flow and connection to the backyard. Living in Seattle, natural daylight was also a high priority. To achieve this, we installed larger windows, a skylight, light-colored counter tops and painted the walls white. Dark cork floors and base cabinets balance out the white, while the fir shelves and lyptus butcher block add warmth to the space.

Our kitchen is still modest in size, so we also had to be creative about ways to boost its efficiency. Light colors and a vaulted ceiling make it feel more spacious, while small moves like recessing the microwave and dog bowls into the side of our island help to reduce visual clutter. To get a custom look without the hefty price tag, we combined DIY vertical grain Douglas fir shelving and end panels with IKEA cabinets. The backsplash at the range is a piece of back-painted glass, and the spice rack is a steel ledge shelf from West Elm.

Our advice: Be patient and expect that it will take longer and cost more than you originally anticipated. Try to live in your space for some time before making any big moves. We did this, and it really helped us determine the best solution for our house and budget constraints. Do your research and look for bargains, but don’t cheap out on things that get used daily (like the sink, faucet, countertops and flooring). Finally, if you plan on living in your house during the renovation (like we did), set aside a space for a make-shift kitchen (which for us included a microwave, fridge and small shelf and counter). A few weeks of take-out can be fun, but after that, you’ll want to be able to put together a quick and simple meal between work breaks! — Lauren

  1. Isabelle says:

    What would be interesting to hear is what kitchens the “lovers of the antique kitchens” have themselves at home AND how much they use it or live on eating-out. I think some commentators have already “widened” the perspective here. We bought and live in a 1873-house, that no one else wanted and was doomed for destruction, and share exactly the same goal and “mission” of Lauren & Kyle, which we call “Bringing our house into the 21st century”. For us this includes the following tasks: 1. Bringing the space as close as possible to 21st century-demands – in our case that includes getting the bathroom (or two) integrated and no longer attached to the house. 2. Bringing energy-efficiency to 21st century – and I will pour my money rather into energy efficiency (geothermal heat pump) than high-tech-gimmicks. 3. Functionality in using of the space and appliances – and this evolves a lot around kitchen and bathroom planning. Otherwise, one will quickly end up living in a museum that not many other people will like to share and aka the doom of destruction returning …. Chezerby makes my days many days. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Gaidig says:

    I came over from Chezerby after reading the interesting post about why you chose to renovate that you wrote in response to the comments on this post. I was curious about what prompted it. I will say that although you mentioned that you “reconfigured the layout”, the way that the photos are arranged does not make it clear that the kitchen is in a totally different area of the house. I think that including the floor plans would make it much clearer to most commenters that salvaging the original kitchen was not possible. When they see the sink under the window, with doors to the left, they aren’t understanding that it is in a totally different area of the house. Only a one person noticed the difference in the view. I also think that a lot of people don’t understand that in the 1910’s cabinets were not built as boxes attached to the wall as they are today, and once you take them down, they fall apart and can’t be moved. Not everyone sees the beauty and elegance in clean lines and well thought-out details, but I think more people would understand if they realized it really *wasn’t* the same space.

    Also, in response to Drea: when you live in 750 sf, yes, everything *does* have to be efficient. When you have very little room, you can’t afford to waste it.

  3. Gaidig says:

    Sorry, I can’t remember where I saw the 750sf measurement, but I now see that tis’ 800 sf. My point still applies, though: giving up efficiency for style is only something you can really choose to do in a large house. A kitchen in particular needs to function well.

  4. Mo says:

    I too came over after the dialogue on the blog (some of which I think has been covered in previous blog posts). Like many things, context is key. When the kitchen is viewed by itself, the context of the whole house is lost. When viewed within the context, and with the history of the remodel and step-by-step decisions that were made, I believe it comes into better focus. Thanks for sharing your take on your home.

  5. Lena says:

    Kudos to the Zerby’s their planning and execution. Achieving your own vision is always, well, an achievement. And good for you for sticking you neck out there, by blogging publicly, and opening the door for any sort of feedback. I like what you, Kyle, said: comment as though you’re sitting in the same room.

  6. shannon says:

    count me as another fan of the blog who adores what they have done to take a poorly contructed, not-even-original, impossible to use kitchen and turn it into something airy and bright (nearly impossible in Seattle!)

    For those commenters who disagree, you are welcome to your opinions, but I concur that they were expressed in some cases rudely. “soulless”? they either reused, repurposed or recycled everything they took out so vintage-lovers might be able to find those coveted aluminum drawer pulls. if anything, you should thank them for making your vintage retro kitchen more of a possibility!

  7. Jenna says:

    I LOVE the after. The before is hideous and I can relate- we have VERY similar linoleum in our bathroom that is just awful. I have lived with ancient cabinets that SUCK and are a pain to look at and use. The awesome thing about the after is that it is modern and updated, yet not cookie-cutter looking. I love the blue sliding doors, the dark floors, the mix of open shelving and cabinets.. The vaulted ceilings are a dream and make the space seem so much bigger. KUDOS to the homeowners for making a BLAH kitchen and dining room into something liveable and charming!! :)

  8. mary says:

    WOW, it’s amazing what $60,000 will do for a kitchen…now show me a $6,000 renovations and then I’ll be amazed.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      mary

      tune in every thursday- we’ve shown dozens and dozens of renovations in that price range.

      grace

  9. Rita Nayak says:

    I love the windows. Which manufacturer did you use?

    Great work!

    rita

  10. Pat Lukes says:

    I’m a little late coming to the party, but your choices for your home are so gorgeous and I’m of the belief that you must modernize in order to live comfortably and the kitchen was
    not functional for you and you did something about it and made it gorgeous. Love the new modern change.

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