The Before

I have lived in this house for more than 10 plus years and from the start always dreamed of changing the kitchen. It was one of those things where we thought it would happen in a few years. You know, save up and it will happen. But time and other things showed up. Flashback to about 5 years ago, when I visited the Pasadena Showcase House and saw this gorgeous room painted in a terracotta orange. I thought, that’s it, that’s the temporary solution to our bland, white, on cream with black linoleum floors. We’ll paint the cabinets that orange. And always a fan of Mexican and Italian tile and pottery, loving that deep blue cobalt with pops of yellow, orange and other colors, I thought it would look creative to incorporate that as a “fix on what was this dark brown and black laminate countertop “bar” that connected the kitchen with the family room.

My friends, who were either being really nice and didn’t want to hurt my feelings, or shared my love for bright and bold colors, said the kitchen made them feel happy too.

Another fix, we covered over the flooring with commercial grade laminate in a blonde color. I highly recommend that as a quick fix, and love the cushioned padding that goes underneath. Really gives a bounce to your step and is comfortable for those longer moments of standing up while cooking and prepping meals.

As a huge dog lover, and owner of two Old English Sheepdogs, we learned our lesson that wood floors, which we have in the hallway, just don’t work. We’ve had to sand them down twice over the years due to the dog nail scratches on what is a “runway” for my girls.

And for several years it worked. I would feel energized here, chopping, cooking and entertaining in this small but yet temporary solution of a kitchen. What really started to get old was the tile countertop. This yellowed vanilla ice cream color just didn’t cut it. And the grout, which we would replace every year, continued to chip and loom grimy.

The sink, a classic cast iron that I think came with the original home, has been a trooper, but now over time it too started to show wear and tear and just felt cramped when cleaning large pots.

Lighting wise, we had added some “cans” and task lighting throughout the kitchen, and a couple of hanging lighting fixtures but know I could do better.

Something that really bugged me since the beginning, were the appliances.

The wall oven, a vintage Magic Chef, don’t get me started. I know it has seen better days and just didn’t cook evenly or quickly. Anything that required an hour cooking, I would have to add an additional 30 minutes, to be safe. Not efficient. And the door never opened or closed properly no matter how many adjustments we made.

Our dishwasher, that classic 1970s almost harvest gold, always has been an eyesore. And the worst part was how the return valve would spew water out of the backsplash and into the sink like some kind of creature from Jurassic Park!

Our cooktop has been okay, but the worst part is it was never sealed tightly to the countertop, so crumbs would fall underneath where there are these two drawers that were one of the original pull out draw designs. Wood on metal, Seemed like a good idea, but very difficult to slide open, and very heavy.

And not having a true lazy susan or method to organize our plastic tubs for leftovers has always been a pain. No matter how hard I work to organize them all, they always fall out onto me and the floor.

The worst part about my kitchen is how the cabinets hang down so low there is barely a foot from the countertop to the bottom of the cabinet, creating this small duck down space to look out and talk to anyone in the nearby rooms, very “Drive Thru” window!

Add that with this other wall as you walk in and it gives you this “maze” feeling. Very cramped and tight.

It’s been a quaint kitchen and we did our best we could at the time.

The exciting news is all of this is going to be transformed and my dream kitchen is about to come true!

I’m looking forward to sharing this adventure and learning experience with you from beginning to end so please check back and watch it all unfold.

Finding Your Kitchen Designer and General Contractor

Is a Kitchen Remodel a DIY project? It really depends on your time, energy, desire, and of course skill set. When a kitchen as old as mine, with outdated electrical pre-dating current codes, it was important to have a Kitchen Designer, certified with the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the NKBA. This guarantees your designer not only has great design, color and style sense, but understands the construction surprises that can appear during a remodel, especially a kitchen! It is also important to have a qualified General Contractor and team of sub contractors who specialize in plumbing, electrical work, and cabinet installation. This protects your investment and minimizes problems that can feed on problems that inevitably arise throughout the project.

I’m excited to introduce you to our two Jans leading up the Cindy Kitchen Remodel!

Jan Ledgard, an NKBA certified Kitchen and Bath Designer and owner of Yorkshire Kitchens in Pasadena, California ( was so impressed with her Kitchens both inside and outside in the 2011 Pasadena Showcase House, she draws her designs by hand as well as using the state of the art CAD or Computer Art Drawing, and she has a terrific sense of classic style~!

Like anything it’s important to have people you like as well as people you admire and respect on your project.

And that is also how I feel about Jan Harrington, our General Contractor who not only knows the ins and outs of the construction trade, but I love how she is a calm headed logistics leader who the deepest regard for her crew. Plus she isn’t afraid to wear lace and high heels~

I have both of their cell phones on speed dial and love how accessible they both are from the very beginning.

The Vision

Jan the Designer, Jan Ledgard, didn’t take long to whip up her vision of the new kitchen. After visiting our Orange 1950s Kitchen, to which she said, WOW now THAT is orange, Jan started drawing up a new look that really opened up the space and will turn the everyday kitchen into an extraordinary great room! Her plan calls for bashing out an entire wall, assuming the wall is not “weight bearing” meaning the beams on top of the house can support the remaining walls on their own. The design also called for moving the refrigerator from it’s current space to where the wall oven is and building cabinetry around it for a furniture look. Plus, we’d have almost double the storage with the new cabinets that will wrap around the kitchen and hide things like the coffee maker and supplies, and stereo system.

Best of all , Jan’s plan calls for losing the one cabinet that hangs down so low to just above the countertops, the Drive Thru window, which will really make the kitchen more functional, and more conversational. And I’m really excited about getting an island that is secured to the floor. Currently I’m using a storage table on wheels as prep and bar area. Jan sees creating a secured and larger island, along with another island but what’s known as a peninsula, as it’s connected to part of the wall, for a secondary seating and entertaining extension to the kitchen. Lighting will be much improved with additional hanging pendants as well as extra recessed “cans” for work lighting plus in cabinet lighting.

As for the colors, style, and vibe, there is much to be decided. After having had an orange kitchen I am ready for a classic traditional that will be timeless while infusing my personality into it where we can.

Jan the General Contractor will meet with Jan the Design to review , and double check the attic for any surprises to see how we can pull this off.

It’s all about the Cabinets

I am so looking forward to having cabinets that not only have form but function, allow for better organization, yet also have that gorgeous look of custom furniture. I have come to know Merillat Cabinets, part of MASCO, thru my working with the Kitchen and Bath Show KBIS and the NKBA, and for me it was a slam dunk choosing their cabinets for our kitchen. They have so many cool features to keep all of your kitchen needs in order, especially in those common wasted space nooks and crannies. Things like spice drawers, cool places to store pots, pans, carving knives, and really love that under the kitchen sink solution to avoid damage from spills and leaks, their Coreguard sink base!

But what color, what style, what finish. Jan the designer can’t help me select anything else until we choose our favorites. The trend now is to incorporate a couple of cabinet colors and finishes in your kitchen to add interest and depth. Jan is suggesting we consider the darker almost Mohagany toned cabinetry as the foundation of the kitchen with lighter cream shade cabinets as the accents for the island, peninsula and adjoining pantry area.