Kitchen Reveal!

So, this is a bit of a departure from the norm here, but don’t worry – there will still be puppies!

After years of renting, we finally made the plunge and purchased our first home.  We wanted something open and modern with lots of natural light.  Thanks to our HGTV-watching experience, we had a good handle on what to look for versus things we could change ourselves.  When we came across a semi-neglected house in foreclosure, it had all the “must-haves” for us and we went for it.  This house was actually by far the least expensive of the ones we saw, allowing us to make some pretty big changes.

Although the before images don’t convey this too well, the kitchen/dining area was dirty, tired, and needed a lot of help.  Cola (I think?) was spattered on the walls, the carpet was disgusting (and had a minor flea infestation), and most of the tiles in the kitchen were cracked.  Jeff and I salvaged and donated what we could and took a sledgehammer to the rest.  We did as much as we could ourselves (and with the help of family) and called in the pros when it was truly necessary (installing the 600 pounds of structural beam, running a gas line to the stove, etc.).  We have learned so much… and more!

Here are some pictures from before the chaos construction began:

Let the demo begin!

Are you ready for the after?  Me too!

Oh, Henry.  He is always in the kitchen when we’re cooking!

And because I really like them, here are (somewhat) similar angles before-and-after, posted right next to each other:

The end!


We couldn’t have done it without…

Our friend and wonderful realtor, Ryan Haagenson.

Our friend and wonderful architect, Bob Near.

And our families for helping us tear things out and put them back in!


Sources (in case you are wondering):

Countertop: Hanstone

Backsplash: The Tile Shop

Sink: Kohler

Faucet: Delta

Lights and stools: West Elm

Dining table: DIY (with legs from Ikea)

Dining chairs:

Rug: FLOR (Fedora tiles in Flannel and Charcoal)


Up next: two bathrooms, a laundry room, and a basement!  The projects keep on coming.


  1. jessica w says:

    This is such a beautiful transformation! My husband and I also will be in a similar situation when we want to buy a house as we live in a very traditional area so anything more modern doesn’t exist or is so far out of our price range. Where did you get your cabinets? Also you mentioned that you finished them yourself did you stain them, just poly, or seal them? What type of floors did you put in? Did you go to an Architect or a structural engineer to see if the house could be opened up the way you did? Did you someone look at the house with you before you bought it or just bought it and knew that someone you would achieve a more open look?

    • Karin says:

      Hi Jessica – thank you for the comment! The cabinets are made by in maple (they were ordered from a local lumberyard). It was so much cheaper to get them unfinished – I just did some light sanding, wiped them down with a tack cloth, and polyed them. The floors are 1.5 inch strip white oak – we went with the unconventional narrow width to match the hardwood floors that were hiding under the carpet in the bedrooms.

      For us, the house was easy to imagine opened up upon viewing, but before making our offer we had an incredibly-kind architect friend look at the house with us again to make sure. We were going to hire a structural engineer to calculate what was needed to support the long span prior to renovation, but apparently it worked for the carpenter to give measurements to the lumber company for them to make calculations (yay for saving money!). Our carpenter seemed to be an expert at everything and was able to remove the load-bearing wall and install the new beam in a week with the help of only one other person (and some jacks to lift up the 2 – 300 pound beams!). Good luck with your house search!!

      • jessica w says:

        Thanks for all the great info!

      • Andrea says:

        Love your remodel! I’m obsessed with the waterfall countertop on the island. I have been planning on working that into our remodel in some way. I have a question on the load bearing wall removal. We will definitely have to be doing that…would you be willing to share the cost of that portion of the project? Obviously, I know there are many factors that go into that but I’m just curious.

        I am very interested in the cabinets too but I can’t seem to find a retailer for them.

        • Karin says:

          The materials were around $600 and install $1800. Originally we were told we needed an architect come to do calculations which would have added around $400-700 for their time, but apparently the lumber company was able to do the calculations and figure out what size beam we needed to skip that expense. You could try contacting Countryside Cabinets to see if they have vendors in your area at I know there are a number of independent lumber companies here that carry them, but we are only one state away from where they are made. Good luck!

  2. maja says:

    Sooo nicely done! I love the airiness and openness you’ve created, and the hex tiles. Question- where did you move the microwave? Did you remove it altogether or is it hidden in the island?

    • Karin says:

      Thank you, Maja! The microwave is hidden in the island – right now it’s a cubby holding our old hand-me-down microwave, but sized appropriately to hold a drawer microwave for a built-in appearance in the future when we feel like upgrading. :)

  3. Its gorgeous! I’ve spent most of my life living in houses that were being remodeled. It can be trying, but its definitely worth it in the end!

  4. Aidel.K says:

    What a beautiful house! I clicked over from Curbly, BTW. I’m inspired by your DIY attitude.

  5. Monica says:

    Here from YHL… I don’t know what I like the most your holy-batman!!! Remodel ( loove the kitchen ) or you puppies! My husband are in search for our own filter upper and you gave me ideas.

  6. I LOVE your kitchen remodel. Kudos to you! I am in the process of planning my own remodel, including tearing down a wall to open the kitchen to the dining and living rooms. I can’t wait to take in photos of your cabinets to find something similar. That honeycomb shaped tile just might make me change my mind about the white subway tile I was planning on. Very gorgeous!

    • Karin says:

      The cabinets were made by and ordered from a local lumberyard if that helps. I also recently finished subway-tiling a shower… the subway tiles are easier to cut, but the hexes go up faster and have more wiggle room, due to larger grout lines. Have fun!

  7. Anne says:

    I don’t know what I love more-your kitchen or the dogs! They are beautiful! I have two black Scotties myself. I will check out the rest of your blog and the dog pictures. The kitchen is gorgeous and you certainly have vision!!

  8. Emily says:

    I’m about to start a kitchen remodel and I have been going nuts trying to find a backsplash that’s both attractive and easy to clean. I LOVE yours. I know you sourced it above at the tile shop but any idea of manufactuer or model number. I need it!

  9. Petra says:

    Hi just linked over from yhl. Love your remodel! Wow! Would love to hear more about your diy dining table pretty please. :)

    • Karin says:

      Thanks! The table legs are from Ikea and the top is a piece of Maple plywood. I doubled up the thickness around the edges, attached the pieces with wood glue and screws, filled in gaps in the layers with wood putty, sanded, and polyed. The hardest part was decided what size to make the table!

      • Sara B says:

        You kitchen is beautiful!
        I came over to your blog from yhl also curious about the dining table. Do you have any pictures of building it / any pictures that show off the table a bit more / any pictures of the underside complete?
        Also, if you recall the name of the ikea legs would you mind sharing it?

      • Ginger Bell says:

        So glad I found this! I bought a piece of maple plywood about two weeks ago and was totally planning on using the trestle legs from Ikea. The only thing I was stuck on was the thickness of the plywood, but you solved that problem for me. Thank you so much! Maybe my husband will believe me now that I actually had a good idea when he sees how awesome your table is. Love your whole kitchen!

        • Karin says:

          It was definitely an easy, cost-effective, and (in my opinion) stylish solution! Have fun making your table!

      • Mary says:

        Woooooooooowwwwwww! Gorgeous! Can you clarify what you did for the dining room table? What did you attach the maple plywood to? And what do you mean you doubled the thickness on the edges? 2 layers just to give more of an edge visible from the top? Thanks!

        • Karin says:

          Thank you! Yes, I essentially made a frame out of 6″ strips of plywood and attached it to the underside, to give a thicker visible edge to the top without the heft and material cost of doubling the entire tabletop. The top is resting on a pair of white Lerberg legs from Ikea.

          • Mary says:

            Thank you Karin! So it’s essentially a picture frame of 6″ plywood, empty in the middle, with the legs attached to the plywood I assume. How large is your table? Lovely, really!

          • Karin says:

            You got it! The table is about 36×62 and very comfortable fits 6. Glad to help!

  10. It’s amazing! I am so envious of the clean, bright, open space! Cheers to being from Minnesota – I grew up in southern MN and love spending time in the twin cities! Cheers!

  11. Erin says:

    I clicked over from YHL and LOVE THIS!! We live in the same area and it is crazy how your layout is literally identical to the house we moved into 2 days ago – we have big plans for that kitchen!! We also will be dealing with removing a load-bearing wall to put in an island. Probably won’t happen for several years but this kitchen is a dream and I love to see that someone with the same layout as us could have the kitchen I’m imagining in my head!! I can’t quite tell from the photos here, but is there a living room that is open to this kitchen/dining room area? I think yes but just want to confirm that it actually is the same as our house (a 1975 modified split level).

    • Karin says:

      There are quite a few houses around here that look like they have the same floorplan from the outside! The kitchen and dining area are open to the living room, so perhaps we live in the same house? :) Ours was built in 1967.

      • Kates says:

        I am also here from YHL and I am dying your kitch is so gorg! I in the process of searching for a house and we here in Iowa have a lot of 60′s/70′s split levels so you have totally restored my faith in the split level floorplan! Totally love every single thing! Were either of your kitchen walls load bearing walls?

        • Karin says:

          Thanks! The wall that ran parallel to the long side of the island was load bearing – in the 7th picture down you can see the new beam spanning the length of the room the carpenter installed.

  12. Kim says:

    Karin! I have a new house with the same floorplan (of this room at least)! Love your idea, but I was also wondering if you kept the metal balusters/banister that separates your stairs from the room. If not or if you changed it, what did you do? My husband and I have that same balluster/banister set up, white and all, and just don’t dig it, but we’re stumped.

  13. Ann says:

    Please, please tell me about the cabinet pulls;they’re just what I have been seeking! Thanks so much. Ann

  14. Casey M. says:

    I’m here from YHL too :) I was hoping you could give me some perspective on the cost to remove a wall, etc. We have a similar wall situation in our house and I’ve always thought about taking it down but have no clue (or any clue on an estimate) how much it would cost. I also am worried about calling for an estimate right now because I don’t even have a good idea on the base price :)

    • Karin says:

      I just checked my records and it looks like the materials were $650 and install was $1750. We did all the demo ourselves and helped carry the joists in (they were enormous!). The carpenter installed with only one assistant and some lifts, which amazed me. He may have given us a good deal, too, because he put in the window, patio door, and floor as well. We also had to have things rewired, since a lot of it ran through the wall we removed.

  15. Olivia says:

    Wow. I love your new design *_* I’m just wondering though, are you microwaveless? Or just going to keep the microwave on the countertops?

    • Karin says:

      We rarely use a microwave, so we didn’t want it on the countertop or above the stove. Instead, there is a cubby on the backside of the island for it. Right now we have a small one sitting in it, but it is sized correctly so if we update it should house a built-in microwave perfectly.

  16. Aggie says:

    What a fantastic makeover! Absolutely L.O.V.E. your new kitchen! Would you mind divulging the thickness of your benchtop? We’re in the process of designing our kitchen and I always loved waterfall islands but have never seen one with modestly-thick top that looked good until yours! And is the thickness the same for the island and on the rest of the cabinets? Thanks and again – ADORE!

    • Karin says:

      Thanks so much! Our countertop is the standard depth (3 cm) with an eased edge and is the same depth on every surface. The waterfall edge was a splurge, but we are happy with how it turned out.

  17. Amber says:

    Beautiful makeover! I love all the light and your choices in finishes! Also can’t help but notice your cute pups…I think I spy a cairn! We have one too!
    New follower here!

  18. Annie says:

    Your kitchen is beeeuutiffulll! Perfect timing as we are putting in a new kitchen in the spring and you have our exact same kitchen layout and style. It’s nice to see that the layout looks nice as it is totally different layout than the current one!Can I ask where your hardware is from? I’m curious about how the microwave portion works. I’m trying to figure where it put ours. Great job!

    • Karin says:

      Thank you! The handles are the two inch Blankett handles from Ikea, and the price is right! There is a cubby in the island where the microwave is hidden, since we rarely use it and didn’t want it on the counter or above the stove. Good luck!

  19. Laurie says:

    Hi – I clicked over from YHL, not only to see more of your beautiful kitchen, but also to see more of your adorable dogs! I live in Minneapolis as well and have a black scottie. Henry has me convinced that I need to start a search for a wheaten one and then hire you to take pictures of my oreo pups! Where do you have Henry groomed?

    • Karin says:

      Small world! I actually groom my dogs myself (but not frequently enough!), but I recommend Bark & Bathe in Robbinsdale! Anne and Sue do a great job. I’ve had my eye on this pup, I think you should adopt her if you are up for a road trip:

      I look forward to someday meeting and photographing your Scottie(s)! ;)

  20. marie says:

    I’m interested in putting in a similar window above my kitchen sink so I have an unobstructed view outside, but I wondered how small the 2 sides could get without looking too slender. Would you mind giving me the measurements of the length and height of the window? thanks!

    • Karin says:

      The window overall from inside casing to inside casing is 36×66″ and the glass width on the narrow panes is only about 10″. It’s enough to get a really nice breeze going, though. :)

  21. Sarah says:

    Coming over from YHL. Okay, what you did is amazing! Gorgeous! I am in love.

    Could you pretty please share or email some shots at additional angles of your dining table? I can’t really find one I like and I’d love to get a better feel for yours.

    • Karin says:

      Thank you! The table is a sheet of maple plywood and I just doubled up the thickness around the edges (so I essentially made a frame out of 6″ strips of plywood and attached it to the underside). I filled in the gaps in the layers of plywood with wood filler, sanded, then polyed. The top just rests on the tripod legs, so I didn’t even need to attach it. I’ll see if I can get some more pictures, though. :)

  22. Amy E. says:

    dropping in from YHL and LOVING your remodel. about to search your blog for more! also, love the fact that you’re in my hometown (Twin Cities). In fact, i think your realtor is the uncle of one of my best friends! small world…

    p.s. your pups are super cute!

  23. Sara M says:

    Simple and peaceful and very inspiring. Quick question- are those Corian countertops or white granite?

  24. Andrea says:

    Hi there- beautiful job!! Just wondering what the distance from your cabinets on the sink wall to the island is? Also, what vent hood you have and if you like it/how noisy it is/ did you vent to the outside? We did a similar remodel and are having space issues between our island and other cabinets, as well as want to switch out our over the range micro for a vent. Thanks!!

    • Karin says:

      Thanks so much! We actually had plenty of space to move out the island, so we bumped it out so there’s 46″ inches between the edges of the countertop (about 4 feet between cabinets). It is wonderfully spacious, but it definitely doesn’t require that much space.

      We went with the Luftig hood from Ikea, because we wanted something with very clean, classic lines. We don’t cook meat so we don’t use it very often, but it does work well on even the lowest setting, which is pretty quiet. We vented it through the roof (a huge pain working in the attic!), but I think that hood also has the option to recirculate. Good luck!

  25. Stephanie says:

    Love the difference! We also have maple cabinets! What paint color did you use on your walls?

    • Karin says:

      Thanks! It was actually a mis-tint of Benjamin Moore Simply White, I think. It’s pretty darn close to Behr’s Pure Ultra White base. We just went with it and have color-match subsequent paint orders. It ended up being a happy accident because we liked it. :)

  26. CinT says:

    Hi Karin-

    Great before and after! Love the open new space! I was wondering if it was expensive to switch out the electric stove to a gas stove..i.e. cost of running gas line and any permits required? Thanks!

    • Karin says:

      It actually was less than I was anticipating – the permit was pretty inexpensive and the plumber was around $500, although we already had a gas line in the house for the dryer and a few other things. Thanks for stopping by!

  27. Laura says:

    Dropping in from YHL too – LOVE the remodel! Every single detail is just right, you’ve done a wonderful job. We’re in a fixer upper with a stunning white melamine/oak trim 80′s kitchen. So needless to say, a remodel is in the works, hopefully next year. Coincidentally your layout almost exactly matches what we want to do but we’re having trouble determining where to place the appliances in the re-model. I’m wondering, how long is the wall where your fridge and stove are? We would love to mirror this but the the wall in our house might be too narrow to fit both.

    PS – Very cute pups!

    • Karin says:

      The wall from backsplash to the other wall (on the other side of the skinny pantry cabinet) is about 11.5 feet. Good luck with your project!

  28. Angie Burr says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!! I have the same tile picked for my backsplash. Do you mind sharing the link for your Overstock Chairs?? I think I must have them :)
    Truly a fan – hope you keep posting about home updates in addition to the photography!!

  29. Paula says:

    Looks fabulous, would you mind telling me what the name of the Hanstone colour is? I am putting this stone in my kitchen :)

    • Karin says:

      We went with Royale Blanc – looking at the samples, it should be the whitest one the have. I was torn between this one and Bianco Canvas – I liked them both!

  30. Brie says:

    Wow – your kitchen is so peaceful and absolutely gorgeous! I too would love to have our microwave tucked away in a lower cupboard one day. I have very similar lights above my kitchen table, except they are from CB2. My question is – any tips on how you clean them?!? Or what you clean them with? I’m really hoping there’s an easier way than having to take each pendant globe down every time! Thanks so much! :)

  31. lisa maheu says:

    Hi ! Beautiful rehab…so well done! The light above your kitchen table…is that one light from West Elm or single lights clustered? If clustered, where did you get the ceiling plate? Thanks!

  32. JM says:

    My jaw dropped at your remodel – gorgeous – but I had to comment to tell you that I love your Cairn! I have one and she is the best.

    • Karin says:

      Thank you! I just love Cairns! In addition to my own, I have fostered 7 or so Cairns and a number of Cairn mixes for local rescues. They are all so fun loving and a little mischievous. ;)

  33. Karin says:

    The plant is a Schefflera that survived several years in a dorm room and very dark apartment without proper pruning, which is why it’s growing in separate directions and looks kinda crazy. :) I like it though – has lots of character!

  34. Eve says:

    Oh wow! That’s great! I love a plant with good survival skills. Thank you!