“Renovating the kitchen was my first major project in my first home,” admits Brandon Bourdganis, who purchased this 900-square-foot Michigan house three years ago. He loved the character of his new house and wanted to stay true to it while also incorporating his own modern and functional style. And though the kitchen the house came with was perfectly fine, Brandon wanted a kitchen he could be proud of. A space he would be happy to use every day. His first house (and his first renovation!) are an exceptional example of how to create a home you love.
Brandon explains all the work and details that went into this kitchen renovation:
The original kitchen was very generic and it did not make the best use of space. The natural oak cabinets were pre-assembled from a big box store and they did not maximize the storage capabilities of the space. There were a lot of filler pieces between cabinets and they did not go to the ceiling. There was a lot of wasted space around the refrigerator that could have been better utilized with additional cabinetry.
On top of that, there were only two small drawers and there was no space for utensils. After I filled the cabinets with my everyday necessities, there was not enough cabinet space for larger items like the blender, crock pot, pans or lids. I had to store a lot of items in the basement and I was always running up and down the stairs. Without a pantry, food also took up a lot of this valuable storage space.
Going into the renovation, I had a strong vision for my new kitchen. My house was built in 1920 and I wanted the kitchen to complement the character of the home. I wanted the kitchen to be classic and clean with contemporary and retro elements. I knew incorporating a lot of whites and grays would open up the space and help it feel larger, but I have always wanted a bold orange accent wall. The Shinola clock with the orange lightning bolt quickly became my inspiration and I knew it was the piece that would bring everything together. My style aesthetic was guided with the goal of maximized storage and functionality.”
(Image credit: homeowner)
Since there was also no place to store pans, I added a rail to hang them from the wall within weeks of purchasing the house. I really loved this solution and it is the only element I kept when I renovated the kitchen. I also added a sideboard under the window that helped add counter space, storage and drawers for utensils.
There are a lot of details that I think make the kitchen. One of my favorites is the subway tile backsplash that goes to the ceiling above the sink. It just makes the room look larger and adds another focal point. I also love the new stove without the back controls. It makes the room look very clean and highlights the subway backsplash. I love the shaker cabinets with the gray bottom color and white top color. While a classic design, the color and hardware feel contemporary and different.
I also love the orange wall with the Shinola clock. Two of my best friends gave me the orange Kitchenaid mixer for my birthday and housewarming gift and it just helps highlight the orange throughout the room. The orange adds a fun and exciting touch and I couldn’t imagine the kitchen without the orange accent.
(Image credit: homeowner)
When I bought the house, I loved the concrete countertops. These later became one of the main reasons I decided to renovate the kitchen. While they were sealed, they were very porous and I never felt that the kitchen counters were clean after preparing, cooking or baking. The only aspect that I loved from the original kitchen was the layout. It allowed numerous people to be in the kitchen and there was enough space between appliances to multitask and cook.
The cabinets have made the largest impact with the kitchen renovation. By adding cabinets around the refrigerator, I have significantly more storage for larger kitchen items. This is also my new pantry and I can now store a lot of food. By taking all the cabinets to the ceiling, I have an extra row of shelving and it makes the room look taller. The cabinet under the window, in place of the original sideboard, added even more storage that I can grow into. The cabinet layout and design allowed me to maximize every bit of space in the smaller kitchen.
To the right of the refrigerator, I also added cabinet space for my Nespresso machine. There was previously an outlet in that wall and I decided to build the outlet into the cabinet. This allows me to keep my Nespresso hidden but I can still make coffee and keep it plugged in. It is the perfect addition for my coffee obsession. I also put my cookbooks in that cabinet so they are easy to access without sitting on the counters. Overall, the new cabinets decrease the clutter while maximizing the storage space and functionality.
During the renovation, the largest challenge was making all the decisions. I never realized how many decisions went into renovating a kitchen. While I never strayed from my original vision, I was astonished by the number of different options available to help me realize my dream. Between cabinet styles, cabinet designs, cabinet colors, shades of colors, floor tiles sizes, floor tile colors, types of subway tiles, paint colors, cabinet hardware, tile placement, sink size, and many other elements, there were so many choices and options.
There were many days when I was exhausted just from picking design elements. Throughout the process, I also never used any samples. I always just picked based on my gut and trusted that I made the right decision. Some decisions were very easy such as the new appliances, cabinet layout and colors, countertops, and cabinet hardware. The hardest decisions were the floor tile color and the backspace and floor grout colors. I found and worked with an excellent contractor that understood my dream and he really helped me along the way. Plus, he did exceptional work. I do not think my kitchen would have come out this beautiful without his expertise and assistance.
While the kitchen is brand new, it is still cohesive with my 1920s house and the overall house design. I could not be happier with the final product. At the end of the day, the new kitchen is really functional while representing my personal style and design. I am so proud of it!