Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kitchen Notes | My Selections

I recently made the final selections for our mini kitchen makeover {ie. NOT renovation} so it seems like a good time to bring you all up to speed.  I've learned a lot in the process, not the least of which is budgets will break, no matter how small scale your project.  Unless you are incredibly handy and can do much of the work yourself, be prepared for sticker shock. There is a lot of compromise that goes on and for me the biggest came in the form of the stove.  I could go on and on about the topic of stoves but in the end I needed to let go of some pretentiousness on my part.  Ugly, but true.  I'm a serious cook, it's probably my biggest hobby, and I felt I "deserved" a pro range {Viking or Wolf or something of that caliber}.  My Mum is the best cook I know and she's never had a fancy pro range, but somewhere along the way {was it blogs? pinterest? design mags?} I convinced myself that a cook's kitchen wasn't a cook's kitchen without one.  I could have made it work with my budget, IF I got a different sink, IF I went with cheaper counter tops, IF I choose different lights and a lower end faucet, basically, if I changed everything else I wanted, I could have the stove of my dreams.  Was it worth it?  I decided no, not now. Would it make me a better cook? No. Would my food taste better? No. Would it make me more like Ina Garten? Well, yes, that one maybe so, you know Ina loves her some Viking.

So...I researched stoves for HOURS and HOURS until I felt armed with non biased product reviews on duel fuel stoves in the $2500-3000 price range.  The GE Cafe has a lot of bells and whistles that I could care less about, but the reviews are strong.  There biggest complaint is the noisy fan in the oven but in terms of performance it sounded pretty top notch.  I could do without the digital control panel, but otherwise I'm ok with the aesthetics.  I don't necessarily love the look of any stove to begin with, unless you are talking an Aga and then I start to have heart palpitations.  :)

The other area I spent a great deal of time researching was counter top selection. I choose soapstone. See bottom right picture above.  A very unpopular decision in this part of the country.  Every supplier tried to talk me out of it.  There is a lot of misinformation on the material and if I had the energy I'd write a whole blog post on it. Heck, if I had the energy, I'd start a class and go educate the local distributors and fabricators.  It's really a beautiful material, impossible to stain, and virtually maintenance free, but it will scratch and ding {part of the charm for me, but not for everyone!}

I'm absolutely crazy about the farmhouse sink {Shaw} and polished nickle bridge faucet {Rohl}.  The light fixtures {Circa} are gorgeous too and I can't wait to get them up.  Yes, I went with a different option from the one all of you recommended.  Don't be mad! :)  It came down to dimensions and what fixtures would make a statement without overpowering the kitchen.  I'm still tweaking the cabinet and wall colors but I'm very close, it will be some combination of what is pictured above.  And that just about brings you up to speed, which is good because it's bedtime for me and I've lost steam!  Back soon with some delicious recipes for you to try, no matter what type of stove you use to prepare them!!  haha!!  xo      

45 comments :

  1. Loved your comments on the stove. It is easy to get wrapped up in "brands". Great thinking on your part. This will be beautiful. Can't wait to see the final product.

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  2. I did get a Thermador pro and never regreted it for a moment. As to countertops, we replaced ours (tile) with marble tiles. A cheaper alternative to slab countertop but . . . I spent at least as much time (and possible more effort) on the countertop than I did on my pregnancy. There is no PERFECT countertop. You figure out which imperfections you can live with. Soapstone or stainless steel were a close second. And I do the same "happy dance" over an Aga. When we lived in England last spring, I wanted to find a house with one . . . but we weren't able to. Of course, my husband may not have been able to get me to come home! Looking forward to seeing your kitchen makeover!

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    1. In all my hours of research, Thermador owners raved about their ranges! Thermador is an excellent brand!! I laughed about your pregnancy comment! I'm with you! hehe! :)

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  3. I think it's going to be gorgeous! I love your choices... especially the farmhouse sink and the soapstone countertops. I also appreciate your thoughts on the stove - it would be hard to let go of the countertops, sink, faucet and lights for the stove. I do have a question... one I've battled in my own home. It sounds like your makeover doesn't include any changes to the cabinets aside from painting them. I would love to replace the atrocious tile countertops we have in our kitchen now, but could never bring myself to do it. I'm so afraid that a couple of years down the road, I'll want to replace our outdated cabinets. I'm hopinng that hearing someone else's reasons for living with their existing cabinets will give me the push I need to replace the countertops on mine! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Storywood Designs,
      That's a great question! You are right, I'm keeping my existing cabinets. They are about 6-8 years old, solid cherry, and in good condition. The style is exactly the same as I would choose if we were getting new ones, a simple, shaker, single recessed panel. I just prefer a painted cabinet to stained wood so the decision was pretty easy. The uppers are shorter than I would choose, so they are coming down to be replaced by open shelves. If I hate the open shelves, we'll have new, taller, ones built in a few years to match the lowers. The type of wood was also a factor in the painting vs replacing decision. I know cherry and maple paint really well, so I'm hoping for a nice, smooth finish. We'll see. The counters are a big expense so you are right to think on it! Good luck!!

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  4. Sounds like great choices "!!"have a great weekend

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  5. It all looks really great, Tessa! Good for you for not getting overwhelmed by "pressure" to get an uber-fancy stove. I have a decidedly non-fancy stove and always dream of my someday Viking or Wolf but you make some interesting points here about compromise and getting some of the other things you really want. I'm not convinced it would make me a better cook either. Just make me look fancier :) Love that sink too!

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  6. Spectactular choices...LOVE the colors, classic, cleana and timeless. Excellent choices.

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  7. I think you have made excellent choices! Yay! I think another point in favor of your GE stove is that it will be easier to repair. We have Viking, Northland, etc appliances in our kitchen and it is surprisingly difficult to find repair people and parts. I have said that next time I am going with GE. I love your paint colors and those lights are amazing. Are you going w/ the Farrow & Ball paints or will you have another vendor color match? I love soapstone counters too. That will look lovely.

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    1. That's interesting about the Viking. I also read many good things about Blue Star duel fuel ranges. And yes, I'm going with FB paint. I'm ordering directly from their website. Paint ships from Canada. I think a lot of the FB appeal is in the quality of the paint and the texture, depth, etc. that you'd miss that with a color match. The rest of my home in Benjamin Moore, so I'll have to wait and see what all the FB hype is about. I figured since I can't have my English Aga, at least I can have English paint. Ha! :)

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  8. Love it all! I've never commented on your blog, yet, but I felt compelled to tell you that I'm a recipe tester/developer, so I cook for a living and almost NEVER get to cook on a fabulous stove. Like you said, it won't make your food taste better. I'm also glad that you posted about the range you're getting because I'm going to need one soon and the last time I looked at dual fuel ranges (every cook's dream :) I wasn't seeing great reviews, so thanks for doing that legwork!

    xoxo love your blog!
    martha from elizabeth hill

    p.s. I got to meet Ina once when I was working in the test kitchens at a large discount retailer with a red and white circular logo :) She was nice.

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    1. so jealous about your Ina meeting! soooo jealous!!! :)

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  9. Beautiful choice! I went with the GE Profile that looks very similar to the one you chose (mine is black but they have stainless). About the digital pad...be careful not to get water in it, I am very happy with mine but it does have a kind of noisy fan!

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    1. oh no, tell me more.... we currently have a Jenn Air electric slide in and we've replaced the control panel 3x {$300 a pop} in 5 years. Junk! It cooks fine, but the control panel is a nightmare. It was a defect they never seemed to be able to fix. I've not heard similar problems with GE but I'd be curious if you have experienced differently. Thanks!

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    2. My mom has a JennAir and hates it for that reason! My display went out but came back when it dried. After that I was sure to spray the cleaner on my rag! That was nearly 2 years ago and I haven't had any problems since. My GE fridge has has several problems all under warranty and I love my GE repair guy. I have had them for 2 years. I think you will be very happy! My only real problem is keeping my stove clean because I use it so much! I think you will be very happy!

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  10. i too spent way too much time scouring the internet for feedback on ranges. we ended up getting a wolf. a major selling point to my husband was that they have an excellent service/repair team.

    and i think i picked out the same faucet!

    can't wait to see your kitchen come together :)

    becky

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    1. That is a great selling point. I really liked a lesser known name brand pro range but when I asked about service they said occasionally it would take up to 2-3 months to receive a part. Can't imagine! If my budget allowed, I would have likely gone the Wolf route too. You're a lucky lady!! :)

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  11. You have such impeccable taste...it's all going to look fabulous!

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  12. Love soapstone. My degree is in chemistry and all of the labs I've worked in had soapstone counters..........impervious. Anxious to hear how you like the FB paint and also to see the finished project.

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  13. Love all your choices! I have the GE Profile range you chose only with the electric cooktop because we didn't want to go to the expense of adding a gas line. I, too, did tons of research before I picked this one for the same reasons you did. It has the look of a professional range without the cost. I love it! Yes, the fan is a little noisy when I use the convection oven, but it's not a big deal. You made a great choice and won't regret it.

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  14. Beautiful selections! I have the GE Cafe range and have been pleased. Luckily, the loud fan only comes on at the highter temps (450+).

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  15. Love it. Love it. Love it. I want your kitchen and it's not even complete. Of course, I wanted a Viking as well, and the GE Cafe was my second choice. I love it. But, you know what?! In order to have a gas stove at home it was going to involve tearing up the ground so I settled. Love that faucet too!!! I miss having a side sprayer at times. That is the faucet I wanted too, and I can't remember if I blogged about it at the time, but it ended up being backordered and I had to have one immediately for countertop measurements. My next house WILL have a farmhouse sink.....my cabinet guy didn't like them, blah blah blah, PK said we've already spent enough money. Oh well. It seems like my whole kitchen was a challenge, huh!? I'm seriously dying at all the goodness your new space will have. I SO wish I would've done open shelves somewhere! Oh, Tessa! This is going to be wonderful! If I didn't like you so much, I'd be so jealous!!! Oh, and I could totally help teach that class with you ;)
    Elizabeth

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  16. Love, love, LOVE! So very you...so very classic. I've got soapstone on the brain. And a new range. I am missing my Lacanche terribly. I'm not a jewelry girl or a handbag or shoe girl, but I'm a French range girl for sure. Won't be getting one of those anytime soon, so I liked your thoughts on your range. Great looking pendants. And I'm intrigued by F&B paint. Keep us posted! xoxo!

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  17. if/when we do our kitchen renovation the GE Cafe is what we were planning on using too...for all the reasons you stated. ill be interested to hear the reviews!! cant wait to see tessa. i almost tried to "change a light" above our glass cooktop a couple days ago just to see if i would come into the same bout of luck you did {ha} but i decided to wait for another day :)

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  18. I think your choices are great, and love the lights! We had a Jenn air in the previous house..it was fine. We have a GE now..no problems from it, but lots of problems with the previous model oven (that we replaced last fall.) If I could do a big splurge it would be on a gorgeous glass front refrigerator! I am curious what you are using out of the top inspiration photo...fabric? wallpaper? color? When is your "due date" on the birth of this kitchen?

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    1. Hi Kelly!! So, my due date is mid October! hahha! Actually work will begin as soon as my sink arrives, but painters don't come till the beginning of October. So by Thanksgiving, as my mum says. Yike. Hopefully not that long! Top inspiration pic is off white FB color. One of my wall contenders. The paint is seriously making me CRAZY again. I change every hour on the hour.
      xo

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  19. Love every single thing you picked...gorgeous, understated and classic. Good choice on painting the cabinets. Although ours are from 1986, they are solid and are painting up nicely. It seemed like a shame if we had ripped them out. The cream paint is just night and day...should have done it years ago. (Well, actually, I started painting them almost a year ago. DIY...gotta love it.) But everything is so much brighter and more cheerful...how great that you'll have it in time for the holidays! You are going to love the lighter look and it will really suit your classic colonial home. Please keep us updated on how you like the soapstone...I want that eventually in my kitchen. And I can relate so well to the paint flip-flopping...but the color you have in the photos is beautiful. Can't wait to see it all! Your collage above is seriously giving me heart palpitations! =)

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  20. I can not wait to see what you do with your kitchen! I am starting a mini makeover this fall on my kitchen! I live in an 1880's victorian ( east coast,Canada) so I love love love all your timeless decor choices! I really love your style and find myself now checking out Country Living British addition, you really introduced me to British influences :) I love seeing all your food post here and the pictures on instagram you are a wonderful cook! The stove does not make the cook, love does and you certainly seem to have lots of that going on in your wonderful home!!!!! xo Leslie

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  21. I went through a kitchen reno. a few years back and I feel your pain. I learned that Viking has spent lots of money on advertising...food network...and let their technology lack, thus we all think they are the best, when others are just as good.

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  22. Your kitchen should be beautiful. You selected the lights that I liked the most! Do you mind sharing what brand they are or where you are going to get them from? Thanks!

    Anne

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    1. Thanks, Anne. The pendants can be found here: http://www.circalighting.com/details.aspx?pid=4017
      I did have custom lengths made for mine, the standard size is very long and is not adjustable.

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    2. Thanks, Tessa!

      Anne

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  23. Hi Tessa,
    I am so anxious to see how your completed renovation turns out! I love your style and am planning my own mini-reno. too. I have solid cherry cabinets that my grandfather made 30 years ago, so needless to say, they aren't going anywhere! Yet, a bit of paint and some trim additions will make all the difference. I struggle with the mixing of metals, so to speak. I never know how to mix a chrome faucet, brass lighting and bronze pulls, for example without things looking too thrown together. Yet, I don't like anything too matchy-matchy so I can't wait to see how yours works! I've pinned the GE Cafe stove as well and it seems well loved. If only the budget wasn't such a pressing concern!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  24. What an exciting post! I think I've mentioned before that we will be building soon. This is the type of look I want for my kitchen. I'm thrilled for you!!

    Clara

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  25. loving what you've picked out...can't wait to see the finished project....yay for mini kitchen makeovers.

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  26. I think that you will really like your GE Cafe. As others have mentioned, the convection fan is a smidge noisy at the higher temps. But to be completely honest, I rarely use the convection feature as so many considerations must be made that the consistency of the "regular" oven wins me over. All your choices are sublime! Hooray for decisions.

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  27. I can't wait to see it when done! Your post took me back a year ago I faced the same decisions, when we were building but only had a small amount of a "slush" fund to make upgrades to the standard builder kitchen. I had the same battle to get marble counters, the counter supplier could not believe I would want them in a kitchen (don't they read blogs?)! I am sure you will love your stove, I looked (and heard great things) about the GE. I saw so many comments about repair waits and repair costs on a Viking or other high end commercial brands I was scared away from dropping so much of my small budget on one. I love my new range and actually it does cook better then my previous stove so food does taste better! :) Anyway, I love my new kitchen, and I know you will love yours too. I envy how warm and lovely your house always looks, and it always inspires me to try to make mine more cozy!
    Amy

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  28. When we bought our home years ago, the kitchen had been renovated and came with some higher end appliances (Thermador drop in oven and built in Subzero fridge), my biggest fear is that one of them is going to bite the dust and we'll have to replace them with similar items since there aren't many units that will fit into their custom spaces. I can't say that either of these appliances is any more exceptional than the much less expensive ones I've had in the past. I'm just not sure it's worth the money for these types of items. In my opinion, your countertops, lighting and sink will make a much bigger statement in your kitchen. Can't wait to see pics!

    As a side note, I'm the mom of a child who had a bone marrow transplant (at Cincinnati Children's!) My son was granted a Wish before his transplant and it was an amazing experience and provided our family with some incredible memories since we weren't sure he would survive. The Wish organization was fabulous and tried to make everything just perfect for my son, who thankfully did survive and continues to thrive! However, last year I was so disappointed to learn that a 6 year old boy with cancer was also granted a Wish, he wanted to meet Ina Garten and cook a meal with her. Sadly she turned him down not only once, but a second time too. Apparently, she was just too busy. I don't have a lot of tolerance for people like that. I don't really care how good she cooks, I'm no longer a fan :(

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  29. I'm so grateful to hear about your son and his care at Cincy Children's. What a terrifying time, I pray he continues to thrive!! I worked in a BMT unit during my internship in Boston and the children I met there are some of the most courageous and admirable people I've ever encountered. Their optimism and resilience try touched and amazed me.
    I was familiar with the Ina story and it saddened me bc it seems so inconsistent with her TV persona. I know she tried to rectify the situation but it might have been too little too late. Thank you for sharing your story. Many blessings to you!! Tessa

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  30. Hi Tessa,

    I too have the GE Cafe Range (and the microwave, and the dishwasher, and the frig). We remodeled our kitchen 2 1/2 years ago and I still love the look of the range. The warming drawer comes in real handy at holidays and I love cooking on gas. My only complaint is that the stainless on the top of the range scratches easily. My husband accidentally put some scratches into the top when he moved the heavy burner covers, so be careful. I also wish that I would have gotten regular vent hood for the stove. We have the GE Cafe series microwave oven mounted above the range and it just doesn't do the job of venting adequately.

    All the best,
    Debbie in Washington State

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  31. Hi Tessa, I'm a bit late to the party. Do you still enjoy your range ? Do you have a vent near it ? I have my gas range in the island too and I was wondering if you have a pop up down draft vent or a ceiling vent hood ? The photos didn't show those areas. I have a down draft currently and I am searching for alternate solutions.

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    1. hi sarah, i actually do not have a vent system with the new range. we thought long and hard and consulted with a number of contractors regarding the issue. as you know, down draft systems just don't work well. plus you are very limited with range options if you are going that route. we considered the pop up vent system but honestly the reviews weren't all that great on those either. {and I'm not wild about the look} to make the viking work {my original choice] we would of had to use a pop up vent system from another range and retro fit it with the viking. it would have been costly and it wasn't much more effective than the downdraft option we previously had with our old stove. sooooo.... the downsides of going without are a warmer kitchen when you are doing a lot of cooking and fat/grease rising/depositing. i never used the vent on my old stove and after 5 years i didn't have any grease on my ceiling, so i took a chance with this new one. going without a vent is not for everyone and probably wouldn't work in all kitchens, but so far i have not had any issues. we had a fireman out to make sure it wouldn't be a fire hazard and he assured us there was no problem. hope that helps! tessa

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  32. thank you in advance :) love your end results btw !

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  33. Hi Tessa! I'm re-visiting this post because I am now looking at kitchen appliances for a small kitchen remodel and I remembered you mentioning your research on stoves. Now that you've lived with your GE Cafe, how do you feel about it? I value your opinion becuase I know what a serious cook you are! Also, how is the capacity? I currently have double wall ovens and I get a little nervous about losing an oven (we're reconfiguring the space because I don't like the functionality so I'm considering going back to a standard oven...also looking at 36" ranges as well) I host Thanksgiving every year and really use both my ovens. And, I use them surprisingly frequently throughout the year. I noticed that the Cafe has a warming drawer -- that's appealing! Do you love it? Really, all this researching is making me a little overwhelmed and crazy! I would definitely apprecaite any insight you have. You can respond here or email me directly at lilacsandlonghorns@yahoo.com. Thanks so much!!

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