Kitchen & Bath Designer in Barrington, IL remodels her own kitchen


Posted on March 22nd, by Terry Kenney in Kitchen, Remodeling.

Who is a designer’s worst customer? Herself!

Let me explain: For 8 years I have lived in our home and enjoyed almost every aspect of it! It’s situated on the river where we keep our boat and enjoy the best spring/summer living that the Midwest has to offer. We have a great deck that provides perfect outdoor living space with a great view of the river. We have had lots of fun on the deck with friends and family.

The home is a log home – not true log in that this home is traditionally framed – with logs applied to the outside of the home as well as the inside. The great room/kitchen area is wonderful for entertaining as well as daily living. It’s an open room with a loft above the kitchen space, and a two story ceiling and log beams. There are some storage challenges but overall, the space is great! Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 4.33.03 PM

What I have not enjoyed and what has not been great is the kitchen. And I realize being a kitchen designer, I am probably the worst critic of existing spaces. Clients often say to me, “I bet you have the best looking, most functional kitchen!” Well, the fact of the matter is that I don’t! I think I could actually win the “ugliest kitchen” contest if there was such a thing!

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Besides being ugly, there are many things about the kitchen that just don’t work. This is even more frustrating! A lazy-susan door that doesn’t open all the way because it’s up against the range; a 9” tray divider base cabinet that doesn’t hold anything and is impossible to get in to because it’s door opens against the refrigerator! A corner cabinet in the island that doesn’t have a lazy susan in it, so you can imagine how much fun that cabinet is! And don’t even get me started on the sink!

From a design stand point, I can say that there was no design thought put in to it. The kitchen is 22 years old, has oak cabinets, and a solid surface countertop with integral sink. The color of the top is somewhere between almond and taupe – almost has a soft pink tone to it. Eww. The previous owner painted the walls a very dark merlot red in a gloss finish (yes gloss) and didn’t take too much time to protect the backsplash or the cabinets above so there are nice red slashes all over the kitchen. Nice.  

The 30” tall wall cabinets were hung abnormally high – so much so that it looks awkward. There’s a wall cabinet that looks like it was left over after everything else was installed, so someone decided to throw it up on the wall. There’s no base cabinet below it, so is a hazard. You have to be very conscious of it or you will hit your head (which has happened often!) on the corner.

We have hardwood floors throughout the main floor, but in the kitchen area, someone decided to put a sheet product. It’s not pretty. Not in any sense of the word. But I do know how to fix it!

So, there it is. My current kitchen.Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 4.33.09 PM And it’s time for a change. My husband got tired of listening to me complain and changing hinges that are broken and we are finally taking the plunge in to remodeling the kitchen! YIKES!

And when I said I was my own worst customer – I meant it! For 8 years I have thought about how to change this kitchen to make it better – more functional and esthetically pleasing. For 8 years I have thought about the different products that could be used. I have thought about combinations of finishes, selections of materials and colors for countertops. I have tweaked and massaged the plan to the point of insanity – and now….well….I pushed the button on the cabinet order the other day.

This is my last shot at this! I am scared that I have forgotten some detail or not accounted for something in the plan. I am worried that I have chosen the right cabinet with the right color and the right countertop. I am concerned that the hardware sheen is different than the appliances. I am concerned that the LED lights will give me the right amount of light. I am overwhelmed at the grout color for the backsplash tile!

So now I know how my customers feel – and I wish I had someone out there helping me make these decisions like I do for my clients! My husband is wonderful – when it comes to the final decision on something, he knows that I will stall because I know how many other choices are out there for each and every detail of this project! He looks at things differently. If there is something that he definitely wants, he tells me. If there is something that he thinks won’t work, he tells me. Thankfully! Because if he hadn’t been there when we were selecting the countertop slabs, I would lost in the aisles of stone at the supplier’s warehouse, wondering what to use!

The good news (I think) is that the decisions have been made, the cabinets have been ordered and construction is set to start in a few weeks. We will do our own demo because there are some cabinets that we want to keep and use in the garage. But after that, the contractor will be there to put in to place the plan that I have been thinking about and worrying about for 8 years! OMG!

I wish there was an emoticon that I could totally express all of what I am feeling at this point!

Excited, nervous, afraid, overwhelmed, happy, confident – stay tuned – there may be more emoticons to add over the next few weeks – more additions to the blog to follow as we start demo and move in to the rough stages!





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