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Treehouse: Kitchen


The heart of the home is now a reflection of our hearts.

After completing the living and dining portion of the long great room (check that out here), we turned our attention to the kitchen. There were several pain points that we wanted to address. First, the shiny faux wood cabinetry and shiny faux marble tile were an aesthetic assault to our visual senses—so intense. Second, the layout was atrocious. There was a wall that created a long, dark, narrow hallway, a peninsula that blocked all of the flow, and a giant expanse of dead space in the center. Third, the function of the cabinetry was abysmal (all the lower cabinets that we had to crawl on the floor to get anything out of and corner units that were utterly useless).

While we normally take our time renovating spaces (since we’re working and homeschooling/child caring full-time), renovating a kitchen has a tighter timeline (we wouldn’t be cooking while it was under construction), so I sought a bid from a recommended contractor, just in case it made sense and felt doable to leave this one to the professionals. I had already designed the kitchen and sourced all of the materials, so the bid was for labor alone: $40,000. Well . . . that certainly energized us to grab our sledgehammers. So Christmas night, as soon as dinner was done, I packed up the entire kitchen and the morning of the 26th was officially demo day!

I had agonized for months over the new layout and I could not be happier with it! The back wall is perfectly symmetrical, we have no corner cabinetry, there is such prime flow, and the nine foot long island is divine. And in case you were wondering, yes, everything in that full height pantry is easily accessible.

We went with Ikea cabinetry, which provides unbeatable function, efficiency, and convenience, but Semihandmade doors, which provide the style, color, and finishing detail I was craving (we went with Stone Shaker, which is a light, warm, gray color). I am exceedingly pleased with the outcome on both fronts. The Ikea innards ran us $5,565 and the Semihandmade doors were $8,933.

If I had it to do over, I might have gotten everything from Ikea. The Semihandmade components were well protected for transport, easy to install, and look beautiful, but I was given an 8-10 week delivery window that turned into 16 weeks, which created a significant delay in completing the kitchen renovation. Plus, I experienced so much difficulty getting the products that I am ill at ease about potentially needing to replace any components if need be over time. But they are beautiful!

We chose to reuse all of the existing appliances. While this range is pretty darn impressive, I would have chosen an integrated fridge and dishwasher. But they work well and I can always replace them in the future when they stop working if we so choose. We even reused the existing, non-integrated hood vent but built out a cover (with a small gap so we can push the front buttons) that we Venetian plastered to match our fireplace with Firmolux Marmarino Piatto.

We also added Our Place’s Wonder Oven and Splendor Blender (in the color Steam) alongside our Keurig coffee maker (in the color Stone). I am big-time loving the Splendor Blender for my morning smoothies but I will admit that the Wonder Oven is currently burning the outside of food while the inside remains cold when cooking according to a food’s instructions, so the verdict is still out on the functionality of that (though the look of it is aces).

We installed handmade, 3×6, Fireclay Tile in the color Tusk for $1812 with Oyster Gray grout in a vertical stack lay on the cleaning and cooking runs and working with Fireclay Tile was a breeze (I’ll be using their tile in a couple different colors for our bathrooms, so stay tuned for that). We added some aged brass hardware with a subtle nautical vibe (reminiscent of a sailing cleat without screaming nautical) and laid down a couple of Tumble Washable Rugs in a sage color (we love all of our Tumble rugs).

We chose a Fresh Concrete Caesarstone quartz for the countertops that we purchased through SemiHandmade when we ordered the cabinet doors for $8333. It’s a gorgeous, matte, light gray countertop but this is my biggest regret. Our last two countertops were quartz and they were exceedingly durable but this countertop seems to absorb absolutely everything in that anything set on the countertop leaves a mark that cannot be cleaned off with our 50/50 water/vinegar spray and a microfiber cloth. I’m currently looking at a blue line where my kid set a box of granola for 60 seconds this morning. We’re too active a family for a look-but-don’t-touch countertop.

We may still install open shelves beside the vent hood, made of the same salvaged wood we installed beside the fireplace. We could install some sconces beside the vent hood as well and add art to the hood vent box itself. We’ll live with it and see how we feel (there is no rush). But the one project remaining that we are clear that we need to tackle is moving the recessed lights to accommodate the new floor plan (they need to be centered on the hood vent and the fridge). We’ll get to it in time.

Removing this wall completely opened up this hallway to the point that natural light now reaches all the way down the hall (though you wouldn’t know it in this after photo that I took in the darkness of the Pacific Northwest winter).

But it did mean eliminating a whole pantry and cabinetry where the fridge now stands. Though I knew the island would be expansive, I was worried about the reduction of cabinet boxes, so we removed a terribly inefficient original built-in cabinet and put a highly efficient Ikea Pax wardrobe in its place (the same ones we have in the bedrooms at the end of this hallway), that could function as an overflow kitchen pantry if need be. I was so joyfully amused to unpack our boxes and move back into the kitchen to find we had heaps of empty space—efficiency always beats quantity.

We could have easily centered this wardrobe and trimmed it out for a built-in look but form follows function for me and we needed a place for our broom and dustpan. Plus, there is ample room atop the wardrobe for some lovely natural fiber bins if the need were ever to arise. This cabinet is largely empty for us (it contains first aid, batteries, dog stuff, and stationary (white paper, pens, scissors, tape, etc.), occupying two of the many drawers and shelves). But open space is a-okay with us! We’re always keeping an eye on resale potential while designing and building out the spaces for our needs.

One last note I want to make is on the floors. This high-contrast Hickory is not the floor we would have chosen but like the appliances, it’s here and it’s fine, so we are choosing to embrace it. I designed the kitchen in a way that would complement and balance the flooring. Plus, our aesthetic for this house, after all, is a treehouse—they are on theme.

All in we spent about $30,000 in materials for this kitchen that includes a lot you don’t see (patching floors, drywall, plumbing, electrical, wet tile saw, garbage disposal, etc.) and we banked $40,000 in sweat equity doing the work ourselves (remember that labor bid?). It took about 6 weeks, some blood, sweat, and a lot of laughter, but we did it! The sense of gratification that comes from building a space in your home for your family with your own hands vastly supersedes any imperfections from our learning along the way. We get a beautiful kitchen but we also get smarter, stronger, and closer through the adventure. Cheers!

  1. Jo says:

    Your remodel is beautiful! Opening it up was a great choice to maximize on the natural light. Would you mind sharing info about your island? Did you custom make it or purchase it somewhere? I love all the storage it provides!

    • Thank you! All of the cabinetry structure is from Ikea. I used their kitchen planning tool software to design the kitchen. The island is formed by two rows of base cabinets back-to-back. So much storage!

  2. Goodwin says:

    Love your kitchen!! Such a beautiful design! Any tips for someone who also unfortunately chose matte grey countertops? We’re moving in this week and I’m nervous about taking care of them.

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I work from an island in the Pacific Northwest, where I live wild and free in connection with my hilarious husband and three growing sailors in our fixer upper on the beach. I authentically live this healing work out loud raising my own neurodivergent family (inner child included) and draw on my decades of education and experience (I've done all the nerdy work so you don't have to) to guide a revolution of overwhelmed parents just like you to feeling at peace within yourself, consciously connected with your children, embraced by a supportive community, and enjoying a values-aligned life you love.

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