Cooking From Every Angle

Renovating the Food52 Kitchen

By • August 15, 2012 • 97 Comments

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After photo of renovated kitchen

Just as my husband’s and my bank account was at low tide last fall, I decided it would be a good time to renovate our 13-year-old kitchen. If we were going to lose everything, at least it would look nice.

The kitchen had been a workhorse. When we moved to our Brooklyn Heights apartment in 2002, it had recently been gut-renovated by the previous owners, who gave it a perfect layout and larded it with status appliances – a 6-burner Viking stove, a Miele dishwasher, and a Sub-Zero fridge. All it lacked was an abundance of cabinet space, so we had a pantry custom built in the adjacent dining room. In the 10 years that followed, I gave the appliances a serious workout. Merrill and I tested 1,400 recipes in it for one of my books, and Food52 has used the kitchen for weekly photo shoots since we launched the site.

Old kitchen

Old Kitchen sink

The kitchen comfortably fit 2 cooks, even 3, and I generally liked its bones. But it had been done to full 1990s luxury splendor, which meant cherry wood and shiny green marble. Did I mention that I hate cherry wood? Almost worse than I loathe tile backsplashes. Especially tile with fruit shapes on it. And shiny marble countertops. Unless they’re white Carrera marble, and even then I’d want to lose the gloss. No matter what tricks our wonderful Food52 photographers pulled, the kitchen looked orange, and so did the food.

Being in the kitchen felt like one of those anxiety dreams where I was forced to go to a great party wearing big hair and a boxy 1980s power suit. Last fall, I told my husband that if we were never going to be able to move/upgrade/afford a car, we should at least improve -- to the extent we could afford it -- the place where I spend the most time, the place that represented Food52, and what Merrill and I were building. So we ended up with that strange thing – a compromise, in the form of a reckless renovation.

It was also a great decision, one that made me wish I’d done all our previous renovations on the tightest possible budget. First, because you don’t make lazy decisions, get bitten by the-most-expensive-must-be-the-best bug, or buy everything at once.

Second, because you must work harder and more creatively to get the details done -- every little knob that you track down on sale, every fixture from a little-known shop in Brooklyn, feels like a triumph, and you appreciate the results so much more. I’ve never been this happy with a renovation.

But I needed help. I work around the clock. I have kids. And I’d grown so irrationally angry at the kitchen that I needed someone to help me filter the bile.

I couldn’t have done any of the work without Lithe Sebesta, a designer (and now friend) who, as luck would have it, was just getting her design business off the ground. She was the person several friends pointed to when I asked for help. They revered her off-kilter yet impeccable style and her knack for spotting under-priced design treasures. They said she would take our style into account while gently pruning and nudging objects into place. I told her we had absolutely no more than $15,000 to spend, including her fee. And then I told her this several more times. She didn’t flinch.

And so we got to work. Within a few months, I had not only a serene grey kitchen, I also had a refurbished and streamlined dining area, all for less than the budget. Here’s how we did it:

1. The bulk of the work was resurfacing, and the bulk of the expense was in painting and electrical work. Lithe and I removed the superfluous moldings on the cabinetry and painted it all pale grey. We also painted the interiors of the cabinets that had glass fronts a battleship grey so they’d appear like dioramas, perfect for highlighting glassware and all the little dishes we use at Food52 for props. And we removed some of the cabinet doors to expose my bakeware. I’m not one for fancy kitchens; my dream kitchen would feel very much like a workshop with open shelving and tools at the ready.

CabinetsCabinets

2. Replacing the marble countertop would have been onerous and expensive, so Lithe suggested we hone it to dull the shine and make it appear muted and lighter. Marble specialists do not want to hone marble without sealing it. The Israeli guy we hired tried to talk us out of it. He let us know we were in for a world of stains and suffering. But we heard none of it. I like neat paint jobs but I want marble to show its wear and tear. Bring on the oil spots and water rings!

Honed down countertop

3. Replacing the tile backsplash would also have been prohibitive, so our contractor, Keith McAlpine Design, came up with an ingenious way to mask it with faux concrete-covered boards, which we matched to be in the same color family as the cabinets. Whoever guts the kitchen next will think we were cheapskates for just covering the tile, and we were!

 BacksplashSink area

New backsplash

4. We removed the recessed ceiling lights, whose light made everyone look like they had triangles for noses. In their place, Lithe found beautiful porcelain lights with glass bell shades, which were 40% off. We splurged on Edison bulbs.

Ceiling lights

5. We bought the cabinetry hardware and ceramic switch plates at Rejuvenation and Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., which produce quality knobs and drawer pulls at Home Depot prices.

Switchplate

6. At IKEA, we rounded up a new faucet and utensil rails for over the sink and near the stove. Counters are for working, not for plopping your stuff; lifting up the paper towels, utensils and dish soap is key. And I ordered a magnetic knife strip from Michael Ruhlman (also available on OpenSky).

New sink area Utensil rack

Knife rack

7. One of the design details I love most about the original kitchen is its low-height woodblock countertop. It’s perfect for chopping and has a pull-out garbage drawer beneath it so you can sweep vegetable trimmings and the like directly into the garbage. The old countertop was ash, which cast yellow light and took years off of our Food52 photographers’ lives. The new counter is American Black Walnut by John Boos, ordered online from Butcher Block Co., and installed by Blackbird Designs.

Old butcherblock countertop

Butcherblock

8. We painted our refrigerator’s wooden front and, at Lithe’s suggestion, added a steel strip on the side so there would be a place to pin our kids’ drawings and photos with magnets.

Fridge door New fridge door

9. The only art in our dining room is a large photo of an old woman wearing a shirt made with tripe arms (yes, tripe; it’s a long story). Lithe spotted a lamp at Artecnica that echoed the tripe’s honeycomb pattern. The Grand Trianon lamp is made of Tyvek, so it was just $180.

Dining room

Cozy corner

Mantel -- a few of my favorite things

Plate shelves

Tripe Lady

10. Our 100-year-old mahogany dining table and chairs were handed down from my husband’s grandparents. Lovely and charming as they were, they were also dark as night. We left the tabletop as is and had the chairs sanded down and recovered them with suiting fabric from Lithe’s secret source in the Garment District. Suddenly their Victorian look transformed to something more Scandinavian. Lithe then mixed the resurrected chairs with other worn wood chairs from around the apartment so the feel was less pre-fab dining set and more vintage ensemble.

Refurbished chair

11. In return for the mess and stress and fiscal peril of renovation, all my sweet husband asked for was a toaster. And so I got him this one made by Alessi.

 

Alessi toaste

Photos (except the toaster) by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (97)

Tags: kitchen design, kitchen renovation, test kitchen, kitchen confidence, cabinets, countertop, appliances

Comments (97)

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6 months ago Sarag

Wondering hw the faux concrete boards for back splash are holding up? How has cleaning them been? They are very pretty in these pictures.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

6 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

They've worked out well -- they wipe easily and look like new!

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6 months ago felicita

Excellent job. Glad to see you were able to recycle the cabinets and add special touches here and there. Enjoy your new kitchen and happy cooking, :-)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

6 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you!

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8 months ago Kristen

Hi Amanda,
What an inspiring post... I know this is from a while ago, but I'm wondering what color you painted the dining room walls. I'm searching for the perfect just-barely-off white. The one in your dining room is warm, but not too yellow. If you can recall what it's called, please let me know!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

They're Benjamin Moore Linen White with Dove White trim (although it may be the other way around!). Hope this helps!

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9 months ago kelly Davenport

All you did was attractive and useful but the one thing I want to incorporate in my kitchen remodel is the woodblock counter with pull-out garbage drawer. Never heard of a pull-out kitchen drawer but I want one now! Seems like the perfect replacement for the prep sink I've been told I can't have. Can you give me any other info about the drawer – Is it lined with anything so the moisture from the veggies doesn't seep into the wood cabinet? Is there a garbage can under the drawer somehow? Can't imagine how it works but think it's gonna help me achieve a 2nd prep area in my kitchen. Thanks for your help.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

9 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Hi Kelly, the garbage drawer holds two standard size (30-gallon) rectangular rubber garbage cans. We use the one in the back for recycling, and the one in the front for regular garbage like vegetable trimmings, egg shells, etc. When I'm chopping on the wood block, I just keep the garbage drawer open a few inches so I can scrape things into it as needed. Because we change our garbage often (daily or once every other day), we haven't found any issue with moisture affecting the wood block. It's more that we need to oil the wood block on top because it dries out if wiped clean a lot. There's a great oil and wax product from Butcher Block Co that we use - and we apply it every couple of weeks, and the wood has remained in beautiful condition. Good luck!

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about 1 year ago linda @ calling it home

This is by far the most amazing budget kitchen I have ever seen. Pinning this!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks so much!

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about 1 year ago Beth

So inspirational! I love everything you did; thank you for sharing all of the details - and enjoy!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you!

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about 1 year ago smslaw

Amanda-Do you have the source for the brackets holding up the shelves to the left of the fireplace?
Great kitchen!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I'm sorry, I don't. That's one are of the kitchen that we did a while ago, nearly 10 years ago!

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about 1 year ago monika

Green with envy! So serene, yet organized and functional. I want to cook in that kitchen--and look though the collection of thing so prettily and accessibly displayed.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you so much!

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over 1 year ago Miranda Heller

Hi Amanda - This is so inspiring. I'm an old friend of Tad's and stumbled upon this by chance, while looking for ideas to dig me out of a revolting 90s cherry kitchen... two questions: what is the pale gray used on the exterior cabinets? And did they have to spray to get the paint to stick, or did they use oil? I'm trying to figure out how to paint mine to look like yours. Thanks.

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've been really curious about what the white "thing" on the glass cabinet face in the new kitchen photos is (or maybe it's just a reflection). Is it a long to-do list taped up? It's been driving me crazy since this was first posted.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

AJ, that's just a reflection of one of the windows on the opposite side of the kitchen!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Hi Miranda, Great to meet you! Our contractor used a custom color that he mixed (and I'm now thinking that this wasn't such a good idea because how will I fix things beyond small chips, for which he gave me a spare can?) It's just a super pale grey. I don't think it's oil. And everything was sanded and painted. Spray would have been better but it wasn't possible. The paint chips a little but I've only had trouble with one area really. I knew this was part of the bargain and I was willing to deal with future chips because I was THAT desperate to get rid of the cherry wood!

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks! Can you see how it might look like a long to-do list? (And I wouldn't have held it against you for having one in the photo . . . it would be proof of what we all know, which is that your kitchen is used, a lot!)
By the way, sfter nine months, do you still like the hooks for the utensils? When I've been in kitchens that have them, I've found myself fighting to lift the utensils off the hooks, or at least, it seems to require a different motion for every utensil, depending on its weight and length, so it's seemed inconvenient. I don't have enough clearance under the counters in the 1920's "maid's kitchen" to do that anyway, but I'm curious about your experience, for reference when I do my next kitchen. Thank you! ;o)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, it does look like a long list! Also, I do like the utensil hooks, but I'd had them in my first NY kitchen so I'm used to them. I understand what you mean about lifting utensils off the hook not always being easy, but I've also found utensil jars frustrating in that they get jammed up -- although they work well for wood utensils -- and I always wonder what's lurking at the bottom of them!

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Amanda, you can usually take a can of paint to a good paint store - the Benjamin Moore dealer, Mark's Paint Mart, is the best for this out here - where they can reproduce colors quite accurately, for just the situation you describe. The technology has improved dramatically over the years. But the lesson is an important one . . . . for something that needs touch ups (and kitchen cabinets are one area in every home that need them, a lot), make sure that the "custom" is recorded in a formula that you can take to the paint store. In the meantime, save that spare can for the front facing dings in more obvious spots, and have a back up made for less-noticeable touch-ups, typically below counter level and near the floor. ;o)

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about 2 years ago PeterPatrick

Pull out shelves are a lifesaver, great blog!

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about 2 years ago awbauer

any news on inside cabinet color?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

awbauer, I know we discussed this via message but in case anyone else wants to know, the inside paint color is Benjamin Moore BM 2118-50. Also, my contractor was Keith McAlpine. He can be reached at [email protected] and on his site: keithmcalpinedesign.com

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about 2 years ago awbauer

Looks fab--just curious as to the cabinet interior paint color?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Will find out for you. Might take me a few days.

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about 2 years ago awbauer

any news on the color?

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about 2 years ago aliriop

Amanda! Love your take on this kitchen. Where did you get the open shelves?

Congrats!

Alirio Pirela

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

They were designed and built by PlattDana Architects http://plattdana.com/ -- in a renovation we did 10 years ago!

Mekid

about 2 years ago hungryandlistless

Thanks for this! It's perfect inspiration as I move into my new place this weekend :)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Hope the move went well!

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over 2 years ago VIB

this is so lovely. do you mind sharing the source for the rolling ladder? we are looking for something like this for our kitchen renovation. and also the recessed pulls on the pantry? thank you!

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about 2 years ago Lorenza

I would bet that the ladder is a Putnam Rolling Ladder. We have one in our family room and it is a beautiful and functional element for our bookshelves that go up to the ridge of our vaulted ceiling. I say, Go for it!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Lorenza, you're right on the money -- was Putnam Rolling Latter. VIB, I believe they are the oldest ladder company in the US, and are located in SoHo: http://www.putnamrollingladder...

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over 2 years ago Irmavep

Really beautiful renovation. When everyone (architects, contractors, stone guys) tried to dissuade me from honed carrerra counters 10 years ago, telling be that "no one has these for a reason" I would tell them that just about every kitchen in Greece, Turkey, and Italy did indeed have these counters, and that their accumulated patinas were lovely.

One burning question: where did you get the upturned shelves in your dining room (the ones on the Rakks standards, holding the plates?) Or are they custom? We have been desparately looking for a budget version of Atlas and are using Rakks standards too, but haven't been able to find the shelves themselves. Many thanks!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Sorry for the delay -- fell behind! The shelves were designed and made by Platt Dana Architects during a renovation we did 10 years ago: http://plattdana.com/ -- I don't remember the brand of shelf braces we used, but they're built so you can put the shelves at any height you want. You create the "slots" for each shelf.

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over 2 years ago phyllis segura

Where to you put your pots, etc.? Do you have to bend down every time you need something? I find the rack with the hooks holding the utensils on the wall bothersome since every time I need something the hook comes with it. Are those hooks attached?

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over 2 years ago MsDivinaLoca

Great job! I love the open shelving in the dining room. Alas, living in California it's not a wise choice so I'll just have to admire it from afar. I don't hate cherry in general, but I do hate the way it's finished and used in kitchens but your transformation is wonderful. Enjoy!

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over 2 years ago ALOW

Striking redesign! May I ask where you found the shelves to the left of your dining room fireplace? And the light fixtures in your kitchen?

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over 2 years ago the musician, who cooks

Perfect and functional-really nice! You must tell the long tripe story sometime.

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over 2 years ago Jessica Scheer

it looks awesome!!

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over 2 years ago SusanRubinsky

Bravo! (I can't stand cherry either). I redid my kitchen in the late 1990's for about $15K and it included new cabinets and new appliances -- took 18 months but everything was done frugally (including pale birch semi-custom cabinets that were super tall to take advantage of the high ceilings : ). I love what you did; I love upcycling whenever possible.

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over 2 years ago Sarag

I love what you did to the marble! It is so much warmer and "real." And now that I look at your before and afters, I can so see a Bonnie Bedelia (thinking Die Hard character) easing out of the big-shouldered blazer, putting her big hair up with a scrunchy and pouring herself a glass of Chardonnay in that glossy black and brightly orange kitchen.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

haha -- and I had that hair back then.

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over 2 years ago The Culinary Chase

Love the transformation!

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over 2 years ago GregoryBPortland

Bravo to you Amanda, for insisting on a renovation and not a gut job. Everyone today seems to want a shiny new $50K kitchen, when a little imagination, some smart planning, a good designer/contractor can give you an affordable new space. I suppose I'll renovate at some point, and I hope I can find a contractor who will give me what I want.

After living in a cramped kitchen in New York for so many years, I fell in love with a house when I moved to Portland. It had a spacious, updated kitchen with granite (not my favorite surface) counter tops. I bought the house and in retrospect, I should have demanded more from my kitchen than what I ended up with. The side-by-side refrigerator and the old dishwasher were the first things that went. The counter tops are dark, shiny, and show every streak. I've come to hate them (replacing them would mean ripping two large cupboards with appliance barns). The cupboard space is limited for all the equipment I have, and the design of the dishwasher is utterly dumb--it's way over on the other side of the counter from the sink, so stacking dishes means, my lovely oak floors always get dripped on. Counter and wall space is limited and it always looks cluttered. But what I really miss having and could kick myself for not noticing, is a pantry. Hindsight! This may be the last house I buy, and I've made my peace with this kitchen.

So it's even more wonderful to see how much recycling your kitchen has gone through. I'm not a fan of light colored kitchens, and yours isn't quite white. I like the pale gray. Kitchens should be functional, attractive. We live our lives in them more than any other room. Because my kitchen overlooks the dining area, all the entertaining happens here as well. I hope Food52 will feature more stories on kitchen renovations. Lots of good ideas can be generated around this.

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over 2 years ago Homemade Hannah

This is such a great update! Just curious if you could tell me the dimensions of your kitchen? I'm thinking of remodeling but am having a hard time figuring out what is a good working size kitchen. Thank you!

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over 2 years ago Cybele Pascal

Too funny! I'm wrestling with an almost identical 90s kitchen, dark green shiny marble counters, and walnut cabinets with the same type of superfluous molding. I also have a John Boos rolling table, but I mostly use it for pastry, since I can't bring myself to truly break it in and cut on it. I love what you've done here. I've been hoping painting my walls some shade of cook's blue or Chinese blue would help me love my kitchen more, but I see now, it's a larger job than that. I love how you stripped the cabinets, love the colors you've chosen, they're so soothing, almost Scandinavian, which I adore, and you've really opened the space up. And the dulled counters are an inspiration! Thanks! BTW, I'm an old friend of Nancy Baker's. Hi!

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over 2 years ago daryn

Looks beautiful, and great cost-saving tips. Congrats Amanda!

By the way, we put in honed Carrera marble for our kitchen island. It has lots of water rings, and some stains, but I agree, it just gives it character - especially in our 100+ year old house!

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over 2 years ago tsp

Nice job. The honed marble looks like soapstone-- if you are going for this look from scratch, that would be the way to go. Soapstone is a soft stone, that takes an oil finish much like the butcher block, and stains can be easily sanded and then oiled away. I love the butcher block space here. Did you do anything to the floors? Would be nice to know where the bulk of the budget went, considering you did not replace appliances. I did a similar redo-- painted everything myself, used old cabinets, only bought one new appliance. But the bulk of the cost went to carpentry work for removing a wall and building a pantry/ laundry room. Spent about half this much, although we are not in NYC. Still, most of the $ went to the carpentry.

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over 2 years ago AJID10

As a designer myself, I love the ingenuity of working in a space under a tight budget. Bravo to your designer for helping you making the wonderful and wise decisions. I wish all audiences would understand the power in hiring an interior designer.

-Allison Jaffe Interior Design, allisonjaffe.com

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over 2 years ago flavoristabarr

Beautiful job and I agree with you about Cherry cabinets! Thanks for the information about honing. I am a granite hater and would love to hone the beast in my kitchen. Just need to find someone here in Boulder to do it!

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over 2 years ago lorinarlock

Inspiring. I inherited my husband's dark bachelor-pad kitchen and have often wondered if I could just paint the cabinets. Now I know I can and will. Thank you for once again leading the way!

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over 2 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Wonderful renovation, Amanda and such remarkable attention to detail in Lithe's design work. We adore our fixtures from Schoolhouse Electric. Great company with a wonderful backstory.

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over 2 years ago Amitu

Beautiful job!

Where did you get the rack that holds your sink sponge & soap?
Thanks

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over 2 years ago off2cook

Terrific inspiration as I rip into my kitchen. Like the colors (esp gray/blue which the French say deters flies due to color) and the honed marble. A mason told me to use industrial exterior caulk where the board meets the sink. He said it is what is used when replacing windows for a good seal. Hope it lasts longer than DIY caulk. If you receive expert advice on this, plz post, thanks. Good work!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks everyone for your nice comments -- we're so glad you like the new Food52 kitchen! Will try to answer all of your questions now.

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over 2 years ago Summer of Eggplant

I realize there are a lot of requests here, but I am curious to know how you maintain your honed surfaces. Is there a way to minimize water (and wine) stains? Thanks for sharing your beautiful renovation.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

It may be that this is a dark surface, but I haven't had to do anything. Some dark areas have formed, and there are light areas and some small stains, but I find that it all makes the marble more handsome and aged looking. All I do is clean it with soap and water.

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over 2 years ago susan g

Where do you keep cookbooks? or is that another article?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

They're everywhere but in the kitchen! Yes, maybe another time I can do something on cookbooks and cookbook organization (a never-ending task).

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over 2 years ago saragrad

Hi Amanda,
Are the concrete-covered boards you used to cover your tile backsplash easy to maintain? Do food stains come right off just by wiping with a damp cloth?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, so far. Everything just wipes off -- wine, grease, you name it. I find the most difficult thing to maintain is silicone caulking around the sink and behind the sink where the counter meets the wall. If it gets wet it inevitably begins to mold. If anyone has a magic solution, please let me know. On our photo shoot days, I put a towel down at the counter/wall seam so that dish water doesn't seep into the caulking. Not exactly an elegant solution.

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over 2 years ago Nikki Seiler

What a gorgeous and practical looking new kitchen. I am sure you will enjoy many a happy time cooking in your new space.

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over 2 years ago Lorenza

Brava Amanda! I noticed in the comments posted above that you provided "blueprints" of your project. Did you provide actual blueprints or was the comment alluding to the level of detail you include in the article? I, too, am about to embark on a kitchen renovation and your article has provided many inspirations to consider for my project. Grazie!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Yes, I was referring to the details in the article. But happy to answer any questions you might have. Good luck with your renovation!

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over 2 years ago ATG117

I'm with you on the cherry wood (and the no-clutter allowed countertops), love the way the painted interiors of the cabinets look, and think the transformation as a whole is just fantastic. Enjoy the space!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thank you so much -- I like change in general, so it's been very exciting to be able to see this kitchen that we've worked so much in evolve and improve. Glad you like it!

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over 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

My daughter in law has been wanting to do her kitchen, so I sent her this--it's inspiring! (If I were still in my house with the cherry cabinets, I would definitely be looking to paint them right about now...) Thanks for sharing this.

Mcs

over 2 years ago mcs3000

Beautiful redesign. Love your writing so it's always a bonus to read pieces like this.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Nice to hear this -- thank you.

Chris_in_oslo

over 2 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

Good for you. This piece deserves a follow up with more detail on the budget and the methods. And uh-oh!! I had not noticed that the 1990s were passé, nor that recessed lighting gave us all nose triangles. Shoot.

Lorigoldsby

over 2 years ago lorigoldsby

Inspired and inspiring! LOVE how you were able to remove the look of clutter and still have your items at hand! I have looked at those utensil bars at IKEA and wondered if it would be too much "extra stuff"...but I love what it did for your kitchen! And while the color is "cool"...there is a warmth to the kitchen..no easy feat to achieve!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Thanks Lori -- the sink faucet is also from IKEA. They make a lot of good kitchen products these days. Some people don't like open shelving because of the dust but my cookware gets so much use that there's no time for dust to accumulate!

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over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

We did a similar facelift renovation a few years ago, but were our own contractor and designer (with help from a brilliant color consultant who is an artist from The Netherlands, i.e., a Dutch painter). We were working with a 1950's kitchen, and had to replace the 6" square tile counters, as well as the linoleum floor. Had similar constraints, but also had to deal with CA codes, which require 50% fluorescent lighting and receptables 2 feet apart along counter -- and about 1/5 or less the amount of cabinet/drawer space and 1/2 the counter space in A's kitchen. And then, living in a 80+ -year old house 2 miles from a major fault line means that there's not a right angle or level surface anywhere in the house, which made the tile work on the floor and the backsplash (subway tiles, glass and onyx accents) that much more difficult. The project was far more complex than I ever imagined it could be, but was commensurately satisfying. Every day presented brand-new-to-us problems that needed to be solved! I loved hearing your story. Your designer added a lot of value -- that's clear. And I'm quite sure that you increased the value of your property by far more than the $15K you put into the project. ;o)

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over 2 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

WAY more useful than a car!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Haha -- will remember this when I have car envy.

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over 2 years ago smslaw

Although I'm partial to cherry (and why do people call it "cherry wood". They don't call it "walnut wood" or "ash wood", but I digress) I really like what you did. I'm amazed you did it, in NYC no less, for 15K.

The walnut cutting surface won't hold up as well as maple, but once the first gouge/stain appears, we'll call it patina. The honed marble was an inspired idea. How did you do it?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Good point about cherry -- no idea why we all feel compelled to add "wood"! Thanks for your comment. I wasn't sure about the walnut's durability but liked the color so much I felt like it was worth it. It's also not that expensive, so I figure i can always replace it if needed. But hoping that it will get worn looking -- at least a bit. Walnut, interestingly, dries out. I find that I do need to treat it regularly with a mixture of oil and beeswax. The honing was Lithe's idea and the company that did it used the normal grinding pads they would if they were refinishing the surface. We just skipped the sealing and polishing steps. It took just a few hours and made very little dust because they use water in the process and this tamps down the dust.

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over 2 years ago Waverly

Now that is inspirational - your kitchen is beautiful and functional. I am now going to pin some of your photos as we are working on a redo as well. School House Electric Supply Co. is already on my radar screen as well as, of course, Ikea. The magnetic knife strips are a great idea. By the way, don't listen to those nay-sayers about your honed marble. Those stains and rings?.....the fancy word for that is PATINA, and it is a GOOD thing.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

1 point for the patina team!

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over 2 years ago sara.mccracken.

Fantastic job!. How do you dull the countertop? Is it just using a sander or grinder? This looks SO much nicer.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Sara, the company we used is called Stone Guard, 718.301.9500. They did the same thing as if they were polishing the marble, only they didn't seal it. Not sure whether they call it sanding or grinding but the machines they use removed the polish (and it's a wet process so the dust is minimal) and we just left the marble as is.

Sausage2

over 2 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Fantastic job! Thank you for sharing all these details. I think you'll definitely have a whole bunch of us borrowing an idea or 7 from your renovation.

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over 2 years ago CentralCoastContessa

Are you really going to cut on the walnut? It is so beautiful! Too beautiful???

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over 2 years ago chefrockyrd

Both of the kitchens are great. But I understand why you wanted changes.
I would like to know how the new back splash is holding up with water splashed behind the sink etc. Is it hard to clean?
I was considering putting a tile back splash up in mine but need a lot of tile and its costly.
And so permanent.
Can't wait to see you cook in the new one.

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over 2 years ago vivanat

I just left my Ruhlman magnetic knife strip behind in my old place - I am super duper bummed that neither colors of his strip work in my new kitchen. Thank you for sharing, and I too am inspired and heartened to know how your kitchen got to be so lovely. :)

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over 2 years ago vivanat

I just left my Ruhlman magnetic knife strip behind in my old place - I am super duper bummed that neither colors of his strip work in my new kitchen. Thank you for sharing, and I too am inspired and heartened to know how your kitchen got to be so lovely. :)

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over 2 years ago BetteratHome

What an impressive renovation! Looks beautiful (actually, drool-worthy) and completely changed, all on a reasonable budget. I especially love the chairs, open shelving, and white-painted fridge with the steel strip, because while painted fridge fronts are my favorite, I need to slap stuff onto them with a magnet. Thanks for sharing!

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over 2 years ago laura @ the shorehouse

This is amazing! As someone about to embark on a (gulp) kitchen reno on a similar budget I appreciate the work you did, and thank you for the very detailed blueprint. May I ask who makes the porcelain lights? I'm with you on recessed lights. My kitchen is currently very light on lighting, and I need to do something...love your solution.

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over 2 years ago Shoshanadh

Stunning renovation and great that you did it on a budget. I love the white utensil holder to the right of your oven. Where did you get it? The round ones that are commonplace take up too much room!

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over 2 years ago Sadassa_Ulna

Beautiful! Kudos to you and your designer for making such elegant decisions. Not only budget friendly, strategies like repainting cabinets and honing existing countertops are environmentally sustainable, win-win! Thank you for sharing all these tricks!

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over 2 years ago Midge

It looks so great! Your fixes are inspired. Hope to copy one or two..

Stringio

over 2 years ago emily.ortmann.5

This is fantastic! Could you please go into more detail on the repainting of the cabinets? what paint brand/type did you use, did you get them sprayed or did you roll the paint on?

thanks!

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over 2 years ago jenniebgood

I love the before and after pictures Amanda! It's inspiring to know that even a co-founder of F52 does budget renovations! You're new kitchen looks beautiful. Someday I'd love to learn more about the woman-with-the-tripe-arms!