You guys already know I would have done a lot more with our semi-open galley kitchen if we actually plan to stay longer but we always knew we’re gonna up-size later. Having a cut-out L-shaped wall means I don’t have to decide the finishing for the back of the cabinets—are they gonna be glossy white like the doors? Waterfall edge countertop (more costly)? Open shelving? Cabinets on legs for an even airier look? These options are enough to drive me crazy.
So I’ve decided on the option that saves us money and also by calling it a semi-open kitchen makes me look less indecisive (way to go! amirite?).
Our home is a new build and thus we were given an empty box except you can’t change where your water/gas pipes goes in an apartment building, the kitchen also came with wall and floor tiles. See our floor plan here. This is a small galley kitchen so I focused on making it brighter and airier. Natural light from the living area can now flow in. I would have never kept the original closed off kitchen, it’s claustrophobic for us.
Quick Tip: Kitchen should be bright and airy, always allow more natural light in (if not possible, invest in better lighting—under cabinet lighting, folks!), declutter your countertop (especially when you have a lot of stuff, keep them out of sight by storing them behind doors). Dark and messy makes a small kitchen 10x worse.
I promised to talk about how I made my two TVs situation less awkward than you would think. Stay tuned for the Before After living room post on the blog!
Fortunately, we wanted induction cooktop and it’s as simple as adding electrical outlet.
As a Minimalist, I only keep things I love/use. The private “service balcony” is linked to the kitchen, we added windows to the balcony so that it’s now part of the interior. We would never need to use the louvered window. And since we don’t need it we took it out and it’s now a simple fixed glass panel, so much neater don’t you think?
We kept the wall tile but overlaid our choice of wood look floor tiles in the kitchen. We have our baseboard tiled (also known as skirting) for the entire home. And we have white cabinets so the toe kick with white tiles are perfect for each other. In short, my baseboard and my toe kick is the same material.
As you can tell, I’ve kept color choices neutral throughout my home because we love neutral colors ourselves and would like our home to stay classy for the years to come (especially when it comes for the time to sell!).
Quick Tip: Use same flooring throughout an open concept space with no change of direction. One continuous flow is important when it comes to visually enlarging a small space. Area rugs or runner can be used to define each area.
Just like any other renovation, there will be hiccups. I spotted these mistakes during site visits (and site visits can be very overwhelming, there was at least once I only realized something is amiss when we got home).
I am very particular about hiding the entire hood behind door because we don’t cook very often and we get to stare at our kitchen from our couch, if you need to stare at something, make sure it’s a pretty sight because WHY NOT?! (Because I don’t want to stare at my hood when I’m only using the kitchen to make Nespresso…shh). I’ve told my contractor multiple times “please don’t screw up the hood design” (I used nicer words obviously). And guess what? It was still screwed up when done. Scroll down for After picture to see how it should have been.
Quick Tip: Depends on how fast your renovation moves, for our case we should have visit the site twice a week (we did once a week during weekends). It’s important to spot mistakes early if you want a speedy and less bumpy renovation. If frequent site visits are not possible for you, let your contractor or designer send you on site pictures!
I struggled to find the appropriate lighting for the kitchen because I want something simple, minimalist and in the end I just use LED (warm white) instead. I have shelf lighting and under shelf lighting to avoid that overhead light from casting a shadow when you stand in front of the sink.
Quick Tip: Kitchen needs general lighting, under cabinet/shelf lighting and mood lighting. If you can, add a dimmer option.
A lot happened on our move-in day (the kitchen was incomplete to say the least), we had electricians, plumber and carpenters all came in to “finish” it up for us. You can see our luggage temporarily stored in the laundry room (a.k.a “service yard/balcony”), that green protective cover outside our windows was due to rectification work carried out on the exterior of the building (for a month), the windows let in more light without this covering, obviously.
Can you also tell that those thingy wrapped in plastic is actually curtains (we had the curtain guys drilled the rails, we then put up curtains for all three rooms ourselves at 2 a.m.).
3D design to reflect the original tile we selected to overlay existing kitchen wall tiles. We later decided to keep the original wall tiles to save money and ALSO because my contractor told me they can’t lay this (30 cm x 60 cm (12″ x 24″) volakas marble-like ceramic tiles pre-cut with 5 cm (2″) squares) to more resembles small individual square tiles. The grout lines and how they won’t be squares around the cabinet makes me realized that they could not achieve the ideal look I have in mind. So I did what I did—I scraped the entire idea because I’m not ready to spend a few thousands to achieve a half baked result that I can already tell now.
I have always wanted a white fridge to go with the white cabinet but at some point I was worried I could not find the right white fridge to fit because I wanted nothing but a counter depth fridge and because my kitchen is small, duh! Small kitchen + giant fridge is NOPE NOPE NOPE.
Also I don’t have that lonely awkward ceiling light above the countertop in real life.
You know I would love to include this 3D versus reality comparison, so here you go –
The 3D can show how the space would look and feel when it’s done, you can have 1000 brilliant ideas in your mind but once you put them together you can tell right away the scale or color is wrong, some ideas are great but they’re just not so great next to each other.
99% of the 3D objects in my designs are modeled after actual items and furniture with actual dimensions.
I sent my 3D to my contractor prior to the start of our reno to make sure we’re on the same page. I am also pretty sure that by supplying him with designs myself, I have lessened his work load even though we do pay him for doing his job. Because he is not a designer after all, however he is a veteran in the industry (one of the reasons why we hired him).
Those brass handles…I would do it all over again (got them from an Etsy seller!). We used Blum hinges for that hood door—it’s pull and lift, door will then effortlessly swing upwards (you will never accidentally knock your head on it! Not for me anyway at 5’2″, ha!).
And yes I can reach the shelf, I measured myself with my hand stretched upwards and provided all dimensions for all the built-ins to my contractor.
I have refrained from going into too much details on how many times my kitchen cabinets were being rectified because there either was a miscommunication between my contractor and the carpenter or because the carpenter cut the wrong size and had to come back the next day!! I really do not want to spread negativity on the blog by ranting. And I’ve been thinking of dedicating an entire post to either reviewing my contractor or give some tips on how to get your reno move in ready within short time (we moved in one month after our reno commenced). Lemme know if you would like these posts.
You can find and pin images of my home and more here. More Before After posts of our home AND other 3D design reveal posts coming up (the latter is what keeping me busy these days). I would like to start rolling the free design giveaways this year as well, been talking about this for the longest time, rest assured I did not forget about it. :)
All words and images by me.