Child-worthy pegboard from Julia and glossy IKEA cabinets mingle in this Indiana kitchen

Before Domino’s assistant business editor, Samantha Weiss-Hills, and her husband, Alex, closed their home in Bloomington, Indiana, in 2017, they already had an email chain with their architect, Andrew Heathfield. In return for $5,000, Heathfield helped the couple model plans for their long-awaited renovation (they had been living in the rental untouched for over a year by then), which included a nearly complete kitchen overhaul. . Then Sam called his contractor father to take over the transformation. He built a range hood out of 2-by-4s, installed their Bosch dishwasher, and even bloodied his finger snagging the sliding door leading to the new dining room. “My dad has been doing this forever, so it was fun watching him,” she says.

small brown kitchen

The kitchen, before.

Storage was essential for the couple. Not only do they like to entertain, but Sam was working for Food52 at the time, so she was constantly testing new recipes and gimmicks. Not having to worry about labor costs has freed up the budget for more of their must-have items. Ahead, she takes us behind the scenes of her clever kitchen renovation.

A clean slate

At first, Sam wondered if IKEA’s glossy white cupboards were aesthetically appropriate for her 1900s bungalow, but she was convinced it was the right decision after hearing artist and designer Maya Schindler rave on the ease of wiping his own. . Plus, the inner workings of the Swedish brand’s units are easily changed – the one closest to the breakfast bar serves as a pantry. “I’m a big fan of drawers,” Sam says. “So you’re not constantly rummaging through everything.” The dining room cabinets hold more than just extra kitchen utensils: they’re a place to store records, rarely used china, and dog food. “It’s a catch-all,” she notes. Refreshing the storage in the two rooms cost $10,000.

Tetris device (and sink)

sink with storage

Dropping a real island in the center of the kitchen helped condense things. First, it provided a more sensible location for their new stainless steel dishwasher and $500 Ruvati sink (complete with cutting board, garbage disposal, drying rack, and colander). With these small pieces out of the way, Sam and Alex could move the fridge and oven to the main wall, creating the much sought-after work triangle.

It’s groovy to slip

The only demolition that took place was to widen the door frame to what was previously the guest bedroom (now the dining room). “It was a really tough pinch point,” Sam recalls. Heathfield commissioned bespoke fabricator Central Scenic to create a polycarbonate and powder-coated steel sliding door that, when Sam and Alex wanted it, could separate the kitchen area. This way, when guests come to stay, the bedroom can serve as the ultimate flexible space. “We opted for a soft close, so it never slams shut,” adds Sam.

Big deal

Engineered hardwood flooring cost – wait! – $200. It was really lucky that their local store held a sidewalk sale: they were able to pick up hundreds of square feet of flooring for next to nothing. A saving like this left room in the budget for the splurge-worthy Heath backsplash tile (20 square feet is $525). “We wanted to bring in some warmth, considering it’s a bungalow,” Sam shares.

Test kitchen

demonstration kitchen

The kitchen, under construction.

Sam and Alex cooked up a few experiments before finally landing Caesarstone’s Frozen Tundra ($4,700) for their counters. They ordered about four samples and splashed them with turmeric, coffee and tomato paste, then washed the surfaces to see which one could handle the intensely colored ingredients they love to cook with. Still in need of extra counter space, the couple topped a $300 wire storage unit with a butcher block slab. “It’s so heavy now that it doesn’t even move,” Sam says. “And that’s made it really cohesive.”

tooth and nail

pegboard wall

cutting boards on pegboard

The pegboard, also made by Central Scenic, is fancier than your typical hardware store: it’s stained an almost gold hue and features a contoured mitered edge. The problem? The custom design did not take into account the traditional dimensions of peg hooks. “They were too thick; they wouldn’t go all the way,” Sam recalls. Her solution was to buy the screw-on type, but she still had to pound everyone’s back to get them to stick properly.

power movement

It’s the little details like the placement of outlets that make a kitchen renovation tick. “It was really important to us,” Sam shares. Having one on either side of the stove has proven to be a game-changer when they want to quickly plug in a stand mixer or blender. She also strategically placed one on the island and another at the coffee bar, because whether you need to get through a day of work or construction, it’s nice to have caffeine on hand.

About Catherine Sturm

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