The Kitchen on Martin : Making it a Kitchen (4/5)

I like fall break. I’m catching up on writing! If you missed the last kitchen post, you can find it HERE.

Now for the fun stuff – actually making it a kitchen! And adding the details that make the modern kitchen fit in a 1902 Victorian – it’s a hard balance, but I hope we did it well.

We kept with black cabinets, but unlike Jackson Street, I wasn’t the one painting them, which is good for the sheer size and number of cabinets, but sad because I do love painting cabinetry. The father of two of my students is a cabinet maker, and we were casually talking to him about the kitchen. We had already decided to go with a big box store, because we felt there was no way we could afford custom cabinets – but he convinced us to let him take a look. Some creativity and awesomeness later, and we had a partnership.

Cabinet Delivery Day! Cabinets to fill an 11-foot-tall room are RIDICULOUS. And amazing.



Just like my mom, our cabinetmaker Scott was really unsure of the cabinetry being black, but once he saw it done, he was a believer. Victorian Kitchens often had painted furniture, and we loved how dramatic it made the kitchen look at Jackson Street. To me, the black cabinetry works in the two spaces in different ways : the Butler’s Pantry is smaller, and the black cabinets make the space feel cozy and somewhat closed off – which I like. That’s just how a Butler’s Pantry should feel. In the Main Kitchen, there is so much light and space, that the color grounds the room and makes it feel like it is the perfect size.

Scott, our cabinet maker. To give you an idea how tall these are, you can see him, as well as the basement door to the left.
What good are cabinets if you don’t need a full-sized ladder to access them?
I wanted – needed – a space for my cookbooks. Tucked into the corner of the Butler’s Pantry is perfect,


There were lot of little details, from plotting out what would go in each cabinet (before finishing the design of the kitchen) and creating spaces that would make the kitchen work best for us. I LOVE this pull-out pantry. It’s only about 10″ wide, but it’s fantastic.


Once the cabinets were set, it became a kitchen! It was so crazy cool to see the walls go up, and to see it become a room, but now it had become a KITCHEN. I’m a big believer that cabinets should go up to the ceiling, otherwise they look weird (especially in a house with 11-foot ceilings). We did just that in the Butler’s Pantry, but in the main kitchen, we couldn’t. We used 48″ tall cabinets there, but with the vaulted and sloped ceiling, we couldn’t take them all the way up. The storage is unreal. If you are like me, when we lived at Jackson Street, our kitchen stuff was in about 4 places because it didn’t all fit. Rarely used items were in the attic, some things were in the wall of cabinetry in the bathroom off the kitchen…. but here, EVERY single kitchen item fits, except the giant soup roasters for our Holiday party. It is amazing having everything in one place. And here, the rarely used items go in the top cabinets. I mapped out where every item would go before a single cabinet was built. A bit obsessive, I’ll admit. But it was worth it.





It’s funny, the first 8 months of the project was sloooooower than molasses going uphill in winter. But the last month was a whirlwind. The counters were a mess – we had originally planned on a quartz, because I wanted something white, but I didn’t want marble. When looking for the quartz, the man at the stoneyard asked why I wasn’t considering granite. I told him I thought it looked too modern (which is HILARIOUS because Quartz is crazy modern looking), and I was used to granite being either dark, or brown if it was a light color. He convinced us to go to the big stoneyard supplier in Indianapolis, Global Granite, that they use. Of course, it’s one of those places that is only open on workdays from like 11-1:30 and you need a secret password to get in (ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration), but I did have to take a morning off work to be able to get in when it was open. Talk about overwhelming – the awesome beauty of the slabs was incredible. We fell IN LOVE with a white/light gray/black slab. Alas, not ONLY had it been sold to someone, but the giant crane came and took it away from us to put it on a truck, WHILE we were looking at it. Total meanies. We thought we could order more – they said, “It’s ordered, and should be here from Brazil in 8 weeks.” We had 2 weeks before it had to go in, 3 before the bank deadline. I was CRUSHED. So, we picked out another one. I sulked for about 3 days, when they called us and said that our first choice just got here from Brazil. What? I was so confused. Whatever. I was getting my counters. Hooray for Brazil!

From Brazil to the Boat to the US to the Yard to the Fabricator to the Truck to MY KITCHEN! Also, notice the driveway. This was when the city had ripped out everything to replace. At least we had our street back at this point.
These were some seriously buff dudes.
It was like 187 degrees this day.
Oh, hey! We got our sink!
This is the coolest patterned granite I have ever seen. Who needs art?



In the midst of all this, I also worked on some lighting projects for the Butler’s Pantry and the Laundry Room (the Main Kitchen Chandeliers – all three of them – just needed re-wiring. You’ll see those in the next post). I had a lot of fun, since lighting is my fav. My $.02 : When restoring an old house, ALWAYS go vintage on the lighting. To me, it’s the number one thing that makes your house look authentic. Just make sure you re-wire if necessary! 

I found these lights for $35 for the pair. They probably are really 1960’s, but they work here.
I bought the ceiling medallions online, and painted them using about 7-8 different colors and glazes. The “ironwork” on the light itself was actually a really bright gold brass.
A better shot of the medallion.
It’s a pain to change the bulbs, but worth it.
The glass globes are AMAZING.
My “almost free” laundry room chandelier (because even laundry should be glamorous). The ceiling medallion was from the original kitchen pre-renovation. The chandelier was from the front foyer, and it originally had multi-colored metallic paint on it. The pink crystals were extras from the Jackson Street Bathroom. The only thing I bought were the cream-colored crystals.
I also re-finished the candle covers. For those of you who are my Facebook friends, this is the chandelier I was working on when the doorknob broke and I was trapped in the attic for over an hour. That’s a good story. I am almost ready to laugh about it and not cry.

The next project we actually did after the bank deadline was over (but I am including here, since it is a detail). We painted and installed some open shelving in the kitchen for dishes and display. I like having the dishes out, and it’s a nice break from wall cabinets on that side of the room.

Doug getting ready to install said shelf.
Making it secure.
One down, one to go!
The finished product!
The finished product!


Only one more kitchen entry left, for you to see the final product! We really do love it so much.


  1. Nerd that I am, I’ve been going back and RE-READING your blog.

    Question: how do you decide on the size of ceiling medallion for your lights?

    1. I don’t think I put too much thought into it. I maybe try and go a bit wider than the fixture, but I also think about room scale. Our ceilings are so tall that we can’t go wrong with a large piece. Sometimes I pick one just because I love it, no matter the size. I’m partial to ones that aren’t circles! But those aren’t always easy to find.

      1. Ooo! I wonder if they ship to Canada (and then consequently, what the shipping and duty taxes are). Time to browse through the site! ha ha! Thanks!

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