My Kitchen 2.0

New Kitchen

I feel as if I should scream, à la Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, “Bus driver, MOVE THAT BUS!” My kitchen renovation is over. Truly, completely, forever. No sawdust snowflakes drifting into my morning cereal. No smell of freshly applied paint permeating my clothes, my hair, and my Mint Milanos. No stray nails lying in wait for me to step on with bare feet at 4:30 a.m. when letting out Devil Cat. It’s as if a construction crew had never alighted upon my doorstep.

Nonetheless, don’t let anyone—anyone—tell you that living through a renovation is no big deal. If they do, consider them devil spawn determined to usher you down to the ninth circle of Hades, because remodeling is pure, unadulterated hell. I am (barely) living proof.

Renovating is also costly as hell. Last week I did a little tallying, seeing as I certainly hadn’t been calculating all the extras as I breezily okayed them in the moment, i.e., 5500-degree-Kelvin light bulbs to mimic sunlight, two more floor vents to keep my feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and custom cutting-board cabinets. I spent so much, so fast, American Express called to see if someone with particularly exceptional—and expensive—taste had stolen it.

The big numbers didn’t just pertain to money. During the past three months, I spent more time with Dan and his band of merry craftsmen than I did with The One. I had the pleasure of Dan’s company from eight to five, six days a week. That’s 594 hours of floor-juddering, ceiling-banging, wall-moving, window-rattling un-alone time. What I wouldn’t have given to have had just one hour of house-shaking private time with The One, if you know what I mean.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

The upshot, though, is I am now the potentate of my very own custom-designed kitchen that I can cook in, bake in, and almost burn down again. I think perhaps the greatest compliment came from The One, who very uncharacteristically held his tongue through the entire process, when he said the kitchen was perhaps the most functional he has ever cooked in. That was exactly what I was aiming for.

Kitchen Tool Drawer

Let’s be clear about one thing: I designed this baby. Everything was built around the appliances, which were donated by KitchenAid. I chose a double wall oven, a warming drawer for plates that doubles as a bread proofer and slow cooker, two dishwashers (yes, two), a 36-inch gas range top with six burners, a microwave, and a refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom (The One’s only request). I already own an iconic yellow KitchenAid stand mixer to match our antique canister set and bread box, so I didn’t need one. (Okay, fine. I have five mixers. I’ve been kind of collecting them for the past 20 years.) Still, squeezing it all in without changing the footprint of the original kitchen’s cabinets and island left my contractor and now good friend Dan gobsmacked.

1950's Canister Set

Since a battalion of you have been asking me for all the deets, colors, brand names, sizes, materials, sources—not to mention inviting yourselves over when the work was done—I thought I’d give you a blow-by-blow account, share some ideas and tips, and in so doing, either encourage or dissuade you should you be contemplating redoing your kitchen.

 

ISLAND

I wanted to give myself ample room to work on both sides of the cooktop, so the first thing we did was increase the surface area of the island’s countertop. To do this, I had to make a slight concession: Whenever the top oven door is open, I kind of, well, have to suck in my gut to get around the island. The One, of course, shimmies through with nary a problem. But a few inelegant maneuvers and eye-rolling looks among guests are worth it for the 540 luxurious extra square inches I gained.

We used all Pentalquartz in what they call the “lattice pattern” for the countertops throughout the kitchen. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see no lattice—just some soft feathering in a light gray. And for the record, we tested samples of the material by soaking it in vinegar, leaving red wine on it overnight, using it as a cutting board, dropping it, and placing a blazingly hot sauté pan on top of it. The only thing I didn’t do was shoot it with a bullet. I think of it as my Superman counter.

Under-counter Outlet Strips

We also installed electrical strips on the ends of the island, as well as tucked under the upper cabinets (no visible outlets!), so I could in theory use 31 appliances at the same time. Not that I ever would. But I could. And knowing that somehow comforts me.

 

CABINETRY

For all the cabinets, cupboards, and pantry, I went with Touchstone in the Norwich style, painted the whitest white they had. It’s a mid-price cabinet source ($15K for our kitchen) that manufactures solid, durable products, but like any company, it came with its own set of problems. Some elements needed to be replaced, and one door was warped and didn’t close properly, which to the company’s credit it replaced ASAP (read: three weeks).

Pantry and Soft-Closing Drawers and Doors

I knew I wanted a pantry with pull-out drawers that are soft-closing (a true revelation) instead of our ridiculous kitchen closet masquerading as a pantry.

Pantry Drawer

I was adamant about it, even though The One thought I’d never be able to fit all our food into it. Oh ye of little faith. Not only was I able to stow everything inside, I had room to spare—which meant I could go wild with staples for my newest obsession: Chinese food. (Never has Amazon Prime seen so many packages of dried chiles or bottles of Asian oils, vinegars, and fish sauce fly off the shelf so fast.)

Spice DrawerOur biggest problem with the old wannabe pantry was that our spice collection was taking up enough space to park a Volvo, and I wasn’t about to devote valuable pull-out drawer real estate to all those bottles. So I insisted on a nifty and narrow vertical pull-out rack that nestles between the pantry and the counter—something I had seen in those addictive shelter magazines.

Spice Cabinet

What a ginormous waste of space and money. It’s hard to see the bottle labels, larger and/or odd-size containers simply won’t fit, and hell, no, I was not about to get on my hands and knees for 1/4 teaspoon of za’atar from the bottom shelf. Fatty Daddy don’t do dat, child. I fixed this pricey hiccup by sliding two horizontal spice racks into a drawer. Best thing I ever did. Everything is easy to see and get to, and I can tell at a glance when I’m running low. But since this couldn’t accommodate all my spices, I use the pull-out rack to store all the items I rarely use.

Baking Drawer

The kitchen, like the pantry, has lower cabinets with pull-out shelves. I feel like one of those dancers in a 1950s commercial for the kitchen of the future, given that I like to run around and open the cabinet doors and, with no more effort than that of a single finger pull, open all the drawers. Then I dance through again, bossa nova style, closing some with a backward tap of a toe, others with a knee bump, and the top drawers with the slightest sway of a hip.

Knife Drawer

Without a doubt the biggest problem we had with Touchstone was that once the pantry shelves were filled with all those Amazon grocery orders, they didn’t close with that Donna Reed touch of a finger. I had to heave rather indelicately against them. Dan spent the better part of two days jury-rigging the drawers, which now glide like Kristi Yamaguchi skating to a Carpenters’ medley.

Would I recommend Touchstone? Yes. They are far superior to the IKEA cabinets of the world and aren’t that much more expensive. Just have a creative and patient contractor who has the foresight and strength to pin you down and rip the phone out of your hands before you can call your local dealer and make such a spectacle of yourself that it gets around town and you’re banned from any and all future dinner parties because you’re known as the town psycho. Not that it happened to me. Honest. Kinda.

LC Save-Your-Ass Note:

Always, always take pictures as soon as anything is delivered to your home, whether cabinets, appliances, tiles, lighting, etc., while it’s being unpacked, and then again after it’s put into place. You never know when a little hard evidence will be needed. Warped doors, anyone?

 

SINK AND FAUCET

The One wanted to buy the sink and the faucet as a gift, which I thought was a very kind gesture as I was footing the bill for the renovation. (I also wondered if it was a play for control—a way to get his tastes in there—but thought better of it. Hey, free is free.) Knowing me as well as he does, he smartly capped the price. Dagnabit.

Franke Sink

I struggled valiantly not to pick out the priciest, trendiest items on the market, but even with a budget and a saleswoman who was a tougher negotiator than Nixon, I picked out a much-envied Franke farm sink and a swanky gooseneck faucet and sprayer from Perrin & Rowe (Rohl).

Perrin & Rowe Faucet

LC Vertically Gifted Cooks Note:

The bottom of any gorgeously flat Franke sink is very, very low, so expect to spend quite a lot of time bent at the waist scrubbing caked-on pots and pans. Throwing dinner parties for your local chiropractor or massage therapist ain’t such a bad idea.

 

RANGETOP

As some of you know, I was over the moon because I was intending to get KitchenAid’s 36-inch induction cooktop. I’ve used induction on TV and loved it. At least, I thought I loved it. But after extensive cooking on induction, making everything from steaks to sauces (rather than on TV, where I only stir once or twice and blithely go on to the next step in the recipe because time is so short), I fell fast out of love. I just can’t get the kind of subtle, incremental changes in temperature that I’m accustomed to. Plus, I missed seeing the flame. It’s not just a nostalgia thing; it’s another accurate indicator of heat.

KitchenAid Rangetop

Luckily, KitchenAid was kind enough to swap it out for the 36-inch gas rangetop I now have, and I have to say if induction cooking was a tepid romance, this is full-on six-burner lust. Unlike my old and fairly excellent Viking cooktop with knobs on the top, my KitchenAid rangetop has the knobs in front, allowing for a full 36 inches of burnin’ love. That’s five inches more than I had before. For the first time I’m able to juggle several 12-inch skillets and a few saucepans at once.

Another great feature is the simmer feature. It’s excellent for turning chocolate into a puddle, melting butter for ghee, and letting me get a true simmer on—you know, those lazy bubbles that cookbook authors are so fond of rhapsodizing about in recipes for long-cooked sauces or braises.

The One just said to make sure I say how butch it makes me feel cooking in front of it. All right, all right. There. Done.

 

DOUBLE WALL OVENS

Let me say upfront that I haven’t used the wall ovens as much as I’d like, seeing as this summer hasn’t really brought us baking and roasting weather. But the half-dozen or so times that I’ve fired them up, I’ve been quite happy. First, both ovens came up to temperature relatively quickly (although our old Dacor ovens were faster) and held the temperature flawlessly (our Dacors were a disaster, swinging up to 50 degrees in either direction).

KitchenAid Double Wall Oven Console

Above the top oven is a wicked-cool control panel with icons for absolutely everything you can possibly do with it—bake, broil, bread proof, convection bake, convection broil, and convection roast. It’s like watching an animated cartoon. And just this weekend I discovered that if you select convection bake, the oven actually asks, “Convert recipe?” If so, it will automatically adjust the cooking time and temperature from an ordinary recipe (convection cooking requires less time and a lower temperature to get the same results). Do you know how many sheets of cookies I could have saved from an early and untimely death had I had this years earlier?

All that electronic help is a good thing, because I found the instruction booklet to be extremely light on information. (In fact, I found all of the KitchenAid instruction booklets to be vague—which is odd for such an amazing cook-friendly company.) Both Dan and I were scratching our heads over several features, trying in vain to figure out what the instructions meant. For example, the ovens have one rack each that pulls out to almost double depth, making basting, taking a chicken’s temperature, or adding more ingredients to a pan a cinch—not to mention helping you avoid those primal yowls and sizzling flesh as you burn your knuckles on the heating element. We searched and searched for any mention of what to do with the yellow caps that cover the two front feet of each rack. Unless we missed it (and that is very possible), we couldn’t find it. We eventually surmised they were made of silicone and were meant to be there. Wrong! I took a look inside last week only to find what looked like very Phantom of the Opera-ish candle drippings on both sides of the oven walls.

More on the ovens when the colder weather creeps in.

 

MICROWAVE

Our choice of a microwave was based strictly on size. And the only one that would fit was a microwave-hood-convection-oven combo designed to be mounted above a stove as it also acts as a vent. But the convection feature was moot, because we couldn’t vent it properly. And yes, a countertop model would have solved our problem (as the cabinet guy reminded me again and again), but The One and I hate cluttered counters, so we nixed that idea.

Dan and his guys tried everything they could think of to make a bottom-mount appliance fit elegantly into a slide-in cabinet. I got to the point where I was practically shouting, “Forget it! Forget it! We only cook frozen dinners in there every once and a while anyways!” But Dan, being amazingly impervious to the hysterical rantings of a strung-out homeowner living through a renovation, led me out of the kitchen each time until they had fit it just so. So now we have a kick-ass Lamborghini of a microwave that we can only take on Yugo drives every once and a while.

LC I Need My Space, Man Note:

For those interested in an under-mount microwave/convection combo, it takes after its bigger brother, the wall ovens, asking all sorts of questions to make sure what you’re cooking, roasting, baking, melting, or defrosting comes out perfectly. I think it would be useful for a smaller kitchen in which there’s no room or budget for a full-size convection oven.

 

DISHWASHERS

Our new dishwashers are better than couples therapy. Let me explain. When we had just one Bosch, which was a fine machine, The One and I invariably got into arguments over my stuffing it full of dishes, glasses, pots, and pans. I shoved everything short of the cats in there. For some misguided reason, he believes that there’s some kind of honor in washing bowls and pots and pans by hand. Me, I think if God didn’t mean for us to cram dishwashers full of every possible washable item, he wouldn’t have created electricity. Period.

One of The One’s biggest arguments for doing dishes by hand was there was no way to fit pots and pans or big bowls in the lower drawer. “Ah, but look, my love,” I said recently as I grabbed both sides of the top drawer of our new KitchenAid beauty. “It raises and lowers.” Pots of enormous size can fit on the bottom while smaller items can fit on top. I watched his face screw up in frustration. Having two dishwashers—his, shall we say, “suggestion”—allows me to stuff to my heart’s content.

“Well, there’s no reason we can’t hand-wash the silverware,” he replied. He grew stymied as I counted “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine” compartments for cutlery. Almost double what we had before.

“Fine. But it takes too long to do the dishes.” To that I didn’t have an answer. They do take an inordinate amount of time to go through the longer wash cycles, something I remember happening on only the pot scrubber setting from our old machine. I did try using some of the shorter cycles, but they don’t clean a really full load as well. So for now, it’s “Pro Wash,” “Heavy Duty,” or “Normal Wash,” and I jump up and open the door to avoid the heated drying cycle. (I find the cool room air-dries them instantly.) The only problem with that is the damn things are so freakingly quiet I can’t always tell when the wash cycle is over. On more than one occasion I’ve had to kneel down and put my ear up against the door. I know, I know. Trés uptown problem.

LC Rack, Whack, and Roll Note:

We have very long stemware, which can’t fit in the dishwasher if the top drawer is in the raised position to accommodate larger pots below because of the culinary tool rack, a shallow drawer above it designed for holding cooking utensils. But besides getting in the way of our stemware (I’ve broken the foot off two Champagne glasses), the rack has an odd configuration of pegs, making it hard just to nestle in a bunch of knives, wooden spoons, and silicone spatulas. So after a few days, I removed one of the culinary racks and stored it in the basement. My advice: If you have inordinately tall stemware, save yourself a bit of money and buy the model without the tool rack. It cleans just as well without it.

 

REFRIGERATOR

While I was dutifully doing my refrigerator research, I read reviews from people who bitched about food on the door going bad because the temperature wasn’t cool enough on the model I was leaning toward. Now, unless they were stocking it with enough food to feed the state of Montana or thought 65 degrees an ideal refrigerator temperature for energy conservation, I have no idea what they’re referring to. I’ve filled the fridge to full capacity—even storing raw milk in the door—and I’ve never had a problem. In fact, the temperature is extraordinarily consistent, which means no more cool-ish orange juice on the top shelf and frozen lettuce in the vegetable crisper as our old fridge was wont to give us.

Maybe they used the thermostat incorrectly, but I don’t see how. This is the first fridge I’ve ever owned that has exact temperatures, not simply arrows pointing up and down saying “Warmer” and “Colder.” I’ve set the fridge at 38 degrees and the freezer at -1 degrees, and we’ve been chilling ever since.

There are all kinds of ancillary buttons and features, as with the ovens, that I haven’t gotten to use yet. There is one that simply says, “Holiday Mode.” I thought it was a setting that compensated for an extra-stocked interior and more-than-usual opening and closing of the doors common from mid-November to early January, but it’s actually for the Jewish Sabbath and holidays. “The door can be opened and closed at any time without concern of directly turning on or off any lights, digital readouts, solenoids, fans, valves, compressor, icons, tones or alarms,” says the instruction manual. I’ve never owned a religiously tolerant fridge before.

The only thing that drives me crazy is that sometimes there’s the thwank! of a coil when I open or close the freezer drawer. It drove me so crazy that I then drove Dan mad by asking him to noodle with it. Alas, he couldn’t fix it—his first true failure. Then I visited my friend Ellen, who has another brand of fridge, and it thwanks worse than ours. Ever since, when I visit friends or am invited to dinner parties, I’ve insinuated my way into people’s kitchens when they were empty to see if their freezer-on-the-bottom fridges thwank. (You wouldn’t believe some of the looks I got from the hosts as I was caught opening and closing their freezer drawers.) Bottom line: I guess it’s an issue with many brands.

 

Insanity Continues

AND THE INSANITY CONTINUES

As if living through almost 70 days of disruption wasn’t enough, The One and I have hired Dan to rip up and enlarge our backyard patio. Stone, masonry, plants, and trees all have to be moved to make way for more stone, masonry, plants, and trees. Welcome to homeownership, I guess.

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Comments
Comments
  1. Judy says:

    Everything a cook could desire, I am so jealous! Congratulations!

    • David, I love, love, love the kitchen! The double ovens are perfect and the drawer with the spices in it is second to none; no more hunting for spices, fabulous. The refrigerator with the freezer just made me want to cry, I’ve wanted one for so long however, we have a small house & not enough room for a big refrigerator like that one…it’s just not fair that you have the refrigerator that I’ve wanted for so long! God bless you & the one for many happy meals in your lovely kitchen. XO

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks, Judy. I’m still a little incredulous. I have cooked so much in the past two weeks!!

  2. Lori Pimentel says:

    Beautiful kitchen. Congrats and many happy meals!

  3. OMG! What a beautiful kitchen David. Bravo and congrats. Heck, I’d be happy not only cooking there, but cleaning as well! LOL

  4. tara says:

    what color are the walls? love this!!

    • David Leite says:

      Hi, Tara. The paint is Benjamin Moore–the only paint we use. The color is Prescott Green-HC140. The “HC” stands for heritage color. You might not be able to see it well, but in the video the far wall of the eat-in-kitchen is green but the window wall (and the one opposite) are Navajo White. Give an interesting look and the colors change all through the day.

      Prescott Green

      • Louise says:

        I love this. We chose Wyche Blue for ours. I think it’s only two shades or so different. I think this all turned out fantastically. Wait until the holidays! You’ll love it.

        • David Leite says:

          We considered Wyche Blue, but wanted to stay more in the greem family. And I can’t WAIT for the holidays. Bring ‘em on!

  5. Karen Depp says:

    Oh Fearless Leiter! How I wish I were in your kitchen, or you were in what remains of mine. A refrigerator. Yep, that’s it. It has only been 5 weeks, so there is hope, Yes? In the meantime, I am going back to wishing I were in YOUR kitchen. Job well done. It is a dream and I am going to steal some of your wonderful ideas. After I crack open another bottle of Prosecco.

    • David Leite says:

      Five weeks? That’s piffle!! No, I’m sure it will come together soon. In hindsight I see that the most important thing is planning. I really messed up with scheduling. Kate Jackson, of Framed Cooks, will have her done in about 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS!

      • Well…maybe more like three, and then we do the painting. :) But we are on Day 9, and so far we’ve complete the rip-out, installation of all lower perimeter cabinets, installation of the space-age looking stovetop vent, and today the granite crew makes templates for the countertop. Appliances, lighting and plumbing fixtures have all been delivered and are waiting their turn. Rolling right along, and David is giving me pep talks along the way!

        • David Leite says:

          And that is why you run one of the most successful children’s book division in the world and I can’t even color coordinate my sock drawer. It took three weeks from template to install for the counter. You are one lucky lady, missy. Can wait to see the final digs.

  6. Gr8ChefMB says:

    David, I would HAPPILY hand wash dishes to please The One if I could come over and cook in that gorgeous kitchen with all those amazing customizations/appliances/outlets. ;-) Personally, I am more like you when it comes to dishwashers…LOLOLOL!! I have to say that I have never tried stuffing my cat in it…well, not on purpose anyway…more like the cat was too nosy and actually climbed into when I had my back turned for a moment. Thankfully, his tail gave him away and I bodily removed him before I started it. Enjoy the fruits of Dan’s labor and your insanity, lucky dog!! Meanwhile, there will be a ton of us with serious kitchen envy. [BTW-the blow-by-blow was hysterically laugh-out-loud funny. Thanks! I needed that today.]

    • David Leite says:

      Gr8ChefMB, you’re on, baby! And–ouch–regarding your feline friend. One of my previous cats, Ariadne, loved to curl up under the sink in our old kitchen on 77th St. in NYC. On more than one occasion, she spent the night, poor thing.

  7. Susan says:

    Congratulations on living through your remodel…and getting to play with all the new toys! The kitchen looks beautiful! Don’t you just love those pull out shelves in the bottom cabinets? The best feature we put in our K-remo was the drawer cabinet we installed under the cooktop. I envy you your one bowl sink, too, but you will curse the low height eventually (I do and have a standard 36″ height sink and am only 5’4″!..husband is 6’4″ and needs to use a walker after doing dishes!) I must admit, I side with The One on hand washing pots and pans, silverware and my knives. My 40 yr old Revere Ware still looks brand new because I hand wash it. I know, it’s not as techie as the newer cookware, some of which I do own, but it works just as well as long as you mind the pot and don’t plunge hot pans into cooler water. I would sell my soul for your double oven, too! Holiday cooking is a juggling nightmare around here! Where is your range hood for the cooktop?

    • David Leite says:

      Susan, We had a drawer under the induction cooktop, but the rangetop is so much deeper, we had to forego it. But the neatest thing we installed there was a lid rack, right underneath. LOVE IT!

      Lid Rack

      And the ventilation for the rangetop is a KA retractable version. I’ve never been in love with them–our previous cooktop had the same type. The good thing about this one is it rises much higher, so it catches more smoke. But none catch grease and stuff better than the overhead models. Our ceilings are just too low for one. *sigh*

      Retractable Downdraft Vent

  8. Dona K. says:

    David… I discovered that hard water was the culprit for not getting my dishes clean with my American brand dishwasher. I started using a product called “Lemi-Shine“… it softens the water and boosts cleaning. The Lemi-Shine rinse aid is great, too. Between the two of them, my dishes are sparkly clean. And even though I now own a Bosch, I’m still using the Lemi-Shine. Glad you survived your reno…hope you have a blast playing in your new kitchen!

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks for that tip, Dona K. We have “firm” water, not exactly hard, but staining can be a problem. The KitchenAid dishers have a pre-wash cup alongside the regular wash cup, and that has helped a lot. But I’m definitely going to give Lemi-Shine a go.

  9. Rupert Kirby says:

    Congratulations!!! What a beautiful kitchen. I crave a modern kitchen. There´s only a certain time before one realizes the shortcomings of a traditional Portuguese stone and brick and tile kitchen.

    • David Leite says:

      Rubert, I hear you about the shortcomings of a traditional Portuguese kitchen. It was hard when I was in Portugal to work in one. But, of course, now that we’re turning our attention to the patio, I’m trying to convince The One to let Dan build me a traditional brick oven, like the one in my dad’s house in the Azores. Unfortunately, TO’s foot is firmly planted–I think I’m going to lose this one. I guess this isn’t the time to start talking about the smokehouse….

  10. rozpaige says:

    Fantastic results! I have only a few of the bells and whistles that you included, but wish I had ALL of them! Just a wonderful space to cook and bake to your heart’s content!

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks, Rozpaige. It really is. And I’ve cooked more in the past two weeks or so than I have in the past several months. And not just because I had no kitchen for a while. It’s just that everything is so perfectly placed making it a true joy to cook. And all I want to do is have a cocktail party for 50….we just don’t have 50 friends up here!

  11. Penny says:

    I like how welcoming it all is. Even though it’s brand spanking new it is a fearless place. I imagine an open window, with the smells of fresh cut grass mixed with baking chocolate chip cookies in that kitchen.

  12. Martha in KS says:

    I was without a dishwasher for 10 years & was so used to hand washing, sometimes I have the dishes done before I think to use the DW. I don’t think there’s a DW sold these days that doesn’t have a setting for “cool dry”. Get out that worthless manual & look. You still have to jump up to open the door, but the heating element doesn’t kick on. Thanks for the details. I’m saving this post for when The Kitchen Fairy remodels mine.

    • David Leite says:

      Only you, Dorothy, would forget she has a dishwasher. There is a “Pro Dry” setting that I can choose not to use–still the dishwashers are so freakingly quiet I forget they’re on. We had a leak in the sink yesterday, and Dan came over to look at it. He had me turn both dishwashers to get as much water flowing into the sink’s pipes as possible. He kept saying to me, “Are the dishwashers on? Are you sure the they’re on?” And he had his head stuck in the cabinet right between them.

  13. Maureen says:

    When I designed my kitchen I, too, insisted on two dishwashers. You have too many wonderful things in your kitchen—I have such envy I can’t contain myself.

    • David Leite says:

      Aw, Maureen, don’t be…too envious! This really has been the culmination of several year’s worth of thinking, planning, designing, ripping pictures out of magazines, arguing, forgetting about it all, restarting the process….

  14. Jeanne says:

    OMG. The power strips on your island–to die for. And the mix of butcher block and that white Superman countertop–awesome. Well done. You inspire me!

    • David Leite says:

      Jeanne, I love, love, love the powerstrips. I’ve already had several appliances plugged in at the same time. Easy-peasy. And the mix of Superman white and butcher block was Dan’s suggestion. I was going to go all white, and he said it would be too cold. See, I listen….sometimes.

  15. Martha says:

    I hope your double ovens came with two timers. My Frigidaire doubles have ONE timer! I realize they are not in the same league as yours, but one timer? Really? I never thought to ask–it just seemed reasonable to me that the # of timers would equal the # of ovens. The installer also told me to use the self-clean option sparingly, as the electronics in the control panel can’t take the heat of frequent self-cleaning. Electronics for an oven that can’t take the heat? No more Frigidaire for me. Enjoy your wonderful new kitchen.

    • David Leite says:

      Nope, they have just one timer, which I can’t believe, either. Our Dacor–which I hated–had a setting for two different times. Maybe I need to read that manual more….

  16. Lauralee says:

    WOW, words can not express how great it looks. Love the spice drawers.

  17. David, your insights couldn’t come at a better time—I’m about to choose some new appliances myself and your thoughts are very useful. Interesting your perception of induction cooking— not having gas at our house (and, um, not having the $ to have the city run the line to the house), I was leaning towards this even though I know it would be a steep learning curve. Hmmm…. Meanwhile, congrats, the kitchen is stunning. May you and The One create many a memorable meal there!

    • David Leite says:

      Thanks, Mardi. My suggestion: Go cook on one. Many showrooms have demo kitchens. Or ask a friend who has one if you can cook dinner for them. Make sure to make a variety of things and use different size pans. I think it’s something you either love or hate. One cool thing I was able to do was place a paper towel on top of the hob, place the pot on top, and crank the heat to high. Not only did it work, but the surface remained 100% clean. Plus no scratches, which I read was a problem for some people who bought different brands of induction cooktops.

  18. Beth says:

    While it may be hell to live through a kitchen renovation, it surely was a delight to read about one! The cooktop is indeed a thing of beauty. And I’m glad to know the skinny spice cabinet/drawer is a waste. They *seem* like such a good idea. My only skinny cabinet holds baking sheets and cooling racks and a few cutting boards. I heartily recommend skinny space used that way.

    • David Leite says:

      Hey, Beth. Yes, we have a skinny place for baking sheets and cutting boards. We have three, actually, but as I mention in the video, we turned the other two in wine glass cabinets, which worked well for is.

  19. Kelly Lott says:

    Sooo lovely & peaceful looking (even if it took a virtual war of occupation to get it!). Love the faucet, love the warming drawer, love that cooktop! But David, David, David – do not go all Amazon Prime for your Asian goods! Head to a perfect little mom & pop store down in Danbury that I’m usually at three times a week: TBS Asian Food, 290 White Street. They’ve got all those bottles of exotic (but soon to be familiar) condiments and extremely fresh produce, all for pretty much no money (a bag of shallots for $1?). Fresh rice noodles, dragon fruit, Thai basil, cilantro that tastes like cilantro (with the roots). I hope you both enjoy your new kitchen – happy cooking!

    • David Leite says:

      Okay, girl, you’re on, but under one condition: You take me the first time. We’ve been threatening to have lunch for what–a year now? Enough is enough. Let’s be the ladies who lunch for an afternoon–deal?

  20. Kelley Butler says:

    I am in agreement with The One on hand washing the dishes. Everyone scatters after dinner and I have my alone time. I use my dishwasher as a drying rack. :)

  21. This sounds so exciting… I can’t wait for an invitation to sit on the new patio and admire the new kitchen while enjoying fabulously cooked grilled food.

  22. The new kitchen ROCKS David, CONGRATS! I love the organization, a man after my own culinary OCD complex :-) Enjoy breaking it in!

    • David Leite says:

      Thank you, Sadhana. And whats even better, my assistant is mucho, mucho professionally OCD, so she keeps me–and the kitchen–very organized!

  23. Love the full recounting of the process. Of course, my husband would never be able to read it. It would be too painful a reminder of our similar ordeal 6 years ago. The breaking point for him was when he walked into the kitchen one morning just as the man in the corner started jackhammering! The only thing that didn’t get replaced was the fridge, and I have my eye on a white bottom-freezer KitchenAid, regular or French doors, can’t decide.

    • David Leite says:

      Jean, I like them both. The French doors are cool, but I like having the full width of the door to store things. We have an old KitchenAid side-by-side downstairs (it was our previous fridge) and, for me, the doors get crammed.

  24. Jennifer Hudson says:

    Can you please tell me the paint color? That is the exact color I have been looking for, not to dark or light.

    You kitchen turned out great! Love the yellow accents; I am doing orange.

    • David Leite says:

      Jennifer, the color is Benjamin Moore Prescott Green-HC140. Take a look up in the comments and you’ll see a color sample and links. Best of luck with the kitchen!

  25. ksenyei says:

    Love, love, love this video! Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful new kitchen with us. I have total kitchen envy!

  26. alisha says:

    I am currently living mid reno – and the kitchen is the last room to be done…what are the dimensions of your pantry?

    • David Leite says:

      alisha, the pantry is 36 inches wide by 92 inches tall. That includes the cabinets on top. No more ferreting though that damn closet and knocking things down all the time.

  27. Martha Libretti says:

    Looks fantastic and well thought out. We are also renovating and I share your pain. It is nice to see that rainbow at the end of the storm.

    • David Leite says:

      Martha, there is definitely a rainbow at the end of it all. And I was told by many people that I would indeed forget all the hassles, and I have. We’ve even invited Dan and his wife, Mamie, to dinner next month (once the patio is done, of course!), so there is contractor resentment here.

  28. marylynn says:

    David, We are in the process of starting our kitchen remodel. What a time you had, but the results were wonderful. Love the colors. I have a “junk” spice drawer and I liked the spice racks you got. I’ve looked on line, but can’t find any resembling yours. Can you tell me the brand name? Thanks.

    • David Leite says:

      Hi, Marylynn. After wasting an hour online, I decided to look at the damn things! The manufacturer is Kamenstein. The only problem is they don’t sell the rack I have. I did find this one, which is very similar. Mine also have the stand, which I retracted and laid the racks in flat. I hope this helps.

      • marylynn says:

        Thanks David. I think I’ll just have be inventive and do something like you did. My drawer size is not standard and many of them won’t fit. So, I think my husband will have to get out some tools and cut it down to size. Love your recipes!

  29. Andrew says:

    Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! I’m now officially inviting myself over (but don’t worry, I”ll help load the dishwashers).

    I’m particularly enamored with the power strips under the counter edges…brilliant!

    As for your stemware in the dishwasher, you might want to pick up some of Tether Stemware Savers.

    • David Leite says:

      Andrew, Andrew, Andrew, you have always been my knight in shining armor, haven’t you? (That was meant to be spoken with a Kate Hepburn throat throttle.) I LOVE THIS INVENTION! I just contacted the company. I have to try these out.

  30. Joana says:

    So fun to read your recounting of the renovation and see the results! We also went through a kitchen remodel, but unfortunately, it was done just so we could get the house ready to sell. We never really got to use the kitchen…but the house DID sell!

    • David Leite says:

      Oh, no, Joana! That’s like a bitch slap from the universe. The good thing is I’m sure it upped the value of your home. The One is in residential real estate, and he says that it’s a huge boon to house’s price.

  31. ruthie says:

    So many good ideas! I, too, love the power plugs on the island, but I’d need a sticky-out section along one side — I have a collection of vintage hand crank tools: cheese grater, bean julienner, cherry/olive pitter, meat grinder, coffee grinder (and my new flour mill). I can open a huge jar of olives and have them all pitted in just a couple minutes, and grate that hard cheese sooooooo fast! For me they’re much more efficent than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I too have a stand mixer collection and multiple Cuisinarts, but they’re just not the same. Say, is there a 12-step program for compulsive appliance collectors?

    • David Leite says:

      ruthie, you could have the counter extend several inches and you’d be in business. That was what was supposed to be the case here: the strips were supposed to be recessed 3 to 4 inches. But because the strips themselves are a bit more than 1 inch, the overhang is just 2 inches.

      • ruthie says:

        Ah, I see. Is the island stationary? My current one is on locking wheels so the power outlets are set into the floor, which is pretty inconvenient to use. Huh. I guess it would have to be or you’d be trailing extension cords all over the place. ;)

        And where does that popup vent vent to? I’ve been jonesing for a stovetop/grill either on an island or the peninsula in my kitchen, but I could never figure out where it would vent to. /;)

        Thanks, David. I can imagine what a thrill it is to be cooking in your gorgeous new space.

        • David Leite says:

          Hey ruthie, yes, the island is stationary. I couldn’t put it on where because of all the electrical and mechanical stuff underneath.

          The vent shoots out to the backyard. The venting material is under the floor, so you can see it in the ceiling of the basement.

  32. Pat in NC says:

    OMG David!!!! What a wonderful kitchen. My envy is the stove. I miss my gas stove. It is so easily accessible and wonderfully outfitted. I hope you two have many, many wonderful meals and memories with your new kitchen. It is Beautiful.

  33. Claudette Flanigan says:

    Whoa! This is MY dream kitchen! You are so very lucky! I can only dream of making meals in such an amazing spot. ENJOY!!!!!!!!!

  34. Sherry says:

    At a quick first glance the photo reminded me of Laura Petrie’s 1960s kitchen with a stovetop island, which was probably just as high-tech for its time with what was new in modern kitchens back then. But I must say, I so love, love, love your new kitchen! I love how you organized all the storage space – that’s number one for me, just under what kind of stove and oven to get AND YOURS ARE BEAUTIFUL!!! Hope we get to hear about your experiences cooking on an island, it kind of intimidates me what with the open space all around it. Congrats on your new kitchen!!!

  35. suzy says:

    Beautiful! Congratulations! (I’m about to embark on my own kitchen renovation and am overwhelmed but excited.) I’d love to know what the white countertop is–quartz? If so, what brand and color? I’m deliberating right now about countertop material before I move on the the next 1000 decisions.

    • David Leite says:

      suzy, I wish you the best of luck with your remo. We used Pentalquartz in what they call the “lattice pattern.” If you read the paragraph under “Island” above, you’ll find links to the company and a close up of the pattern.

      • suzy says:

        oops. sorry I didn’t read the post more thoroughly! Thanks so much for the information That’s the look I’m going for. (Alas, no Pentalquartz dealer near me.) right now, I’m leaning toward the Cambria “torquay” (also quartz.) White with some gray marbling.

        Enjoy your new kitchen and I look forward to your future posts of the delicious creations it inspires.

  36. David Leite says:

    Today, I received the loveliest kitchen-warming present from reader Martha in KS. (Thanks, Dorothy! I love ‘em.)

    A gift from reader Martha in KS

    • Martha in KS says:

      You’re welcome, sweetie! CT is one of the states still on my bucket list, so you & I can use these when I visit. Be very afraid…

  37. Jason says:

    David – Thanks for the post, I’m looking to do the exact same setup with the Kitchenaid Rangetop in my island with the telescopic vent. Did you use cabinets deeper than 24″ to have both fit? Also, if you don’t mind me asking, what is the overhang of the rangetop past the cabinet frame and past your counter? I saw the rangetop at Best Buy and it stuck out 4 inches past the counter edge and looked a bit obtrusive. I’m not sure if this was just their installation or how it’s supposed to be. Thanks!

    • David Leite says:

      Jason, thanks for the kind words. Yes, we did 27-inch cabinets under the range top, plus we also built out the back of the island. The knob overhang definitely is considerable–four inches plus, but we have 1 1/2-inch counter lip, so it doesn’t look so drastic.

  38. Andrea says:

    What color is your island? Most gorgeous kitchen I’ve ever seen.

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