kitchen DESIGN | the HOME KITCHEN Details

I STILL cannot BELIEVE it!! The LOVE is alllllll in the details, so, here goes! Kitchen Renovation Details!

alison kent the home kitchen watercolor painting of thyme leaf branches


The ‘Home Kitchen Reno’ was finally finished this past summer – and the overwhelming LOVE from you all has been incredible!!
Way to make me blush 🙂

I took a lot of chances on new ideas. Mostly because I knew in my gut they were useful ideas. Some I wanted to be the testing ground before suggesting them to any other projects. While they’ve all worked out beautifully, it was a great chance to learn how to do some of them better. I’m excited to share them in detail here. I want to encourage YOU to perhaps think a bit outside the box on your next Reno/New build. Just because a particular approach has ‘always been done’, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best solution past, present or future. And while every idea won’t work in every project, hopefully you’re inspired to see one aspect of Kitchen Design in a whole new light.

Shall we dive in??!

When the Designer is the Client …

It took AWHILE to complete this project – MY Kitchen. It is so much harder to design for yourself than for others. It’s not *just* the heart of our family home. It’s my new business card, my showroom and a place for me to host OTHER Chefs and food-passionate humans. Every detail was considered and re-considered. And then second-guessed, determined, and re-considered LOL. Trades were worked with closely to see how far we could go with a crazy idea, many of whom originally said ‘NO – you can’t do THAT!’ or ‘That’s just not how it’s DONE…’. The Home Kitchen literally became a testing ground – so that YOUR projects don’t have to be.

Before …

But it just looks like any other Kitchen, right? So where are all these wonderful ideas hiding??!


I was having to list all the ‘Features’ for a Design submission, and without even blinking there were 15! BOY I sure packed a lot of punch into this Design!

BUT hopefully it also comes across as one, functional, beautiful, COHESIVE space.
I’ll let you be the judge of that.

I’ll go through each one in more detail, but here’s the quick deets :

  • Professional high BTU Range (Caliber Appliances, Midland Appliances)
  • Humo Series Original Artwork on Quartz behind Range (Miriam Aroeste)
  • IKEA / Custom Hybrid Cabinetry (SwitchDoor, IKEA Canada)
  • Restaurant Equipment Auction pieces (Loves Auctioneers)
  • 30″ Deep (actually, 29″) Countertops along the walls
  • Full-Depth Fridge/Freezer with ‘Built-In’ Look (Cafe Appliances, Midland Appliances)
  • Mix of Drawers (lowers), Cupboards (uppers) and Open Shelving/Cubbies
  • Feature Open Stainless Shelf for easy-access to 1 set of everyday items
  • Mix of Marble & Quartz (Home Smart Building Supply)
  • MOVEABLE Cupboards for extra counter, seating, etc
  • A ‘Walnut’ lay-in Shelf for a ‘Chef’s Table’ service at the Kitchen to serve small Dinner Parties
  • Canning / Kombucha / Wine Vinegar / Off-Season Herbs Station (with coffee/tea!)
  • Mix of Finishes (gray/white paints, Walnut wood, black/white/stainless metals) and Metals (black/white, honey bronze/brass, stainless)
  • Mix of Appliance brands (Caliber Appliances, Cafe Appliances, ASKO (paneled), Ventahood, Kraus sink/faucet)
  • Metal Powdercoat banding on Custom Hood Fan Cover for easy cleaning (Thistle Millwork, Birdman the Welder)
Photo: Search + Rescue Marketing

In Love …

I don’t mind taking chances when there is a well-thought out opportunity to do so. I believe in allowing for ‘moments of magic’ in a space, and especially in the Kitchen. It’s incredibly rewarding to see a creative solution beautifully and practically come to life. A good many of those chances were taken in the new Kitchen. Others were carried over from the chances I’d taken from the old Kitchen (whether originally successful or since learned from).

Being a Kitchen Designer, I also wanted to test some ideas so that YOU DON’T HAVE TO! Does Artwork behind a professional-level BTU range top work? I don’t (yet) know. It’s gorgeous, but I’m officially the test bunny seeing if it’ll stand up to use/wear/heat. Is a cut edge on a piece of Quartz to hold up a wood insert a good idea? I don’t yet know, but we’re testing it. Actually, we’re testing it so often, I’m feeling pretty sold LOL. Can the biggest Fridge/Freezer on the market also have a laid-back, built-in feel? We’ll see!

I encourage Clients to be comfortable – you want to love your new space. But also take just one or two chances on something that could really enrich your space and/or your experience within it. Not to say to also be a really amazing conversation starter! Hopefully with trial and knowledge, the ‘chance’ part of that equation is minimal. While some ideas might be unfamiliar, I can soon attest to whether or not they work. Because with great steps can come great love!

The rest of the decisions?
Well, take a look!

alison kent the home kitchen renovation details inspiration appliances countertops cabinetry

15 Design Inspirations in Detail

alison kent HOME KITCHEN design gather elevate compose home cook

Caliber Appliances Pro Range

While this was my first choice for cooking – HELLO 25k BTU French Top, convertible to a Wok Burner, anyone?! – I had actually never heard of it, and it was admittedly out of my budget. Until Hubby saw it – and once he was in love, it was just meant to be.

Customized in black – an homage to my all-black appliances in the first Kitchen – with hints of shiny bronze, it was the first big decision and was both a feature and a tone-setter for the rest of the finishes throughout the Kitchen.

She takes care and cleaning, but I don’t mind. I am already in love with those 120 tiny flame ports on each burner…

alison kent HOME KITCHEN design gather elevate compose home cook

Humo Series Art, by Miriam Aroeste

I went through a few options for the big Range backsplash, but once I came across one art piece in particular, my mind started racing to figure out how to make it work. Undeniably now the hi-light of the Kitchen, visible from the Dining & Living Rooms and every angle in-between, has to be the Humo Series art piece behind the Range.

It was a gamble – the heat-proof resin will be put to the absolute test behind a Pro Range! – as I’d never seen a piece of original artwork behind a stovetop before, but thankfully my good friend Miriam Aroeste was game to give it a try. And good thing, too.

Because – WOW. Just WOW.
It’s such a stunningly BEAUTIFUL piece, and absolutely perfect for the look and feel of the space.
Bravo, Miriam!!!!

alison kent the home kitchen renovation details inspiration appliances countertops cabinetry
Photo: Tracey Ayton
alison kent HOME KITCHEN design gather elevate compose home cook

Skinny Shake Shake Shake by SwitchDoor Cabinets

I’m SO thankful my Hubby Accountant was on board the whole process for this Kitchen! Budgets were eventually … flexible. The IKEA cabinets I had chosen weren’t quite the right color, and the door fronts I wanted had terrible reviews, but I couldn’t afford all-custom cabinetry. Enter SwitchDoor – and a beautiful IKEA/Custom hybrid!

With a paint-grade finish, I was able to choose the exact color in co-ordination with the other finishes, existing flooring, black Caliber Range, white Cafe Appliances Fridge/Freezer and countertops. AND as luck would have it, SwitchDoor was wanting to launch their new Skinny Shaker style – a modern twist on a classic style. And the results are A WIN!

The cabinets look amazing, they help elevate the beautiful Appliances, and were expertly installed. Where I needed a custom piece? SwitchDoor was there for me. A perfect solution.

alison kent the home kitchen renovation details inspiration appliances countertops cabinetry
alison kent HOME KITCHEN design gather elevate compose home cook


30″ Deep (actually, 29″) Countertops along the walls – again. I have no idea what made me install 30” deep counters 18 years ago, but I’ve loved it so much since I OOPS did it again. AND have installed them in Clients Kitchens over the past 10 years to great response, so while not common, I knew it was a great idea worth keeping.

As an added bonus, the deep counters perfectly matched up with the extra deep Fridge/Freezer by Cafe Appliances (see #6), and with the deeper Pro Range from Caliber. The entire wall looks seamless as it would if everything were forced back at 24”, but with the added benefit of LOADS OF SPACE.

For people who tend to collect things along the back 6” of the countertop (in other words, every single person), the extra depth is indispensable. You can still have your Olive Oils or Spoons or Nespresso on the Countertop AND have a full 24” to use in front of it – most of which is now view-and-use-free of over overhead cabinetry, allowing for better lighting over as well.

alison kent HOME KITCHEN design gather elevate compose home cook

The Built-In Dilema

I have an issue with the slew of ‘counter depth’ Appliances happening out there. They look great! But – are they useful? What can even fit in a Fridge that only has 10” deep shelving? It’s less depth than a standard 12” upper cabinet! (WHICH btw should always be 14” so you can fit large plates & platters, but I digress…). So how do you marry a useful Appliance size with the beauty of a Built-In set?

Try the Full-Depth Fridge/Freezer from Cafe Appliances. The white panelling can be paired with adjacent cabinetry for most of ‘the look’, while still preserving the usefulness of deep indoor storage. Note > The lower Freezers also favorably have drawers (vs everything regularly falling out onto my toes from a top-Freezer shelf-style).

While the Fridge/Freezer is still proud of the cabinets by 4” to allow for the swing-out door hinges, I’m still pretty happy with the compromise to get the overall 30” depth in this 8’ total Storage bank.

alison kent the home kitchen renovation details inspiration appliances countertops cabinetry
Photo: Tracey Ayton

Mixing Drawers, Cupboards, Open Shelves & Cubbies

It makes sense that if you have different ‘storage’ needs, that you’ll need a variety of storage types. When you spend a lot of time in the Kitchen like I do, small things like repeatedly opening doors and drawers add up to a lot of wasted energy and time. So this time where I needed ‘quick grab ALL THE TIME’ storage I used open Shelving and Cubbies. Typically I shy away from anything that collects tons of dust and needs extra cleaning, but well-placed the constant use is proving to a) almost clean itself just by consistent use, and b) be so convenient it’s worth any extra dusting.

Where I previously had pull out shelves behind lower Cupboard doors, creating two steps we here one should suffice (open door, pull shelf, push shelf, close door), I went with all Drawers this time. Loving it.

Where I DO still have Cupboard doors is the one bank of Uppers which house my least-used items. Different jobs, different solutions. Win-Win!

alison kent the home kitchen renovation details inspiration appliances countertops cabinetry

Re-use, Recycle – Creating a New Countertop

This one was a STRUGGLE to have done, and came weeks after the rest of the Kitchen was complete. I had an idea in my brain about taking my old Countertops – still decent, but not enough SF to re-use in the new Kitchen – and cutting/pasting them into a new Countertop for the Dining Room ‘Kintsugi Style’.

If you’re not familiar, the jist of Kintsugi is taking something old or broken, and gluing it back together with strings of gold, making it MORE valuable than when it had been whole. I love the premise, and I wanted to incorporate it into the designs as a way to salvage some material out of potential landfills while nostalgically saving some of the first Kitchen I’d ever designed by carrying it forward.

The Countertop guy told me NO. Many times. I kept asking. He offered to give me free quartz or marble instead. I said NO. It was what I wanted, and eventually he brought a guy over w a saw and we 3 made it happen. And I love it. You can read more about this feature soon.

Check out the Details on this Detail here >

alison kent the home kitchen renovation details inspiration appliances countertops cabinetry

Mixing Finishes

Kitchen Islands are typically a great opportunity to add a feature color or texture to an otherwise singularly-focused Kitchen design. On the main ‘L’ shape, near the sink (dirty dishes) and stove (often messy!!) I used a lower-maintenance Quartz. On the Island, away from most things that stain heavily, I went with a gorgeous makes-me-happy Marble.

Cabinetry of different uses also received different finishes. Open Shelves and Cubbies are in a beautiful Walnut finish that can take a bit more abuse than a paint-finish, and add a touch of warmth to the overall look. Cabinetry by the Fridge/Freezer match the Appliance for a ‘Built-In’ look, while the remaining Cabinets are a lovely shade of Grey. Close to Grey, a Stainless Steel open shelf reflects the metals on the Range. Mixed, but in harmony!

Why Stay Still When You Can MOVE?!

At the end of the old Island we used to sit every night for dinner, our knees cramped up against the cupboards below. Enough of that! I knew that area had to function better, and I even one-upped it further. Just because it’s a Kitchen Cabinet, why does it have to stay still? Why can’t it move?!

So I designed a piece of ‘Cabinet’ that can be stored under the Island Countertop flush when accessing the storage within (Baking/Pasta Supplies), pushed IN 6” when we’re sitting to dinner for knee space, AND brought all the way out when an extra Countertop is needed for kneading dough or rolling Pasta – or for entertaining with Charcuterie – or for an extra Bar Space at parties – OR … !

I’ve since incorporated a similar piece into other designs for Clients who needed an on-demand Canning Counter during harvest time, or a pull-out slightly lower Countertop for baking with the Grandkids.

The Chef’s Table

Smaller Dinner Parties could be awkward if I was in the Kitchen off/on all evening. While our Dining Rm table isn’t THAT far away, it did prove far enough that I couldn’t be part of the conversations while I was prepping the next course or making coffees at the end of dinner, etc. I love sitting at the Kitchen – the ‘Chef’s Table’ – when eating at Restaurants, so I thought I should try to get the same feel for cooking at home.

A ‘Walnut’ lay-in Shelf was devised between the two upper Countertops, spanning from the edge of the Island to the edge of the ‘L’ counter to create a ‘Chef’s Table’ service for up to 5 guests. Now I can prep, cook, eat and chat happily with everyone who is a mere 3’ away vs 20’ before. I feel part of the action – and so do they. Most guests want to sit at the Island anyhow, so this was a great way to do it with a raised top slightly elevated from whatever mess I was making LOL.

The wood insert can be removed and tucked into the back of a nearby lower Cupboard (in the 6” chase created by the 30” deep Countertops), and ceremoniously brought out again when needed. A feature within a feature!

alison kent the home kitchen renovation details inspiration appliances countertops cabinetry
Photo: Tracey Ayton

The Canning Center

Well, more than *just* Canning! Part of the Kitchen Reno was the decision to extend the existing space into the adjacent ‘Bedroom’ (moved downstairs) for extra space. While the wall opposite was free to be full height Storage, this precious corner was reserved for the ‘Experiments’. And my morning Nespresso machine…

Here live my sad attempts to grow indoor Herbs (Grow LED’s fit under each shelf on a midnight timer), Kombuchas, Vinegars (and I have MANY!), Pickled Veg of all kinds, Canned homemade Meat Stocks and a wide variety of Canned Fruit!

Being away from direct sunlight, it’s also a good spot to store Potatoes, Onions – things that come in bags and don’t need to be refrigerated. This little corner packs a big punch and has become an integral support system to how I cook.

alison kent the home kitchen renovation details inspiration appliances countertops cabinetry
Photo: Tracey Ayton

Adding More to the Mix

Along with the mix of Finishes (gray/white paints, Walnut wood, black/white/stainless metals) came a mix of Metals (black/white, honey bronze/brass, stainless), again each with it’s own space and job.

The main cabinet pulls I loved were in a gorgeous Honey Bronze, as I wanted a bit of warm contrast with the Grey cabinetry that complimented the warm Walnut tones as well as the warm/cool existing Flooring. In a similar tone, the ‘Built-In’ full height Storage Cabinets were chosen to match the Appliance Pulls on the Cafe Fridge/Freezer making that block look cohesive. Finally, facing the Dining Room where your view is of the beautiful Black accents on/above the Caliber Range, I chose thin black finger pulls on the far side of the Island.

I love that the different pulls emphasized the different areas of the Kitchen, but also continued a cohesive look overall while keeping things a lot more interesting than if I’d used one pull type through the entire design.

alison kent the home kitchen renovation details inspiration appliances countertops cabinetry

STILL Mixing …

It might have been noticed that I’ve mentioned a variety of Appliance brands. Various Appliance brands (Caliber Appliances, Cafe Appliances, ASKO (paneled), Ventahood, Kraus sink/faucet) were used throughout the design, rather than repeat one brand for everything. In all honesty, in my research, no single brand did EVERYTHING well. Most Appliance brands specialized in one area (I.e. Ranges), but would be lacking in another (I.e. Fridges).

In the end I chose each Appliance based on it suiting my particular needs the best. The Dishwasher and Hood Fan are paneled and the Fridge/Freezer has a paneled LOOK, so they for the most part became part of the Cabinetry, making their particular ‘branding’ unnoticeable at a glance. (The Stainless DW is our old one that will eventually be replaced with a second paneled ASKO). The only true stand out is – again – the Caliber Range. And she deserves to SHINE!

Banding the Fan

I spend a LOT of time at the Stovetop, and I hate the crowded-in feeling you can get with too many cupboards squeezed tight up to the Hood Fan/Range. I wanted this time to create space for the Range/Hood Fan – and adjacent window – to BREATHE and to let me breathe. Cupboards we had above the Hood Fan before were never once used or opened, so I went for a more decorative approach this time.

But the practical side of me knows of grease particles floating especially above the Stovetop, and the dust particles that stick to the grease particles, so instead of going all paint finish, I chose a Metal Powdercoat banding on Custom Hood Fan Cover for easy cleaning that will never wear. (Thistle Millwork, Birdman the Welder)

And that’s all exactly what I got. Breathable space, beautiful features and practicality. Yay, me!

alison kent the home kitchen watercolor painting of thyme leaf branches


I wouldn’t be doing this project justice by not going through the fantastic Village that put all my ideas into reality one more time!! THANK YOU ALL!!!

  • Midland Appliance
  • Caliber Appliance
  • SwitchDoor Cabinetry & IKEA
  • Birdman the Welder
  • Miriam Aroeste, Artist
  • Home Smart Building Supply
  • Thistle Millwork Design
  • Loves Auctioneers
  • Richelieu Hardware
  • Cantu Bathrooms
  • #handymangary #stuarttheman #eljefecheffong
alison kent the home kitchen watercolor painting of thyme leaf branches