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Behind the Scenes: How to Pull Off Your Dream Kitchen Makeover

The key to achieving the ultimate kitchen renovations? Deep breaths says Debi Traub of Simply Beautiful Eating.  Here the Toronto, Ontario based food blogger takes us through her dream makeover, from finding a contractor to picking the perfect color palette, to most importantly, keeping your cool the whole time! We can say the stunning end results were definitely worth it.

A food blogger can only dream of having the perfect workspace for her kitchen. I've been swooning over design inspiration for years, but waited until the opportune time to do a main floor renovation. Now, there is no ideal time to tear down your walls and live in a cloud of dust for a few months. Especially when two of my boys were getting married this year, within eight weeks of each other. What was I thinking?! Once my husband and I agreed to say go…there was no turning back.

Out With the Old...

Last summer, we started scouting contractors and kitchen cabinetry companies for quotes. To be honest, I lost count of how many people came and went in and out of our home with their tape measures, pads and pencils. In February, we settled on a contractor and a demolition date.


For the first four months, there was no running water on our main floor. We gutted the kitchen, dining room, fireplace area, front hall, laundry room and powder room. So there was really nothing functioning, with the exception of the front door bell.


Tip: When you're picking a contractor -- and in the midst of a tornado ripping through your house -- you need to be able to work with them as a team and be available when questions arise. One thing I've learned -- contractors can’t read minds, especially mine which changed almost as many times a day as a newborn's diaper. Send pictures, do drawings and spell out exactly what the end result should be.

...And in With the New

Being a food blogger, stylist and photographer, the island is now my true dream kitchen prep spot! We installed a beautiful island with a small sink and ensured that there was plenty of counter and storage space in the new kitchen. I wanted to keep the counters clean and uncluttered. 


I also wanted to add a unique look to the display cupboards so I drew out the glass design for the cabinet maker. These cabinets display beautiful tableware and glassware and are a focal point.

Picking the Perfect Colors

I now own more paint samples than you could imagine. It started out as a simple task. I wanted a pure gray for the walls. What does that mean? Well, a pure gray has no undertones at all. No blue. No green. No red. Just a pure and simple gray. Did I find it? Yes.


I picked out a beautiful shade of Martha Stewart Lava Stone Gray for my kitchen island. For the walls I went with Benjamin Moore Silver Chain. I took the color gradation down 75% because I wanted it very light.

Topping it Off

Countertops are one of the biggest investments you are going to make during a kitchen makeover. For me, they were another focal point in the kitchen, and one of the first things I chose. I saw a sample of quartz that I liked and thought that it would be the most practical choice, geared for food preparation, spills and the inevitable mess that is the standard state in a food blogger's kitchen.


And then, I fell head-over-heels in love with a slab of marble that I should not have installed in my kitchen. Marble is as temperamental as a two year old, but as beautiful as a private island in the Caribbean.  


Tip: If you do choose marble, please make sure you have it professionally sealed.

Making a Splash

I now have one of the largest collection of tile samples in the world. I thought I was 100% firm on the one that I wanted until the day the counters were installed. I placed all the samples up against the wall and decided to go back to the drawing board. Since the marble was in a league of it's own, I didn't want anything competing with it. Keeping it simple and clean, I went with a white dolomite marble from Sarana Tile.


Tip: Only choose a backsplash after your counters are installed.

Beauty in the Details

I have nicknamed hardware as "the jewelry" for our kitchen. I swooned over a finish called "satin brass". There's absolutely nothing wrong with the standard chrome or nickel -- I just wanted glints of brass all over the house.


My main focus was to ensure that we were installing good quality hardware in the kitchen, laundry and powder room. I went with Newport Brass from TAPS for all the kitchen sinks, accessories and even the sink flange, because everyone needs a matching sink flange, right? 


My sinks are all white Silgranit from Blanco. These sinks promise to withstand chips, cracks, stains and my kitchen antics. I was sold. For the kitchen and fireplace cabinetry, I have always been partial to Restoration Hardware's endless selection of knobs and handles.


Tip: Go with what you love, because you will be seeing it every day.

A (Very!) Helpful Hint

Of course, it would be so easy (and more fun) to splurge on everything when renovating, but that’s not reality. Every day of our renovation involved making choices, and almost every time it came down to cost. My husband's renovation spreadsheet was my worst nightmare. If it wasn't saved on his computer, I would have ripped it up into tiny shreds.


My advice: when you find something you like, but it is way out of your budget, research comparable items. Perfect example, I wanted specific island and dining room lighting fixtures and searched in every store within driving distance. The prices were out of reach for us. I went online and ordered them from well known home furnishing sites. I saved thousands of dollars by simply surfing the internet.

Final Finishes

I wanted a very fresh look for this renovation and decided to incorporate a DIY project to save money. The fireplace mantelpiece was one focal point that my husband and I created together as a team. (He's also extremely handy so that’s a big plus!)

We were walking through Home Depot looking at materials when I spotted barn wood in one area of the store and said, "That's my fireplace mantel!" It is a washed light grey and blends with my new hardwood floor.  

I chose each individual piece of wood and my husband built everything from scratch. He even made the side panels by hand and created a riveted look with long strips of the material.

My new dining room table is also made from reclaimed wood, and I wanted to keep a natural flow with the rustic-but-chic look of the room. I bought the table and chairs at Homesense Canada, one of my favorite places to shop, and where I found amazing deals on my kitchen and dining room furnishings. 


Interior Design, Decor & Styling: Debi Traub | @simplybeautifuleating

Photography: Debi Traub and Michelle Belsky | @magnoliastudios