Kitchen Reno – the Small Details Add Up

Kitchen Reno – the Small Details Add Up

Happy Monday ladies. Today’s look of the week is a life update and a look at my pantry renovation. It may be a small detail but it gives me joy because it’s the only thing finished… so far. Our kitchen plans have run into some construction challenges, but nothing we won’t figure out.

three men sawing existing granite counter to fit new stove on A Well Styled Life

what do you mean the new stove won’t fit in the existing granite?

I liken it to an outfit. You start putting things together and realize those shoes you intended to wear are the wrong shade for the rest of your outfit. That handbag you wanted to use isn’t the right proportion and overpowers the look, so you go back to the drawing board.

Let me preface this by saying- I think this home will be fabulous for us and we are well on our way to loving it.

pantry before renovation on A Well Styled Life

she left us some food which we did not keep

We’ve had chat with our new neighbors and learned that the previous owners weren’t as clean or meticulous as one would want. There are many reasons why, but the upshot is there were some serious mouse problems. I was figuring that out on my own because the surface of things looked clean but upon closer inspection, I brought out the bleach.

Back to the pantry. The previous owners had white shag carpeting in the pantry which was stained beyond fixing. The little dark hole in the far corner is one spot where mice made themselves at home.

There was new pale gray Pergo in the kitchen, as seen on the right, so we decided to extend it through the pantry and into the family room.

New Pergo flooring from Home Depot on A Well Styled life

we removed the row of tiles on the floor in front of the fireplace to enlarge the room

A microwave had been over the stove, but since we only use our microwave to reheat tea, we decided to give it a lower profile by installing a small one inside the pantry.

oal cabinets before and after painting white on A Well Styled Life

we painted the cabinet frames then installed new drawers, pullouts, doors and handles

We ordered a modern stainless steel hood to go where the old microwave used to hang over the stove. Unfortunately, there’s a venting problem so it had to be returned and we’re back to the drawing board.

white kitchen cabinets before hood is installed on A Well Styled Life

the current situation – there is a major supporting beam in this wall preventing us from venting a hood.

I hate having small, cheap looking appliances cluttering the countertops so we had a pullout tray installed to hold our $10 toaster from Tarjay.pantry after renovation with pull out shelves on A Well Styled Life

There are two large pullout shelves plus the one for the toaster. They all have soft close slides. We had a “lesson” with my grandson last week so he knows not to push them closed, which will break them. One is already wonky… I did it 🙁
soft close pullout shelves for toaster and dry goods in pantry on A Well Styled Life

We had all the trim and ceilings painted with my favorite shade of white, which went a long way to freshening things up. There’s still much more that needs to be done.

The other carpeting we thought we would keep, has to go now because we don’t feel comfortable walking on it in our bare feet. I know there are more surprises ahead which just keeps things interesting.

I’m curious…do you decorate the tops of your kitchen cabinets with “decor” items? Or is that a thing of the past?

Thanks for reading ladies and have a great day.


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Affiliate links within this post may generate income for AWSL at no additional cost to you. When you shop through my links, I earn a small commission which helps support my business.


  1. Lori Stewart
    July 8, 2019 / 4:19 am

    I used to have decorative things on top of the cabinets, but they are just dust and grease collectors. My wish would be to have cabinets flush with the ceilings. Maybe one day.

    • Nancy Hopkins
      July 8, 2019 / 5:10 am

      I use that space to display antique kitchen items we have collected over the years. I love the look but not the cleaning.

      • July 8, 2019 / 6:55 am

        That’s what I was thinking about. I have some antique confit pots that don’t have a place to sit in this new house. The cleaning would be a hassle.

  2. Sandy
    July 8, 2019 / 4:23 am

    Jennifer, your new place is going to be wonderful! I can see it already. I used to sell Real Estate, so I know what I’m talking about when I tell you that the seller leaving food behind in the pantry is REALLY odd. Who does that?? Regarding above cabinet decor – Yes. I have fake greenery which I switch out according to seasons. In the winter, I put strings of Christmas lights since I had electric outlets installed up there. I also have some old Longaberger baskets (I see you have some of those) which are now gracing that space. I tend to add/subtract above cabinet items for the appropriate season. Have fun with your new place. I’m looking forward to seeing more photos. What do you wear when you are organizing your new space?

    • July 8, 2019 / 6:49 am

      There is no electric up top but we did have that in a previous house and it was great. Maybe we can get it installed. I like the seasonal idea. I wear my regular clothes but opt for stretch pants and I usually skip bracelets which get in the way.

  3. Terri Buckman
    July 8, 2019 / 4:28 am

    I am a firm believer in doing what you love and makes you happy when it comes to the home! Trendy is like buying an outfit in the junior department. It’s out of style before the season is over. But tops of cabinets can be edited from the overkill of the 90’s. Love the updates!

    • July 9, 2019 / 8:25 am

      I love your attitude Terri. If money was no object, I’d still have most of what we own in our home.

  4. July 8, 2019 / 4:34 am

    Aren’t pullout shelves the BEST? When we re-did our kitchen last year, my #1 wish was that everything below counter level either pulls or rolls out. So much better!

    • July 9, 2019 / 8:26 am

      They are heavenly. We also got some large pullouts to hold my largest appliances. Super easy to reach.

  5. cindy dailey
    July 8, 2019 / 4:56 am

    I just remodeled my kitchen and WANTED to move the toaster oven in the pantry. My husband nixed the idea and I can’t wait to show him how great it is. You have exactly the pantry I had envisioned.


    • July 8, 2019 / 6:52 am

      I love it in there…but I’m always reminding my husband to close the pantry door 😉

      • Laurel
        July 8, 2019 / 3:22 pm

        FWIW, mine is not in there, but I still have to constantly close the pantry door myself. 😂

  6. Susan
    July 8, 2019 / 5:15 am

    For 17 years of living in this house I struggled with what to put on top of the cabinets. I tried books (dust and grease ruin them) and pottery (looks too dinky ) and settled on large antique copper pots. Still didn’t like it. Last month I had the space filled in adding andoffit. I have crown moulding and, last minute added a smaller moulding a couple inches above the tops of the cabinets. Once painted the same white as the cabinets it looks like they have a frame. I painted my new soffit the same color as the walls. Now its clean and looks totally refreshed. Why were we all told that soffits were bad? A wonderful alternative to many thousand to replace white short cabinets with white tall ones.
    Good luck with your house . I’m sure it will be amazing once finished. And all the problems will turn into very funny posts!

    • July 8, 2019 / 6:57 am

      Soffits would have been smart. Our cabinet maker suggested cabinets to the ceiling with glass doors. I didn’t think I had enough to fill places I can never reach.

    • Sina Carroll
      July 9, 2019 / 8:29 pm

      Would love to see a picture of your finished kitchen soffits since we have just bought a house that has a soffit and I’m not loving it but the extra trim sounds interesting.

  7. LindaB
    July 8, 2019 / 5:26 am

    IMHO, stuff on top of the cabinets screams Grandma’s House. Instead, we ran our cabinets all the way to the ceiling. Does away with a major dust-collector and gives another bank of cabinet storage, which is great for out-of-season stuff and party stuff that isn’t used everyday — important, since with 12′ ceilings, it requires a tall ladder to get up there!

    • July 8, 2019 / 7:00 am

      I should have done that but we didn’t replace the cabinets. Just painted and refaced. I’m trying not to spend too much on this house because I want to be sure we can get it out when we sell.

      • Diane
        July 8, 2019 / 10:42 am

        How did you reface and paint your cabinets? Or, is it a professionals job?

        • July 8, 2019 / 5:42 pm

          We had it professionally done. They puttied and sanded three – four coats then painted the frames. If you don’t do that the grain shoes through, which I didn’t want.

  8. Barb
    July 8, 2019 / 5:38 am

    At home had the new cabinets made with no above space but at our cottage have space and love it. Filled with greenery,collected treasures, decoys…Used rope lighting to highlight and in the evening looks beautiful!*yes dusty clean once a year* Sometimes 🤭

    • July 9, 2019 / 8:23 am

      We are thinking about lighting above too. It’s so nice you have both options:)Having a cottage would be fabulous.

  9. July 8, 2019 / 5:48 am

    I can’t wait to see the finished renovations. I wish we had room in the kitchen for a pantry. The idea of the toaster etc. in a cabinet is one I would like to incorporate. Enjoy your new home!

  10. Susan L
    July 8, 2019 / 5:55 am

    We are closing on a house in September and have decided to redo the kitchen. I have never done this but have basic “I want/need” so hopefully a kitchen designer can assist me with some great effenciency ideas that would add to the space.

  11. BJ
    July 8, 2019 / 5:57 am

    In our last house we had a very large kitchen where the cupboards did not reach the ceiling. I filled this space with a collection of food themed antique cookie jars ( not the kitchy cartoon type). Sadly, most of these are currently in boxes as our newly renovated kitchen has cupboards to the ceiling. Oh well, now I don’t have wash them 2 or 3 times a year, If you put something up there it must be beautiful and worth the effort to undertake the cleaning involved!
    From your photos it looks like your kitchen will be fabulous. Love the colour scheme.

  12. Ellen
    July 8, 2019 / 6:02 am

    I would love to have my above cabinet spaces filled in. I have pottery up there that I have to get down and clean with vinegar periodically and clean the old books that have to be stacked just right in the “well” the cabinets have in them in order to raise the pottery high enough to be seen. Pain in the…neck. Involves a ladder. Why oh why do they make them that way? In the bathroom there is actually a ledge along one wall below the ceiling designed I guess for junk to go. I had stuff up there but now it is bare.
    I love your white cabinets and pull out shelves in the pantry. My pantry is a deep corner one; I use it for cookware ,Pyrex bowls, tupperware, etc., not for food, because for all I know there is an entire other family living back there in the dark unusable spots where lost ramekins and citrus reamers go to die. Why oh why I repeat.
    Also love your drawers under the stove!

  13. Karen
    July 8, 2019 / 6:05 am

    Hi Jennifer, funny you should bring up the question about things on top of cabinets, because I was studying my kitchen and thinking about that just this week. We used to have beautiful pottery up there until we put the house on the market. I wanted the house to be “hotel ready” without personal items. We never did sell the house, and I never put those items back up. I don’t miss their appearance, and I certainly don’t miss having to climb a stool to reach them, then scrub dust and grease off them to use them! I prefer a minimal look in my kitchen nowadays.

  14. Beverly Glotzbach
    July 8, 2019 / 6:11 am

    Jennifer, you will get there with your house. We built our house this time, and still didn’t get everything “right”. It just takes time to make all of your personal adjustments to make the house into a home. With a little patience and dedication and your natural flair for style, you will be there soon. Can’t wait to see more before and after pictures.

  15. Susan
    July 8, 2019 / 6:12 am

    I am so lucky in that we bought a flipper house and I got to be friends with the contractor. He adjusted many things for us once he became convinced that we were seriously going to buy the house. So I got cabinets (hickory, I love them) all the way to the ceiling with crown molding on top, undercabinet lights, nicer appliances than he was going to use (I LOVE my counter depth refrig–it is so much better looking that the fridge sticking out 6 or 8 inches, and I can get as much stuff in there as we ever did), plus a huge island with drawers that I use as a baking center. And a walk in pantry with washer, dryer and stand alone freezer. So no, I don’t keep a lot of stuff on my counter. My knives, my coffeepot, and a utensil jar next to the stove. On one counter I have a convection/toaster Breville oven. That I do not regret giving space to as it keeps me from using my wall ovens a lot in the summer. I like the clean spare look of it.

    • Becky Van Noy
      July 8, 2019 / 7:01 am

      You were lucky to get everything the way you wanted!! 🙂

  16. Debbie
    July 8, 2019 / 6:12 am

    My daughter uses an assortment of mercury glass objects and vases with fake topiaries she has picked up and it is gorgeous with her dark cabinets. Maybe cobalt glass or something in a white kitchen? Sticking to one theme like that could be great. Washing them occasionally would be a pain but you can hire people for that too should it be too much upkeep. So apparently it can be done and add to your decor without too much clutter. Like you I hate clutter on a counter.

  17. Kathy
    July 8, 2019 / 6:23 am

    Yes I do decorate the tops of my cupboards. I unroll paper toweling across the tops as a base. When it’s time to clean just pick up the toweling (and grease/dust) and toss it out and put down new. I display pottery items and a few graniteware pieces. The majority goes into the dishwasher for cleaning the rest I wash by hand. I use styrofoam or other pottery as “risers” to elevate some pieces to vary the height of the display.

    • July 9, 2019 / 8:21 am

      Paper toweling is a great idea! Thanks Kathy

  18. Rose
    July 8, 2019 / 6:27 am

    Our last house had floor to ceiling cabinets and I loved them. More storage space. Our house now had space above so I do decorate according to seasons, but not too much. Have fun decorating!

  19. Laurel
    July 8, 2019 / 6:53 am

    Love what you’re doing with the kitchen and the pantry looks perfect. We have nothing on top of our cabinets, although I thought about it until I cleaned up there. :-p DH installed LED lights so we have some soft lighting in the evenings and that’s about perfect for us.

    The flooring also looks great and I agree with replacing carpeting given the history you’ve heard from the neighbors. LOL.

  20. Becky Van Noy
    July 8, 2019 / 7:00 am

    I, too, have been wondering if decorating above the cabinets is out of style or not. I have tall cabinets but our kitchen has a vaulted ceiling, so there’s lots of space between the cabinets and the ceiling. I’m not a minimalist, and I love the look of every thing I have above the cabinets. Above one set of cabinets (only two doors), I have a collection of old coffee grinders, each one different and a cool coffee sign above them. Above the long expanse of cabinets is a picnic basket we received as a wedding gift 42 years ago, a candleabra with pillar candles, an old wooden wine box my hubby cut in half so I could use it in two different places as a platform for other objects, a large sunflower platter, a small Eiffel Tower lamp, a clock, large vase of hydrangeas, and a huge wrought iron Eiffel Tower. I hung a wide framed print of the French countryside above everything else. I used to have fake greenery up there, but when it seemed to get too dusty. It sounds like a lot, but I have the space for it all.

    • July 8, 2019 / 8:27 am

      You’ve just given me some great ideas Becky, thanks. I have lots of interesting things still in boxes that would look great. What I don’t have is a sign so now I will keep an eye out for one. 😀

  21. Angie
    July 8, 2019 / 7:15 am

    Jennifer, I have a Kitchenaid stove that is in the center island and it is vented through the floor. I love the pull out you have for the toaster, I’m telling my hubs to get me one today! I’m so over the crumbs in the cabinets, It never even crossed my mind to put it in a tray. Lol. Also love the white cabinets, I’m on the fence about going white, maybe a off white for my house, but I’m so over the oak. I want new floors in my kitchen as I’m tired of my Mexican style tiles. but hubs says it will cost a lot to replace.

    • Angie
      July 8, 2019 / 7:17 am

      And yes I decorate the top of my cabinets. I love it!

    • July 8, 2019 / 8:25 am

      It is expensive to take out tile floors. We were do lucky this house didn’t have much tile. The oak doesn’t paint well without grain showing through. So we only painted the frames and replaced the front with paint grade wood. Saved us a lot.

  22. Phyllis
    July 8, 2019 / 7:19 am

    I hate having a microwave over the stove. In my opinion, it is a dangerous place to put it. I’m short, so it is hard for me to get dishes out of it without spilling something hot on myself. Cleaning means I have to climb on a ladder. The older I get, the less I want to do that. Now we have a gas stove and I am really afraid of burning myself when reaching over the stove to use the microwave. Microwaves don’t last longer than about five to seven years because you simply can’t keep the grease out of it according to the repairman that came to fix our microwave in our last house. We replaced it three times in the 21 years we lived in that house. This one is going to go as soon as my husband decides how it will need to be ducted. I, too, like my cabinets clear, although, you would not know it at the minute. I’m still trying to find a place for things that have been unpacked but have not found their permanent home yet. My Goodwill boxes are rapidly filling up. It is important to make the home your own, which is what you are doing. (Why would anyone have carpet in a pantry? weird!) Love what you did in the pantry. I need to do something like the drawers in the cabinet my pans are in.

    • July 8, 2019 / 8:20 am

      I totally agree about the microwave over the stove. That’s why we put it on a pantry shelf at chest height, for me. Hubs can reach down safer than I can reach up.

  23. Linda
    July 8, 2019 / 8:13 am

    It’s going to be lovely when you finish!

    To fix your stove hood beam problem, it will be cheaper to relocate your stove than to relocate that beam that’s in the way of your vent. Perhaps an island with the stove placed on it, use a vent that will go under your floor to the outside?

    • July 8, 2019 / 8:18 am

      We are on a slab so we can’t vent through the floor. I can’t imagine why all stainless steel hoods vent through the center now. Maybe they always did.

  24. Eve
    July 8, 2019 / 8:29 am

    I put phony green plants up there above the cabinets and dust them once a week with a long handled ostrich feather duster. They are far enough away so no one really know they are phony. Christmas I run little white lights through them. I love the house. It looks so fresh with all that white.

    • July 8, 2019 / 5:23 pm

      Thanks Eve. White makes such a great backdrop to decorate on.

  25. Juliet
    July 8, 2019 / 9:14 am

    Jennifer – I love your pantry pullouts … especially for toaster! Good thinking! As for former owners not being as meticulous as you’d hope, I hear you! We finally discovered where the rodent problem in our new house is originating. Jim went to drain the hot tub over the weekend – in anticipation of demo, and discovered rats nest inside. Ewe! Hopefully hot tub will be on its way to dump this week and rats will find another home NOT in our house. Love following your progress! xo

    • July 8, 2019 / 5:29 pm

      Double EWE Janet! That would freak me out hopefully we don’t have one somewhere. I’d get an exterminator to make sure they don’t stick around. I do love the pullouts. It makes finding things so easy.

  26. Linda Jacks
    July 8, 2019 / 9:35 am

    You didn’t say how you got rid of the mouse problem, We live in the country and our 15-y-o outside cat died two months ago. We’re seeing mousey things in the house for the first time. EEK!

    • July 8, 2019 / 5:31 pm

      We stuffed steel wool in every nook, cranny and crevice we’ve found in the house. We hope they’re gone. They won’t go through it because it cuts their nose. A cat sounds like a great idea;)

  27. Kate
    July 8, 2019 / 11:14 am

    I love the idea of pullout pantry shelves. Where did you find yours?

    • July 8, 2019 / 5:45 pm

      My cabinet guy built them. He’s pretty clever. I know they are available commercially. I’ve seen them in new cabinets at Loews.

  28. Nancy
    July 8, 2019 / 12:12 pm

    I have read about having vent hoods custom made. Doesn’t seem it should be that difficult.

    • July 8, 2019 / 5:46 pm

      That’s what we’ll have to do.

  29. July 8, 2019 / 12:30 pm

    Our kitchen came with metal shelves mounted high around the perimeter of the kitchen. The previous owners were very tall and had their cookbooks up there. I decided to try putting colorful baskets up there. They are attractive enough and I use some of them for storage of things that I don’t care about getting dusty (like a box of emergency utility candles and water bottles).

    I love the improvements you’re making!
    Where/what brand are the pull-out pieces? And may I ask which shade of white you chose for the cabinets?

    • July 8, 2019 / 5:52 pm

      The pullouts were custom made by our guy. I do know you can find them premade though. The white is my favorite, Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee. It’s the same color we had the ceilings and all our trim painted. It’s a soft white that seems to change with the lighting.

  30. Evelyn
    July 8, 2019 / 2:50 pm

    What is your favorite shade of white? What undertones, if any? Thanks

    • July 8, 2019 / 5:57 pm

      Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee. It has slight creamy gray undertones and looks both cool and warm depending on the light. I love it. This is the third house I’ve used it in

      • Evelyn Bailey
        July 10, 2019 / 1:53 pm

        Sounds so perfect. Too bad there is only one store east of the Mississippi!

  31. July 8, 2019 / 3:12 pm

    Little things make a big difference, and those pull out trays will prove to be so handy. Its often easier to live in a place a little while before you know exactly what you want to do to improve it. You’ll personalize it in not time!

  32. July 8, 2019 / 7:08 pm

    Jennifer, have you considered an ductless range hood? They work by circulating the air through a replaceable filter that contains activated charcoal and then back into the kitchen. I’ve always been happy with mine.

    • July 9, 2019 / 8:20 am

      I’d never heard of them. Thanks Elaine!

  33. Janet Williams
    July 8, 2019 / 7:31 pm

    Love the white and the pantry ideas! I hate clutter on the counter and want things tucked away but not so far I never use them. After living through many styles and renos, my current favs are white shaker, quartz, luxury vinyly tile (the wood look is amazing) and stainless steel appliances including a counter depth fridge and gas or induction ranges. The only thing I would put above cabinets would be soft lighting. Enjoy!

    • July 9, 2019 / 8:20 am

      I love the white veined quartz:) The granit was one thing I could not convince hubs to replace. We had this same black granite as a floor many years ago and since I use black as an accent color in my house, I bartered new appliances for the countertops.

  34. Pat from Wisconsin
    July 9, 2019 / 10:42 am

    I get it about the white tile, but it can be a building code issue. Is that a wood burning fireplace? Before we could get an occupancy permit for our rehabbed 1856 farmhouse, we had to “tile” the floor around the hearth. And the hearth was a foot off the ground with a stone slab on it. I put the word “tile” in quotes because we faked it. My husband made a u-shaped plywood thing, tiled it, put wood trim around it, and set it in front of the fireplace. It passed for the building inspector and we removed it as soon as he left. I don’t know how that affects insurance coverage, but you might give some consideration to not having wood immediately in front of your fireplace, just for fire safety. We felt the foot wide, foot tall brick and stone hearth pretty well did the job, and the fireplace has doors on it, which have to be closed when it is in use, for the fireplace to work properly.

    As to stuff on top of cabinets, I’m coming down on the no side. To me, it is the decorating version of “mom jeans.” That went out of style at about the same time as mom jeans did. Plenty of people still do it, of course, and plenty of people wear mom jeans. And both may come back into style. No judgments here!! In our prior house, I had stuff on the cabinets and they do get not just dusty, but greasy-dusty. It’s also a pain to get up there and move stuff around if you decide you want to re-arrange. Maybe you could get away with a collection of ironstone pitchers up there. I have seen people move a couple of the cabinets up a foot, then install an open shelf below the cabinets that they moved. The crown molding might need to be readjusted.

  35. July 10, 2019 / 2:22 am

    I am so excited for you to come home to a house that is finally yours. So exciting…no matter what the challenges have been. I always love to decorate my home. Enjoy!

  36. Patty
    July 10, 2019 / 7:02 am

    My cabinets go to the ceiling, but a few of my friends collect Fiestaware. They display all their colorful pitchers above their cabinets. I love all your whites and grays & wish I could transition that way. BUT our house is 20 years old and full of oak cabinets, oak woodwork, oak furniture, etc.

  37. Stacy
    July 12, 2019 / 10:39 am

    Hi! Love the remodel thus far. Just remodeled my house. Solved the stove venting problem by getting a wonderful
    Bosch induction stove. Works just like gas but is cooler in Texas and I believe safer. I love your pull-out drawers in the pantry. I was the General Contractor and I had my carpenter build some in the cabinets; now I am going to put some in the pantry! I also love the idea of a microwave in the pantry. I am 5ft. tall and its not going to get any better! Husband is 6’3; adult children are also tall. I have an Ivantium microwave and regular oven above my lower larger oven AND a countertop microwave leftover and I will wait till it meets its demise and then get a smaller pantry one! Enjoy your blog!

    • July 12, 2019 / 4:02 pm

      That’s a big height difference. They can all stoop down so I think the microwave deserves to be at your height 🙂 I haven’t tried an induction stove. It sounds fascinating. I’m the general contractor for our too. Xx

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