KITCHEN OPEN SHELVING – Is it practical?


Today I wanted to give my opinion on open shelving in the kitchen as this is a fairly new trend in kitchen design perhaps made more popular by the lovely Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame.  When designing our kitchen, I knew I wanted to incorporate some open shelving but still include closed cabinets for the less aesthetically pleasing items we use every day.

Originally we had open shelving planned for both sides of our apron sink area, but after installation of the window over the kitchen sink, the measurements were off and we had to tweak the shelving plan with the cabinet design people.  Those types of situations happen ALL. THE. TIME. when building and it can be disappointing or frustrating, but I like to look at the challenges as new design opportunities instead!  My kids just LOVE it when I tell them that life’s little bumps in the road can be opportunities to hone our problem solving skills ;-).  As you can see from my style board for the kitchen above, the kitchen in the top photo had no open shelving to the left of the sink and it looked fine so I had the cabinets and shelves re-designed in a similar fashion.

Since there wasn’t much room between the cabinets and the window on the left side, we decided to just do the open shelving on the right side of the sink (just above the dishwasher and to the right of the sink where the dishes would be drying to make putting dishes away easy and efficient).  So here we were a few days ago – top shelf still sporting Christmas decor.  No judging–it is not February just yet ;-).   Anyway, as you can see from the dishes drying on the counter–the majority are our glasses and white everyday plates and bowls.  The most efficient storage for these would be just above the dishwasher and also the spot where I am in the habit of putting them to dry.  I am not a big believer of drying the dishes immediately because I am lazy have heard it is more hygienic ;-).  I didn’t realize that on the kitchen cabinet plans, the open shelving would be located so high on the wall.  For practicality reasons and so that our 10-year-old son could actually reach the cereal bowls and make his own breakfast without climbing on the counter each time (can’t knock him for using his “problem solving skills” here 😉 )–we decided to lower both shelves to a more reachable height.

First step was to empty the shelves.

Next step was to call my sweet husband up from his project in the basement so that we could quickly lower the shelves before reloading.  Not as quickly as we had hoped but in fairly short order we had both shelves lowered by about 8 inches and much more functional for our family.

Ahh…. much better.  Bye, bye to the Christmas decor and hello to white, botanical and wood neutrals.  Our youngest can now safely self-serve (I see this as my ultimate goal as a mother 😉 ) and I can store things on the top shelf and still reach them without a step-stool.

The holes in the drywall still need patching and paint and I still want to style the counter under the shelves but after only a few days living with the lowered shelves, they are functioning exactly as I had envisioned those many months ago when we were deep in the process of dreaming and designing our house.

I LOVE them and would recommend a small area of open shelving to anyone.  Since we use the items on the bottom shelf on a daily basis, I haven’t found a problem with dust collecting as Emily of Jones Design Company also describes here when discussing open shelves in the kitchen.

And besides, we still have plenty of closed storage on the other wall of the kitchen and also in the island for the ugly less aesthetically pleasing stuff.


Soon we’ll go on a full kitchen tour and I’ll show you all the fun hidden organization and functional elements behind the doors and drawers.  Fingers crossed for a sunny day at home for that photo shoot!  😉

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Beachy Parisian Bathroom

Well folks, I have a bunch more poorly lit photos to share ;-).  The rainy weather continues in our neck of the woods and so getting a well-lit photograph of any of our projects is a stretch at this point.  Pairing this with the fact that I am away from home 5 days a week during the brightest hours of the day means that I must photograph and share these for now.  I hope to do a current house tour post next week so crossing my fingers for sunny days on the weekend!

Let’s talk master bathrooms today, shall we?  I had high hopes when designing our current home as far as the master bathroom was concerned.  High on the need want list was a water closet (toilet in separate room on its own), soaking tub, two sinks and a large tiled shower.  Turns out we were able to fit all those amenities into our meager budget – yay for a peaceful master bath retreat!  I know I am a spoiled brat here, but after a long day of work, transporting offspring, cooking meals, washing dishes, doing laundry, personal fitness, feeding the cat, and so on and so forth, it sure is a treat to retire to this amazing room to relax and rejuvenate.  Side note:  did you know that the definition of rejuvenate is “make (someone or something) look or feel younger, fresher, or more lively“.  Yes, please.  😉

After we moved in there were a just a few little projects for us to do in order for our retreat to be complete!  #1. Blinds.  Because we like our new neighbours and don’t want alienate them with the sight of our naked bodies at 6 in the morning (or any other time of day for that matter).  I ordered these bamboo blinds from Amazon and just love how they help make the bathroom more “beachy”.  I also ordered this super beachy-looking capiz shell chandelier.  Here is similar one from Amazon.  Funny story…   When purchasing the light apparently I must have skimmed over the “DIY” in the very detailed description,

Aero Snail 3-Light Round Chandelier with Round Capiz Seashells Natural White DIY Pendant Light

He he….  It was definitely “DIY”.  Each shell and miniscule keychain ring came separate which means that there were a bagillion (yes, I slayed high school math) little rings to install on roughly the same number of capiz shells:

Luckily on purpose I selected a weekend when my sweet mom was in town to assemble the light.  Our youngest helped out as well and we knocked that little “DIY” project off the list in roughly 3 hours.

#2 project – build and paint tub surround.  Doug (my honey) got right to work getting that surround built and then it was all me for the painting.  I just matched it to our existing trim color, “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore.

#3 project – paint and hang the vanity mirrors.  Originally I had planned to use a driftwood framed mirror (see the inspiration style board) from our previous house but it didn’t look big enough when we held it up in place once the bathroom was actually finished.  It now is hanging in our front foyer and looks fabulous.  Plan B = second hand mirrors.

Does anyone else break out the paint can at 9:30PM on a Friday night when the kids have gone to bed and the husband is out at his Friday night hockey league game?  No?  Just me then.   Anyway, as you can see from the amazing picture above, the vanity mirrors had brown trim.  I wasn’t sure what color I wanted them to be initially but I knew the dark stain finish was not working with the beachy Parisian vibe.  After some aimless hours spent on Pinterest extensive research I determined that gray was the color that would bring these $15 beauties back in style.  I used gray chalk paint from the local hardware store.  I’ll post the exact brand and colour later.  One coat and done with chalk paint – love it!

I purchased (had my parents purchase, actually) the mirrors at a hotel surplus store where they have furniture previously used in hotels, offices, etc.  I knew they would be great for bathroom mirrors or for the main living area somewhere so I had good old mom and dad get four just to be safe.  You can never have too many mirrors.  Am I right?  😉

Beachy Parisian Vanity @ Building House|Making Home

So happy with how these turned out!  On to #4 project – find something Parisian-looking to hold towels and other bathroom necessities that fit in with my beachy Parisian vision.  Hmmm….  Something like this perhaps:

Something like that but also with a small price tag…  IKEA to the rescue!

Ikea Vittsjo Shelf

Am I weird that I enjoy assembling Ikea furniture?  Thought so.  Anyway, set to work on assembling the shelf after a quick trip to Ikea to just purchase the shelf and the shelf only… and maybe a few super cute wooden snack bowls and oh yeah, a curtain rod for the master bedroom… but that was definitely it…  😉

Ikea Vittsjo Shelf

A while later I got to style my new Parisian-looking shelf and voila…

Since reading in the bathtub is part of my nightly ritual, I thought having my favie fave books in here would be smart.  This shelf is very large and has plenty of room for my books and plenty of towels and other bathroom necessities to boot.  In my opinion bathroom necessities include a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower and sea shells–very beachy Parisian!  😉

Beachy Parisian Bathroom
Master Bathroom Styleboard

Pretty stoked to have the finished product somewhat resemble my original vision!  And, I feel so cosmopolitan soaking in my tub while I read “Eat That Frog”.  Oh yeah, I also like reading self-help books while relaxing to make me feel guilty for wasting time relaxing when I should be getting stuff done…  Wait, what?

Stay tuned for a full kitchen tour and hopefully better-lit photos to come!  Thanks for stopping by and come again real soon!  If you want posts to be delivered directly to your inbox, don’t forget to subscribe (top right menu bar).


Fifty Shades over the Fireplace

No, you are not dreaming–this is REALLY a new post on BH|MH.  I got so much done during my one month unintentional hiatus from the blog and I can’t wait to share it all with you!  Today I’m going to begin the sharefest with the shiplap over our reclaimed brick fireplace.

Here is the Ghost of Christmas Past taking us on a tour of our mantel on Dec. 15th:

Building House|Making Home Christmas Mantel

Yikes!  Glad we have progressed from that empty shell over the mantel!  If you remember from last post, we were hoping to enclose the chimney portion of the fireplace with something like this:

So just as soon as my husband had a day off during the Christmas holidays I put him straight to work getting all that beautiful shiplap installed.  My sweetie made quick work of this project and here we were already on New Year’s Eve:

You will notice another small change in this photo from the previous….  the slightly larger tv.  I guess hubby thought he deserved this as a Christmas gift due to his heavy labor on this project.  Whatever works–it sure motivated him to finish up that shiplap so he could hang the new tv.  😉  Ok, so now we were ready for paint–my turn!  I originally thought I wanted the shiplap painted white just like the inspiration picture.  Well…..  after I had primed it I wasn’t super stoked with how washed out it make the fireplace brick and mantel look but I decided to soldier on and put on one coat of Benjamin Moore Simply White (same colour as our trim and kitchen cabinets) to see if it finished the look off the way I was envisioning.  #notsomuch   I don’t have a picture of the shiplap all white but trust me, it just didn’t look right.  So, back to the paint store to get a can of paint matched to our kitchen island colour, Benjamin Moore Asphalt.  Here is a bad picture of my progress halfway through one coat:

Building House|Making Home Painting Fireplace Shiplap

Ahhh!  I could tell it was going to set off that fireplace so much better already!  Totally stoked, I pressed on and managed to get two coats of Asphalt on in one afternoon.  An added bonus was that I got to watch listen to my favie fave show, My Kitchen Rules Australia the entire afternoon!  (Funny story:  I work at a school and I knew the previous day already that icy roads were predicted for the next morning.  So when my husband said he needed to go to the home improvement store that evening, I tagged along and bought the can of gray paint in anticipation of my day off.  Usually that sort of thing would totally jinx the snow day, but this time it worked!  Woo hoo – one entire free day to get this project crossed off my list!  Along with catching up on laundry, of course ;-).)

Building House|Making Home Grey Shiplap Fireplace

Here is the finished product that very evening with a cozy fire and a NHL Hockey Game on the tv – just the way we like to spend cold evenings around here… We installed two pieces of mdf corner trim on each edge to finish it off–since the shiplap is very rustic it just looks a bit more finished with trim on the edges.  Next project will be to cover that ugly cold air return on the right side of the fireplace and style the bookcase on the left.  I have a really neat idea for that vent cover and of course it involves another “project” for my hubby ;-).  Love you, babe!  (Sorry for the grainy cell phone photos in this post–I wanted to update you all right away instead of waiting for a bright, sunny day at home when my “good camera” battery is charged.  Judging from the rainy weather we are having this week in addition to the fact that both of my “good camera” batteries are exhausted, that might have resulted in a two month hiatus from the blog.  Thanks for your understanding!)

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