Thanks to Facebook’s on this day feature, I was reminded that one year ago today, I began renovating my kitchen.

The before photo in the GIF above was taken just after Habitat for Humanity left after taking apart my kitchen and hauling it off to be sold. It marked the beginning of a series of headaches, smiles, satisfying wins, and some loses, all of which I documented on Leon’s blog, Hello Yellow, in partnership with Frigidaire Professional®.

I thought it would be fun to share updated photos of what my kitchen looks like today, and my thoughts on what I’d do differently, what I’ve fallen for even more, and my review of IKEA’s SEKTION kitchen system, various products, and my appliances.

Before + After

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

For anyone curious to learn more details about the entire four week journey, here are the links to the micro-series’ blog posts:

If that’s too much to read, here’s the Cole’s notes: I used IKEA’s GRIMSLOV cabinets, a Carerra White Quartz countertop, Frigidaire Professional® appliances, DVI lighting, white subway tile from Home Depot, and Beautitone’s Worn Cedar paint throughout. Most accessories and the dining table are from IKEA, chairs are from Structube, and rug from ECarpetGallery. All in, I spent $7,000 (here’s how) and churned it out in four week practically by myself, so I’m beyond proud and happy with the result.

Now, onto the fun stuff!

What I’d Change

In all honesty, there’s not much I’d change about my kitchen if I had to do it again. I adore the layout, love the cabinets, have tons of storage, and everything has held up beautifully. However, is this my dream kitchen? No. But this isn’t my dream house either. But considering the home’s history, age, and design, I think it’s important to respect a home when it comes to renovations. Don’t fight your house!

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

In my case, the kitchen is the first thing you see when you walk in to my home, so while I would have loved to go bold and perhaps use encaustic tiles on the floor, or install next-to-black cabinetry, or go nutty with a cool backsplash, it wouldn’t suit the function or feel of the house. I want my kitchen to be a backdrop rather than a focal point, and so going white on white was right for me in this space.

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

That said, there’s a few things I wish I did at the time: 1) Hang the light over my dining table lower (which I technically can still do if I realllllly want to). 2) Install all of my lights to be on dimmers. 3) Replace the kitchen window (something I can’t really do now without ruining the backsplash).

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

Lastly, in terms of things I wish I could have, if the room size was slightly different, or money was no object, etc. I would have loved to find a way to get a larger sink. Mine is a single sink in a 24″ base cabinet, and at times I wish it was double the size. But in order to fit a range, a dishwasher, and center the sink under the window, there was no other option.

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

Things I Love

In the past year, I’ve fallen hard for a few features that were almost last-minute choices. First, my floor to ceiling pantry! It holds an outlandish amount of stuff, and I use it to house nearly all of my food, cans, dry goods, you name it.

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)! #HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

Next would be my coffee nook. I almost installed an upper cabinet on that wall, and I’m so glad I didn’t. Not only would it have blocked off the visual space of the doorway leading to the stairwell, but I adore the variety and interest that the rods and mugs give. Plus, easy-access mugs are the best mugs.

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

Before + After

kitchen-process-smelko-14#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

Third, my floating shallow shelving unit behind the dining table. It holds all of my occasional glasses and items (stemware, cocktail glasses, cafe glasses, gravy boat, shot glasses etc.) If you have an awkward wall space diving two “rooms”, think about floating a unit like this in between them on the wall!

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)! #HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

Next would be the choice to forgo an island and use an extendable doing table instead. I can still prep food on it, but it isn’t a huge bulky thing in the middle of the space, and I can extend it to host up to 10 people for dinner. Aaaaaand a huge money saver!

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

Next, drawer inserts and double-hidden drawers! I got them just because, and I’m so glad I did! So much crap in one tiny space, all where I want it and easily accessible. Totally worth the extra hundred or so for a few cabinets.

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)! #HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

Lastly, the choice to install an open shelf underneath my upper cabinet on the right instead of using a longer cabinet was something I struggled with a lot, but in the end, I love the texture it adds to the otherwise boring toaster corner and it balances and echoes the steel used under the left cabinet (where the microwave is).

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

And Piper is happy, so really, that’s all that matters 😉

#HelloProKitchenReno: One Year Later (with Updates)!

As for a review of my cabinets and appliances, I give both a 9/10. No real complaints, but if I’m getting super picky, I find the grooves in the shaker cabinets collect dust, so they need a wipe once a week. Also, I would have hired a professional to handle finishing the install of the panels to finish the sides and tops. I made it work with my dad and we did a solid job, but they could have been cut and installed more seamlessly.

As for the Frigidaire Professional appliances, I love them! No glaring issues, but I do wish the freezer was larger in the french door fridge. It seems like the layout of the baskets and pull0outs could have improved it a tad, but overall, all four appliances work like a charm and stay true to being smudge-proof. I hardly notice any fingerprints unless I’m really looking hard!

Anyhow, that’s all for now folks! If you like what you see, you can shop my kitchen below: