Before and After- Condo Kitchen Details

Wow, can you believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow?  I don’t know where November- or this Fall for that matter- has gone.  Something weird is going on with me this year.  I’m feeling the urge to decorate for the holidays.  I am never into seasonal decor.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m always so crazed and behind on the personal front.  Or maybe because so much seasonal stuff is cheesy.  But it can be lovely and festive too.   So I’m just putting it out there that I may add some greenery and cheer to mantel and maybe string up some lights outside.  I need a little holiday joy in my life.  The best place to start is at home, right?

On a completely unrelated note, I thought I’d share some details about my condo kitchen.  The steel countertop in particular seemed to be one of the most popular elements of the condo remodel.  (See the full condo/ one room challenge reveal here.)  George made the raw steel countertop for me and even I was surprised at how much it transformed the kitchen.

The kitchen renovation was purely aesthetic.  After reviewing the layout and my budget, I decided the cabinets would stay.  So things like function, storage and flow were not improved.  Honestly though, for a city kitchen, this functions pretty well.  I just wish there was a pantry in place of the washer dryer.  Yep, there’s a washer dryer in here.  I digress.

kitchen before wide

So as I mentioned above, I was just looking to update the space.  My makeover list included the following

  • Stainless appliances.  This meant new refrigerator and microwave hood.  (The range was upgraded after the above picture was taken.)
  • New countertop.  (Perimeter.)  Upgrade from laminate to granite.  Black absolute to be specific.
  • New Sink (stainless undermount) and new faucet
  • New tile backsplash.  White subway with gray grout.
  • Perimeter Cabinets painted gray with new (nearly) full-overlay doors and drawers.
  • Island cabinets painted gray.  All cabinets to be Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray
  • New island countertop- Hot rolled steel.
  • New cabinet hardware.  Brass
  • New kitchen light. Brass
  • New floors.  Wood to match the rest of the apartment.
  • New counter stools.
  • New shelf over island
  • New art
  • New rug

Condo Kitchen Makeover- Coventry Gray cabinet Hot rolled steel countertop

My list sounds pretty linear and straightforward, but if you followed around with the challenge then you know that I decided somethings early on, made adjustments as we went, and threw in curveballs at the end.  Per usual, my project was done on the fly with not enough budgeting, pre-planning, and a few mistakes.  This is the complete opposite of how I strive to do it with clients.  It’s so funny to me that I can’t get it right with myself.  Here are a few examples of how lack of planning hurt me- the general theme is being penny wise and pound foolish.

  • Late decision to paint the island.  I initially wanted to keep costs really low so I  didn’t plan to make changes to the island.  Once everything else was painted, I realized I really wanted the island cabinets gray as well.  Since it was last minute, I painted them myself.  I really wish I would have had them painted professionally at the the same time as the perimeter cabinet doors.  The factory finish is SO much nicer than hand painting.  I know this will continue to bug me.
  • Cheaping out on polished granite.  I found the cheapest remnant of black absolute out there and rushed to have it installed.  Had I spent another $150 I could have I could have had it honed.  I really prefer the softer look of honed black granite.  Plus the polished stone shows everything.  I’m still happy with it, but if I could do it again, I would have it honed.
  • Hardware switcheroo.  I ordered my cabinet pulls way early on before I had finalized the apartment scheme. After I stepped back and realized the rest of my apartment elements were leaning more simpler and contemporary, I wasn’t very happy with my over-embellished pulls.  I ended up switching them out for something cleaner that I really love.  Had I waited to order, I could have save my self a set of pulls.cabinet doors and hardwareThe Old Pulls were popular with a ton of you readers.  I have 17 of them sitting in a box.  Anyone want them for half-off retail?

brass modern cabinet hardware gray cabinets black countertop white subway tile- Design Manifest

The new pulls.  They are really nice in person.

  • Lack of thought with the shelf.  My shelf over the island is white with brass brackets.  This is the exact same style as my shelves at my cottage.  I did it because it was easy.  Looking at it now I wish it was less matchy with the brass.  I think a woody shelf with iron bracket could be nice here to mix it up.  It’s not the end of the world, but I would have thought about it and make it for perfect if it were for someone else.

Kitchen Island with steel top

All in all I’m really happy with the kitchen!!  I just like to keep it real and I do feel that by rushing a being cheap I made a few mistakes.

And then there were the hits.  Like the awesome countertop.  I have to admit that when George first presented his idea to me, I didn’t buy it.  I was worried it wasn’t practical, or it would be “too industrial.”  As it turns out, I like that the top patinas with use and it has a great warmth and depth to it.  It’s not granite, it’s not indestructible and it’s not trying to be.

As for the sleave, it was pretty genius to fit right on top of the old granite top.  George is an industrial designer and he is pretty good at coming up with solutions that I would never think of.  The top was pretty easy to make (for him, he’s a welder!)  I also love that the original granite is protected.

Here’s a little slideshow of putting the top together.

natural steel countertop

Other popular elements-

  •  The counterstools.  They are from Wayfair and I had the metal bases powdercoated gold.  We used “spun gold” for the powder coat colors.
  • The Rug.  I found this vintage overdyed Anatolian rug on Ebay from this seller.

kitchen rug

  • The art and accessories.  The chalk print is from here and heart mugs are from here.

kitchen art detail

FULL SOURCES- Cabinet color: Coventry Gray, Cabinet Hardware:  Atlas Hardware,  Countertop: Absolute Black Granite, Subway TileRefrigeratorFaucet, Steel countertop by George Coldren, Ceiling Light by CrystoramaCounter Stools

Happy Thanksgiving!  I’m so grateful to my readers and especially my wonderful clients.  You have all been so supportive while I’ve been temporarily distracted by the condo.  While I may blog about it a few more times, I assure you that behind the scenes we have moved on at DM.  We have so many awesome projects going one right now!  I think 2016 is going to be a big one for DM.

  1. Naomi, you always exceed my expectations on your design skills. And this condo is no exception. I love how you keep it real, and are bluntly honest, it has always kept me coming back for more. Please don’t ever stop documenting your designs and sharing your insight with all of us. You are one of my favorite bloggers to read. Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  2. Leslie

    Beautiful kitchen – where were the cabinet doors and drawer fronts from? Very interested in doing the same – thanks

    • Naomi

      Thanks, Leslie. I had my custom cabinetmaker, Christiana Cabinetry make them. I wanted specific sizes, so going stock wasn’t an option. There are a lot of cabinet door makers out there.

  3. Kate

    The island countertop cover really is awesome! The whole place looks great. You do such a good job of balancing saturated colors with neutrals and mixing modern and traditional styles. Your ORC projects are always my favorite!

  4. margaret

    This is a remarkable transformation. Love seeing the kitchen light fixture, it is a beauty! And, the rolled steel counter is fabulous! How does the cost of the steel counter compare to the granite? I hope you will do a follow up post in a year or so and let us know how it looks. Congratulations on a job well done!

    • Naomi

      It’s a little hard to say.
      1- I just paid for material.
      2- Ours is a sleeve and fits over the granite- the way it is now it could not function on its own

      that being said- reach out to George Coldren if you are interested. He could give you a quote. [email protected]

  5. Brianne Anderson

    I love the style of the cabinet doors you chose – is that something that can easily be changed out? I’m not in love with the style of doors in my kitchen and would love to replace the doors and drawer fronts with something more modern without completely gutting the room.

  6. Jen

    Hi Naomi,

    I’m a longtime reader, but I rarely (okay never) comment. I just wanted to take a moment to tell you what beautiful and inspiring work you do. Your designs are always gorgeous and often gasp-inducing, yet always retain an inviting and intimate feel. Like the very best of homes. Hats off to you, Lady, you’re clearly doing what you’re meant to do (and rocking it).

    Happy Holidays,


    • Naomi

      Oh my gosh, Jen. Thank you so much!! The comment really means a lot. Thanks for taking the time. Happy holidays to you too 🙂

  7. Kate


    Love how the kitchen turned out, and if you ever want to put it on the market, call me! Now for a question- I have the same issue with absolute black granite countertops as you. Wanted honed, got polished. Is there any way to hone already installed countertops? Happy Thanksgiving, and looking forward to your 2016 projects!

    • Naomi

      Thanks, Kate! I have to think it would be very messy to hone in place. And there could be potential damage to backsplash tile etc. I’ve never asked my counter guys. I’ll add it to my list to look into.

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