Kitchen Tour

We relied heavily on the Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander for our kitchen design.

I love what he writes about kitchens:

This pattern defines an ancient kind of kitchen where the cooking and the eating and the living are all in a single space… Make [the kitchen] large enough to hold a good big table and chairs, some soft and some hard, with counters and stove and sink around the edge of the room; and make it a bright and comfortable room… Give the kitchen light on two sides.

Cooking is uncomfortable if the kitchen counter is too short and also if it is too long… There is no need for the counter to be entirely “built-in” as it is in many modern kitchens – it can even consist of free-standing tables or counter tops.


Dark gloomy kitchens are depressing. The kitchen needs the sun more than other rooms, not less… Place the main part of the kitchen counter on the south and southeast side so that sun can flood in and fill the kitchen with yellow light both morning and afternoon.


Cupboards that are too deep waste valuable space, and it always seems that what you want is behind something else… Cover the walls with narrow shelves of varying depth but always shallow enough that things can be placed on them one deep – nothing hiding behind anything else…


Without communal eating, no human group can hold together…Make the common meal a regular event. The lunch can become an event; a gathering; something that each of us put our love and energy into on our day to cook.


The kitchen island and lower cabinetry are all rift and quarter sawn white oak. We designed the kitchen with Ryan Unger of Rhine Artisans. A good friend and an amazing wood worker. It was really fun designing the kitchen with him. It was his suggestion to do the interesting Japanese dovetail joinery on the kitchen island.

The pantry cupboards are a sprayed white maple. We had debated about natural wood here as well, but I like the transition of the white pantry cabinetry as it meets the white pine ceiling. Sometimes, rarely, there is such a thing as too much wood.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to find bar or counter stools. It seems mandatory that they be either super ugly or crazy expensive. Darcie found these 3 for $40 on Kijiji and painted the upper legs and seats black.


Above the fridge is an open cabinet to display items, cookbooks, and old witch hazel bottles.


I’m not a fan of cabinetry hardware (same a counter stools – ugly vs. so pricy). All of the lower cabinetry (primarily drawers, which are the best) have beveled edges on the top and bottom to easily open and close the drawers and doors.

Also the corner cabinet is drawers. Yes it is. You lose a little bit of space, but man oh man, so much more functional.

All of the appliances, with the exception of the dishwasher, are from Fisher-Paykel. The clean, simple and sleek lines complimented the simplicity of the kitchen design very nicely. They are mid-range price point, about on par with KitchenAid, and have good consumer ratings. We’ve been really pleased with them so far. The dishwasher is Miele, which was actually ccheaper than the Fisher-Paykel dishwasher (that are notoriously prone to break down).


We had a big old 100 year old farmhouse sink in our old house and loved it dearly. It was so big you could practically have a bath in it. If I could have taken one thing with me from that old house it would have been that sink. No matter though we found a close second in this 33″ wide fireclay sink from Alfi. I like the double sink too – much less wasted water. The faucet was a splurge for us: Bronze-finished Brizo Solna.

We have a LOT of counter space. The last few places we lived had absolute minimal counter space making cooking a frustrating experience. The Pattern Language recommends somewhere around 14 feet of counter space! To be safe, we did 16 feet.

The outer counter is a poured white concrete. It has a creamy, organic finish to it and compliments the white oak quite nicely.


The entire east wall and north corner (where the open shelving is) are tiled. We like to frequent (fancy hipster) coffee shops, the counter to ceiling subway tile, was certainly inspired by these places.


Who doesn’t love a corner window seat?

And, yes, that’s a bear skull on the counter… it’s vintage from the 70s though so it’s not that cruel… and it probably died of diabetes or something.

15 thoughts on “Kitchen Tour

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your kitchen! It has almost the same layout as our home that is under construction and we’ll also have concrete floors as well and I was a hard time visualizing a bright kitchen with concrete. It’s just amazing and I can’t wait to show my husband!


    1. Great! Yes we love it. We get a lot of compliments about the concrete floors. Most people don’t realize how attractive simple power troweled floors can be


  2. Love it. We’re designing a house as well and your blog/process has been so helpful, thanks for taking the time to write all of this up. I wanted to ask how are you liking the induction cooktop on the island/separate from the top of the range……still mulling this one over! Great stuff.


    1. Hey Matt- thanks for to comment. I’m very happy with the cooktop on the island. I do the cooking so when I’m visiting with friends or just family, I can face them and still tend to the food. Rather than staring at a wall. We also have a lot of south facing windows so when you stand at the kitchen island over the cooktop, well, you get a pretty awesome view.


  3. Thanks for taking the time to write about/document all this. We’re designing a house in SW Colorado and really like your open kitchen floor plan. How are you liking the induction cooktop on the island vs. having it on top of the range? Thanks again!


    1. Check out my other reply regarding the cooktop on the island. I don’t miss the cooktop on the range- it’s really not necessary. It’s far more practical to be able to cook at the cooktop and enjoy the view and visit with everyone. And it’s also a lot nicer to have the range off the ground at waist height. Makes taking heavy things in and out a lot nicer. Also while I’m sitting at the island stools I can simply look into the oven and watch my bread rise. No need to bend over! My back is still recovering from the building of the house!


  4. I have really enjoyed reading your blog. We are building a similar style house in Royston, BC. Our house will be a simple pitched roof 2 1/2 storey with concrete floors and big windows. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and research!
    We have been debating the cooktop vs the sink on the kitchen island. What did you do for a range hood or kitchen exhaust? I am not a fan of placing one above the island. Most models seem so clunky. Thanks again.


    1. Hi Robyn – you’re welcome. If you’re building a super insulated and airtight house you should NOT install a range hood/kitchen exhaust. These can depressurize your house and pop your vapor barrier. Which is really bad!
      Instead all you need is your HRV or ERV with an exhaust and charcoal filter somewhere in the kitchen. We’ve had no issues with humidity or smells.
      As for sink vs cooktop on the island – my preference is the cooktop – that way you can still interact with guests while cooking instead of having your back to everyone. Also with a sink on the island it will almost always be a mess with dishes and, for me anyway, I’d be constantly trying to keep it neat which isn’t easy if you cook a lot. I like the sink off to the side in front of the window


  5. Hi Kent, I’ve been a reader for years and your blog has been a huge source of inspiration for our own reno. Can I ask where your flush mount, exposed bulb light fixtures are from? It looks like you’ve used them throughout your house; are you pleased with them? I feel this is a much nicer solution than oppressive pot lights.


    1. Hi Tania, thanks for your comment. I really like those light fixtures too. They’re from school house electric online. They’re far more interesting then boring old pot lights or tracking lighting. We used them in the main living room and hallways upstairs. In the basement we used $5 ceramic bases. They were just going to be temporary but we actually like them too.


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