What I've learned from 3 mos in my MIL's white kitchen

mklee01April 12, 2011

This is a small effort to give back to the GW community from whom I've learned so much. My husband and I are building our house from the ground up. During construction, we are living with my in-laws - with our 2 daughters aged 3 and 1. Yeah! ;) In December, we all moved together to their new house with their new, beautiful white kitchen. Here's a few pictures and what I've learned from 3 months living in their lovely new showcase.

Counters: white quartzite. These puppies are hard. However, they have been prone to water spots and oil spots. We've resealed them several times and had the oil/water spots removed (our fabricator was committed to getting it right). Now they are performing well, but my MIL insists that we BABY them. We don't put anything down on them without a cutting board or kitchen towel. Not exactly bullet proof, but gorgeous!

Cabinets: Omega Dynasty/Custom. They are beautiful. The finish has wiped clean and the pearl white color is lovely. The construction, hinges, and soft close drawers are really well made. There were some snags like a cracked frame and I've been a little surprised by some cracked paint where the pieces of the hood surround come together. However, I'm really picky and overall these are wonderful cabinets.

Sinks: Both stainless steel by Kohler. We love the single bowl 36 inch farmhouse sink. It does scratch and show water spots, though. The interior measurement is only 13 inches and find that too small.

Faucets: Kalista polished nickel. They always show fingerprints and water spots. The soap dispenser is reacting with the soap and looks tarnished. In contrast, the cheap-O polished chrome water filter has been great. Go figure.

Floors: Brushed limestone. At first, these floors were a nightmare. They showed a mark if food touched the floor for even a moment. We had them steam cleaned and re-sealed with an Italian sealer. Now they are much, much better. In fact, I managed to wipe up navy blue magic marker that my one-year old drew onto a 1 foot square section without a trace. (I nearly had a heart attack).

Pendants: Vaughn and Co. Really lovely, really great quality. Not cheap, though.

Tips I picked up from their construction process:

1) When spacing the sink faucet and soap dispenser, make sure that you consider how much space to you need for your hand in between the two. Also, consider the length of the "dispenser" on the soap dispenser. We should have positioned our a little closer to the lip of the sink, so to avoid dribbling soap onto the counter/sink wall.

2) Make sure that you (or your cabinet maker/KD) check the size of your range model. Our KD assumed that the 48" Wolf range would be slightly less than 48" when measure the cabinets. Turns out it was 48" exactly and the range did not fit in the cabinet run.

3) Seal the grout for the backsplash especially behind the range. Consider a four inch backsplash. I'm thinking about adding a 4 inch stone backsplash behind my range because it is a bit hard to keep that area clean.

4) If you work with a fabricator at the time that you select your slabs, the fabricator can test your samples to tell you a bit about the stone. Our fabricator tested the porosity of a white quartzite that I'm considering for me and sealed it so that I can test it myself.

5) If you are okay with a little patina and occasional etch mark, you can use marble with toddler. My MIL used extra marble from her bathroom to create a top for the kitchen table. My 3 year old eats at the table everyday with a place mat. The Calcutta marble is holding up really well. We do have a couple of etch marks from spilled OJ, but I think they are great.

For all of you researching kitchens out there, I hope this info helps. I also hope that these pictures show up. :)

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that's a lot of white. I hope your place gets done real soon!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 2:22AM
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Thanks for posting your findings. I'm doing marble in my kitchen with two young kids. Glad to know it's working for you.

That's a beautiful kitchen now, but finished off and completely accessorized it will be stunning! I have to ask about the backsplash tile. The sparkles have me transfixed!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 2:39AM
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Thats a beautiful kitchen! We are living with my parents for four months (2 down, 2 to go) while our new build is completed, so I saw this thread going somewhere completely different! My mothers kitchen is everything I designed hoping to avoid! Glad you are experiencing what sounds like an amazing kitchen~

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 6:57AM
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Wow. It's beautiful. It looks like Ina Garten's kitchen. This is the overall look I'm going for (a little less white though).

When you say you would recommend a 4 inch backsplash, do you mean instead of all the way up to the cabs? I'm curious about the backsplash material too, can you identify it? Also, what's behind the hood cabs? Are they false doors?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 7:10AM
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Thank you! That was very useful as I am planning on marble and a (well-sealed) tile backsplash. Your in-laws' kitchen is lovely; tell us about yours!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 8:13AM
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The advice and specifics to consider are wonderful.
Thanks for taking the time to talk about those details.
And of course I love WHITE so the kitchen is a dream.
Your MIL is a sweetie to let you in her kitchen.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 8:57AM
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Thanks for all your info.

Your MIL's kitchen is beautiful and that backsplash is divine. What is it?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 9:41AM
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That's a stunning kitchen! Thanks for sharing your observations!

I want to chime in on the calcutta marble. One of my friend's put sealed, honed calcutta gold in her entire kitchen and in two bathrooms. She put sealed, honed carrera marble in another bathroom. She said the calcutta has held up beautifully and she'd recommend it to anyone. She said that both marbles are beautiful. But the carrera is etching more than the calcutta. It doesn't bother her in the least but may bother someone else. This has just been her experience. I don't know about anyone else. I know a lot of GW'ers have both. I recall seeing a few side by sides that showed similar results. I want to do a test myself to see. But it does help put my mind at ease a bit about putting calcutta in our upcoming kitchen.

Thanks again for your observations!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 10:15AM
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Lovely kitchen. If it were mine and it was new I would want everyone to baby it too!! Which white quartzite is it and what is the lovely backsplash?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 10:20AM
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I thought white quartzite didn't have to be sealed. That's one reason it was so appealing...unlike granite and marble. May I ask, what quartzite your MIL chose...and what types you've been considering?

You have a very gracious MIL, to ask you to move in with her, during construction, with two small girls...into such a beautiful, all-white kitchen. She probably designed it, thinking she could finally have something so pretty, with all the kids out of the house! :)

Brianadarnell- How fortunate you are, to have such a good relationship with your MIL. Not having to rent a house or apartment...and having 'grandma' available, must be a big help.

I know some people, on the forum, who are struggling with remodels...who would love to have family nearby, especially to take the kids for a few hours and get a well-deserved break.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:12AM
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Absolutely lovely! I love the crisp clean look of the kitchen. If you are able to post more pictures, I would love to see closeups of the countertops, floor, and backsplash. Thank you so much for sharing the pictures and insights!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:17AM
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I'd hazard a guess that the quartzite is Luce di Luna, same as sochi's.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:22AM
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Gorgeous! I want to get the cupboard latches for our kitchen as well but DH is questioning them. Do they spring open? How do you open the door that doesn't have the knob on it? I'm wondering if they would work on our IKEA Adel doors? Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:30AM
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Gorgeous! Love all the white. Love all the use, too!

Slush--Gorton Brasses is still running a sale on latches. You should check that out.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 12:59PM
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Beautiful kitchen! Please pass along our appreciation of her kitchen to your MIL. :-)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:25PM
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How good of you to share this project, even if it isn't exactly yours. Your comments are appreciated and instructive, mklee.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 1:28PM
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An interesting detail I noted was the sloping (inward toward center of room) soffits over the cabs' crown molding.

By having the soffit slope in that way, it completely changes the feel, making it almost like the sides of a coffered ceiling. If a soffit was neccessary, and one had enough room height, this is an attractive solution.

Kuddos to both your MIL and you, both of you must have well-developed levels of poise and tact.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 2:27PM
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Hi everyone,

I'm at work now, but can provide somemore pix and details tonight. Here's a couple things that came to mind off hand.

1) I have the most incredible MIL in the world. She has been incredibly generous with her home and new kitchen. She is a special lady.

2) I have a close up picture of the backsplash and I think I can provide the tile manufacturer and model. I can post those details from home tonight.

3) The stone yard called the quartzite "white macabeas". I suspect that it is the same stone as Luce de Luna from threads I've read here and the pictures that I've seen. This particular quartzite most definitely needs to be sealed. It has "softer" areas where water will soak into the stone and leave a mark that later dries. The main sink area is fine and mark free, but the counter around the prep sink shows darker wet areas for an hour or two if water sits for a few minutes.

I'm considering white princess quartzite. According to our fabrictor, it is much less porous. He soaked pieces of both in water for me. My MIL's turned noticably darker. The white princess did not. However, I've learned that quartzite can have "soft" spots. As a result, my tests are only as good as the portion of stone I tested on.

4) I've always loved ice box latches. I was not planning on using them for my kitchen because I thought it would annoy me having to turn the knob to open a cabinet. Turns out, it does not bother me at all. My MIL used RH's latches. They have worked just fine. Plus, there is the added bonus that for now, the latches keep my 1 year old from opening every lower cabinet at will. Soon enough, she'll learn to turn the knob, though, I guess.

Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 3:15PM
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As promised, here are a few more pictures and details for the backsplash.

I just peaked at the boxes of left over tile. The backsplash is Alyse Edwards Tile and Stone, Gigi's Groovy Glass Stiix - Stairway to Heaven. I kid you not - that's the name.

I never would have thought of it. In fact, when I saw it before it was put on the wall I didn't think I liked it. It is plain white until grouted and I didn't think there would be enough contrast with all the white. But grouted, I love it because it takes on a greenish/blue tint. When I post pictures of my kitchen (sometime next year), you'll recognize the backsplash. My MIL over ordered by 20 sq feet and gave me the left overs. (I mentioned that she's great, right?)

Re my comment about the sinks in the original post. I meant to say that the prep sink's interior is only 13 inches. The 36 incher is huge.

Re the ice box latches they do not spring open. They hold the cabinets closed nicely, look pretty, and have not been difficult to keep clean even with little ones around.

As for my comment about putting a stone backsplash behind the range, this is the issue. The Wolf 48 inch range that is in the kitchen vents the steam from the ovens up the back directly to the location where the tile backsplash meets the back of the range. I've noticed that the grout is starting to yellow a little bit. Maybe from the oil and fat in the steam? I've seen pictures of a four inch stainless steel backsplash that is attached to the back of the range. I also saw a picture of a stone backsplash in a kitchen magazine that was lovely. So using my MIL's kitchen as an example, I would keep the tile backsplash behind the range except for a four inch space directly above the burners/vent. It's difficult to explain without a picture and there may be problems with this idea that I have not thought of yet. But it sure looked pretty in the magazine and seemed like it would help protect the area of the backsplash that is most likely to get splashed.

As for my kitchen.... it will actually be pretty similar to my MIL's. I like to think that we've collaborated. My kitchen plans and materials were selected before she started her design. Funnily enough, her layout is very, very similar to mine. And as I've shared, I've been influenced by her kitchen. The main difference is that I am planning Green Mountain Original PA soapstone for my perimeter counters and white princess quartzite for my island. I will have fewer glass cabinet fronts and more warm wood accents to warm up the space a touch.

A few of you asked for more information about the stone that I'm considering so I added a couple pictures of the slabs I've looked at (although the quartzite is MUCH prettier IRL). I think this should about cover all the questions. Cheers.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:03PM
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We have had our Princess White Quartzite for 5 months now. It's sealed w/ 511 and I haven't see one water or oil spot.

We're not all that careful about wiping up water either. I was soo careful the first month or so until I trusted the stone, but now we treat is as poorly as we treated our formica.

We're careful w/ the Marble backsplash behind the stove. I tend to wipe up spots there as soon as I turn the burners off (ok, sometimes before) but the quartzite is a dream. Good luck!

Your MIL's kitchen is fabulous! I'm sure you will love yours!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 12:00PM
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Momsq - Thanks so much for your feedback. I really love the princess white because it's sooo pretty. I'm thrilled to hear that you have not had problems with water spots.

It's definitely a bit of a pain to try and protect your counters from water. OTOH, over the last 3 months, it's begun to feel normal. One small price to pay for using such a lovely kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:21PM
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About the range and the backsplash--if you use the hood when the oven is on for a long period of time (or when roasting), the backsplash will not discolor.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 2:28PM
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Histokitch - thanks for the tip. I will try that. We haven't been using the hood during baking/roasting. Maybe that will make the difference. As of now, the change in color is barely detectable and I can probably get it clean with a good scrubbing. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 3:57PM
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Could I bother you for the width of your MIL's hood over the 48" Wolf range? I am planning the same range and a similar hood. I think the proportion is very nice. Thank you!!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 8:07PM
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