Kitchen reno, part 2: the window and shelves.


I know I said I’d be going in reverse order, on this whole kitchen-reno-reveal thing (feel free to start at the beginning), but truthfully my order is completely nonsensical (hey, a chaotic reno deserves nothing less than chaotic documentation, right?). So the main reason we did this, the instigator of change, the little flicker of an idea that became my new kitchen — The Fung Schway Window. On night I went happily to bed with this over my sink — the point of no return, the sign of tentative progress:


The hole in the wall wasn’t quite as much of an inconvenience as the fact that the cabinets had to come down first. We lived for a few months without those cabinets — even got to that point where you stop seeing the state of mild chaos you’re living in. We’d have a new visitor to our house, and I’d see their gaze fall briefly, but repeatedly, on our unexplained wall-of-no-cabinets. And then I’d remember that most people don’t live this way, with partially-painted drywall instead of cabinets above their countertops.

But soon the window was in, and it was glorious. Not, mind you, the view — while washing dishes, I get to look at our neighbor’s window air-conditioning unit and rotting backyard swingset, used for presumably-grown children I’ve never seen. But no matter, because like an overexposed photo, I can make it all go away, blow it out in my mind, replace it with blinding light.


And it was the light. And openness. And the fact that I could now stand at my sink, and not feel like I was facing a cave wall, or washing in a basement. For some reason, this is important to me (one of my personal imagined levels of hell is washing an endless stack of dishes in a basement).

And then, of course, the shelves. We had to have a place for our dishes and such, since those cabinets came down. I’m a huge fan of open shelving, even though a few members of my extended family perpetually wonder how we will deal with the dust. My answer is usually we don’t. Dust is so underrated.


The design was based on a problem that will be covered in a subsequent post about the countertop. But my contractor-husband basically had to build out a section of shelves on the far end, and then we filled in the middle shelves using Ikea iron brackets. It worked out great — I use the larger shelves for jars and storage, and the middle section is reserved for dishes.



I am not a matchy-matchy person, and even relish the fact that my dishes continue to be a hodge-podge collection of everything from restaurant-ware (the best, sturdiest white dinner plates EVER) to thrift-store finds. Most of my serving dishes are visible on the upper shelves so I can always scan the top to see what I need. The under-shelf teacup hooks were a recent addition, and I have plans for adding an under-shelf wine rack to further maximize space.


So thrilled I was with how this turned out, we could have just stopped there. But we didn’t — and after splurging on the most expensive part of our reno, a new section of countertop, we just needed to add a few tiny details to make it almost, so-close-to, just shy of perfect (I would be so bored — yet likely much more sane — without fixating on things that need improving).

Next up in the reno series, Best Supporting Actors: the countertop, and our cheap & trendy backsplash.


You might enjoy following the rest of our reno adventure:
Part 1: Julia Child Pot Rack
Part 3: The Countertop & Backsplash
Part 4: Final Details & Cost Breakdown

13 thoughts on “Kitchen reno, part 2: the window and shelves.

    1. thanks, Bethany! I have luckily always been drawn to neutrals, so they kind of work together. The green was (of course) a recent thrift store find!

  1. ditto on the open shelving–love it. i recently found an apartment on craigslist with lots of open shelving and built-in cabinets. i kind of fell in love…and then found out it was an internet scam. : /

  2. you guys did a fantastic job!! am considering open shelving myself – some hate the dust everything collects but i think you use more of your dishes when you can see them!

    1. I agree — and no way to fill dark corners of cabinets w/ things you never use!
      (also, call me OCD, but even when I had the cabinets, if I pulled out a dish I hadn’t used in a while, I’d rinse it off anyway…)

  3. I agree. I have to have a window over the sink. That would be a serious deal breaker last year when we were looking at houses. I can see how you would feel insane with no window. Looking out the window is what makes you feel able to scrub out those pots. At least it does for me. I too look at a neighbor’s window, but that is much better than a wall. And I also agree that dust is overrated. I only dust when I have to. It just comes back the next day. And I would think if your most used dishes are there, they wouldn’t have time to collect too much dust. At least that is what YoungHouseLove claims in their open shelving. I love seeing how you redid your kitchen!

  4. I love my window over the kitchen sink. My husband doesn’t quite get how important it is as he has temporarily moved our freezer which sits on the porch, dead in front of the window! You reminded me I need to ask him nicely again to please move the freezer out of my window view. 🙂 The window TOTALLY opened up your kitchen. Very cool.

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