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  • Dana Tutela

Lake House Remodel Part 3: Kitchen

Updated: Dec 29, 2023


navy blue kitchen with white subway tile


Our lake house kitchen remodel was probably my favorite room to do. To me the kitchen is the heart of the house. We congregate there while preparing meals. Its warmth and home cooked meals draw friends and family closer. Part of planting my roots here was having a kitchen that was functional and inviting. Making this kitchen what it is today took creativity and elbow grease, a big mistake and a do over, and a whole lotta love!



Let’s start with the original kitchen when we purchased the house. The 13’ x 10’ kitchen had traditional oak cabinets and tile countertops. Even though it wasn’t the smallest kitchen we’ve ever owned, it certainly wasn’t the biggest either. The previous owners maximized their storage with wall to wall cabinetry, but it felt crowded and boxed in. We couldn’t change the footprint, but we could make it feel bigger. To do this we changed six things.


Remove Upper Cabinets

First, we removed the upper wall cabinets on the wall with the window facing the lake. Although we lost precious storage space, the kitchen felt wider and less cluttered.


kitchen demo countertop removal

Paint the Cabinets

Second, we painted the existing cabinets a dark blue color called Inkwell from Sherwin-Williams. It’s so dark, it’s almost black. I love how the color changes with the lighting. We have smart bulbs in the new recessed lights and I keep them on a warm setting to make the cabinets look darker. We also changed the hardware to a long modern brass pull on the doors and drawers to elongate the cabinets and keep them streamlined.


If you ever need to replace cabinet handles and change the hole spacing, I highly recommend this cabinet hardware jig to help! I used it on every cabinet and drawer to make the new handles fit.



White Subway Tile to Ceiling

Third, we tiled the wall with 3” x 12” matte white subway tile to the ceiling. The color matches the Alabaster (Sherwin-Williams) wall and ceiling paint and draws the eye upward. This allows the height of the vaulted ceiling to make the kitchen feel bigger as well. This is also when the big mistake happened.


light blue glass subway tile kitchen

My first tile choice was a 'white glass' subway tile. I thought it would look so beautiful and be different than the typical white subway tile being used lately. Unfortunately, it reflected the blue from the cabinets and appeared to be a baby blue tile. By itself it still looked nice.


However, when viewed in the open space of the kitchen and family room, it looked terrible. One side of the house was warm earth tones and the other was cool icy blue. Of course I couldn't see this mistake until ALL of the tile was up. My heart sank. I called my mother who is really good at design. She convinced me that there was only one solution: tear it down and start over. I thought Bob might kill me when he found out (so did Paul, the tile guy!), but he was such a good sport about it. He said, "Dana, now is the time to make it right. Do it." So we did it over, and it looked so much better. Phew!


navy blue kitchen with white subway tile

White Quartz Countertop

Fourth, using that same idea, we changed the beige tile counter to a simple white quartz countertop with a hint of sparkle that blended seamlessly to the wall. These three white elements create a visually cohesive white backdrop for the cabinets and make the kitchen feel open and fresh.



navy blue kitchen with white subway tile

Counter Depth Fridge

Fifth, we replaced the fridge with a counter depth one and cut back the side wall 6 inches so the door could swing open fully. We had a kitchen in Charleston where you couldn’t walk between the fridge and the peninsula if someone had the door open. I swore I would never have a kitchen like that again and yet here we were. That 6 inches made such a difference!


clear globe light fixture pendant

New Light Fixture

Finally, a simple light fixture change helped remove the visual obstacle of the original pendant over the peninsula. I found a new one with a clear glass globe and minimal decoration. We hung it just above eye height so it could do its job and provide illumination without crowding the kitchen.


Navy blue kitchen with white subway tile

I love how our kitchen turned out! It feels open and functions extremely well given its smaller size. I do wish we had the storage space from the cabinets that we removed, but my plan is to add open shelving to that wall and free up some of the cabinet space holding coffee cups and mixing bowls. Until then I have employed some serious organization hacks to keep items on hand and will detail those in another blog post!


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