1. Susan
    April 3, 2013 @ 10:59 am

    OK, the kitchen is gorgeous. That counter, that – carrera marble? – is spectacular. But if this helps at all, I really despise that faucet. I truly do. It is anachronistic and a smack in the face to the soaring, glorious finish carpentry on the cabinets. So there. The kitchen isn’t ‘all that’.


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 3, 2013 @ 11:25 am

      Laughing… you’re RIGHT! I never even noticed the faucet. Although, I think I could live with it. Plus, now that I’m looking at it… that’s a weirdly small sink. Although, it’s hard to tell from their layout if they have another, larger one somewhere… but doesn’t really look like it.


    • sarah k
      July 17, 2013 @ 10:09 pm

      I’m not a huge fan of the faucet, either–but I think the anachronism (or fusion of styles, if you will) is intentional. The art, island, barstools, etc all look more modern. Personally, I can’t see putting a stark modern vibe in an ornate old home…but it seems like a lot of people like it.

      The dream kitchens here look gorgeous…Our 1927 house features a long, narrow galley kitchen with flourescent lights, linoleum floors, blah counters and metal lower cabinets that I’m guessing were installed sometime in the 50s. Mercifully, they were painted white by the previous owners. I have small dreams for redecorating and bigger dreams for knocking out the big wall and making a big, bright space for cooking and eating and hanging out…but alas, those will probably remain dreams for quite a while…


      • Missie
        July 23, 2015 @ 12:15 pm

        Where is the refrigerator? Am I not seeing it? Also, those stools? My husband tried to get me to buy ones almost exactly like them for our kitchen…from Fred Meyer (a Northwest chain of grocery/home/clothes store owned by Kroger). They were only $29 each, but I have a feeling old Pilar paid a wee bit more for hers.


  2. Sara B
    April 3, 2013 @ 11:23 am

    It is gorgeous, but it doesn’t seem quite right for cooking. When I’m cooking away, I like things to be within a few steps of each other in a sort of square or U-shape. Here everything is jammed along one wall, and is that the stove that’s tucked away into the corner? I love the little alcove it’s in, but it feels very much like a room that was not meant to be a kitchen. So maybe you can combine the best of this kitchen with the best of yours somehow?


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 3, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

      You are definitely right that the layout isn’t ideal at all… but I am so blinded by my love of the cabinets, nothing else matters.

      I love how unusual it is… but who knows what it’s like to cook in? Could be the kitchen equivalent of fancy party shoes—pretty, but uncomfortable!


    • Emy
      May 19, 2014 @ 7:58 pm

      Looks like the cooktop is actually located in the island on the far left. My question would rather be, where is the range hood? My guess would be that it is a downdraft hood located behind the cooktop, the fancy retractable sort. I have to say, it is an absolutely truly gorgeous kitchen!!


  3. Marie
    April 3, 2013 @ 11:45 am


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 3, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

      Oooooo… pinning!! Now THAT’S an island!


    • Heidi S.
      April 4, 2013 @ 8:41 am

      That is an amazing island! I think you need to pick one thing to be the fabulous trimmed out focal point and then let everything else be a little bit more background. So I would say either let the island, range hood or glass front cabinet section sparkle and then go a little bit more standard (but still nicely detailed) with everything else. There use to be a salvage place up in Northern Liberties that had lots of bars imported from Europe that could be cool if you modified them for a kitchen.


      • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
        April 4, 2013 @ 11:04 am

        I know exactly where you’re talking about… three floors of giant stuff I cannot afford. Last time I was there, I nearly fell through the floor… their roof leaks and is rotting the floorboards up on the top floor.

        That is awesome advice about just one thing being the focus. I will repeat it like I thought of it myself… I tend to be more-is-more… until redirected.


  4. Sue
    April 3, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

    I am not as enchanted with Pilar’s kitchen for you, but I get the whole concept, and you will probably do it better. That kitchen does not seem warm or family-friendly enough. I love the off-white kitchen you show towards the end, it is glorious. I enjoy your blog and am a fan.


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 3, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

      I’ve been sucked into the void of your Pinterest boards… that blue kitchen? Crazy in love!! I’ll comment over there so you know which one I’m talking about.

      As far as Pilar’s… it’s the cabinet I covet. That cabinet is EVERTHING I love in a thing. Giant, fancy… wouldn’t even fit in my house… I don’t even need the rest of the kitchen. I would gladly trade all the working parts for just the cabinet.

      I’m practical like that.


  5. Alex
    April 3, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

    3 words – Glass. Door. Fridge. It had me at hello. Dreamy kitchen. I’ll have then and a slice of a personal chef when I win the lottery one day. Which for the record makes me laugh my ass off whenever I see it in The Following on Monday nights b/c I think really? A group of cult members can afford a Sub Zero glass door fridge and yet I can’t? How is this possible? Hmmm….


    • Lynne
      April 3, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

      Don’t do it Alex. LOL> I am trying to not make you feel bad about not having a Sub Zero.

      1. You will need a second mortgage to pay for one. That is dumb. That money is much better spent on a beach hut with a pool boy delivering drinks with umbrellas.

      2. I love how everyone is picking on the kitchen. LOL ! It is beautiful, but not practical all at once. See that island ?! It doesn’t have an overhang. That means that when you eat your cereal.. it will be on your lap. Not comfy to not have an overhang with cozy chairs (with a back on them).

      3. You can get cozy chairs at Ikea for $89 for your kitchen island. Bliss. Awesome Ikea sinks too !! I need to get my blog post done about this. haha! And… you will be able to eat a real dinner instead of cereal if you are not broke from the sub zero.

      4. I think if we all just get together and goof off, we can say all this in 5 seconds so I don’t get typing cramp up. hahaaaa.

      Kisses gals !!


      • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
        April 4, 2013 @ 11:22 am

        Scratching kitchen plans in favor of installing pool… any leftover money will be put towards Channing Tatum lookalike. Who needs an oven, anyway?

        I did think it was weird the island had no overhang… but was also encouraged that other people are willing to dispense with practicality.


  6. Darling Lily
    April 3, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

    I am gonna take the opposite tack here….

    I adore that cabinet with every fiber of my being, and I totally get that The Precious is what you really love about both the kitchens.

    And I also think Paul can bring you The Precious. I mean, my God it’s just some insanely beautiful crown molding and some pilasters, really. And of course I have no idea where you’re gonna get the big glass doors but I know you can find some fabulous man to make them. You just show him the picture and it’s so gorgeous he’ll want to do it.

    Yiu just need to get the proportions right is all, and the finish.

    I’m going through a similar thing myself, trying to recreate a 20 foot Brunswick Bar in a 9 ft space! I want that big-azz arched backbar look, ya know?

    The key is proportions. And Paul can do it, I have every faith in him.

    Just get the proportions right.


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 4, 2013 @ 11:46 am

      Who are you? Are you my twin? I’m so disappointed your name doesn’t link to a blog where I can go see what you’re building…

      Who cares if it’s PRACTICAL. That is not the point. The point is it’s fantastic, and that is all the reason anyone needs… as far as proportions, you’re absolutely right… I may need a bigger house.


      • Jill
        June 28, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

        You should check out Sandra at http://sawdustgirl.com/ She can draw up PERFECT plans for your PERFECT kitchen and then walk you (okay, really, Paul) through the building process. Sounds like your hubby is already skilled at the building part and you two just need some assistance designing what you want for the space that you have. I love the cabinet in Pilar’s kitchen but hate the island. First thing I noticed was no overhang, small sink (surely there is another sink somewhere in that cavern of a room!) and uncomfortable stools.

        I’m new to your blog. Was directed to a link about your gorgeous KINGDOM mirror. Love reading through your posts. Keep up the great work…at home and on the blog. :)


        • Jill
          June 28, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

          And to clarify…I have not used sawdust girl’s service. I just enjoy keeping up with her through her blog. :)


  7. Mandy
    April 3, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

    I really really LOVE the white kitchen. The wood and glass is lovely too, but the white kitchen is so fresh and clean looking….like a kitchen should be. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. :)


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 4, 2013 @ 11:47 am

      This is definitely one of my kitchen challenges—I LOVE dark wood… but I also love the trend for all-white kitchens!!


  8. Garden, Home and Party
    April 3, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

    While I love the idea of a free standing breakfront that doubles as a kitchen wall, I don’t think it seems very useful. I like the white version better. Have you ever seen the kitchen that is deconstructed by Jane Moore or Pam Pierce (can’t remember which one) in Cote de Texas? The kitchen was also in Veranda. I can look it up and send you the pics if you wish. It feels like the look you’re after without being overly specific and custom (to the point Paul couldn’t/wouldn’t want to build it). I think you’re on the right track, you just need to find something that can be adapted by cabinets you can actually find in a store…or craigslist. :-)


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 4, 2013 @ 11:52 am

      I’m not familiar with the kitchen you’re thinking of—please, yes send it to me!! Paul would be forever grateful if we just bought something that already exists!!

      I did google some combinations of those names, which turned up a bunch of stuff, but no kitchen in particular.


  9. Jim
    April 4, 2013 @ 3:55 am

    Hers looks a small place, a triumph of design over use. Don’t fall for the photographic hype, listen to your husband and his terror of what you want, he sounds scared. I’ve been there – the “you can do it” followed by that hollow “oh, I didn’t think it would look like that” quiet spoken moment. When my wife realised that yes, I am not a carpenter, cabinet maker, builder, stonemason, (just add any trade)
    keep the faith, ideas arrive sooner or later. :-)



  10. Tiffany
    April 4, 2013 @ 11:43 am

    Did anyone else feel bad for Henry (I watched the tour)? What happens when he exceeds 4 feet? :) Kitchens are tough, especially in old homes (unless you have loads of money) but for the rest of us…they’re a challenge to say the least. I’ve only lived in my old house kitchen for a year now (it was slightly remodeled by the previous owners in the 90’s…ouch) but I still can’t figure out what I want to do…I wish I knew, because I’d like to know how much I am going to need to save. Our home is a farmhouse, so I plan to keep it very simple…loved hearing all your ideas! Your husband makes me laugh…he sounds like me whenever I’m on Pinterest…grumble grumble.


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 4, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

      I actually laughed out loud when I read that… indeed, poor Henry.

      I really, really, really hate indecision… or decisions. And when I don’t have a very clear idea of what I want, I just get overwhelmed. Making something crazy from scratch is just the antidote to having no idea how to layout or deal with an actual kitchen plan…


      • Tiffany
        April 4, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

        Trust me I know the feeling…I haven’t figured out what I want to do with a single one of our rooms yet (not fully anyways) and it makes me so anxious…there hasn’t been time for decorating or anything visual really, just fixing everything that is broken first (none fun stuff). It will come to you, even if it is just in bits and pieces…just start collecting those bits like John Nash himself & before you know it…you’re crazy…okay you have a kitchen. :)

        P.s. found you on twitter & followed.


        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          April 5, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

          I kind of wish we had started in the kitchen… back when we had all kinds of energy (and some money)… now it’s just hanging over my head, and short of something really extraordinary, I’m having a hard time getting excited…

          Hoping that will change once we have some kind of plan!


  11. Danielle
    April 4, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

    This is pretty much the same conversation that Tyson and I have as we start EVERY project. I have all these grand plans and he gets all pragmatic. I don’t understand… I truly think he can make happen whatever I dream up. And then just to keep our marriage interesting, sometimes he gets all giddy with creative ideas and I like to be the voice of reason. It’s always a wild ride around here!

    Pilar’s kitchen is stunning, but I’ve seen your bathroom. Whatever you and Paul come up with and will drive her to email you back and ask YOU to be featured in Martha’s magazine. And then you can be like, “Hmmm… I don’t know….”


    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 5, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

      YES! We are the same way… usually it’s my wild ideas, but once in a while Paul surprises me. And I’m like—are you kidding? Who are you?

      Of course, we never BOTH have the same crazy idea… probably a good thing.


  12. NM
    July 19, 2013 @ 10:17 pm

    http://www.houzz.com … 349,040 photographs of kitchens. 99 percent of which, if you are like me, you will not like. BUT — you will have reviewed 349,040 photographs of kitchens, at least SOME of which will incorporate things you realize you like. And then you can look on Craigslist for similar pieces.


  13. Steve@AnUrbanCottage
    July 30, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    I’m more than fashionably late but it seems everyone ends up hanging out in the kitchen so maybe the party is still cooking.

    I’m on your team. These two kitchens are awesome. I don’t want a kitchen that comes from a store. Especially in an old house, I’d like to see something that feels like it’s always been there, part of the bones. I think these people were lucky to have places that came with excellent bones but if they’re not there, you’ve got try to recreate it. Nothing so fantastic comes easily.


  14. Ralph Johnson
    August 17, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

    Just discovered your blog, and although I’m not sure where you are in the kitchen process, I would advise paying a few dollars for a consultation with a kitchen professional, or perhaps an architect. By offering to pay whatever the hourly rate is, they will not feel “used” for the priceless fundamental ideas that will immediately smack them in face when they walk in the room. I guarantee that if it’s $500.00 or $1000.00 for an afternoon’s worth of advice and perhaps some rough conceptual drawings, it will be well worth it. Ask your friends for recommendations or perhaps someone local whose house you have seen. It will greatly speed the process.
    I’m a professional remodeler who lives in a giant house built in 1866. I’ve done everything you’ve done in spades. (BTW I’m not looking for work. Not the reason for commenting. Just trying to give advice). You have beautiful taste and are doing everything right. Therefore, my recommendation is for the following:
    Remove the krazy korner steps and square off the building. It’s not as hard as you may think. That’s why machines were invented. A good mason could remove the steps and patio in 1/2 a day with a small tractor. Use your talents elsewhere.
    Figure out a way to make the ceiling in one plane. Yeah it would be a pain in the neck, and probably somewhat costly, but a framing contractor could figure it out and give you some idea of cost, or perhaps a professional remodeler in your locale. It’s not a big structure
    I will stress (no pun intended) to you that these are quality of life issues. It will cost more money than you’re perhaps prepared to invest (INVEST). But the timeline on a project involving a kitchen is loooooong. It’s not worth being looooooong and miserable too. Email me anytime for advice (free). Good luck


  15. Lori
    August 20, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

    Tell the husband to repeat after me, “it will all be alright.”

    Not a fan of Pilar’s kitchen except, I love her lighted cabinets that look like furniture (maybe it is a piece of furniture converted), and the glass interior shelving with glass front doors.

    I found this the other day, and while I am not a fan of the brown in it, I love the size of the island; the cabinets are lovely, the blue is wonderful, and the openness to the eating area with the windows is divine.


  16. Jilletta
    September 12, 2013 @ 8:23 pm


    It was so nice to find your blog! So far most of the other “I’m fixing my victorian” blogs look like a rich contractor moved in to them with endless time and I feel so….left behind. Yours still has me in the dust, but this at least I can see where you are struggling and I can look at some of these things and say “UGH! ME TOO!!” I do hope that you can find your Pilar Guzman kitchen, or at least something that suits you and Paul. As for James and I – right now we’re still trying to just fix things that need fixing before we can get to the aesthetic portions!!


  17. Belinda
    January 22, 2014 @ 9:10 am

    Your blog on the process of creating a new home made me laugh so much as it’s just like looking in a mirror…a kingdom mirror at that. Some days when I spew forth a whirlwind of brilliant ideas that will totally be amazing and awesome and will change our LIFE I am halted by the sudden realisation that the beseeching look in my hubby’s eyes is dangerously close to true despair. I think your hubby and my hubby should be friends (more so your hubby’s attitude of “can’t fight it, might as well just deal with it” rubs off on mine, rather than any comfort they would receive by being in the same boat) :)


  18. VIB
    March 3, 2014 @ 9:48 pm

    Hi Victoria — your kitchen/addition/patio dilemma sounds so familiar! One project always begets another, and if you start thinking about that one, then well you have to address the fundamentals elsewhere, etc, etc. What started out as a kitchen / half bath remodel for us delved into replacing structural beams on first and second floor, as well as, taking out our second (and only remaining!) bathroom – we brushed our teeth out the window for 2+ months…

    Also, I dreamt of Pillar Guzman’s kitchen as well as the one featured in Ingrid Abramovitch’s Restoring a House in the City (http://ingridabramovitch.com/gallery/). But, then there was budget. It helped that we have several friends who happen to be architects, living in similar victorian houses, and all of them used Ikea for the cabinets. In their professional opinion, if you can’t get custom, you can’t get better value and versatility than Ikea. So I resigned myself to that. At first I thought of getting a “similar look” to the fancy custom built cabinets with Ikea, which after a first consideration seemed obviously not right. It would just look like generic kitchen cabinets, at best. So at the last minute — we changed our mind to go with Applad, plain face doors. (the package says btw that they are made in Italy). Very very happy with that decision now. Also, we used a vent hood insert, inside a cabinet. You can see here: http://www.victorianinbloom.com/2013/before-and-after-kitchen/

    Speaking of architects…we designed our kitchen ourselves, several different plans. But it was amazing to have an architect look at our plans, make a few suggestions and tweaks, and translate them into blueprints. You might consider hiring someone to do that — maybe a graduate architecture student even? we are right now taking a break from renovations, but when we are ready to start on potential top addition/ basement dig / master bathroom build out / patio and garden plan (which needs a new drainage plan, which would affect the basement, blah blah blah) the first call I will make will be to an architect.

    Good luck with all the decisions, that might be the toughest and the most frustrating part. Jenia


  19. Alpa
    November 10, 2014 @ 12:08 am

    i just found your website (via the bloggess), and haven’t left it in 4 hours! love your writing style, and reading abut your home reno travails.

    and now to pilar, and what i think of as her “built to create envy but not actually function in” kitchen.
    why the harshness?
    1) she lives in nyc, and, having lived in nyc myself so i know, NO ONE IN NYC cooks – they all order food in. so the kitchen you see is where they put out the chinese food containers.
    2) i think the real kitchen is in that “nook” on the left: in the original pics, there’s a door there which i think leads to another room. a room hinted at by a pot rack and a wall of subway tile seen in the “nook” as well as at the back of the dish cabinets, a room which is, in fact, the real kitchen! a kitchen with a toaster, espresso machine, pot rack, and, surely, a stove with a real vent, giant sink, and, last but not least, a microwave to heat all that take-out food.
    this, THIS, is the real reason she didn’t send you pics! you would realize the double kitchen deception!
    hmmm, actually i kind of like the idea of a real kitchen i can leave all the dirty dishes AND a show kitchen where my guests can marvel at my food presentation and crown moldings. hmmm, now i just need a house with extra rooms behind the show rooms…


  20. laura
    January 10, 2016 @ 5:37 pm

    Just stumbled across your website b/c I am obsessed with the paint color in this kitchen. I have wood trim all over our home and that gray on her walls is perfect. Any ideas. I know you wrote this YEARS ago…but I thought I’d take a shot and ask anyway. Cheers


  21. The VEB Review — everyone is entitled to my opinion. - Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
    March 15, 2016 @ 10:19 am

    […] my brain… If this sounds boring, go read my post about repurposed kitchen island inspiration, or Pilar Guzman’s kitchen… OR go tour this restored Philadelphia […]


  22. Amanda
    April 19, 2016 @ 12:54 pm

    I just found this blog through the Facebook page For the Love of Old Houses and I LOVE it. We are currently renovating our 1920s house while living in it – for the past three years. I feel your pain. I have to say though your kitchen has nothing on ours when we moved in. Handmade wall cabinets 6″ deep – nothing fit in them and they were the only cabinets in the kitchen. The over the fridge cabinet, that since the fridge was too tall he just cut out the bottom of it – leaving a door covering one shelf and nothingness. My 18″ of counter space. And the piece d’resistance – 1970s wood panelling – on the floor. Why anyone would think 1″ deep groves on the kitchen floor was a good idea I will never know.


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