The One Where I Refresh My Wife-In-Law’s Kitchen

I thought that title would make you click, but you read it right. We just completed a refresh of my wife-in-law’s kitchen. I very lovingly call her that, but she is my husband’s first wife, and the mother of my two precious step-sons. The entire process was a complete joy.

The Backstory

If you would have told me 30 years ago that I would be guiding my husband’s first wife through a kitchen project, I would have told you that you had lost your mind. Historically we’ve not had the best relationship. “A complete joy,” would not be how I would have described it. I would even go so far as to say that back then, we couldn’t even be in the same room with each other.

Thankfully, those days are a million miles behind us—like another lifetime actually. What I once thought I’d never forget, I now have trouble remembering. But I’ve found that time has a way of healing things, and softening the edges of hard memories. It also takes grace, mercy, and prayer. Lots of prayer.

Fast forward about 15 years. Her boys grew up, got their own homes, and we had a wedding. Slowly, things began to get better. We’ve lived a lot of life together, she and I. We’ve been in each other’s lives longer than we have not.

Here’s what I have learned: no matter how strained a relationship may seem, things can always be salvaged. Always. She and I are living proof of that fact. This story is a testament to the precious soul that she is, and how much I adore her.

So, let me introduce you to my wife-in-law Kayla, and her sweet husband Chuck, and their incredibly beautiful home. Before we go any further, you should know that Kayla has a very good design eye. Everything you see in the interior of her home are pieces she already owned and styled. Kayla is also an artist and her gorgeous paintings grace her home.

A Lightning Strike Ignites Change

Our collaborative journey began unexpectedly on July 4th, 2023, when lightning struck Chuck and Kayla’s home. Thankfully they were home and unharmed, but their house wasn’t as fortunate. The damage was fast, and it was extensive.

What followed was a lengthy restoration period. Luckily, their next door neighbors live in their home only part-time, and they offered for Kayla and Chuck to live there while work was being completed on their home. They lived there from July 2023 through the end of the year, as the restoration company worked on their home. That’s another story for another day, but suffice it to say it was a long and arduous process.

This is her kitchen before, and during the renovation-

Strengthening Bonds Through a Home Renovation

In August, Kayla called me with the idea to refresh their kitchen, which had served them well for 25 years. The timing was perfect for an update they had wanted to do anyway.

Based on the damage, they had to refinish all the floors in the home, and repaint the entire home. They built their home 25 years ago, and had been wanting to update the kitchen, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. I was overjoyed and eager to help.

As with any renovation, there are always ups and downs, and things that you don’t expect. After seeing the before-and-after photos, however, I think you’ll agree that it was well worth it.

The Kitchen

We preserved the integrity of the cabinets, focusing instead on modern countertops, updated electrical work, a full backsplash, plumbing fixtures, and new appliances and hardware. The chosen Sherwin Williams wall color throughout the home was a game-changer.

Chuck and Kayla entertain often, so performance and aesthetics guided our decisions. We increased the size of their island to give them more room for serving, and our fabricator created a beautiful new quartz top for their kitchen table. We chose Dekton porcelain slabs by Cosentino for their countertops and backsplash, and added thoughtful details like under-cabinet lighting and strategically placed outlets to enhance the space’s functional elegance.

The kitchen and bar sinks were both replaced with beautiful new Kohler sinks, and we specified our favorite classic Delta fixtures paired with Amerock cabinet hardware.

While attending the IDS Conference in New York at the A&D Building, I was immersed into the world of Fisher & Paykel appliances, and it was love at first sight. Their double drawer dishwasher, double ovens, and refrigerator/freezer columns were perfect for Kayla and Chuck’s needs. Have you ever even seen more beautiful (and functional) appliances? This project gave me major appliance envy, ya’ll—it’s a real job hazard.

The Living Room

Several pieces of their furnishings had to be reupholstered due to smoke and the unfortunate way the restoration company had their furnishings cleaned. We used a beautiful performance fabric by Anna Elisabeth by Greenhouse Fabrics. Chuck and Kayla’s sweet Annie, also know as the Queen of the House, needed soft and durable new surroundings, and this fabric fit the bill.

Final Reflections

This project exemplifies the beauty of reconciliation and the power of time. The love and adoration I have for Kayla and the deep appreciation for the time we now share is immeasurable. As we approach Easter, our relationship mirrors the promise of new life.

I don’t know much in this life, but I do know this: time is fleeting. We don’t have nearly as much of it as we think we do. I cringe when I think of all the time wasted. I love and adore Kayla, and I think of all the time lost that could have spent other ways. But, we have now, and I am so grateful.

I’m grateful to her for sharing her life with me, even when I know she didn’t want to. I’m so thankful that she shares her boys with me. I have the greatest, most precious bonus sons thanks to her. She is the most gracious wife-in-law I could ask for. She giggles when I call her that, and I love it!

Today is Holy Saturday. The day before we all were given new life.

My relationship with Kayla is representative of that. If you knew us back in the day, you would agree that our relationship is nothing short of a miracle. It’s the greatest gift that I never knew I needed, and life is much sweeter because of it.

In the spirit of gratitude and reflection, remember: cherish the present, for it’s the most precious gift we have. Enjoy the video below for a glimpse of the appliances and renovated areas. Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

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