Kitchen Layout + Design at The Merc

A huge eye-opening lesson that I’ve learned with the Merc, is just how much planning ahead of time has to go into building or renovating. I’m admittedly a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. Its who I’ve always been but I can’t really do that with a renovation like this. Man its a good thing I have an awesome contractor to keep me on task! So while we are still a few months away from kitchen installation, and the walls are currently 2×4’s the kitchen planning is in full swing.

A few years ago I met Shawn from Aspen Mills, he is the most wicked talented cabinet maker that I’ve ever seen. He’s also a nice guy with an adorable wife that I want to be best friends with. NBD.

For years Shawn and I have had these “when I have a house…” talks. We even made it as far as designing the layout for the kitchen in the new construction house that wasn’t. I did a little digging and came cross the first time I mentioned him on the blog. September 2012. WUT. He helped me by cutting out these wooden circles. What a guy. Well I’m happy to report that after 5 years of waiting we are FINALLY taking our cabinet making relationship to the next level!!

Obviously the Merc is special and the kitchen at the Merc is SUPER special, being the heart of the home and all. So lets dive into the design, and then we can talk layout.

I’m trying really hard to keep the design of the Merc as period friendly as possible, looking through tons of images on the internet I came across a common theme. Cabinets. (I know you’re thinking duh) but in the 1930’s pantries didn’t really exist. There were just loads and loads of cabinets. So that’s what we’re doing!


Typical cabinets have at least a 2″ trim piece around the edge of the doors so that you can mount the hinges easily. (This is why Shaker style cabinetry is so popular!) but the style for the Merc is going to be a little different.

We’re doing inset slab doors. Inset means they sit inside the base frame,  and slab means that they are just a flat front. Similar to these guys.

But instead of leaving them plain, we’re adding a small bit of moulding on the edge. Picture a basic 1″ traditional picture frame and you’ve got it! I haven’t been able to track down pictures of what I want for inspiration, so we’re just going to go for it and hope for the best!

I’ve gone back and forth on wood vs. color vs. wood vs. color. Here’s my thoughts. Wood cabinets are great. They are classic. They also all look relatively the same. I mean sure, there are different finishes etc. but how often do you really see stand out wood cabinets that stand out because of the detailing? The grain is always the star.

You are way more inclined to see detailing on painted cabinets because the color is usually one uniform shade so variation in the design stands out. I’ve also gone back and forth on the color. I LOVE the idea of doing a really dark (almost black) green (like SW Jasper) but I’m feeling a little hesitant because its having a moment right now and I want to Merc to feel a little more traditional and a little less trendy.

Shawn used a similar color in a Parade home this year and it was SO pretty.

In order for the space to feel balanced we need some wood. so on our island and shelving we’re using bleached walnut.

Isn’t it so pretty?! Its exactly what it sounds like. Normal walnut that goes through a bleaching process. Shawn said it was pretty intensive so hopefully he doesn’t hate me when this is all said and done!

Ok so lets dive into the layout and then I’ll hit on a few more design elements that I am SO excited about!

For context, the kitchen is this little room inside the big room.

It looks little compared to the size of the rest of the space, but its actually pretty huge. There are just a few #mercperks we have to work around. For now, to get our certificate of occupancy from the city (the approval that we can move in) we have to put a temporary wall in the space that opens up into the living room. Another fun thing that we’re doing in phase 2 is putting in a giant divided light window between the opening and the brick (see where all of the sheetrock is? Behind that rack? That is where the window will be.

We’ve also go a massive window that we have to work around and the opening that goes into the entryway.

AND if that isn’t enough excitement, we’re keeping the brick wall with the little window.

So this is what we came up with. The top of the image is the opening that goes into the main entryway.

The only full wall is getting cabinetry and shelving galore! This is where the range is going to be. And if you’re wondering, no we’re not putting in a range hood. Which I feel totally fine about because my cooking skills are limited to eggs over easy and chocolate chip cookies. Do you think we’re crazy?

The tall cabinets on the sides are my favorite. We needed to come up with something creative because I’m keeping the brick and little window. The window sits quite a bit lower than the countertops which meant that they couldn’t go all the way to the wall and we needed something that wasn’t as deep as the standard base cabinets.

I’m straight up unapologetically copying this design from Buster and Punch. I LOVE IT. The horizontal dividers and wired glass. Freaking AMAZING.

The shelves aren’t going to be normal shelves. They’re going to be off the wall suspended shelves. These ones from are ohfarmhouse EVERYTHING.

Imagine something similar but covering the entire wall!

These suspended shelves are also solving our giant window problem.

We’ve got a massive storefront window in this space. With the ones in the entryway I feel like we were able to work the space in a way that we still had some privacy. To get more privacy than just having a window straight into the kitchen, we are putting the same style suspended shelves in front of it! That way if people walk by and glance inside they’ll have to actively look around things to see inside.

We’re putting our fridge on the left of the window and a tall broom cabinet on the right.

Most of our storage is going to be on this wall with floor to ceiling cabinets covering this entire corner.

The microwave will be in one of the lower drawer spots. The top rendering is the wall that leads into the entryway, the second one is where the window/entry into the living room will be.

The island is going to be in the center with the sink close to the stove. Shooting off from the center of it is a waterfall table made out of bleached walnut that has oversized dovetails on the edge.

I am SO excited about the plan that we’ve come up with! What do you think? Anything you’re particularly loving or hating?



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Author: Jeff Donaldsons

Good day everyone, I'm a family man who loves hanging out with friends & meeting new people. Family Friends and Coding Yeah!. I also love helping others.