October 20, 2017

Spontaneous Kitchen Demo + New Floors


In the kitchen where memories are made

Our home is a place where everyone is welcome.

On a daily basis, we celebrate both the beauty and bedlam of everyday life, and a large majority of that celebration centers around great food.
The old cliché states that “the Kitchen is the Heart of the Home,” and it’s certainly true with our family.

In my house, the place we end up congregating the most is in our kitchen. So, when parties happen, life is lived to its fullest, but the entire time, echoes of “Excuse me, pardon me. Can I get by you?” occur non-stop.

When I designed my kitchen back in 1997, I wasn’t thinking space-planning, smushed kitchen corners, or five children. I had three toddlers that could easily slide by the island and peninsula.

So, for nearly two decades, this is what my kitchen counter space looked like; a very traditional layout, which gave me tons of surface space with which to work. You can see some pictures of parties in action. I had two cute stools which rarely were used, except as a clutter collector.

Note the close proximity between the traditional L shape and the free standing island. Everyone typically congregated right in this general area because I used the peninsula as the drink and main dish serving line and the island as the appetizer/dessert area.

Before removing peninsula

Who would want to move from all that delicious food?

Not too many, and thus the dilemma of being trapped. For years, I didn’t think I could solve this space issue until I was ready to remodel the kitchen, and that wasn’t a priority.

I needed the peninsula’s counter space, since I entertain large groups often, but my dear friend, Melissa from the inspired Room, had just removed the same peninsula in her remodel. I saw how it opened up her kitchen, and I kept going back to her floor plan. (You must click over to see her completed kitchen reveal. It’s breath taking and worthy of a “REAL GRAND REVEAL.”

So what I did next was a moment of sheer spontaneity, desperation or insanity. You decide.

(It’s all Melissa’s fault. I couldn’t get her gorgeous kitchen out o f my mind. 🙂

The text to my very handy eldest brother, who happens to live next store, went something like this, “I am getting my new Mohawk flooring put down in a few days. I know it is right before Christmas, but it’s the only option. I need to knock down my peninsula. Do you have some kind of tool that you can come over and cut off my counters and take down the cabinets? It should only take a few minutes.”

His response,”Would a chainsaw work?”

Needless to say, this spontaneous act required more than a few minutes, took a bit more than a chainsaw and left me without power on half of my kitchen still. But it was one decision I do not regret at all.

Removing that peninsula and replacing my island with a longer, custom island was on my wish list for 2015, but with the reality that I was replacing my ripped linoleum with gorgeous hand scraped laminate flooring by Mohawk, I didn’t want to have to piece meal flooring pieces together next year. I wanted it done all at once.

This required spontaneously removing the peninsula and island, which made up the largest portion of my bottom cabinetry. It was quite the mess. Not just from the demolition, but from the fact that I have more kitchen tools, bowls and small appliances than any one person should have, and now they did not have a place to call home.

Yes, three oversized base cabinets, gone!

Granted, I found three additional water pitchers in the corner cabinet that I probably don’t need, along with other duplicate items that needed to be donated, but still, I’m in a kitchen cabinet bind until I can either add onto my island or replaced it.

With our kitchen being the heart of the home, these linoleum floors were well torn, I mean loved, as you can see. Not to mention, I had amazing taste back in 1997. (Yes, I know. Someone told me they were tacky.)

Here is the before.

Kitchen Reno Before removing peninsula

As with the other picture above, I snapped this right before we were about to spontaneously demolish the peninsula, so photos are complete with contents that were removed from those cabinets littering the counters and floors.

Get ready!

Two Hour Kitchen demolition

In just two hours of demo, it felt like the size of our kitchen doubled.

Increase the size of your kitchen by knocking out cabinets

Isn’t it amazing what removing that peninsula did for the traffic floor? It immediately makes the kitchen seem twice as large.

Two hour kitchen demo before floors

Then, with the installation of the  Mohawk’s hand scraped laminate lengthwise, it looks that much larger. Every person that walks in mentions the difference and I agree.

In process of installing Mohawk laminate

This picture is shot during the installation process and taken from our great room, which I will show you on the next post..

It’s such a rich look, and while it’s now been nearly two months, I still walk in every day barely even able to recognize my own kitchen.

It’s that beautiful. We’ve also given it a thorough beating already, and it is holding up to Mohawk’s every claim.

Mohawk Ellington Rust Saddle Oak Handscraped Laminate

We did put felt pads on the bottom of the kitchen chairs since our kids do drag the chairs all over, and we wanted to make sure the floors stayed protected. They have also spilled food, beverages and miscellaneous unmentionables, and all wipe up easily without a worry about marking the floor.

We are so pleased with the end result.

As you can see with your own eyes, it’s gorgeous!

Mohawk Handscraped Laminate flooring

It’s not too dark that it shows every yellow lab hair of our dogs, but still rich tones – exactly what I wanted (see the style here). Granted, there’s a bit of bedlam still going on due to the masterful demolition that we performed.

Removing cabinet. Will add shelving

(The area where the peninsula and corner cabinet met.)

This new “creative concealment” area will be getting some shelves and a tension rod with some temporary fabric to hide this area. I am not quite sure how I am going to fix the counter yet. Unfortunately, the reality is that they will need new counters, but I can live with this imperfect area while I love the rest.

Enlarging the island is the next project

I’m brainstorming ways to regain my lost cabinets.

I REALLY need them for my kitchen items still stored in boxes. Ultimately, a new and much longer island is my desire, but in the mean time, I may try and extend the counter and add some legs to at least make up for the counter space that I lost. I feel it every time I entertain and cook large meals.

Again, I am all about the process, and the spontaneity. I don’t regret it for a minute.

In most of our lives, fixing up areas in our home is not a one time event. It’s spread over months, or with kitchens, even years. This is real life and I am thoroughly enjoying every moment of this process.

The best part of this kitchen renovation is all the additional memories that have already been made, and will continue to be made, on my new floors.

Christmas Morning

My iphone instagram picture on Christmas morning.

Hours early, we had ushered in this special day with 30 family members all congregating in the kitchen.

Warmth, laughter and life.

Are you dreaming of any kitchen renovations? I’d love to hear.

In the kitchen where memories are made

Are you thinking of getting new floors? Read my tips for picking out new flooring? I did enough research, so hopefully, this will be a help.

Did you get a chance to see the room that I pretended didn’t exist? See my Before and Almost After Dining Room renovation.

I’ve partnered as a Mohawk blogger and received my choice of laminate, but all installation and labor was at my own expense.


  1. Beautiful floors! By the looks of all the extra room w/o the peninsula, you could even slide an extra (folding) table in when you had a very large group over. I am sure losing that cabinet space was tough. I have canned tomato sauce and bought in bulk for my family ever since the start.

    My husband and I lived in a tiny apartment the first couple of years when we were married and we stashed stuff everywhere (under beds, in every closet, under the sofa, etc)….I always wondered what guests thought when they stumbled on something…. Anyways, I am sure you can find little nooks and crannies for storage to replace your lost cabinets (just don’t forget where you stashed stuff!). Did you keep your peninsula cabinet or is that gone–it could be repurposed for the laundry room or garage for storage. Looks like it was definitely worth it! Enjoy!


    Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam) Reply:

    @Diane Z, We are tracking on the fold out table. I thought the same thing and could use the table as the buffet. Unfortunately, as much as I BEGGED my brother and hubby to try and save those cabinets, they couldn’t. How ever the installation was done 17 years ago, they practically glued it down and they had to break it apart to get it out. 🙁


    Valerie Reply:

    @Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam), I had a desk (the kind made by the cabinet manufacturer) in my kitchen and when they went to remove it they had a hard time getting it out too, it was glued to the floor , but luckily since only a small portion of it was glued they could save it and I managed to sell it. Unless you get custom cabinets all but the front doors are made from that particle/pressed board stuff anyway so it can be hard to salvage them depending on install.


  2. Hi kitty cat I see you! what’s its name?

    I had the same problem in my house in Florida except I had a much smaller kitchen and no island in it.
    We just moved to solve the problem.
    I joke, The kitchen was so small that really no more than 2 could fit in anyway so a bottle neck never occured plus my kids were much younger ( we moved
    10 yrs ago).
    Nice floors!


    Jen (Balancing Beauty and Bedlam) Reply:

    @Valerie, Our animals have to make an appearance in EVERY.SINGLE.PHOTO!! 🙂


  3. That is an incredible difference! It looks amazing!

    I’m waiting for a kitchen transformation, not because it looks rough, but because I can’t stand the tiny “Barbie” sized oven that is in it. To get a new oven will require new cabinets and so on.

    I like to cook and I’ve got 5 kiddos, too, so a tiny oven can get pretty annoying. I dream of the day that I can bake more than a dozen cookies at a time and not worry about burning the ones in the last row!!

    Just the thought of that makes me smile… 😉


    Jen Reply:

    Oh yes, with five kiddos Barbies sized ovens do NOT work. 🙂 But I totally understand how it’s not just about buying a new oven. It’s needing to make a spot for it and that’s the big cost. Dream big!! Praying it happens sooner than later.


  4. It looks amazing! Our kitchen is so small and I have discovered a few creative ways to store kitchen items. First, I cleaned out my plastic container cabinet. I used to saved old butter containers to for leftovers. I mean how many do you really need? This freed up a whole cabinet. I also store trays or fancy entertaining items that I do not use as often in a small hall closet. I who says they have to be kept in the kitchen…. Right?
    Thank for keepin’ kit real! Love your blog.


  5. I just printed this out for my home and foods classes, thank you such a nice thought to hang on to!


    Jen Reply:

    So glad you can use it!! We both love our kitchens, don’t we? 🙂


  6. Boy this post sure struck a chord with me on so many levels! Like you, I’ve got kitchen issues (and old, ugly linoleum floors). Our kitchen functions as long as there’s no more than two people in there, but inevitably we bump into each other and it’s like a ballet gone-wrong.

    I’ve dreamed of what my kitchen could look and function like, and Melissa’s kitchen from The Inspired Room is one of my favs. Sadly, I don’t have a walk in pantry like she does, so removing all the upper cabinets isn’t an option. Another one of my favorite kitchens (that reminds me of your kitchen and mine) is from http://dougelissa.blogspot.com/2013/06/kitchen-reveal.html. You must check it out! It’s gorgeous and really utilizes the space well.

    My dilemma is whether to do a kitchen reno sooner using the existing kitchen floor plan or to hold out for me dream/gourmet kitchen that blasts out a wall and would probably cost double. I don’t have the money for either at this point, but I do think about it a lot. I’ve painted the walls and done what I can short of a major or minor reno to make the space function better for us, but I don’t want to put any serious cash into it ie. new counters, cabs, flooring, if it really needs reworking.

    What do you think? Go for the smaller reno using the existing footprint or hold out hope for the dream kitchen that may/may never happen someday?


  7. This looks fabulous! What great potential! I admire you for not only dreaming about what you wanted to do – but for taking the chance! We have a very similar kitchen layout, and we’ve talked about ripping out our peninsula as well – but our fear is what you mentioned. It has so much storage in it that we need. You’ve inspired me to do a little more brainstorming and see what we can come up with. Good luck – excited to see what you do!


  8. Your kitchen looks great! It really does look bigger without the penisula. I love Melissa’s kitchen too… what an inspiration. I also understand about just jumping in on a project no matter what time of the year or thinking ahead. I recently took down wallpaper border and off course the color underneath was lighter than the rest of the walls… so I painted the walls. Then the white cabinets looked really bad, so we’ve painted them! It’s like dominos!! Thanks for sharing I can’t wait to see what you do with the island. Victoria


  9. Love, love, love the floors. I have been looking and really like the look of your laminate flooring. I see they are Mohawk, what is the color/finish? Thanks!


    Jen Reply:

    Yes, I just can’t tell you how much I love them. They are Ellington Rustic Saddle Oak https://www.mohawkflooring.com/laminate-search/Ellington/Rustic%20Saddle%20Oak/?return=laminate.aspx||smooth=1


  10. That new floor is gorgeous! We have a small gallery kitchen so it’s really cozy. When we bough the house (almost 5 years ago) and painted the walls, my husband cut up the edges of the kitchen carpet so he could paint the baseboards. We’ll replace it soon, he said! Well, 5 years later, we still have tack strips showing in the kitchen! Oh well. Like you said, real life renovations take time, but I do hope you can unpack your boxes soon!


  11. you are so brave! looks GORGEOUS Jen!! and I love the flooring color you went with!! I need something that hides german shepherd hair! lol


  12. Kristina says:

    Your kitchen looks awesome without those counters, but I’m sure you’re mourning the lost storage. Have you considered something on good casters that you can move around to suit your needs? I always admire those in pictures, but wonder how well they really roll? But I’m also drawn to rough warehouse spaces and kitchens that generally have a steampunk laboratory vibe. You seem like your style is a little more refined than mine. 😉


    Jen Reply:

    I love the warehouse look too, but for my kitchen, it might not work. That would be quite the redo. 😉 I’ve looked at some of the exact wheeled carts that you are talking about, but they still are around $300-500 and I think I’d rather just put that into my dream island. But yes, mourning the storage, but loving the floors. haha


    Hope Reply:

    Here’s a thought…if you found a wheeled unit on sale…and YOU know how to maximize a sale!!! 🙂 remember that you can probably recoup a good 40 -50 % of the sale price on resale of that item! Whatever internet list thing works in your area.

    I really believe that amount would be well worth streamlining your efficiency in this the most important room in your house. Even if it doesn’t have wheels it would give you more counter and storage space. I have seen this combination on pintrest…so it’s a thing!

    My son and DIL bought a smaller one at IKEA which they keep in their dining area and only wheel into their small kitchen for those big cooking/baking times. It wouldn’t work on a regular basis but when doing batch cooking or baking it’s a huge help. Plus it provides storage!


    Jen Reply:

    You are reading my mind. Do you see the big opening where the cabinet was? I had a custom shelf on wheels made for that spot. It doesn’t give me as much storage space as I need but right now I keep fruit etc. It’s an open shelf so I can’t put my junk on it, but I do wheel it out for serving. 🙂 I still need one bigger area though for food prep but it’s a perfect solution for now. Thanks for your comment. Loved reading it.

  13. We’re looking for new flooring. We’re planning in going hardwood in the whole downstairs. My question is this: Have you had any problems with the wood in the kitchen? One place we went told us that wood is no problem – even if something leaks, as long as it’s cleaned up quickly, it won’t ruin the floor and another told us that one leak would destroy the floor. We haven’t decided yet what we want in there.

    Sometimes I wonder how I would change the kitchen if I could, and I always come to the conclusion that it’s in it’s optimum layout. It can get cramped when there are lots of people around, but otherwise functions well!


  14. Do you have anywhere you could put a nice wire rack like this: http://www.target.com/p/room-essentials-3-tier-chrome-wire-shelving/-/A-13892314#prodSlot=medium_1_1&term=wire%20shelving

    You could probably rearrange your cabinets and put some of your prettier glass bowls/serving platters and nicer appliances out on the rack and save your more “functional” items for the cabinets.

    If you have the room to work, I think this approach minimizes cost and maximizes form and function.


  15. Michelle says:

    Hi! Is there an updated pot on your kitchen? I have been wanting to remove our peninsula for the same bottleneck situation, so was just curious what you ended up doing with the space where yours once was. Thanks!


    Jen Reply:

    I have to find one. We didn’t end up putting anything there. Our kitchen table is big, so we pulled it down a bit and now just have the island. it opens up the kitchen SO much and I LOVE that we did it. Go for it. I don’t regret it at all (except the loss of storage which is a big bummer. :))



  1. […] When Jen from Balancing Beauty and Bedlam decided to update her kitchen, her imagination took over! Out with the old linoleum flooring and in with new laminate from Mohawk. Her kitchen update didn’t stop there though, and she tackled the cabinets next, chainsaw in hand. Check out the demolition process, catch up on her entire home renovation and see more of her beautiful new flooring HERE. […]

  2. […] the changes won’t be significant, the few we do will really make a difference. (See the entire kitchen post here and read about my spontaneous kitchen […]

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