11 Kitchen Upgrades: Our Review (After 2 Years)

11 kitchen upgrades: our review

I wanted to do a little review on our kitchen upgrades, now that we have been living with them for about 2 years.  I meant to do a post showing what we did as a follow up to my 12 Kitchen Upgrades (You Can’t Live Without) post when we first moved in – (sorry!), but obviously that didn’t happen!  So I wanted to give my honest opinion of how they have worked over the last two years, and if they were worth it (and they are)!  Here it is:  11 Kitchen Upgrades:  Our Review (After 2 Years). 

Whether you are looking for kitchen upgrades on a budget, updating diy style, adding pendant or undermount lighting, or even remodeling upper cabinets or a kitchen island, there is something here for everyone!

NOTE:  This post contains affiliate links which means that I will receive a small compensation if you purchase something from these links.  Please see my privacy and disclosure policies below.  Thanks for your support. 🙂


11 Kitchen Upgrades:  Our Review (After 2 Years)

In a nutshell,  the kitchen IS the most important part of the entire house.  

It is the heart of the home, and basically an extension of a wife and mother’s right hand. 

It is where families come together to share and make memories, a homework station for kids, an office for moms & dads, and a drop zone for backpacks, extracurricular activities “gear”, and teacher’s/coaches gifts.

So, it has to work and and function effortlessly for the busy lives that we all lead!  That is why a ton of thought and serious planning goes into designing an effective kitchen layout.

For more kitchen inspiration, tips, & ideas.


*To Shop our Kitchen:  go to the end of the post (or visit the home shop).

Ok, let’s get to our 11 kitchen upgrades:  our review.

11 Kitchen Upgrades:  Our Review


This drawer for baking sheets is one of my favorite upgrades in our entire kitchen.  It kind of came by accident (because the carpenter messed up it’s original spot), but it still works beautifully.

I asked them to build a box with a partition (divider) for my baking sheets, and leave a little room on the sides so that we could store extra serving platters. 

We also had them install the drawer pull on the front for easy access, and install the soft-close hinges so the drawer wouldn’t bang around.

My tip:  add a shelf to the top part of the cabinet for extra storage, or shorten the door space and add a drawer.  

There is wasted space at the top – but not a deal breaker!

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review



Yes, this is another upgrade favorite!  

The charging station drawer should be included with every new kitchen build, in my honest opinion. 

It keeps ALL of the extra electronics “clutter” tucked away, and is a great way to organize all of the accessories that seem to get lost.

I knew that we wanted two different outlets so that we could charge more devices at one time, and the electrician came up with a great suggestion (see 2nd picture). 

It is an outlet where you can plug your device directly into it with the port adapter (not tech-savvy so I don’t know the correct term – lol), and also use it as a regular charger.  

This gives you double the charging capacity – which we all need.

My tip:  install these outlets into a drawer you already have in your kitchen (that you can spare).  Just make sure there is space behind the drawer for electrical wires.

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review



If you have extra space or room in your island, consider adding a hidden cabinet.  Most islands or even lower corner cabinets have a dead space (wasted area) that is perfect for adding extra storage.

Now with said, a little additional “planning” will have to go into it.  The carpenter tried to tell me that what I wanted would not work (ha – really!), so he built what he “thought” would work.

And it didn’t.  

My tip:  put a lot of thought into your decision (if you want a cabinet, drawers, shelves that pull out, cabinet with pulls, etc….) and go through the function of it.

I went up to the space and practiced opening up the outer doors, and then measuring the space for drawers. 

That ‘s how we ended up with the 2 larger, deep drawers (room for taller items on top drawer) for items that we didn’t use as often, but could still store.

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review



This is another cabinet that ended up as a result of “carpenter poor spacing,” but we made it work anyway – and I love it!

There was this small space left over in the island (only 6 1/2″), and the carpenter didn’t think it was worth keeping.

So I asked them to build a shelf (about 2/3 down of the cabinet space) for cutting boards, but ended up with it in the middle anyway (the stories I could tell)!!!

I had wanted a taller top portion so that the cutting boards we used most often could stand vertically, and then we could store extra cutting boards/placemats (horizontally) on the lower portion. 

My tip:  if you have room to add a smaller cabinet like this, do it!  This cabinet keeps the cutting boards from falling and knocking down all of the other boards, like dominoes – ugh!!

It is one of my favorite spaces!!

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review



This drawer also did not turn out as I wanted, but still a must-have in the kitchen.

It was supposed to be open on both sides (so we could grab items from either side), and also open on the top (so we could grab “up”).  See 3rd picture.

What I do love:  is that it is placed right by the stove for easy access, and I can see when spices are running low.

What I don’t love:  is that they built it too narrow (only 4″ wide) which only allows for one row of spices, and they built it with 3 shelves instead of just 2 (can’t put in any taller items).

My tip:  add the spice drawer with open sides and open top, and with only two (wide and deep) shelves.

Just make sure you have enough room – when you pull it out.

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review



This one is a no-brainer, but I just had to include it.   

Our drawer opening is not as wide as it should be (only 10 1/4″W), so do your research and triple check the measurement standards.

We literally could only find ONE trash can that fits the space (still to this day).

The great news:  is that it is easy to wipe “food scraps” right into it from the countertop, and it also keeps the smell enclosed.  

The bad news:  is that these “small” dimensions, caused us to lose room for extra trash bag storage (that we planned for).

My tip:  make sure to check measurements so that your cabinet is wide enough for either one or two trash cans (tall or shorter versions), and deep enough to store extra trash bags.

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review



This upgrade probably sounds unusual, but is one of the most important aspects of our kitchen island design.

We added an additional 10 1/2″ to the island countertop on 3 sides, and 6″ to another side.  These additions are a game changer!!

The carpenter didn’t follow the correct cabinet base dimensions, so we lost space.  We had to add the extra countertop space to make up the difference.

We also added 4 electrical outlets to the island which I highly recommend.  These come in very handy for crock pots, food processors, blenders, etc. and also charging computers (for makeshift offices).

My tip:  add the countertop overhang to:  gain extra workspace by the stove, create a breakfast bar, tuck in extra counter stool seating, and to create a serving space for parties and family events.

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review



This is one of the more expensive upgrades, but is completely worth the money if you’re going to splurge on something. 

By installing the microwave into the lower cabinet or island base, you gain extra counter space and increase overall kitchen function. 

The microwave drawer provides additional convenience for heavier casserole dishes (don’t have to lift items up), and better traffic flow (since you can place your item into it from the top side, and not have to walk around the door opening).

Now it will eat up some of your cabinet space, but if you plan the dimensions out correctly – it is a great choice.

My tip:  measure out the dimensions needed to see how much room you will need, and make it happen!!  

Plus, it looks high end and will help with resale value.

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review



I know that it doesn’t jump right out as an important upgrade, but adding detail to the sides, panels, and cabinet/island feet gives the kitchen a custom feel.

Basically, it gives your island (or lower cabinets) a furniture-like appearance. 

You don’t have to add anything heavy or ornate either, for the minimalist style lovers out there.  

My tip:  add different-sized trim pieces or molding to frame out the sides and feet of your island, or try shiplap or x-shaped detail to the end caps for added interest. 

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review




Lighting makes up the “jewelry” or the personal “accessorizing” of the entire kitchen area. 

So do not forget about lighting – it really sets the tone of the kitchen style.

We added undermount puck lighting, upper cabinet rope lighting, 3 pendant lights to the island, and a breakfast nook chandelier.

We also changed and added a couple of extra recessed can lights to the ceiling.

My tip:  adding lighting does not have to be expensive, and makes one of the largest impacts to the way a kitchen is perceived by guests.

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review



I will eventually set this up a little cuter – (ugh sorry) – but it gets the job done for now!

Our family loves coffee and hot chocolate, so this area is used ALL.THE.TIME!!! 

We keep our most used coffee mugs in the lower open shelving (not planned originally – but works), and then all of the Keurig coffee pods (& fixins) in the cabinet above.

The little retro blue Keurig stays out all of the time (of course), and then we store our extra coffee pot, filters, and coffee grinder in the cabinet below.

My tip:  if you are a coffee, hot chocolate or tea lover, this upgrade is definitely something to consider.

11 kitchen upgrades: our review


11 kitchen upgrades: our review


I hope you found a couple of upgrades to add to your existing kitchen layout, or will maybe incorporate into your new kitchen remodel or renovation.

If you have any questions, just shoot me a comment.



For More Info, check out the home shop.


  1.  Cabinets – Lower Custom, Upper – New Doors Only, Upper Extended – Custom
  2.  Pantry Door – JELD-WEN 24×80 2-Panel Roman Interior Door (24×80)
  3.  Pantry Door Knob – Bubble Door Knob polished nickel mine (satin nickel, chrome, bronze)
  4.  Screen Door – Steves & Sons Primed White Premium Fiberglass Door (32×80) 
  5.  Nickel Handle – Delaney Satin Nickel Privacy Handle
  6.  Keyless Entry  – Kwikset Powerbolt Satin Nickel
  7.  Screen Door – Anderson 3000 Series Fullview Black Storm Door (32×80) nickel hardware
  8.  Paint Color Walls – Sherwin-Williams Silver Strand (SW 7057)
  9.  Paint Color Cabinets – Sherwin-Williams Snowbound (SW 7004)
  10.  *Quartz Countertops 2 Slabs – 3cm (126 X 63) – Arizona Tile, Houston – Tipperary*
  11.  Backsplash – Tilebar Eden Rimmed Modern Gray Penny Round, similar here
  12.  1/2″ thick Engineered Hardwood Floors – EZ Floors, Houston – Earthwerks – Smoke TIM375
  13.  Island Light Pendants – Polished Nickel Dome Pendants (3)
  14.  Breakfast Nook Pendant – Parisian 3-Light 14″ Clear Glass Pendant Polished Nickel 
  15.  Cabinet Hardware Template Tool – Align Cabinet Hardware Install Template
  16.  *Cabinet Pulls (26) – Liberty Stainless Pulls  – 3 3/4″ (13), 6 1/4 (3), 7 9/16 (6), 11 5/16″ (4)
  17.  Cabinet Knobs Glass (22) – Home Goods Tahari – 8 pack (3), similar here
  18.  Kitchen Sink – Kohler Undermount Kitchen Sink
  19.  Faucet – Moen Glenshire P/Down Faucet
  20.  Bosch Dishwasher – Bosch 800 Series 24″ Dishwasher or here
  21.  5-Burner Stove – Kitchen Aid Stainless 36″ Gas Cooktop with Downdraft or here
  22.  Microwave Drawer – Bosch 800 Series 30″ Built-in Microwave or here
  23.  Double Ovens – GE Profile 30″ Double Wall Ovens
  24.  Refrigerator – Samsung 27.8 cu. ft. Food Showcase French Door Refrigerator
  25.  Bar Stools/Counter Stools – Gray and White Counter Stools


Recommended Posts:

6 Tips: Adding Gold Hardware To Kitchen Cabinets

Best Gold & Champagne Bronze Hardware

10 Best Round Black Dining Tables

Our New Harlequin Rug Review

10 Best Harlequin, Diamond & Checkered Rugs

Design Trend:  Mauve + Dusty Rose

7 Benefits:  Kitchen Banquette Breakfast Nooks

12 Best White Rattan & Bamboo Dining Chairs

Best Way to Clean Glass Chandeliers & Light Pendants




You may also like


    1. Hi Tish! You’re welcome! And thanks for the kind feedback- I really appreciate it.
      Hugs – Jael 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *