Home Renovation Update | The Kitchen is Finished

I’m not going to pretend like I didn’t just aggressively storm away from my new home with a sweaty pink mask dangling off my face and Kiwi struggling to keep up under the blistering June sun because I found yet ANOTHER problem with the house and was convinced for a solid hour that someone had given me “malocchio” (the Italian evil eye) because it’s not humanly possible for this many things to go wrong with a home. I even called my 82-year-old Molisana grandmother in Canada out of desperation so she could do her witchy magic with prayers and olive oil, but she said I didn’t have malocchio so I guess my house just needs a lot of loving. Kinda like me. Today’s drama was the leaking gutter in the backyard. It’s not a big deal and it can be fixed, but I have run out of all patience for anything broken these days so while I am very excited to share my new kitchen with you, I want you to know that I made a BIG DRAMATIC SCENE just a few hours ago and blamed malocchio. We all have our moments.


If you’re new here, you can read about how I bought my home in Florence and even learn a little more about the renovation process here. But long story short, I bought a home in 2019 with no electricity, no plumbing and no heating. The home buying process was a nightmare, the home renovation was an even bigger nightmare and renovating during the pandemic wasn’t great either. But here we are, baby!


My little Tuscan home is on the outskirts of Florence. It was built in the 1930s and is known as a “terratetto.” It’s the Italian version of a townhouse except I have a (not so friendly) upstairs neighbor. So I guess it’s more like an attached duplex with a garden.

Now, just to give you an idea of how far we’ve come with the kitchen, let me share this picture from two years ago. This is pre-pandemic so it feels ANCIENT.

This hole would one day become my cute kitchen

Because I am who I am, I decided to break down the supporting wall in my home because I wanted an open kitchen/living area just like everyone else on HGTV who LOVES HOSTING DINNER PARTIES—except I don’t love hosting dinner parties, I love sitting at home alone with my wine and listening to murder podcasts with my dog. And you probably already know this, but Italy isn’t the United States or Canada. Demolishing walls involves a lot of documents that my Geometra (a weird Italian job role fusion of a land surveyor/half architect/contractor) had to deal with. (Yes, those lanky poles were holding up my ENTIRE house for a bit—it made me a little nauseous, I won’t lie to you.)

Anyway, as you can perhaps see, there was a doorway (on the right of the picture) that most people told me to keep, but I decided to go with an L-shaped kitchen instead for extra counter space and just close off the opening. You will perhaps notice a recurring theme/anthem of “not listening to anyone’s opinion but my own” during this renovation.

Smiling through the renovation pain. The fear in Kiwi’s eyes..she already knew what was about to happen
The in-between. This was a stressful time.

Once the supporting wall was opened up and the home was ready to be renovated, the pandemic hit and the world stopped turning for a hot second so I had to wait what felt like an entire year (maybe it was a year? I can’t remember anything anymore) before I could get workers back into the house to start renovating again.

The picture above was taken AFTER the entire foundation of the home (besides the bedroom) was redone because I found out there was a huge gap of NOTHINGNESS under my living room/kitchen that, you know, needed a bit of support. However, it was taken BEFORE the shit explosion chapter. If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember the shit explosion saga. A blocked septic tank—shared with 3 different homes—decided it was time to leak some COLOURFUL JUICES into my living room and kitchen from the bathroom plumbing…two whole times (because SOMEONE decided to throw makeup wipes and Q-Tips down the toilet). GOOD TIMES.

Following the foundation drama, shit explosion saga, neighbor yelling, electrician issues, flooded basement, about-to-collapse bathroom floor, broken glass on the veranda, broken basement window, IKEA problems, terribly done outdoor steps, uneven walls and every other problem I have blocked out for my mental sanity, the kitchen is finally done. ARE YOU READY?!?!?!?!

That is one sexy kitchen

We’ve come a long way. She’s so cute, I love her! I decided to leave a little opening where the doorway used to be so sunlight from the bedroom could shine through.

Still waiting for bright yellow bar stools to arrive!
kitchen home renovation in Florence
Vibes from the side

Here’s the breakdown:

Cabinets and countertops

The cabinets and countertops are both from IKEA. I chose the SAVEDAL cabinet model. Since this kitchen doesn’t get a huge amount of light in the morning, I wanted to keep things extra bright and went with all white. The countertops are the EKBACKEN made-to-measure model. The sink and induction stovetop are also IKEA, but I went with a SMEG oven to give it a bit of a retro vibe and make it look a little fancier. And the lights are also the basic SKURUP ones from IKEA.

We ran into a few problems because Italian walls are hardly ever straight and IKEA generally requires straight walls and 90 degree angles, but I hid the gaps with the backsplash and it ended up being totally fine and looking pretty good.

Cost: around 2600 euro (including the cabinets, cabinet pulls, made-to-measure countertops, kitchen hood, induction stovetop, transport and mounting)

Backsplash

It took me so long to decide on the tile for the backsplash! I really wanted something colorful, but I knew I would get sick of whatever color I chose so I went with a super basic tile. It’s a simple and glossy 10x10cm square tile. I got them at Chiessi e Fedi. They give me Italian vibes—a lot of old school Italian kitchens have plain square tiles just like these ones.

For the pattern, I decided to stack the tiles. It feels a little more rustic to me and I’m happy with my decision!

Cost: 150 euro for the tile and around 350 euro for mounting

Shelves

The made-to-measure shelves are from a place called Segheria Fiorentina in the Sant’Ambrogio area of Florence. I really wanted thick shelves and it was a little tricky because 1)I couldn’t get anything that was too heavy for the wall and 2)everyone wanted to sell me the basic 1,8cm thick shelves because that’s what everyone usually gets, but that’s not what I wanted and I needed to be VERY forward with MY CREATIVE VISION because nobody really listens to me the first time.

I went with 4cm “abete” wood and painted them with a warm wood stain. There was a little concern about the length of my shelves because that meant making a lot of holes in my wall to properly support the weight, but I was ready to risk it all FOR THE RIGHT KITCHEN VIBES!

Cost: 180 euro for the shelves and maybe 60 euro for the mounting (I got a few things done that day so I’m not sure of the exact cost)

Bar Table

I searched for a vintage bar table for MONTHS. I explored a a million different vintage stores around Florence, but couldn’t find anything so I finally went with this Maisons du Monde table.

I got my washing machine and fridge on sale so I was pretty thrilled about that. I just realized I didn’t photograph the fridge, but it’s a simple white fridge and it sits right beside the washing machine.

Cost: Somewhere around 200 euro

Appliances

I mixed and matched everything because I am wild woman and I don’t like things that match. My fridge is an A++ Beko and I got it on sale for 180 euro. My washing machine is Samsung and was on sale for around 350 or 400 euro. My oven is SMEG and it was just under 500 euro.

Because of the large amount of unexpected work I needed to get done on the house, I didn’t have much left when the time came to renovate the kitchen, but I love the way it turned out! I’ll let you know how well the IKEA kitchen keeps up, but I’m not a big cook so I’m not worried. I mostly just cut vegetables and throw them in big salad bowls or cook rice and maybe pasta. I’m a simple gal.

Final Thoughts

I cannot even begin to tell you HOW THANKFUL I AM for everyone who supported me during this whole nightmare renovation thing! Especially my OG internet friends who have been here since the very beginning when maybe a dozen people were reading my blog while I awkwardly talked to my phone. The “you got this!” messages and “I’m proud of you!” comments meant and mean so much to me. Especially from the moms. It feels really good when moms tell you you’re doing a good job. Mine’s been gone for a long time, but I think she’d be so happy to know I now have internet moms cheering me on. So, thank you. ❤

My Dad received a lot of FaceTime calls of me complaining about how hard renovating a house in Italy has been. He ended up sending me 50 bottle of wine for my 31st birthday to help me feel a little better. It worked. But the pity party has been VERY REAL. There were also a lot of very angry calls in my work hallway so I’m pretty sure my colleagues think I have anger issues.

Still, I’m so proud of myself for finishing what I started because I threatened to give up SO.MANY.TIMES. And I’m proud of myself for speaking my mind and not letting others make decisions for me. I don’t know how to properly explain to you how hard this is in Italy. Everyone and their mom has an opinion about the way you should design your home and you need to be BORDERLINE RUDE (or at least it feels like I’m being rude because I am Canadian) to make people understand that I wasn’t going to change my mind. And because I’m a relatively “young” woman making all of these important decisions without a big Italian man by my side—to be clear, I have SUCH A BIG EGO about making all of these decisions on my own and I’m working on it but I feel like such a badass and independent bitch—it was often hard to be taken seriously. I mean, I was told off for the small bathroom tiles (Italians don’t like subway tiles! BIG BEIGE TILES ARE IN HERE!), for not tiling all of the bathroom walls up to the ceiling (what if you kick your leg up in the air and a droplet of water hits the unprotected wall?!), for not having any upper kitchen cabinets (WHERE WILL YOU PUT EVERYTHING?! YOU NEED UPPER CABINETS), for not buying a 4 meter long closet (where will you put all of your CLOTHES?!) and for not installing gas (but cooking with gas is so much better!). It hasn’t been easy.

But I’m happy to say that (almost) all I have left to do is move in! If my electrician is able to figure out what he did wrong with the Internet cable, I should be moving in before the end of June. I can’t wait to share more before and after photos of the entire home.

“You are here to decide if your life, relationships and world are true and beautiful enough for you. And if they are not and you dare to admit they are not, you must decide if you have the guts, the right – perhaps even the duty – to burn to the ground that which is not true and beautiful enough and get started building what is.”  ― Glennon Doyle, Untamed.

This home was my rebuilding.

A presto xoxo
Lisa

11 thoughts on “Home Renovation Update | The Kitchen is Finished

  1. You’ve done such a great job, girl! 🤩 Everything looks beautiful, clean, modern but cozy and just really pretty. And honestly, it’s also been pretty entertaining for me as a spectator.

    I’m proud of you 🧡.

    Like

  2. Rebuilding a life isn’t easy no matter where you live.You did it and you did it well. I hope you gained confidence in yourself throughout the process. Be proud of what you accomplished. You are a role model for young women. Ciao! Donna

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  3. I love it, so gorgeous! I have a (mostly) Ikea kitchen as well, We changed the countertop last year and went with something from the Italian version of Home Depot (I’m blanking on names atm).
    And yes, I hear you on the “you SHOULD” thing here, my bathroom is tiled in matte pistacchio floor tiles with large shiny white wall tiles and a “greco” of small white tiles with pistacchio and peach lines that go around the center and top line horizontally. I do wish that I had tiled to the ceiling, due to the damp the freaking paint (white matte) peels off and forms mould and the edge where the tiles end gathers dust.
    And yes, you are a bad-ass!

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  4. Hi I’m from NDG in Montreal your hometown I think you are doing an amazing job.I read you posts and I am living vicariously through you,I love Italy and miss vacationing there.You are brave and I admire what you have done.

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  5. Oh boy, was that wine needed!! I can’t believe all the things have happened – I mean, I do obviously.. You’re adamant and you’ve got stamina! I am actually learning from you🙏🏻 Just one comment: make no mistake believing that all you see and go through in Florence is the Italian standard. Because it so is not! The problem is that Florence is an ancient city and they’re against everything and everyone challenging their status quo. They. Do. Loathe. Questioning. Especially from foreigners (and for instance I, from Milan, was one!). They prefer to forge your mind so as to accomodate what they have available (call them tiles, shelves,…you name it!) rather than make you happy. And that is because 1) it requires less work and efforts to sell what they already have and 2) it is more profitable to get rid of the stock (and in the midst of a pandemic?!? Even more so!!!) and the more the better (because, just so you know, NO BATHROOMS in Italy have tiles -if any- up to the ceiling!!!). So here’s what they’ll do to have it their way: 1) pretend they do not understand what you mean (you from Canada? Easy! You from Milan? Still easy!); 2) make you feel like “you might not fit in” (because god forbid florentines ever question “their ways”!) 3) ultimately give up and deliver (but with their own agenda and adding a nice and fat mark-up). Last: providing advices comes with the Italian ID (so get started on training to spread the light on everyone entitled to your opinion, now that you EARNED your citizenship!!); I have zero doubt you have received GAZILLION advices (99.9% of which possibly unsolicited), by touchy florentines who might have held the grudge as a result of your stubborn determination to build your nest the way YOU (and not them, those IN THE KNOW -!!-), of all people, want it. Full disclosure: I lived three years in Florence, married a Florentine at Palazzo Vecchio and then relocated to the States in Stamford, CT. Then relocated back to Milan and still here. Florence is my co-home (alongside Milan and Stamford), I have my best friend and the entire hubby’s family there so I visit often. The lady might have changed her attire (especially in the past decade), but it will always remain true to her old self: that’s why we love Florence! Cheers to your beautiful persona, your amazing achievements and all the celebrations to come within those beautifully carved and cornerless walls, made so shiny by the most perfectly square tiles!😉🥂

    Like

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