When asking for blog topic suggestions, many of you wanted to know what was going on with our kitchen arch and why I had mentioned we’ll be removing it. Nothing gets past you! Haha! In all honesty, I didn’t realize so many people were curious or invested, and since we’ve decided to renovate my home office next (instead of the dining room), I didn’t want to leave you hanging on the arch dilemma that bridges our finished kitchen and unfinished dining room. Click through to read about our arch and why it was the WRONG move, in terms of design and architecture. I’m accepting full responsibility for this one…
Emmett and I were house hunting a few winters ago and our first showing of this house (the home we currently live in) went terribly. I actually had my heart set on another home we had put an offer on that wasn’t accepted. Our good friend and real estate agent, Mark, knows us well and thought we would love this home, scheduled a tour, and despite Emmett’s best arguments, I was totally against buying this house… or even looking at it a second time. Shocking, I know- because now I absolutely LOVE our home! I was in a funk, and I wanted to point out every single flaw, which is hilarious given we’re in the business of renovating and breathing new life into homes. Haha! It was pretty comical for me, of all people, to point out cosmetic issues that we’d be changing anyway. I’m definitely over here rolling my eyes at my past self.
Anyway, Emmett convinced me to give this place another look (praise be)! He promised we’d make it beautiful together, pointed out so many possibilities, and his main (cosmetic) selling point? That he would turn those 90’s chamfered openings and doorways into arches… it was music to my ears. SOLD.
We moved in, renovated the first space… the guest bath, and shortly moved onto the kitchen next. It was a huge project! Knowing that Emmett and I had discussed swapping the dated doorways throughout our home to arches, I thought it made sense to incorporate a large arch between our kitchen and dining room. That would make the others we’d be installing in the future, feel cohesive. I designed it, we popped it into CAD, sent it to a local millwork company through Emmett’s work (they do custom cabinetry), and honestly spent a LOT of money getting that beautiful arch casing custom cut.
Before the kitchen was even finished, I knew I messed up. After spending ~$1,500 on the arch millwork (custom curved door casing) and seeing Emmett super pleased with his beautiful installation, I tried to love it. I really did. I thought once we moved our things into the kitchen and I styled it, things would feel so much better. Spoiler alert- they didn’t. I fessed up to Emmett that it was a huge design mistake on my part (I’ll tell you why in a minute), and that someday- when it came time to renovate the dining room, we’d have to rip it out. At that point, we didn’t have time to correct it. We were under a deadline working with Lowe’s to complete the kitchen and I knew it would just add stress to our project and timeline.
Emmett being Emmett (who is the most laid back guy ever), was SO cool about it. I explained the situation to him, he totally agreed with me, and despite the fact that I just wasted a lot of our money and his time, he let me know it was ok and was probably for the best. So what went wrong? In a day and age where beautiful arches are gracing the internet and our social media feeds, why not keep the pretty arch that leads into our kitchen? It’s simple really… the architecture of our home.
As someone who went to school and has an education in design, it’s something I should’ve noticed and steered clear of. These are the type of design and architectural mistakes that bother me because I am a designer. Well, even designers make mistakes every once in awhile or get distracted by a trend. That is what happened here. I’d like to think I’m a better designer after my arch mishap. After all, I learned a valuable lesson and I won’t make that mistake again…. as long as there was a lesson learned, I’m not going to be beat myself up. Let’s talk about why it doesn’t work…
To put it simply, we live in a georgian colonial style home (I talk more about that in this post). It’s not historic… in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a builder-grade home that was built in the 1990’s. I think that’s actually a big part of what threw me. The home isn’t a traditional colonial- it’s a colonial built in the 90’s with builder-grade architecture and finishes. There is nothing wrong with that, but the style is not indicative of what a “real” historic georgian colonial home would look like. The chamfered doorways almost looked like they are meant to be arches… well, the 90’s version of an arch. Instead of really analyzing our home and historic homes similar to it, I rolled with my dream of having lots of beautiful arched doorways because they already kind of resembled that.
When the arch in our kitchen was finally installed, I had the lightbulb moment far too late. Georgian colonial homes do not have arches, like you’d see in a tudor or cottage. Colonials are known for their symmetry, balance, hard edges, lines, square or rectangular, boxy shapes, and 90 degree corners. Oof. I majorly missed the mark with my arch vision. It felt wrong, it looked wrong, and I’m glad I noticed something was amiss before we moved further with our renovation plan- installing arched french doors in my office and swapping all of the chamfered doorways to arches, like Emmett had promised. All of the chamfered doorways in our home will eventually end up cased out as rectangular doorways. We have a lot to transition and we’ll do it room by room. Sure, it will look funny for awhile, but I know we’ll be happy in the end! I felt much better after coming to this realization and creating a renovation plan moving forward, once our kitchen was finished.
While $1,500 and many hours of labor on Emmett’s part seems like a big cost to pay for my design mistake, I’m confident we’re actually going to save money in the long run, because custom arched casing or millwork is expensive. Arches are very time consuming, if they’re cased out- the millwork is expensive, and they’re just a bigger investment than a standard square or rectangular doorway.
So there you have it… our arch dilemma, my mistake, and our fantasy about having arches in a home where they really don’t belong. As a designer, should I have known better? Yep. As cheesy as it sounds, it wasn’t a total loss because I was able to gain a very clear vision for our home moving forward. I hope our experience can provide a valuable lesson- encouraging you to think twice before hopping on a trend and making quick architectural changes that may or may not be suited for the period or style of your home. I’m sure in the 90’s, those chamfered doorways seemed like a great idea and were a sought after feature, but here we are, planning to rip them out and replace them with something more appropriate for the style of our home. It’s a good lesson!
Another blog post topic I got many requests for was analyzing architecture, determining the style of your home, and deciding what interior updates make sense that feel cohesive (based on that). I think that might be a good follow up post? If anyone is interested in that, please let me know! There are a few morals to this story: design and renovating mistakes happen (even to designers), home is an ever-changing place that is constantly evolving, nobody is immune to trends, and nothing is permanent (even the worst design mistakes). Sure, some design choices are more expensive to fix, but at the end of the day, do what feels best and makes you happy in your home. It’s not the end of the world. You can also take your time correcting it (I’ve already spent two years staring at the arch- it’s fine).
If the kitchen images look familiar throughout this post, they are from the initial reveal a couple years ago. I’m still on the hunt for that vintage freestanding french island or cart, but in the meantime- our little cart (not pictured) has been so perfect. There’s a reason I don’t shoot the archway in our kitchen photos anymore- because it’s not an element I enjoy seeing… that’s why I had to dig out the archived images. Haha! Design questions? Thoughts? I’m all ears! Have you ever made a design decision in your home that is currently bothering you or you have regretted?