About catherine
Catherine is a CPA-turned-creative entrepreneur. She is the founder of Beginning in the Middle. an interior designer, photographer, writer, and business schemer.  She loves being cozy at home, miniature everything, and has a not-so-secret dream of living on an island one day.
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Before & After

Before & After: The Blonde Vic Kitchen Reveal

The Blonde Vic

Today is an exciting day!! After over two years of renovations, we’re revealing the first room at The Blonde Vic: THE KITCHEN! If you’re new here and don’t know about this project, we’ll fill you in.  In 2017, Bryan & I bought the Vic with plans of making it a vacation rental for our brand, The Village Host.  It’s a 3,000 sq. ft Victorian that was built over 100 years ago, and this is what it looked like when we did our first walkthrough.

We gutted & renovated the entire thing, from the roof all the way down to the basement. Despite the extent of the reno, we really didn’t want it to feel like a brand new house in an old shell, and tried to preserve what was there & add back as much character as possible.

In 2018, we found out we were having a baby and at the last minute, and decided to move in instead of renting it out.  Now that we’re living here, we’re adding finishing touches little by little to the interior & hope to tackle the exterior later this year. We’ve been documenting our design & reno progress on the blog here and on IG here in case you’d like to take a peak! Over the next few months, we’ll begin revealing one room at a time and can’t wait to show it all to you! 

Now onto the kitchen reveal… grab a cup of coffee and get comfy, folks – this is a long one!


Before we get into the thick of it, we want to say a giant thank you to our brand partners on this kitchen who were so wonderful to work with.  We love & use these brands on other renovations, and were thankful they said yes to being a part of our own kitchen at The Vic.  Semihandmade, Emtek, Sinkology, A Carpenter’s Son, CS Hardware, McGee & Co, and Delta – we’re talkin to you.


Bryan & I went through about 27 different options for the kitchen, trying to take into account all of the important factors in kitchen design.  Traffic flow, maximizing storage & functionality, minimizing clutter, and of course… aesthetics.  From the beginning, we knew we wanted to go dark in the kitchen but the design definitely evolved from when we started planning to the end result.  You can catch up on all of our different design changes here & see our final design here.  The biggest wish list items we knew we needed to incorporate were:

  • Add a bathroom to the first floor
  • Enlarge kitchen while retaining as much of the original floorplan as possible
  • Retain a traditional dining room; create comfortable living room
  • Integrate kitchen finishes with the rest of the home & make it feel like another living space (modern/traditional/vintage-inspired)

With all that in mind, our final floorplan ended up looking like this (we kept all of the walls as-is outside of the kitchen):

Here’s a closer look at the kitchen.

And here’s a screenshot of our final rendering.


This is what the view from the front door of The Vic used to look like, before (left) & after (right) demo. The kitchen is straight ahead.

Getting a little closer, this was the old kitchen space in all of its messy glory.  (psst, you can find the rest of the first floor before tour here).

And this is what the kitchen space looked like after demo.  I almost forgot how bad it was!!

There were two staircases in the house.  The one inside the kitchen walls was likely a servants’ staircase that allowed them to come directly into the kitchen without entering the main area.  The odd thing about it is that it just lead to the same landing as the main staircase — it didn’t go any farther than that like servants’ staircases typically do.  Weird, right?

This was the view after framing, insulation, and electrical rough-in…

And after drywall, flooring, and cabinet frames started going in.  Typically we save cabinet install for last, but in this case, we had to do things out of order because of painting & flooring delays.

Speaking of flooring… our flooring guy installed new red oak hardwood floors in the kitchen to match the rest of the 1st floor, and then refinished all of the floors at the same time.  It really makes the kitchen feel like it’s always been that way!


Hereeeee it is now!

By removing the second staircase in the kitchen, we were able to make room for another wall of cabinets on the left & a powder room behind them.

It was a tough decision, but we had to do it considering the limited space we were working with.

This is the first time we took out a wall in an old home, and I’m so glad we did.  The kitchen itself isn’t big (it’s about 12′ x 12′), but having the wall open into the living space makes it feel twice as big.

This is what that same view looked like when we bought the house.

And again, as construction progressed.

And then after we got new drywall up, Metrie molding, our new mantel & lighting installed.

Here’s the view from the coffee bar looking into the living room & dining room. I really love this view ♥️ Usually we have a TV above the fireplace, but swapped it out for these photos. We’ll likely invest in The Frame TV so we can have a blend of TV + art.

I love that we can be sitting at the island or cooking and see the fireplace — it adds a coziness factor to the kitchen that goes a long way.

The front of the island was a DIY that evolved over time.  We loved the look of fluted wood, but didn’t have the budget to get something made custom, so we mimicked the look by installing small wooden dowels close together.  We’ll add a brass strip at the bottom to finish it off (one of these days, ha!) but for now we’re super happy with how it came out.

On cabinets, we partnered with Semihandmade on this kitchen.  They make custom doors that fit on IKEA frames, which allows you to combine the functionality of IKEA cabinetry with a big variety of doors & drawer fronts.  We love, love, love them (and so do our clients)! We opted for the DIY Shaker line of doors, which come unfinished & can be painted whatever color you’d like.  After searching for the perfect black/green/blue/grey, we landed on Behr Black Sable.  It changes colors in different light and it feels sophisticated & moody without being too harsh.

One of my favorite decisions was incorporating an appliance cabinet & coffee bar into the design.  Because this kitchen is open to the living room and is visible from the entryway, we wanted to minimize visual clutter as much as possible.  We put the coffee bar off to the side, so anyone can linger over there without getting in the way of traffic flow.  During electrical rough-ins (when the electricians come to run wires) we had them add an outlet into the cabinet, so all the chords are contained.  We ran the countertop underneath the cabinet, which makes cleaning up inevitable coffee spills much easier.  Inside, we have an espresso machine + milk frother, toaster, small microwave, blender, and some mugs.  In the base cabinet directly below it, we keep a stash of Nespresso pods & tea in the top drawers and store less used appliances on the bottom shelf.

The ceilings in our kitchen are 10′ tall, so we took advantage of that and stacked our upper cabinets.  The bottom set are 40″ tall, and the top set are 15″. Bryan built a library ladder rail, which we installed between the top two tiers of cabinets to support our rolling library ladder from CS Hardware. The frame for the rail is made out of select pine, which is smooth & better quality than standard pine, and painted to match the cabinets.  (This was a huge advantage of going with the DIY Shaker doors.  They may require extra work over the prefinished doors that Semihandmade has, but they give you extra flexibility to customize & paint without having to worry about your added pieces matching the pre-finished doors!)

We store it in our living room corner and will post more photos soon when we finish staining it.

We saved a few thousand dollars easy by buying all of our appliances scratch & dent.  The range, panel-ready dishwasher, and panel-ready fridge totaled about $6k but should have cost over $10k.  The best part is that none of them were actually damaged — they were just floor models, which means they were out on display but never actually used (these are often the best type of scratch & dent finds).

Our range was the inspiration for the entire kitchen, and the first purchase we made on our reno (not even kidding).  We originally were looking at La Cornue, which are $10k+ alone, and somehow stumbled upon Tecnogas, which is an Italian brand that expanded into the US market a few years ago. There’s no LED controls – everything is controlled with the knobs – so it feels old timey & fits right in with the rest of the home.  Favorite features, aside from it working really well & being easy to use, are the soft close door (why don’t all ranges have this?), the dial on the front displaying how hot the oven is, and the black-stainless-brass combo.

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to use latches on the cabinet doors. We searched for a few weeks for the perfect ones, and ended up discovering Emtek.  Guys, their hardware is SOLID.  We chose 5 different pieces of hardware for this space (two different types of knobs, latches for the uppers, appliance pulls, and cup pulls for the dishwasher and pull out trash bin), but kept the finish French Antique throughout.

For countertops, we chose quartz for the range wall and marble for the island.  We liked the idea of going with Quartz next to the range because it’s virtually maintenance free and can handle spaghetti sauce splatter and oil spills like a champ.  Because it’s on the back wall, you can’t really see the details of it either way and figured we’d save ourselves a few headaches by having something super low maintenance next to the range.  We bought the Cloud River slab from Floor & Decor and installed it ourselves to save money.

On the island, we found a discounted Carrara marble slab at a local stone yard and fell in love.  There was only one slab available, and that slab was only long enough to cover one waterfall edge + about 3/4 of the top of the island.  After scouring the internet for ideas, we stumbled upon this kitchen by Jean Stoffer and had an ah-ha moment.  We worked with Josh from A Carpenter’s Son here in Columbus to build a walnut waterfall edge to complete the island, and IT’S PERFECT.  We weren’t sure how durable the wood would be, and have been pleasantly surprised at how well it’s held up.

Here’s one last peak at the space.

Kinda hard to believe it used to look like this!

And that’s all for now, folks.  We’re working on a full budget breakdown of this space with all of our sources linked up, and can’t wait to share more photos of our library ladder.  We’ll be back soon with more!  In the meantime, be sure to follow us over on IG @beginninginthemiddle.


C & B

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  1. I swear this is my most favorite renovation project on the web! Thanks so much for the updates and I am looking forward to seeing more! This kitchen is wonderful and I love seeing the steps along the way of the design evolution…did you have to install steel beams to compensate for the removed walls? I think the solution you landed on is perfect in the old home with that view of the fireplace and the period sensitive touches in hardware etc. married with the modern waterfall island etc.

  2. Amy Fontes says:

    Love your remodel! The wood counter stools are great…would you mind sharing your source? 🙂

  3. […] Beginning in the Middle – I love the hardware in this kitchen, especially the latches. And I love a good black […]

  4. Jessica says:

    Your kitchen is STUNNING and the dowel fluted island is genius! Congratulations on an amazing job well done! I can’t wait to see the rest of the house!

  5. Sarah says:

    Love the kitchen island and the waterfall edge with the wood. Please though…peak is a high point, peek is a quick look.

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks, Sarah! We love it too. Totally a grammar person over here and have been using that word incorrectly this whole time. Thx for the correction! 🙂

  6. Emily says:

    Beautiful work. How did you make the appliance garage with ikea boxes? Looks to be a base unit cut down some and bottom left off?

    • Catherine says:

      Thanks Emily! It’s a 15″ upper cabinet (40″ tall) that we removed the bottom of the box from. It appears deeper because it’s sitting in front of the chimney (our cover panel on the side covers both the cabinet + chimney).

  7. Jillian Lare says:

    Love this remodel! You did a great job. It’s so creative.

  8. Laura says:

    Wow! Love what you did with this house! The final rendering and the real kitchen are practically identical! What software do you use to do your renderings? Thanks!

  9. Amy says:

    This is just stunning! I love dark kitchen cabinets, and that range is so beautiful. What a great transformation!

  10. Lacey says:

    Great kitchen!!! Can you provide more detail on the type of tile used on the backsplash? It doesn’t look like your standard subway tile!

  11. saray gill says:

    Absolutely love your kitchen. Can I ask where you suggest searching for scratch and dent panel ready appliances? We haven’t been able to find anything…

  12. christina says:

    This is stunning, thank you for the inspiration! Would you be able to share the name or the resource for the light fixture hanging in the living room? I know I’ve seen knock-offs of it (which I would settle for, if necessary) but I can’t remember the name of the original to even search for it. Thanks in advance!

  13. Christina R. says:

    This is so beautiful, thank you for the inspiration! I was wondering if you could share the name or the resource for the black chandelier in the living room? I’ve seen the original and all the knock offs a thousand times but now I can’t remember then name to search for it. Thanks in advance!

  14. Amy says:

    Stunning!!! Obsessed with every detail! We are about to start a remodel and are contemplating going the Ikea/Semihandmade route. The one question I can’t seem to find an answer to is how well have they held up over time? I am trying to figure out how everything will look after a year or so with two kids, two dogs, etc etc. If you wouldn’t mind sharing your experience with quality thus far, I would greatly appreciate it!

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you so much! We’ve had ours for about a year and love them. We got the DIY paintable doors, and have touched up scuffs etc as needed w/paint. We’d suggest ordering a sample door from Semihandmade so you can touch and feel before committing. It’s a great option if you’re wanting a custom look but don’t have the budget for custom cabinets!

  15. Jackie says:

    This is so refreshing! I’m sick if seeing all white kitchens it light gray and white kitchens. This is absolutely gorgeous! Good job!

  16. Mica says:

    I love this kitchen!! Beautiful. Did you paint the cabinet boxes as well? I wish IKEA carried boxes in colors other than white.

  17. Alida says:

    What paint did you use on the cabinets? Not colour… brand and sheen? Thanks… I love them!!

  18. Kristina says:

    Hello, what brand/model refrigerator did you purchase? We’re on the hunt for an integrated built in refrigerator and most that sit completely flush with the cabinets cost upwards of $6k.

  19. Amanda says:

    We’re renovating our kitchen and we’ve decided to go the IKEA/Semihandmade route as well. Your kitchen has been a huge inspiration and guiding light for me! I’m working together with a designer who specifically does IKEA boxes, and she told me that IKEA doesn’t do panel-ready refrigerator boxes. I’d really love to have a panel-ready fridge in order to achieve this aesthetic – how did you work out using IKEA boxes/Semihandmade fronts with a panel-ready french door fridge?

  20. Isaac says:

    I keep coming back to this kitchen for inspiration all the time! Can you please tell me where you purchased the Emtek hardware? I am local to Columbus, O. as well 🙂 TIA

  21. Morgan Hall says:

    Hi! Love your whole home. It is so similar to my own home and I have been using almost all of your rooms as a base design for our remodels.
    I am curious which IKEA cabinet base you went with on the kitchen? Did you also use base cabinets for your island? Thanks so much!! Great work!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Morgan! Thank you so much, that means a lot. We did use the base cabinets for our island — we’re really happy with how it all turned out, especially considering the level of customization we were able to get for the price point.

  22. Mel M says:

    Love your kitchen! Exquisite details! Can you tell me which pot filler and sink faucet you used for this project?

  23. Armen Sarkisian says:

    Stunning kitchen! Are you aware of any hardware that would allow the IKEA appliance cabinet to retract inside rather than swing open?

    • Catherine says:

      There are hinges out there made for this, but they won’t work on Ikea doors. The Ikea cabinets have full overlay doors – they sit on top of the frame and are larger than the opening so they can’t be pushed in. You’d need inset doors (ones that are the same size as the opening) to do this, and they are usually custom. <3

  24. Susie Smith Coughlin says:

    I DIE FOR THIS ENTIRE KITCHEN!!!!!!! You have wonderful taste A ++++++

  25. Kelsey Cramer says:


    Love your kitchen, I keeping back to photos of it for inspiration. I see that you used Black sable by Berh. Wondering if you could tell me how many coats you used? In your kitchen photos, it looks mostly black, which I love, but in other photos it looks more green.

    Thank you for your help!

  26. Jenna Roberson says:

    Hi! I think this kitchen turned out beautifully. I love the color and hardware choices! Do you mind sharing the source for the rug that you used? I really like it and have been looking for something similar. Thanks!

  27. SvLana says:

    could not stop coming back to see you gorgeous kitchen… so pretty!!! I have a million and one question as ‘m finishing our house and kitchen in first in line I saw you are not using IKEA kitchen cabinets in your following projects. could you please give some feedback on cabinets, we right now in front of dilemma – to get an IKEA with Semihandmade DIY doors or KraftMaid or other brand like LilyAnn (plywood cabinets with MDF front doors) kitchens;
    would you mind to share a process of painting a Semihandmade DIY Doors (which primer, how many coats of primer and paint and which paint sprayer did you use)?
    also would you mind to share where are your pendant lights from?
    you kitchen is showcase of hard work, tons of preparation and as result – perfection! it is truly hard to believe that it was made without unlimited budget but collected as a puzzle from different pieces (love your story with countertops and butcher block). will highly appreciate your intake. Thank you<

    • Catherine says:

      Thank you so much! We didn’t prime ours, and gave them two coats of Benjamin Moore Advance line paint (we had them color match our Behr Black Sable color). We used a foam roller but would definitely spray them if we could go back and do them again (it just makes them extra smooth). We’ve used this sprayer on other projects and it’s AMAZING.

      Our pendants are Restoration Hardware Modern, but they’re several years old so I’m not sure they still carry them.

      • SvLana says:

        thank you! funny enough before I saw your answer I purchased this exact sprayer 🙂 have you used a Semihandmade cover panels or toekicks? they told me that their panels just a regular common MDF
        3/4″ Board with maple banding on the side; in our kitchen every single 1/2′ is counted as it is not very big space, so I thought just to cut myself all panels and kicks from a board and have flexibility to have it in 1/2″ if needed. which one did you use? Thank you

      • Catherine says:

        We did the same thing — it was much more reasonable to just buy the MDF from Lowe’s and cut ourselves. (Sometimes they can cut for you at the store if you have your exact measurements, too!)

  28. SA says:

    This is an amazing transformation!!! Do you mind sharing the fluted trim you used from Lowe’s?
    Thank you!!

  29. Emily says:

    Hi do you mind sharing if those are the 18″ or 12″ Emtek appliance spindle pull’s please?

  30. Cheryl says:

    Hi there! I LOVE your kitchen! I’m also going the IKEA/custom door route 🙂 I’m wondering about your microwave actually, and what the brand is that fit inside the IKEA upper! Do you have any issues with ventilation? I’m really hoping to fit my microwave in my uppers(counter depth) but I need to find one that will fit! Thanks for the inspo! 🙂

    • Cheryl says:

      Sorry I meant *NOT* counter depth, but they’ll sit on the counter like yours ????????

    • Catherine says:

      Hi! I don’t have microwave specifics off hand (sorry!). This Ikea cabinet is 15″ deep, 30″ wide so we used that when searching for one that would fit. We leave the doors open when it’s in use, and have about 6″ of space on either side.

  31. Hi Catherine,
    My husband and I are Columbus locals and just bought a century-old Craftsman in Clintonville. I’m so thrilled to have come across your website (and am totally shocked I haven’t stumbled on it before!). I absolutely love your and Bryan’s style and the way you honor and enhance the history of these old Columbus homes. I was wondering — would you mind sharing who worked on your hardwood floors? We’re also hoping to match and refinish our original quarter-sawn oak floors, and yours look amazing! Thanks!

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Catherine & Bryan Williamson moved from NYC to Columbus, OH in 2013.  Beginning in the Middle is a journal of the couple's design and renovation projects, real estate investment and Airbnb hosting journey, travel, and other life happenings.



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I grew up in New Jersey and always had a dream of living in New York.  There was something about the energy of the city that drew me inOur journey started unexpectedly in 2012, when we decided to make a big move from New York to Columbus. The glamour of climbing the corporate ladder was wearing off, and we knew that renting an expensive small apartment and dealing with crowded subways everyday was not going to work forever. We wanted to start creating something for ourselves, and although we didn’t know exactly what that something was, we knew NYC wasn’t the place for it.

We decided on Columbus because Bryan grew up here, and we were intrigued by all of the development going on in the downtown area at the time. We drove through many of the neighborhoods and admired the boarded up old houses, most of which were built in the early 1900s, and started dreaming about the things we could do here.

I'm Catherine, and I'm the founder of Beginning in the Middle.

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