Our Coastal Kitchen Renovation Step by Step

Aug 3, 2023DESIGN

We weren’t jazzed about throwing five figures into our coastal kitchen renovation. But, I convinced my partner that renovating the kitchen might very well improve my cooking. So, we rolled up our sleeves, shook hands, and dug in. 

This kitchen renovation included replacing the island, countertops, backsplash, sink, hardware and cooktop. The goal was to transform our kitchen from dark and traditional into light and coastal. Our kitchen renovation proves miracles can happen when you blend the right materials.

Fortunately for us, the previous owners already replaced the costly kitchen cabinets. My goal was to coordinate new materials that would jive with the cabinets and travertine flooring. As a side note, I don’t love travertine. But, I don’t dislike it enough to demo and replace the entire main level flooring of our home.

The travertine was previously polished. This enhanced the yellow in the stone. I loathe yellow, so we sanded the top layer to remove the yellow tone. Now, our once Tuscan travertine resembles the color of sand. It’s perfect for our coastal kitchen vibe.


We planned to use wood for the kitchen island base. But, we disliked how the old island showed every droplet of water. The more we researched, we realized we wanted water-resistant material. We landed on Salt International melamine. Wrapping the perimeter of the island with horizontal planks created the rustic vibe we love. It looks great juxtaposed against the more sophisticated countertop. And it coordinates with the existing Navajo White cabinets.

I designed the island with drawers and pull-outs. I find drawers much more functional than cabinets, especially when they’re lower. So, I opted for a trash/recycling pull-out with a sub-drawer for trash liners. There is also a nifty dog food drawer. The only cabinet is under-the-sink.

We chose Schaub hardware because they offer hardware suites. The existing Navajo White cabinets had five-inch handles with holes already drilled. We knew handles that small would be too puny for the island. I was gaming for eight-inch and ten-inch oil rubbed bronze handles. Schaub offers handles from five-inches to twelve-inches and several sizes in between.

On the patio/pool side of the island, I opted for four equally-sized drawers for pool towels and swim trunks. This makes it super easy for the kids to grab what they need to swim or hang by the fire pit.


I chose Taj Mahal quartzite countertops because it adds the perfect movement without competing with the travertine flooring. The fabricator told us many people are replacing their quartzite because it’s no longer on trend. I don’t care. It’s rich and creamy with a hint of gray — and we love it. 

Coastal Kitchen Renovation, Countertops - Julie Pedraza

We added backsplash tile and two floating shelves to the accent wall above. I keep canisters of my favorite treats on the lower shelf and my cookbooks on the higher one — high enough that I can’t reach them. Smart cookie, huh?

The idea of charging dirty phones on the countertop grosses me out. I had just enough depth to add a charging station shelf. It’s equipped with a USB outlet, phone sanitizer/charger and Google Home. Below the charging shelf is our dog’s food/hydration station. No more knocking over water bowls.

Coastal Kitchen Renovation, Island - Julie Pedraza


My friend recommended a Blanco sink and it does not disappoint. It’s scratch, stain, heat and rust resistant. In other words, sign me up! I’m forever ruined and will never have a scratched-up stainless steel sink again.

The Newport Brass faucets have me swooning, too. The single handle faucet and hot water dispenser are the best faucets I’ve ever owned. And the oil-rubbed bronze is the drama I wanted atop the Taj Mahal countertops. Newport Brass designs excellent yet expensive faucets. But, if there’s anything I’ve learned from years of kitchen renovations, it’s that cheap faucets are a real drip.

Let’s pretend the little nubby piece next to the faucet isn’t there. It’s an air gap. I don’t like it, but the state of California requires it. *sigh*

Coastal Kitchen Renovation, Faucets - Julie Pedraza


I wanted to keep the backsplash clean and simple. I’ve found when you add accents to the backsplash you tire of them. Besides, backsplash accents are trendy. Trends come and go while clean and simple is timeless.

We needed tile that would coordinate with the existing cabinets. So, we chose matte white Concerto tile. Each tile has tonal differentiation with a smidge of texture. To complete the facelift of this side of the kitchen, we added a new cooktop. Ideally, I’d like to replace the stainless hood. But, it wasn’t a priority during this phase.

Coastal Kitchen Renovation, Backsplash - Julie Pedraza

I’m thrilled with the end result. But, there’s one detail I’ll change in our next kitchen. When I design our future kitchen from scratch, I’ll eliminate the upper cabinets. I love the industrial vibe of open shelving. I’m a minimalist with little to no clutter. An upper shelf of quick-grab Fable dinnerware is all I need.

What a difference a new kitchen island, countertops, backsplash and hardware can make. The before and after images look like two different homes. It feels great to have a refreshed kitchen. —Almost good enough to cook in it.

Kitchen Before Photo - Julie Pedraza
Kitchen After Photo - Julie Pedraza

Side Note:  Selecting a general contractor is the most important step in any renovation. The one we chose understood our creative vision, but that’s where our kumbaya ended. No renovation project is seamless and ours certainly was not. Our project manager was difficult to work with and there were many mistakes made.

The point being, choose wisely. Rather than selecting the least expensive quote, go with the contractor with the most positive client testimonies. Do your due diligence, fasten your seatbelt, and trust the resultswill be beautiful.

Photos: Alena Zoghi

As always, thank you for being here and sharing the articles you appreciate most. Be sure to subscribe to occasional future posts below. If you have questions or suggestions, leave a comment or drop a note. My mind and inbox are always open.


  1. Beautiful kitchen renovation!!!! Thanks for sharing with inspiration with all of us. I am looking at the same Taj Mahal for our renovation. I must decide this week. Yikes!!!! Did you go with 2cm or 3cm and what edge did you choose?

  2. Hello. Can you please send a link to your kitchen backsplash? It is exactly what I’m looking for. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for your patience, Kathy. I so appreciate your compliment. We chose quartzite Taj Mahal 3cm with a pencil edge. I hope this helps!

  4. Hi,

    This is beautiful. Can you share what the upper cabinet color is?

    Thank you!

  5. Hi Amy- Thank you for your patience. The cabinet color is Navajo White. Hope this helps!

  6. I really like your look! I have Taj Mahal countertops and I’m trying to figure out the backsplash and really like how yours came together. Are your counters polished or are they honed/satin? I have the unpolished ones and was wondering fi the matte tiles would work with it?

  7. Thank you, Kimberly! Our quartzite is honed. I’m still loving the look of the honed countertops with the matte tile backsplash. Let me know how yours turn out. I love seeing others’ finished projects.

  8. Obsessed with your quartz countertops! What color/style is the name of this particular one? Thank you!

  9. Love the ‘tone’ of your kitchen – it feels very calming, if that makes sense. Do you mind sharing what grout color you chose for the backsplash.

  10. Thanks Alli! The grout color is Snow White. Hope this helps.

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