Fall ’23 One Room Challenge | French Bistro Inspired Kitchen | Week Three

Welcome to Week Three of the Fall ’23 One Room Challenge! I’m so excited to share some of the progress on my French Bistro Inspired Kitchen this week!

In case you’re new here, my name is Justine Dennen, and I’m the owner of Blue Leopard Interiors, a boutique residential interior design firm in Great Falls, VA. In case you haven’t heard of the One Room Challenge, it’s an eight week online event which happens every spring and fall, where interior decorators and home bloggers, undertake redesigning or designing from scratch a room of their choosing, while sharing the progress along the way. It’s not a competition, as there is no winner, just a supportive group of like-minded design enthusiasts challenging themselves to complete a room in eight weeks. Huge thanks to Linda Weinstein, the creator and director of the One Room Challenge!

Last week I shared the plans and drawings for the kitchen, as well as my digital mood board. This week I want to dive a little deeper into that mood board for my “Modern French Bistro”, and share more about the appliances I chose.


Choosing New Appliances

As much as I would have liked to save money by keeping some of the appliances we already had, the new layout of the kitchen, and the look I was going for, just made that impossible. As you saw in last week’s post, the layout of the kitchen changed a lot, which meant all of the appliances did as well. The only one that stayed in nearly the same spot was the dishwasher, but because we wanted to add cabinet panels to it and the fridge, we still had to order new replacements. But don’t worry – non of our old appliances (which were all in great condition and working well) ended up in the landfill! They were all either donated to Habitat for Humanity (along with our old kitchen cabinets), or given to people we know.


The Range

The old kitchen had a Thermador gas cooktop built into the island, as well as Thermador double ovens built into the cabinetry on the wall next to the pantry. After living with the cooktop in the island, I knew I definitely did not like that set up, and also loved the look of the vintage style, European ranges I had seen. I was also intrigued by the idea of switching from gas to induction for the stovetop, for a few reasons. Gas cooktops are being phased out in many places, including Europe, California, and Oregon, not only because they use fossil fuels, but because of the of the indoor air pollution they cause. According to this article from The Guardian, “Burning gas creates heat, which causes nitrogen and oxygen to bond among the flames. They combine to create nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, collectively known as NOx, which can irritate the lungs. But that’s not the only compound to worry about. Cooking with gas can also emit carbon monoxide, particulate matter and even formaldehyde. Those all have various deleterious health impacts, and can affect the respiratory and cardiovascular systems“. So I started to research induction stoves a little more. There are not a lot on the market in the U.S. to choose from, but since I had a specific style and size in mind, that helped narrow down the choices even further. I wanted a range that had at least two ovens, as I’ve always found that having a smaller oven is super convenient for baking small batches of cookies, a frozen pizza, or some homemade chicken nuggets. In our last house, we had a 48” range with two ovens, six burners, and a griddle, but with our kids growing up and moving out soon, I felt like that was more than what we need now. I found this 40″ Ilve Majestic Induction Range, which is the perfect size, gets great reviews, and is exactly that vintage style I was going for!


Ilve Majestic II 40 Inch Electric Freestanding Range in Matte Graphite with Brass Trim



Isn’t she beautiful?!?! The Majestic comes in so many different colors (nine to be exact, as well as the option to choose a custom color!) and four trim finishes. Luckily, they offer color and trim finish samples, so I ordered several, and after deliberating between the Emerald Green, Glossy Black, Stainless Steel, and Matte Graphite, I chose the Matte Graphite with Brass Trim. The Matte Graphite was a good match with my kitchen island and message center, which are in Mouser’s “Iron” finish, and the brass trim just screams French Bistro to me! I was also lucky that they happened to have this color and finish combo in stock, and the shipping was super fast!


The Range Hood


When I first found my beloved Ilve range, I was excited to see the company also make matching ventilation hoods, which I expected to be as stylish and eye-catching as their ranges, especially since they come in as many colors and finishes as their counterparts. I was pretty bummed when I looked them up and found something much more basic and utilitarian than what I had imagined. The kind of hood I was looking for was not only functional, but beautiful. There are plenty of good, ventilation hoods out there which function well to pull cooking grease and smells out of the air above the cooktop, but I was looking for a hood which would also stand out and really help give my kitchen the French Bistro vibe I was going for. After doing some research on them, I realized if I wanted the hood of my dreams, I would need to order something custom made.

There are several custom hood manufacturers in the market, and all seem to offer many options for colors, finishes, and virtually any style you can imagine. Just do a quick google search for “Custom Range Hoods” and you’ll see dozens of options. But it was this image I found on Pinterest that really stood out to me:


Angled Stainless Steel Custom Kitchen Hood with Brass Straps by Range Hood Master


This hood was the exact shape and style I had in mind, it just needed a little customizing to make it match my range and take my kitchen to another level. Range Hood Master makes it super easy to customize any of their designs with a few selections, and will show you exactly what the final product will look like. You can also give them the exact dimensions you want, and get as detailed as choosing no rivets, small rivets, large rivets, or square rivets. So within a minute, I had come up with this thing of beauty:



Angled Black Stainless Steel Custom Kitchen Hood with Brass Straps and Large Rivets

But before I placed the order, I wanted to be sure their finishes would match my range, so I ordered finish and trim samples (which arrived very quickly), and confirmed that they matched with the Ilve samples I already had. Working with RangeHood Master was fantastic! They were super responsive via email, answered all of my questions, and my hood was finished faster than the lead time I was originally quoted. When it was finished, they sent an email  which showed my completed hood, looking exactly how it was pictured on the website! I chose the expedited air shipping (ocean freight shipping is free) since I was on a deadline for the ORC, and I was amazed how quickly it arrived! It was well-packed in a big crate, and is jaw-droppingly beautiful in person!

The Refrigerator, Dishwasher, and Microwave


Another lesson I had learned from living in the old kitchen is that extra deep (or non-counter-depth) refrigerators do NOT help the traffic flow of a kitchen, and although they offer a bit more storage because of the depth, they also make it very easy for smaller items to get pushed to the back of the fridge and get “lost”, because you can’t see them. I also knew I wanted a “panel-ready” refrigerator and dishwasher, which means they come ready to accept a panel that matches the cabinetry and then look like cabinets when installed. I wanted to see the appliance options in person, so I went to my local AJ Madison showroom. Most people know certain brands such as Sub Zero for being high quality, but the sales rep at AJ Madison showed me several others which are also highly regarded, with a much lower price tag, and lead time. I really liked the brand Dacor, and they had a couple of rebate offers at the time which I was able to take advantage of.  And although a panel-ready fridge typically doesn’t come with an outside water and ice dispenser, the Dacor model I chose, has a built-in filtered water dispenser on the inside of the fridge, and an ice maker which is in a separate pull-out of the bottom freezer drawer.

I really liked the Bosch dishwasher in our old kitchen, and again, would have kept it if it was panel-ready. I was able to find nearly the same model in a panel-ready model, so added it to the order.

For the microwave, I wanted it to be as integrated into the kitchen as possible, so had decided I wanted a drawer microwave, built into the island. The drawer microwave was originally patented and manufactured by Sharp, and although there are other brands selling drawer microwaves, they are all still manufactured by Sharp. Not only did I feel it made sense to go to the source, but Sharp is also one of the only brands that make a black stainless steel drawer microwave which would blend into my dark island even better.




Dacor 36-inch Panel Ready Built-In French Door Refrigerator



Bosch 24 Inch Fully Integrated Built-In Panel Ready Smart Dishwasher




Sharp 24 Inch Microwave Drawer with Easy Touch™




So that’s all the extremely riveting info on the appliances I chose for our new kitchen! Not exactly the most exciting post, but very important components of the kitchen, nonetheless. I promise there is lots of work going on in the background of this kitchen renovation, and if I was better at figuring out how to make reels, you would be seeing them on my Instagram right now! Come back next week for more updates, and in the meantime, please check out all of the other amazing participants in the Fall ’23 One Room Challenge!!


Here is my ORC progress

Week 1  ||  Week 2  ||  Week 3  ||  Week 4  ||  Week 5  ||  Week 6 ||  Week 7  ||  Week 8