Well, finally, here it is! The long story of how I transformed a plain white-wall and oak-cabinet kitchen into a kitchen I can live with—on a tight budget, without spending on new cabinets or countertops, and doing it all myself.
after—I actually like my kitchen
Here you'll see what I started with: cold white walls, white tile floors, cheap fake oak cabinets, and a very bad layout. You can only go up from here, people!
Boring, ugly, cold. Get me out of this kitchen.
I knew absolutely that the first order of business was to paint, but it took me a long while to decide on color. In the meantime, I played with the layout (that set of cabinets to the right in the picture were not screwed to the wall, which meant I could move them anywhere—yippee!) and I was lucky to receive new appliances as housewarming gifts from Mom and Dad (double-yippee!).
Phase 1 Quick Fixes
1. Create new layout for better flow and use of space.
2. Replace old appliances.
3. Remove upper cabinet doors for a more modern look.
4. Remove pantry door for easier access.
5. Remove glass ceiling fan shades and replace with drum shade.
6. Cover up cold white floors with a rug or two.
not there yet
Here's the kitchen in transition. But many things are still wrong with this space. I hate the range sitting all along on that wall. It's so far away from the sink. And it's next to the entry on the left and the basement door and pantry and upstairs access on the right. This is a high-traffic area and so, cooking here makes no sense. And I might even more detest that itty bitty single cabinet next to the range. Drives me crazy. The itty bitty kitty does not drive me crazy. Well, most of the time.
a too-big fridge—or is it just in the wrong spot?
I thought I'd try the fridge over here, but it's so bulky. And with no recess to back it into, it's taking up way too much room. Also, there are more entries and exits here: the fridge has the living room entry on the left and a pantry on the right. The layout's still not working.
getting ready to paint
What did work is moving the double cabinet that used to be all alone and a few steps to the sink and adding it to the sink wall of cabinets. This extends counter space and makes this almost look like a real kitchen! Nevermind that the wall behind it is set back. Building that out and creating a linen closet (the bathroom entry is to the left) is Phase 3—maybe in the spring!
What's also working is the paint color I tested on that wall—Benjamin Moore's Raccoon Hollow. But maybe a little lighter. In the end, I went one shade lighter to Brandon Beige.
1. Paint walls
2. Paint cabinets
3. Install cabinet hardware.
happy white cabinets—a breath of fresh air
White painted cabinets and new hardware make all the difference. White: Benjamin Moore Dove White. Green inside cabinets: Ralph Lauren Lafayette. Hardware: Home Depot.
if you can't have a window over your sink, this is not a bad alternative
I love the way my chalk/corkboard fits perfectly over the sink. I pin recipes here and write a shopping list or menu. I had no wall space to mount my set of wine ledges, so I sat them on top of the upper cabinets to create a sort of wine rack. (Maybe I should write on the chalkboard: buy more wine.)
a new layout and new look
The range works better over here. And I love the stainless shelf above it, where I can line up spices, lean artwork, hang utensils, and use a magnet to mount a recipe or two as I'm cooking.
not a bad place to cook
a better spot for the fridge
And the fridge works better over here. The basket on top makes me happy. And makes it hard to reach snacks! You also might notice two oddly placed little frames near the door. I kind of like that they're low and off-center, and that's good, because they're hiding wall boo-boos that were really hard to fix with wall compond. So, I say where you cannot fix, conceal. And, you probably can't help but notice the ugly ceiling fan blades. Lighting is expensive. I have not gotten around to replacing this yet!
Murphy soaks in the new atmosphere
didn't think I could get more counter space, but moving things around helped
So there it is. I can live with this! At some point, when I've got the funds, I'd love to just gut the whole thing and start over: new cabinets, counters, backsplash, flooring, ceiling, lighting, farmhouse sink, faucet, table and chairs. But I live in the real world. And this kitchen, it works for that.