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A few more updates in the kitchen

    One year ago (almost to the day!) I shared our MINI KITCHEN MAKEOVER.

    You’ve probably heard me say this a million times, but I’ll say it again: our big plan is to tear out the whole kitchen and dining room and reorient everything. New walls, new windows, new doors, new layout, new cabinets, new floors, new counters. Whew. New everything.

    But … we’re not quite ready to do that.

    So, in the meantime, we gave the kitchen a facelift.

    Truthfully, it’s not my dream kitchen. But also? It’s not bad at all. In fact, it’s making us rethink our big kitchen remodel plans.

    Over the weekend, I was thinking about our kitchen and about how while it is not perfect, it feels much more in line with our style. We spent about $1000 updating it and truly, the before and afters are impressive (if I do say so myself).

    Which then got me thinking that there are probably a lot of you, my favorite blog readers, who have a kitchen that drives you crazy. I’m sure you’d love to tear the whole thing out and start all over, but perhaps like us, you don’t quite have the budget or bandwidth to take on that project in the near future.

    So, do you just keep living with a dated kitchen until you can redo the whole thing? Or is it better to spend a little bit of time and money to make it more your style now?

    You know which option I prefer. This whole house has been an exercise in phase one makeovers. And what we’re finding is that those phase one makeovers not only transform our spaces into more stylish rooms, but also make us enjoy living and gathering in our home.

    So I’m fully embracing the mini makeovers.

    I put together a guide that shares six things you can do to your kitchen without tearing the whole thing out and I hope it will be helpful resource and an encouragement to think about what you can do with your kitchen rather than waiting until you can just start over from scratch. Get the guide RIGHT HERE, or keep scrolling down to the bottom for details.

    Since our initial mini makeover, we’ve made a few new updates to the kitchen that I wanted to share. Styling my house and taking pictures is such a fun, creative thing for me, so any excuse I have to play stylist, I take it :)


    In our frenzy to finally clear out the dining room of all the random excess that has been stored in there for the past year, we had to decide what to do with this large, beloved chalkboard. We bought it at our local salvage yard in Seattle over 12 years ago. It moved to many different locations in our last house (here it is in the old playroom) and we never could find a good place for it in this house.

    This wall in the kitchen eating space is literally the only wall where it would fit (or make sense to hang it) in the house. I was hesitant to put it in here because the kitchen is already so dark that I wasn’t sure how adding another large black item would feel.

    But I actually really do like it. Especially with the worn wood of the old church pew. It was really pretty at Christmas time, too, with fresh garland and sweet messages written on it (see it here).


    This was a really boring, but very necessary update: a new dishwasher.

    The dishwasher that came with the house was old, loud and did not get the dishes clean. Our son, Mason, even took to using paper cups because he was so grossed out by the tiny flakes of who-knows-what that were baked on to the glassware in the dishwasher. Our children literally cheered when we told them we ordered a new dishwasher :)

    We ordered this one and could not be happier. It is the kind with the top pull-out tray for silverware and I even like that part. It is quiet, efficient and gets our dishes clean.

    Sometimes boring updates are especially necessary and wonderful.

    P.S. Ryan is a big fan of this website called Wirecutter for finding the best appliances, electronics, home products, etc. That’s how we decided what dishwasher to go with.


    Right before Christmas, Ryan suggested that we use the extra pieces of wood leftover from the kitchen shelves to add two more in the desk area. Why did we not put these up right from the start? I do not know. It helps tie that spot in with the rest of the kitchen.

    And it gives me more space to store and style.

    The biggest update I’m just dying to do is replace the floors. We will tear up all of the floors on the mainfloor and make it all consistent. We currently have wood in the entry, white carpet in the living and dining rooms, dark tile in the kitchen, bathroom and mudroom and a different carpet in the family room and front office. It feels very hodge-podge. And dark.

    Floors are expensive, so half of our delay is just needing to save up before taking the plunge. But also, we don’t want to replace the floors until we know for sure what we’re doing with the kitchen and dining room. If we take out the wall between the kitchen and dining room and change the layout of the kitchen, it makes the most sense to do all of that at the same time.

    And so, we wait.

    But I couldn’t resist playing around with what the kitchen would look like with new floors. Thankfully, the power of photoshop let me magically give our kitchen warm wood floors.

    Isn’t that fun? I think the whole house will feel so much brighter and warmer with the addition of wood.

    If you’re looking for ways you can update your kitchen, I put together a guide for you.
    If your kitchen is feeling dated and doesn’t reflect your style (but you are not quite ready for a full remodel), I have six suggestions for how you can make those updates without spending a fortune.

    Click the image (or RIGHT HERE) to get the guide! I hope it will be extra helpful to you as you think about updating your kitchen.

    27 thoughts on “A few more updates in the kitchen”

    1. Emily, I love everyone’s responses! I too would go with a warm white on the outer cabinets. Maybe the Shitake, but I’d like to see you try some other warm bright whites. Your floors ARE very dark. But I think you wouldn’t object to them as much with much brighter cabinets. On the island, I agree- you could leave it dark and see if you like it. I love your pendant over your dining room table, but I feel like it’s a bit small there. I think hanging that pendant and a second one just like it over the island would really brighten up the kitchen. Then you have that mixed metals look that we all love! Then find a bit large coordinating one for over the table. You may find that painting just the window frames a warm white would help as well. I think the door frame is great as is. I love your blog fyi!! I appreciate how real you are! I’m from the Seattle area as well!

    2. I really love this space and especially how your shelves have that “floating” look. May I ask what you used for the brackets? I need to re-do mine and make them a bit stronger! Thanks in advance!

    3. LOVE it all!! We are currently in the waiting/saving phase for a big kitchen makeover too; the owners of the house before us updated just about every space except for the kitchen, so it’s our task to take on. We have a 1929 Craftsman so I want to just go nuts and make it perfect all at once – SO hard to wait!!

    4. Really nice what you did with your kitchen.
      However, it looks much better with dark tile floors than wood. Tile is also much more practical for a kitchen. We have very similar gray tiles in our entry, hallway, and kitchen.

    5. First of all, I LOVE the dark cabinets and open shelves and how everything fits together here. I would be thrilled if this was my forever kitchen!

      Second, I’m hoping to get some advice – I’ve been trying to convince my mom to put some open shelving in her kitchen, but she is adamant that everything on those shelves will be covered in cooking grease/gunk and that it will just be too much work to keep everything clean. What was your experience with the open shelving right next to your range? Do you have any tips or hacks on making the cleaning/dusting/etc less of a chore?

      1. Thank you for the compliments!

        Anytime you have things out in the kitchen, you’ll inevitably get some grease/dust residue. Especially in kitchens where the cooking lends itself to greasy cooking. So first, make sure the vent is turned on when cooking to try to suck up as much of the steam as possible.

        We keep mainly things we use daily on the first shelves and so those never have a chance to get dusty since they are regularly used. The items on the top shelves do not get much use so I do have to wipe them down semi-regularly (like once per month). When we hosted christmas, we took all of the glassware down and washed it all just to make sure the wine glasses were free from dust. It took a little while, but with music on and chatting with Ryan, the task went by quickly!

    6. My favorite element is how the wood pew and chalkboard play off of each other. Small updates are the best, love all the ones you’ve made!

    7. Do you have any recommendations for small rug styles for the kitchen by the sink? I like the one you have, wondering if you have any store recommendations.

    8. We just bought the same Bosch dishwasher right after Christmas. We love how quiet it is and how clean the dishes are ! So funny how these are the things that make us happy now…..

    9. Hey! I have to say that I absolutely fell in love with your mini makeover so much that I showed my husband right before Christmas when we were about to redo our floors and we took our project just a “little” further. I need to share pics (I don’t think I can on here?) so you can see the crazy before and after. Our house is about 100 years old. We had a neighbor friend contractor help us take out an old outside wall to the yucky mudroom and create a pantry and new mudroom space. A lot of other changes as well but that was the idea. We even went with the same paint colors as yours…thanks for doing the work of picking those out! We love it and are getting close to finishing! A few more shelves and a barn door and we will be set.

    10. Did you have issues with the drywall where your cabinets had been? We removed some cabinets and had irregular lines (most likely from layers of paint). Sanding made no difference, so now we’re left with ugly drywall. Really like your kitchen makeover! I could live with that!

    11. Thank you for just the push I needed to go for it! Been wanting refresh my kitchen for a while and now I’m excited to get started!

    12. It looks so great! I love these mini-updates! On a random note, where did you find your water glasses on your open shelving? I’ve been looking for simple, clean lined glasses and it’s been harder than I thought!

    13. It looks like your kitchen is fairly functional. Could you just replace the island and counters and the floor and leave your perimeter cabinets as is?

    14. I really like the tile floors in your kitchen as is, rather than the wood. It looks more integrated and has a calm peaceful aura that the wood floors do not. Its great to be able to try these things out on the computer first before investing.

    15. I love what you’ve done to update your kitchen, Emily, until you’re ready for a complete redo. The color you painted the cabinets and doors is great. I wonder if you considered painting the trim around the windows white, which would sort of make them disappear. I noticed when I look at your photos that my eye jumps to those windows with their dark outlines. It would be interesting to see how they’d look with trim the same color as the walls.

      Our kitchen floors are tile also, but smaller tile in a very unattractive color with unattractive grout. We’ve been in our house 19 years and have yet to remodel our kitchen. There is so much about it we don’t like. But a kitchen remodel is such a huge (and expensive) project, that we just can’t quite bite the bullet and do it. One day … Patience is definitely a virtue.

      1. We initially painted the trim white because that is typically what we prefer … and it just did not look right. So we tried dark and liked it much more. It’s not something we’ll keep forever, but it works for now :)

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