We didn’t mean to do a kitchen makeover. Really, we didn’t.
But on the first night, while I was in another room, I heard Ryan’s drill and I knew: those cabinets were coming down.
Let me back up for a minute and remind you of what the kitchen looked like on the day we closed:
From the moment we first saw the house, we knew the kitchen/eating space wouldn’t stay this way. It took a bit of creativity and lots of sketching before we had a pretty good plan in place.
What is that plan, you might ask? I’ll spare you exact details but will say it involves tearing everything out, removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room, taking out the french doors, aligning the whole kitchen along the back wall, creating a giant island, replacing all the floors and adding in as much natural light as possible.
Needless to say, this project is not on the immediate horizon. We both decided we would live with the perfectly fine (if slightly dated and very orange) kitchen until we begin the big remodel.
And then the drill came out (on the first night! We are crazy like that!) and Kitchen Makeover Phase One began.
The first problem in the kitchen were those bulky upper cabinets. This house is pretty dark and the cabinets were not helping, so down those came.
I painted the cabinets in our old house and was very happy with how they turned out so we decided to do the same in this kitchen for the lower cabinets. My default for cabinets is always white, but in this house, white didn’t feel right.
Because we have to work with the dark tile floor and the speckled black and white granite tile, we felt like dark cabinets would be best to connect the floor and counters and minimize the contrast. If we went white, I could imagine it would feel pretty disjointed between the white walls, dark counters, white cabinets, dark floors. Grounding the bottom portion of the kitchen seemed like the way to go. Plus, the direction we’re trying to take this house is more handsome (to balance all the sweetness of the dormers and cottage-y features) and a rich charcoal was a great way to accomplish this.
I tried three sample colors for the cabinets and decided on Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams.
SIDE NOTE: I had the paint color matched at Home Depot in their highest quality in semi-gloss. Keep in mind that all of this will be replaced when we do the big kitchen remodel and so we’re doing our best to keep costs at a minimum. Honestly, I’ve been quite happy with the quality of paint.
With the gray floor, cold granite and charcoal cabinets, we’re adding a bit of warmth with brass hardware. I found brass cup pulls and knobs on sale from the Martha Stewart line and they will work perfectly in the kitchen.
There was also an issue with lighting.
A massive, old fluorescent light hung over the island that was cased in more wood and felt very heavy. The can lights were scattered randomly and had black inner rings and off-white plates that read dirty and dark. The double pendants over the eating area were off-center and for some reason having two felt off.
Ryan and a friend decided on a whim one night to add a few more recessed lights and to fix the placement of others so that they all lined up on a grid. The pendants came down, one hole will be patched up and the other was replaced with a leftover pendant light from our old house. It is amazing how much brighter it feels in the kitchen now with the extra cans and the clean white of the metal, rather than the off-white/black combo that was previously used.
Once the upper cabinets came down we realized how dark the walls were painted and those got a coat of white paint to freshen up the space. You can see the contrast of the previous gray wall color on the left side of the beam. We will paint out that terrible beam and the ceiling in white once the holes are patched.
All of the window, baseboard, doors and trim in the house is the orangy-wood that was popular in 1992. Many of you have asked if we’re leaving it (no), painting it (possibly) or replacing it (most likely).
Again, since everything will eventually be torn out of the kitchen we are using what we already have and decided to paint the trim and doors. My default for trim is white and so I grabbed a can of trim paint from our old house and figured it would work perfectly for the kitchen.
It looked terrible.
Perhaps it was the wrong white? Perhaps it just needed another coat? Perhaps. But both Ryan and I agreed that white was not the look we were going for.
One day, while I was out and about, Ryan texted me with a “don’t hate me, but …” message and sent a photo of the window trim half painted in the dark cabinet color. I loved it! So did he. So dark trim and doors it is in the kitchen. At least for now. Or maybe for always and throughout the house because we really do like how it looks.
SINK + FAUCET
I didn’t realize the sink was a problem until we moved in and starting using the kitchen. While it is large (33″ x 22″), the split basin and off centered faucet made it difficult to wash dishes. We had a single-basin sink in our old house and I am forever and always a fan. I love being able to fit a cookie sheet or my gigantic cutting board into the sink to wash it and that wasn’t possible with this sink and faucet combination.
Since we’re trying to keep this makeover low-cost, we opted for a stainless steel sink which are typically less expensive than porcelain or enamel/cast iron versions. The one we chose is huge, square, so minimal and gorgeous.
Fun story about the faucet: I was on my computer searching on one website, Ryan was on his computer searching on another site. I said, “ooh, I like this one“, turned to him and he had just clicked on the same one. It was faucet-destiny.
Okay, ready for some progress shots?!
Here’s how the kitchen looks today:
Hopefully this week I’ll get going on painting cabinets and finishing up the rest of the trim. We’re still on the hunt for the perfect wood to use for open shelves and thinking through a few different art options to bring in some warmth.
So far, this little makeover is making me so happy and feels absolutely worth the time, money and effort.
Now that I really think through it, it makes total sense for us to make a few changes to this most-used space in our home. Sure, we could just wait until we do the big remodel but I don’t always believe in that. We live in our homes and sometimes making incremental changes to make a space into something you can use and enjoy now is just as valuable as saving and planning and doing it all at once later. I want this home to feel like us and mini-makeovers might be just the way to get there.