Our Weekend Decorator, Megan Pflug, is back with her latest crazy-cool DIY solution.
Like a lot of other old houses, ours had seen some less-than-sympathetic renovations over the years. A while back I documented my entryway makeover, and since then I’ve been making my way through the house, one project at a time. With a few successes under our belt, my husband and I decided to take on one of the most challenging rooms in our home: the kitchen. By keeping the design simple and breaking the project down into manageable parts, we were able to transform the space on a fairly modest budget and dream up some ingenious solutions along the way.
Check out the step-by-step evolution of my kitchen from a tired mess to an eclectic and functional space.
Step 1: The Cabinets
The existing layout of our kitchen was pretty simple. The refrigerator, the sink, and the stove were all located along one wall. We decided to leave the major components like the stove and the sink in their original locations. Not moving the existing plumbing and electrical was a serious savings. With that in mind, we simply disconnected the sink and got to work removing all the old cabinets and the tile backsplash. Next we turned our attention to the soffit above the cabinets and the drop ceiling. Removing both revealed a pleasant surprise: The original tin ceiling was still intact!
To replace what we took out, we installed cabinets that I primed with my favorite primer. I wanted a monochromatic look for the space, so I choose to paint the walls and the cabinets the same color, Benjamin Moore’s Silver Half Dollar, choosing a flat finish for the walls and a high-gloss oil paint for the cabinets. The durability, cleanability, and supersmooth finish of oil paint make it my first choice for cabinets. We added a lot of storage on the opposite wall (more on that below), so I opted for a single open shelf in place of upper cabinets to keep the feel more airy.
Shop the Look
Step 2: Open Shelving (with a Twist)
I made the shelf using a board and a few wood brackets that I found at the hardware store. I primed and painted them with the same high-gloss oil paint I used for the cabinets. Under the shelf I added a brass rod (another hardware-store find) and S-hooks for coffee cups. To attach the rod to the shelf, I used a drill bit the same diameter as the rod to make holes through the wood brackets and then threaded the pipe through.
Step 3: A Painted Backsplash
In place of a tile backsplash, I painted the lower portion of the wall in the same high-gloss oil paint I used on the cabinets, which provided a subtle contrast to the flat finish I’d used on the rest of the wall. It was a simple and cost-effective alternative to tile, and it stands up beautifully to splashes and splatters.
Step 4: Countertops
For the countertops we used Carrara marble, a surprisingly affordable option. I know opinions vary widely when it comes to Carrara as a surface, but here’s what I’ve found:
First, a honed finish is more forgiving than a supershiny surface. Because our kitchen is far from formal, I think the lower sheen works well.
Second, sealing your marble really does protect it, and it’s simple to do. You just wipe on the liquid sealer and let it dry. The directions say to apply the sealer two or three times a year, and that’s what I’ve been doing. Even though we’re not at all precious with the surface I haven’t had any issues with scratches or stains.
Step 5: Add Vintage Storage
On the opposite side of the room was an empty, long wall dying to be put to good use. Our little galley kitchen was too narrow for a table and chairs, so we decided to add storage and take advantage of the high ceilings.
We found a huge Southern pine butler’s pantry in a vintage shop a couple of summers ago that we got for a steal. Luckily we were able to store it at my in-laws’ house until we were ready to use it. This piece was a fantastic find because it looks as if it could have been original to the house and it accommodates a ton of storage!
Tip: It’s a good idea to price out cabinet options. Sometimes a vintage piece is more affordable than installing new cabinetry.
Step 6: Calling in the Pros
One of the most striking things in our kitchen is the huge terracotta sink made by the Brooklyn-based Charles Graham Chemical Pottery Works around the turn of the 20th century. We’d bought the sink in upstate New York before we started working on the kitchen. Installing the sink was quick work for our plumber, who also fabricated a faucet out of copper pipes to fit the irregularly wide span between the knobs. When it comes to skilled trades like plumbing and electrical it’s always better to hire a pro!
Even if you’re not up for a whole kitchen renovation, painting cabinets, making a decorative shelf, or incorporating some vintage pieces as storage are all simple ways to update the look of a tired kitchen.
What other easy kitchen updates have you discovered? Tell us in the comments below!