The Long-Awaited Kitchen Post

I’ve been promising this post for a very long time… Dave finished our kitchen face-lift back in June just before Gus arrived so at first I had a valid excuse for not getting a post up here.  But then I stalled because I have no proper before pictures to do it justice.  And then I stalled because I had misgivings over whether it was even share-worthy or not.  We live in a very HGTV and Pinterest-y world, don’t we? I love a good pie-in-the-sky renovation just like any other gal, but sometimes it breeds dissatisfaction with what we have and what little improvements we are able to make.  But you know what? I’m so proud of the hard work Dave has put into this place. It’s no diamond sunbursts or marble halls[countertops] but it’s a heck of an improvement and it makes me happy!  Time to share!

BEFORE:IMG_0068 IMG_0162

The main thing you’ll notice in the inadequate before photos I have is how dark it is.  The whole bottom of the wall was dark paneling and all of the trim was dark so along with the cabinets it made for a dark, dingy looking kitchen.  I tried to brighten it up with some color but in retrospect it just added to the chaos. In the bottom picture you can see the old worn linoleum tiles.  You couldn’t tell when I had mopped, it was so gross.IMG_0173 IMG_2446

More paneling under the cabinets… The corner back there was always so dark; if I put my recipe books underneath when cooking dinner, I wasn’t able to read the directions. The paper towels were forever falling into whatever I was making.  And the dishes! I didn’t have a dishwasher so the dishes piled up fast on my minimal counter space, and even when they were washed, I had to use space on the counter for the drying rack.


I confess, another reason I dragged my feet on getting this post up was because it’s rarely this clean.  I hosted a playdate this morning, though, so it was all spic and span for my friends.  Although, you’ll probably notice the top of my fridge is a disaster zone.  I used to have a junk drawer but then I actually needed the space in that drawer for non-junk.  Well, the junk has to go somewhere! Top of the fridge it is.  I’m not proud of this, and I’m working on figuring out a different solution.

So, you see the new floor? It’s a sheet of linoleum.  Yes, it’s the cheaper route, but it’s better that sticky linoleum tiles which is what was there before.  If this was our forever kitchen in our forever home we probably would have put down real tile or hardwood.  Maybe this will be our forever home or for a long while home; if that’s the case we have plans for a kitchen & downstairs bathroom overhaul complete with nicer finishes.  The point with this facelift was to make what was already here more livable and attractive.  So for now the linoleum sheet fit the bill. Personally, I love it.

So! What else?  The paneling is gone! It’s not actually gone though… Dave took the chair rail off and discovered that the paneling was flush with the plaster above it, so he just caulked up the seam (it took several goes) and sanded a lot. [You know what sanding results in? Dust! Everywhere! Renovations test a marriage, that’s all I’m saying.] After the sanding came the paint.  He painted the trim and the walls and the doors.  That alone made such a huge difference.  We also got a new kitchen table and chairs from Ikea.  Best purchase ever. Also from Ikea, we got the under cabinet pot lights.  Doesn’t it make such a huge difference? We also switched out the hardware on the cabinets.  Just little things! We debated painting the cabinets but Dave said it would have been such a huge project to do it correctly. He would have had to take all the fronts off and sand them down and then ideally spray paint them.  I’m glad we didn’t, I think the paint and new hardware really makes the cabinets pop in a good way.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ah! I have a dishwasher now! It meant losing precious cabinet space/drawer, but it was totally worth it.  And you know what? We haven’t really missed the cabinet space too much. (Ahem. Junk is now on top of fridge and not in a drawer.) Installing the dishwasher resulted in more counter space which is glorious!

Another little inexpensive thing that Dave did was he extended the plain white square tile backsplash under the cabinets and behind the stove.  There was backsplash just behind the sink, but you probably never noticed, did you?  Now you can’t miss it thanks to the under cabinet lights. The bottom picture displays a little set up that I’m proud of. No, not the wine! I put little hooks up for the pot holders and measuring spoons so they’re exactly where I need them! No rummaging through drawers! Also, I picked up that stainless steel canister thingy at Ikea for the big spoons, spatulas, and various sundry items that previously took up a whole drawer.  Now they’re right where I need them too!


Oh! I almost forgot! We moved our microwave from the little butcher block island thingy to the pantry closet.  Dave just had to put a shelf in and drill a hole out so he could plug it in behind the fridge.  My pantry is clearly overstuffed and not organized.  But the door is usually closed. 😉

So, all together this is what we did:

Linoleum sheet flooring

Paint on trim, walls and doors

New fridge (this was unexpected, but when we did the floor we discovered our old fridge had been leaking into the subfloor)


Extended backsplash

Under-cabinet pot lights

Cabinet hardware

New overhead light

New curtains (I made them!)

Altogether, we spent around $2000, the fridge being the biggest expense by far.

So, nothing super trendy or luxurious.  But the kitchen is such a happy place in our home now, which is wonderful because we spend so much time in there.  No granite, no stainless steel, no engineered soft-close cabinets. Those things are so nice and one day we hope to have a kitchen with all those trimmings, but for now I love the happy bright little kitchen that I have, white appliances, laminate floors and all. 🙂

And, a sneak peek at my next room-reveal post: the bathroom!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 

16 thoughts on “The Long-Awaited Kitchen Post

  1. Squee! Your plates over the oven are my favorite! . . . The whole kitchen looks great Ellen. I agree watching too much HGTV breeds discontentment. What you have here is awesome. And, given my mid-century crush, I"m glad you didn't paint the cabinets.

    Wood is good, you know? Certain stains come in and out, but still there's a timelessness to it. I've thought about painting ours (honey oak–so 1990/early 2000s). But yeah, it's soooo much work. And white cabinets would look so much dirtier, and they painted cabinet trend will be out before too long.

    What kind of IKEA lights are those under the cabinets. Like–are they battery operated? Do they last a long time?

  2. That is a big difference! I love the paint color and the plates above the stove. From the pics it does seem like it has a completely different feel to it. Good job!

  3. They're LED spotlights, they plug in behind my owl cookie jar in the corner. Since they're LEDs they should last for years. Here's the link:

    I'm glad you like it! And I agree about wood. The majority of the woodwork in our house was done by our late landlord Mr. A, which was another reason why we didn't want to paint the cabinets. They're actually really beautiful and shiny, and the new paint and trim really accentuates them. Going forward in the other areas of the house, we're hoping to keep some of the nicer wood trim and accentuate it like we did in the kitchen.

  4. Wow Ellen this place looks amazing! And I would totally be down with FRESH linoleum over the nasty peel n stick business going on in our kitchen, HGTV or no. You've got yourself one talented husband!

  5. So great- how nice and bright! And I'm in love with the hanging plates. 🙂 Also, have you seen Rehab Addict? I love how she renovates old homes but keeps or brings back all the original charm- I think it was a wise choice to keep the cabinets as-is!

    • Thanks Lisa! And no, I haven't seen Rehab Addict. We don't have cable anymore so I'm totally out of the loop when it comes to the popular HGTV shows, but you can usually watch them online, right? I'll have to check it out.

  6. Oh Ellen it looks so great! I love the paint colour and everything looks so clean and fresh! It's amazing what lightening things up can do. And I also love your plates bunch…love, love!

  7. It looks so bright and fresh! I love it! I'm so glad you shared, even if it's not HGTV standards… it's real people on real budgets. Are your IKEA chairs comfortable? We're going to have to change our table/chair setup to make room eventually, and I've had my eye on those chairs for a while.

    • They're so-so in terms of comfort. I never had a problem with them, though, until last month when I went to the chiropractor a few times. Ever since then, my tail bone has been killing me and the chairs really make it worse. But, they are really sturdy, easy to clean and they look great! And I think they sell cushions for them at Ikea!

  8. Your kitchen looks great! And it's amazing how much a dishwasher can improve the quality of kitchen life. We don't have a dishwasher right now and it is so hard because there are always dishes out. Either dirty dishes or clean dishes in the drainer, but always something so the counter is never clean. I so can't wait to have a dishwasher again.

    And the idea of putting the microwave in the pantry is genius…oure genius. What a way to save couter top space!

    • Thanks! Yes, when you don't have much counter to begin with it is of vital importance to keep it clear of stuff! And that was impossible without a dishwasher. I hope you get one soon, Amelia!

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