07 November 2011


No, I won't play the old Etta James song for you here today -- I don't know how to put music on a blog anyway.  I am referring to what has become known as the "Never-ending Simple Kitchen REdo."  I have bitched and moaned about the Evil Previous Homeowner, so I won't trash her again today, either. (At least not much)  I think I have ALMOST exorcised her unwanted presence from the kitchen, at least as much as possible without a priest and a ceremony.  I am dedicating this post to long-suffering, good-natured husbands everywhere who indulge their wives' dreams of a pretty, clean-looking white kitchen.  Cheers!


The breakfast nook, dressed to the nines to disguise the bad floor, walls and windows.

Lots of clutter to detract from terrible "antiquing" glaze on crappy cabinets.

You cant tell how bad it really was from the photos!

I painted and stenciled this splash-back about a year after we were moved in.
People actually thought it was tile till they felt it.
It was too dark for me!

I had covered every square inch with something,  trying not to see all the things I hated.
I was still so angry about moving here that I just plain did not care.
Notice the sagging cornice and heavy window treatment.
I think you can actually see that the cabinets on the right were beginning to drop.

A glimpse of the big black bookcase and a chair  you had to dodge to pass.

A glimpse of my delightful laundry cubbyhole.

I added rugs and painted the island red, in yet another effort not to see the uglies.

The long view.
This makes me want to scream! 
The breakfast nook.

See the silly little cabinet over head and the ridiculous vertical board?  And the trash can right in the LR door?

I wish you could tell how nasty the cabinets looked.


Painted, repaired, clean, less clutter, brighter!

A complete list of all the changes, if your eyes are not totally glazed over by now:

1.  We removed the lopsided cornice and florescent light box from over the sink, and added a new outdoor lantern in ORB which cost around $40.  This visually breaks up a long unbroken line which made the kitchen look squatty which it isn't at all!

Removing that cornice and replacing the florescent with the lantern made the biggest difference!

The long horizontal line is gone, and items are edited down.  This is a working kitchen, and some of the stuff just has to be there, like the canisters.

Ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!

2.  We also removed the rinky-dinky useless little cabinet over the fridge and the 12" board which was "shielding" the bulk of a fridge (insert smirks and snickers here) from view of the LR.  Once again, it also broke a long horizontal line.

The teensy cabinet is gone,
but I still managed to put some stuff up there.
It looked too bare.
Cluttering must be in my genes.

Now the rest of the cabinets look like a hutch, and the display space is confined.
The horizontal line is gone here, too.

I like composing a little tableau like this --
 it would be awfully boring with nothing up there.
At least to me.

3.  We removed the many layers of window treatments, especially the hideous old blinds which did not fit the windows (!!!) and which had been mounted incorrectly besides.  (Inside-mount blinds mounted on the outside of the woodwork -- trés hideous.)  We added bamboo shades in a style called "Providence" from Home Depot.  Ssshhhh -- don't tell Lowe's!  This was probably the priciest single element, just under $200 for seven -- one is in the adjacent laundry.

I think removing the slatted  blinds and curtains and
using these bamboo shades instead is the third biggest change in the room.
Now you can see out!
I leave the ones behind sofa closed for privacy reasons.

4.  Lattice was added on the outside of the sink window as well as two others in the house for some extra privacy.  I uncovered all the windows, remember.  The houses in my neighborhood are on small lots, which means that my next door neighbors can look straight into my kitchen from theirs.

5.  We moved the big black bookcase up to my office to join its four siblings, and replaced it with a heavy steel industrial style rack.  Its twin is just inside the laundry closet door.  They hold cookbooks, pots and pans, a wine rack and some baking dishes.

6.  I extended the bottom of the cabinets with a 1" x 2" strip of aspen wood in order to camouflage the existing florescent under-cabinet lighting.  It is nice to have, ugly to look at.  I replaced the fake drawer fronts under the sink and cooktop with 1" x 6" aspen boards to create an apron, giving a much cleaner look.  The two doors and drawer fronts from the sink area moved over to the hutch section because there were two different styles there.

Look Ma!  No visible light fixture!

The aprons that I added in place of the fake drawer fronts make a huge difference in cleaning up the dissonance.

7.  On the hutch portion of the cabinets on the fridge wall, I wanted this to look like a freestanding piece of furniture.  I was planning to do away with the top portion and add an actual hutch, as Cass, BJ and several of the other bloggers have done.  However, I did not ever locate one in the right size within the time frame.    As a backup plan, I built an extension, which is just a box, which we attached to the existing upper cabinets and the wall.  We also reinforced the cabinets to the wall with large wood screws into the studs.  

Who knows what evil lurks behind the mirror ...  it is an old intercom!

Painting the back board black yesterday.

The paint is almost dry -- and the Fall crap loveliness can go back.


Functioning as it should -- as a buffet and hutch.

Don't you think the black was a great idea?

You may remember the catalyst for this whole project was another section of cabinets over to the right of the sink which were about to fall off the wall!  We have done that same reinforcing in other areas on all the uppers.

8.  On the hutch portion, I also added some decorative trim, and I even glued on a little seashell just below the brackets!  I painted the exposed interior back wall areas black, and I did the same in the extension I built over the oven stack.  That addition was originally planned for a TV that we already had, but we couldn't get the TV into it, once the trim was added.  My French creamer bowl now sits in it.  I would still like to add a light.  I think I have changed my mind about adding a plate rack on the side of the oven stack.

An overview from the nook area.

I decided not to add the plate rack I designed, at least not now.

The French creamer bowl -- I think it needs a light.

Notice the seashell under the bracket?  I have to pretend I am at the beach to stay sane.

9.  All the cheap black econo-pack hardware was changed to Martha Stewart's satin nickel, Bedford series.  I combined bin pulls, knobs, and handles.  Decent hardware can make a ho-hum kitchen perk up instantly.  This expenditure was about $100.00.

Martha's hardware added a little class.

10.  All the walls were prepped and papered with paintable beadboard wall-covering.  I also used this paper on every exposed end portion of the cabinets as well as the splash-back areas and the nook side of the peninsula.  The doors over the oven stack are different (there are three different styles of cabinet doors and drawer fronts in this kitchen, remember), so I put a little of the magic paper on those, too.

Looking toward the loungey end of the kitchen from the business end.

The beadboard wallpaper is the cat's meow!

Yes I know that makes me sound older then God.  Sorry.

11.  All the cabinets and woodwork were first primed and then painted "White Opulence" in Benjamin Moore's satin-finish Aura paint.  I love this paint!  It dries very quickly and is self-leveling.  The doors and drawer fronts got two coats, but one coat was sufficient in most other areas.  

12.  The walls were painted in "Stillness" matte finish Valspar Signature paint -- decent paint, but not as good as Benjamin Moore.  One coat seemed to be enough in most areas.  The under-cabinet areas got two, just to be on the safe side.

13.  You can see in the photos where we jacked up the falling cabinets to level them out before we re-screwed them.  They had dropped over two inches, rendering the light cornice completely lopsided.  I decided to leave those shoring-up strips of aspen wood on the splash-back, papered over them, and I am thinking about connecting them with some of the magnetic strips from IKEA which could hold knives or other implements.  Mrs. Beach Cottage has these in her kitchen if you want to go take a look.  The only problem is that my upper cabinets have been mounted extremely low, another gaffe by the previous homeowner who moved them around to suit herself.

You can see the vertical supports which raised the cabinets back up where they were supposed to be.

14.  I whitewashed the HIDEOUS tile floor.  If you have been following this saga, you will remember that there were two shades of grout, both ugly, and that the grout was all over tiles, the baseboard and even some doorknobs!  I did it with watered down paint, "Calla" Valspar Signature semi-gloss.  It will wear off with traffic and cleaning, and I will probably need to redo high-traffic areas every now and then.  Since I can do that with a sponge mop instead of the roller and scrub brush I used this time, I am not really concerned about it.  Eventually, if I gut this kitchen, this floor will go anyway.  I do not want to put in another floor with this existing configuration of workspace. 

15.  We removed the door to the laundry closet, and we had already removed the door to the DR.  Both these areas are currently draped with a length of Belgian linen.  Future changes will occur when the laundry closet becomes a butler's pantry and the silk portières and draperies are sewn for the DR.

16.  You would probably like to know how much all this cost, and I will tell you presently.  Keep reading!  

I used things I already had for the most part as decorative elements once the hard work was done.  And yes, with my worn-out knees, it took six long months!  

I really enjoy my little wicker chest I got a few years ago at Costco -- it is my spice cabinet.
The little flatware PB Caddy was a birthday present.

I inherited a sofa, circa 1959 in the French Provincial style (thanks again, Cousin Mary!), which has saved my sanity because now I have a comfortable spot to crash in the breakfast nook of this kitchen by the now-uncovered window where I can enjoy my husband's gardening efforts.  I made it a white slipcover using fabrics I had in my stash.  

I bought the big striped Euros at TJMAXX for $10 each.  The gel-matte in front of the sink came from Ballard Designs, and is now on sale at a deep reduction the last time I looked.  The linen fabric for the sink skirt is by Braemore from Rosegate Designs and cost about $50 for two yards, but I do have a little leftover.  I like the way the color reads next to the stainless front of the DW.  We bought two new counter stools in a stainless diner style with black leather seats for about $50 each at Costco.  

The total was around $1500 for everything I had to buy, including lumber, glue, paint, etc.  Since we did all the labor except for the removal of that awful cornice and light over the sink which was $100 to Bailey Electrical, we didn't have to pay anyone to do any of the work.  Maybe I should have factored in my insurance co-pay for the shots in my knees!

We had put in the bronze ceiling fan when we bought the house four and a half years ago.  The bronze chandelier in the nook was in the house already, and I am not going to change it for a while.  Next year we will add a large sunroom where the present little back porch is.  If I have my way about it, that back wall will be history, and I will reuse the back door, screen door and those two windows in an adjacent storage room.  We are desperate for storage!  At that point, I will do something else about a light fixture there.

I also plan to replace this black fridge with a counter-depth stainless one.  For now we are using an older TV over the cabinets instead of on the countertop, which makes it easier to see now that there is a spot to sit.  I plan to replace that with a flat screen model.  

On the list of details to finish is to add a bar for dishtowels.  I am thinking that the end of the island would be a good spot.

The colors I chose for this redo were white, aqua and black with red accents.  The existing granite and appliances are black except for the stainless cooktop, sink and the door of the DW.  I decided that it would be too beachy to use a white painted table and shades, so I have left many natural wicker pieces and the frame of the sofa as well as the table in the wood finish.  I did swap out the French ladderback chairs which had an antiqued finish on them for some that are painted white, but have aged naturally.  (I had all the chairs)

And speaking of white:  there are many shades of white in this kitchen.  I painted an ottoman's legs and my butcher-block island with Annie Sloan's "Old White" Chalk Paint.  The antique tea table is Benjamin Moore's "Linen White."  The "White Opulence" of the cabinets and woodwork is a purer white. 

I think mixing shades of white in a space makes a room which is primarily white a lot more interesting than using the same shade throughout.  The differences are subtle, but they are there, and it makes the various planes more distinguished, but in a low-key way.  Later this week, I will introduce you to a book I received the other day, BLACK AND WHITE by Celerie Kemble.  It is a magnificent dissertation on the use of black and white.  I wish I had had it when I started this project, but she and I are on the same page.

The items overhead on the upper cabinets can be changed out whenever I want, and seasonal changes can easily prevail.  Right now we have a Fallish mode, but soon it will be Christmas, and there will be Santas and Nutcrackers and such. 

Thank you for reading, and if you are still awake, maybe you can leave me a comment and let me know what you think about my lipstick-on-a-pig redo!  


I will be linking with several blog parties this week, so please visit them, too.

Linking to 

Show Off Your Cottage Monday @ The House in the Roses

Motivate Me Monday @ Keeping it Simple

Dittle Dattle – Amaze Me Monday
Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday
Mary at Boogieboard Cottage for Masterpiece Monday

Sarah at Thrifty Decor Chick for Before and After Monday (first Monday of the month)

Kim at Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesdays

Faded Charm: White Wednesday 
Re-Stored It Wednesday @ Re-Store Interiors

Gina at The Shabby Chic Cottage for Transformation Thursdays
Leigh at Tales from Bloggeritaville for Thrifty Thursday
Jill at French Cupboard for Voilà! French Inspiration on Thursdays
Sherry at No Minimalist Here for the Open House Party on Thursdays
Cindy at My Romantic Home for Show and Tell Friday
Courtney at French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday
Diann at The Thrifty Groove for Thrifty Things Friday
Debra at Common Ground for Vintage Inspiration Fridays
Chic On A Shoestring Decorating – Flaunt It Friday

Sherry at The Charm of Home for Home Sweet Home Friday

Donna at Funky Junk Interiors for Saturday Nite Special


  1. Absolutely wonderful Ellen! All your hard work really paid off! Your kitchen is beautiful!!

  2. Wow - Beautiful Ellen! Cheers to the wonderful husband!!

  3. Sorry to hear about your knees,but you did gain a beautiful space! Love it!

  4. Ellen, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! You did an amazing job on your kitchen. And your husband does win Husband of the Year for his part. YEA!

    It is warm and welcoming, and I know you are going to love being in there. Everything was so well thought out, and you did it at a great price! Congrats, my friend!



  5. Hi Ellen! Oh, my goodness what a beautiful job! I love everything you've done. I thought your olden kitchen looked great but now look at it! It's so beautiful! We have those olden intercoms all over the place and we've had some taken out but others are still hiding behind things. I love your mirror trick!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  6. I am so happy for you and proud of you for the job done in your kitchen!!! This is a work of art! It looks a billion times better and just has to be something you love to live with now. The black background above the cabinets is really, really cool and makes a lot of sense! I love it that you have an island that can be moved about in the kitchen. If you ever get a chance, can you tell me how much space there is between the sink side and refrigerator side of the kitchen...and how big the island is. I would LOVE to add a small island, but Ramon thinks there isn't sufficient space. (As if! He doesn't even know how to turn on the oven!!!) It's just something I've always wanted. FANTASTIC JOB!!!!! Me, next! Me, next!!! :-)

  7. OMYGOSH Ellen, this is beautiful! What a difference you made in this room! of course, I thought you had done a fabulous job of working with what you had and couldn't imagine it being much prettier. Those white-washed floors made a huge difference, and I'm loving that wallpaper. What a great idea! The "hutch" area is perfection. How wonderful to have such an amazing spot for relaxation in your kitchen. At least you have a place to rest your sore knees. All of your hard work sure paid off! laurie

  8. Wow ! You have really made some changes.Looks wonderful! Great job! JoAnn

  9. Wow! Your kitchen has a fabulous new look, you sure did mayor changes. The wallpaper is so pretty and made it so warm and inviting. The hutch is beautiful it's a perfect area! Your photos are amazing! Happy wednesday and hope you're better with your knees I also have problems with them. Hugs, FABBY

  10. wow!It's way better than the before picture. it looks more airy and I love your cabinets.

  11. my goodness. talk about an amazing transformation.
    You worked hard and it turned our fabulous. I admire your persistence and your creativity..
    well done indeed~!

  12. oh Yes you can definately paint vinyl- its even easier than fabric. I did a leather chair 5 years ago thats still being used in my auntie's family room by her - 3 dogs and a cat:)
    make sure to use the satin finish and no need to wax- unless you want to.

    have fun and thanks so much for visiting me.

  13. Your kitchen is the envy of any girl!!! Thanks for the sweet note about my yellow kitchen cart. I'm glad to know about your blog now so I can visit often!!! I'm your newest follower and hope you'll follow me too on your next visit!!!

    Aimee @ ItsOverflowing.com

  14. Your kitchen is gorgeous. Great minds think alike, the Bedford series hardware is going in my kitchen too. Thanks so much for visiting.

  15. I love how it all turned out. The new "hutch" is my favorite of it all. So much brighter and cleaner looking. I also love the new kitchen hardware as well.

  16. beautiful transformation. i want white cabinets so badly it hurts.

  17. Wow, you have a lot going on in that post. That's a whole book, not just a post. I love what you did, and I am sure it took a lot of work to do. Well done, and it is gorgeous.

  18. OMG OMG OMG...I have to tell you, your wonderful knees were worth the sacrifice. This was a wonderful transformation. The detail is fabulous. You really worked your knees off girl. What a difference the floors make. That strip of aspen was brilliant. The paint color is marvelous, and everything in between is fabulous. Thank you for sharing your vision with the world and being so inspirational! I too have to have some kind of scape on top of my fridge. Come by and check it out some time.


  19. You did a fabulous redo on your kitchen! And all on an amazing budget! You should be very proud of yourself! thank you for sharing your kitchen redo with us on TTF!

  20. It looks like night and day! What a great, labor intensive and visionary job! Kudos to you! Truly!

    I'm your newest follower. Please stop by and say hi.

  21. Really nice! I noticed the seashell and I was thinking this has a much more beachy feel to it with the blue walls! Love it! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  22. Just dropping back by to let you know that I am featuring this post in this week's TTF party! I will have the party up tonight!

  23. I love what you have done, especially taking the cornice down...hmm, I see that as a future project. That aqua is about the shade I painted my bedroom, hadn't thought to put it in the kitchen, or I would have.
    It is amazing what can be done for little money...thanks for sharing your kitchen redo, Ellen.

  24. You did a fabulous job working with what you already had. I have to laugh because my kitchen was yellow and red for a long time. I love red but I always hated the shade of yellow on my walls but lived with it for quite a few years while I focused on other areas of the house. You did a very detailed posting describing your kitchen re-do and I read every bit ot it!

    I've always wanted a couch or settee in the dining area of my kitchen but my room is very small. I thought about doing a high back banquette settee but I would need a pedestal table. Who knows? A project for later. Love your lighter look. I'll have to check that book out because I love the color combo of black and white so elegant and timeless.

  25. I envy you your space above the cabinets. My kitchen is a crowded little box with the whole area above the cabinets boxed in! I'm afraid to start poking at it for fear of what I'll find up there. It's going to be easier for me to sell my house (even in abad market!) and buy another more the size of yours and then use your detailed description as a model for doing a re-hab. Thanks for sharing all your details. Have you thought of writing a DIY book based on your renovation of this house? Keep up the great work. Yours is one of my must-read blogs. Merrie, merrie, and Happy, happy. 12/1/13


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