Kitchen Refresh

When we got our stimulus check earlier in the year we casually said that maybe we’d use it to refresh the kitchen a little bit. Our kitchen has always been totally functional for us, lots of storage, a peninsula where the kids eat every meal, and one of my favorite features: a large open space between the peninsula and the coffee bar (aka the cabinets and counter on the far wall) that is often used as a dance floor.

But the finishes were never our style. The counters were laminate in two entirely different colors: cream for most of the countertops, dark green marble effect on two others (with a big seam between them where water from the sink splashed and caused them to warp).

The cabinets were a yellowy cream with old brass hardware. Again, totally functional, but nothing we would have chosen. We’d talked for years about eventually replacing the countertops and painting the cabinets, maybe adding new hardware. The footprint was fine, and our appliances were all good. Sometime amidst all of this time at home we decided that now was as good a time as any. Initially we were aiming for something fairly low budget: new laminate, all in the same color, and some paint. But then we dove into hardware and soon we realized that the lighting needed to change too, and wait, if we painted then the old backsplash wouldn’t work either…

Ultimately it was a higher-cost refresh than we’d planned, but we’re SO happy with the results.

I did a poor job of taking “before” photos. By the time I took any we’d my dad had already removed an unattractive ceiling fan over the “dance floor” mentioned earlier, some very blah pendant lights that always got in the way when we tried to talk to people standing on the other side of the counter, and an unused countertop Jen Air grill that only served as a trivet for hot pans. So we actually gained both counter space and one additional cabinet (which previously housed vent work for the grill).

Here’s the only “before” shot I managed to snag:

And here’s the room after.

Our light fixtures came from an Etsy store called IlluminateVintage and we love them. The new recessed lighting that replaced the pendants came from Amazon. While we planned to go with new laminate countertops we considered every angle and eventually chose to spend more and put in quartz. We landed on Silestone Miami Vena which was actually from the least expensive category at Lowe’s. It has subtle grey lines that you can’t see in any of these photos because I failed to take a close up, but mostly it’s a warm white.

I really wanted to prioritize brightness in the room because while it’s adjacent to our very bright great room, the kitchen is in the center of the house and doesn’t have any of its own windows, so it can be quite dark. Both Kristin and I loved the idea of dark cabinets, but we knew that we had to design for the kitchen we have not the kitchen in a magazine. It was my dad who initially suggested that rather than going all white, we ought to put a color somewhere for some pop. We landed on pale blue cabinets, but it took us AGES to settle on a color. Ultimately we chose Benjamin Moore Icy Blue and we’re really happy with it. The walls in the kitchen were Revere Pewter before (the same grey that we have in all of the common areas of the house) but we changed them to Benjamin Moore White Dove.

The backsplash tile also took forever to choose, but only because triangular tile is less common than you might think. Kristin found something gorgeous for $80/sq foot, white with black grout, and we loved the idea of pulling in the black and white V design from the wallpaper in the mudroom (far right in the shot above, wallpaper not at all in focus). It took a long time to find something more affordable, and we landed on these.

The cabinet handles are from another Etsy shop, and we love them too.

So that’s a wrap! I love being in the kitchen now. It’s so nice to feel like it’s truly ours and that it reflects the rest of our style throughout the house. I think that Kristin and I make a pretty good design team, but my parents were also amazing consultants and my dad is the handyman we couldn’t live without.

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