Monday, July 8, 2013

Diary of a Kitchen

I'm away at my parent's cottage all week doing lots of visiting, swimming, reading, and taking an art course at the Haliburton School of the Arts.  I'm re-posting this guest post from last year in case you haven't read it.  I had fun revisiting my kitchen (not that I don't visit it daily to cook) and seeing how it has changed over the years since we moved into our house 12 years ago this month.  Enjoy!


When we moved into our house the kitchen was far from my dream kitchen.  While it was functional, it certainly lacked in the beauty department.  However, I knew that mostly it needed some cosmetic changes that I could do with a little time, money, and energy (okay, a lot of energy).  I thought it might be interesting to show you how the kitchen has changed over the years and to give you an update as to whether I would change anything or not.

July 2001 
When we bought our house the kitchen (which you can see below in the previously-never-been-revealed photo of a photo) had bleached oak cabinets with a horrible white laminate countertop that always was dirty no matter how often you cleaned it.  The previous owners had put up flowered shelf liner as a backsplash (thankfully it wasn't real wallpaper so it was very easy to remove).  And there was no dishwasher! 

April 2004
We took down the fruity shelf liner backsplash (cheerful though it was) and put up beadboard.  At that time the beadboard was painted green because the colour of the cabinets would have clashed with white.

August 2008
We had the countertop replaced with a slate gray laminate.  You can often see the laminate counter in photos I put on my blog as it is a great neutral background (like for this salad).

At the same time that we had the countertops changed we had the contractor build a shelf at the end of the peninsula to store dishes.  We also had the counter on the peninsula widened so it is about six inches wider than a regular counter now. And we had a dishwasher installed (finally!!!). This was how our kitchen looked for another two years (you can see more photos here).

July 2010
I painted the cabinets and backsplash over a grueling three week period.  It took forever (or seemed to at the time), but was so worth it.  You can see how our family room looked for those three weeks.  Yikes!  You can read more about the process here.

I love what a difference painting the cabinets made.  I chose to paint the upper cabinets and backsplash in BM Chantilly Lace (OC-65) and the lower cabinets a medium gray colour, BM Steel Wool (2121-20) (you can see my inspiration photos here).

October 2011
You can see in the photo above that the open shelves were initially all white.  In October 2011 I painted a foam core board to place at the back of the shelves to add a little interest (which you can read more about here).  I used leftover gray paint from the lower cabinets and painted a design that was neutral enough that lots of different patterns and colours could be displayed on the shelves.

And I do use lots of colours to decorate the shelves.  Here they are decorated in yellow and white.

And here they are decorated for Christmas last year in red, orange, and white.

And later in the year in blue and white.

Having lived with the kitchen makeover for over two years, I thought it would be interesting to review the decisions we made to see if there is anything we regret or would change.

Painted cabinets - I love white kitchens so I knew that I would love the cabinets painted.  The biggest leap of faith I took was painting the lower cabinets gray instead of white.  It turned out to have been a good move as I love how the gray on the bottom helps hide the dirt that manages to be attracted to lower cabinets.  I also like how it looks a little different than an all-white kitchen. I painted the cabinets in oil-based paint and before I wrote this post I checked to see how the paint was holding up. There is only one little chip on them (that you can see in the photo below) - I think maybe the vacuum cleaner hose is to blame when it gets pulled around the corner. I'm impressed at how well the paint has stood up through two-and-a-half years of heavy use.

Laminate counter - I love the neutral colour we chose and I love that nothing (and I do mean nothing) stains it.  I'm careful about using a cutting board and hot mats as laminate is not durable that way, but so far we do not have any scratches or nicks.

Beadboard backsplash - I love how the beadboard makes the kitchen look cozy and relaxed.  It was very inexpensive (less than $50 including the glue we used) and was quick and easy to install.  People often think that it will be hard to keep clean, but we have had no difficulty with it.  The paint slightly filled in the cracks between the boards so it is easy to wipe any spots that get on it.

Painted design in the back of the open shelves - I love how it adds interest to the kitchen, but is still neutral enough that I can decorate the shelves lots of different ways.

I hope you enjoyed the diary of my kitchen renovations.  There are still things I would love to do to the kitchen - top of my list would be getting stainless appliances (our fridge is leaking water at the bottom so things are looking hopeful there). Despite my wish list, I enjoy using our kitchen and appreciate how much it has improved - it is now a great blend of functional and pretty.  

My dream is to do a complete gut renovation on a kitchen some day.  Have you ever completed a kitchen renovation - little or big?  Any regrets or did it all go according to plan?
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  1. What a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing transformation. I love the contrasting upper and lower cabinets. I always think an all-white kitchen, even when small, is a little too sterile and the lacks warmth and coziness that a family kitchen must have.

    Two thumbs up on this, Grace!!

  2. I too like the different colour cabinets, and I also like the design behind the open shelves. It makes me want to get creative.

  3. So interesting to see your kitchen evolve! And I really appreciate your updates after two years of living with the changes. Sometimes I wonder how ideas I see really pan out in real life - so thank you for your insights!

  4. LOL You've read all about my kitchen woes and helped me immensely with our redo in February and March. I love your kitchen, Grace....and I agree about painting cabinets. That little chip would have happened regardless, and you can always touch it up. I've had to touch-up our white painted cabinets just from everyday use.

    Its nice to look back and not regret any of our decisions. I love your open shelving best: the open ones for the decor factor (plus they're practical) and the ones on the peninsula for the convenience factor.

    I am very envious of your counter space. Plus, u-shaped kitchens are the *best*. We had one when we lived in Nashville, and they're great because you don't walk yourself to death while preparing a meal!

    A stainless fridge would be nice, and you know it would look great because your dishwasher looks good with the gray and white in your kitchen.

    I don't have any regrets at all with our latest kitchen redo. The one previously was horrible, so I guess we learned from our mistakes!