Thursday, October 20, 2011

The $3 Addition to Our Kitchen

As some of you know I had a wild and crazy spring and was away for most of the summer so not much got done around our casa.  In fact, more like the opposite happened - things rather deteriorated.  The main floor was fine, but if you opened any cupboard or went down to the basement the disorganization became apparent.  I've been spending my time over the past two months putting things aright.  I'm not, by any means, finished yet, but I'm working on it and it feels good to declutter and claim back the house.   I really wish it was more interesting blog material though.  

So let's talk instead about something much more interesting than decluttering and tidying. I've been working on an insanely labour-intensive, but very frugal $3 addition to our kitchen.

Here is how things evolved.  I painted our kitchen cabinets last summer and love them (you can read the details here).  However, one of the things that remained undone was finishing the open shelves.   I had always wanted to put something on the back of the shelves to liven things up, but I wasn't sure what to do and what colour to use.  

I collected inspiration photos and let the ideas percolate through my mind - for over a year!  Apparently I have a slow percolation time.  Here are a few of the photos I love.  I considered painting the back of the shelves a solid colour, but I wasn't sure what colour would work since the kitchen is open to the dining room and family room.  I love these two photos below:

Our Humble Abode
Then it occurred to me that what I really wanted was a modern simple pattern to liven things up like in the photo below.

Manola Home
That still didn't solve the colour problem however.  One day when I was staring at the kitchen trying to decide what colour to use it occurred to me that gray would be the perfect choice.  Not only would it be flexible enough to coordinate with any colours I put on the shelf, but it would match the colours already in the kitchen since the cupboards are painted gray and white.  I considered wallpaper, but had no idea where I could get the small piece that I needed without spending a fortune on a whole roll.  Then I thought of a solution to the problem, which was to paint the pattern using the dark grey paint that I had used on the lower cabinets.  That way the colour would be a perfect match and it would be free since I had leftover paint.  And I do love freebies.  

My next problem was where to get a stencil or a pattern that I could use.  When I came across some of the remnants of the patterned material I had used in the basement I thought I would try using it (you can see the material rolled up in the photo below and on our basement wall here).  

The plan was to cover some foam core boards with the fabric and paint it using the cabinet paint.  But that wasn't how things turned out.  Why, oh why, do craft projects always have more twists and turns than a mountain road.  I guess it's all part of the fun.

When I put the paint on the fabric it bled into the material.  Oops!  I guess that's why they invented fabric paint.

On to Plan B.  

I decided to trace around the design with a pen (you can see that I've started in the photo above) which left a slight indent in the foam core board that was underneath the fabric.  Then I painted the sections that were orange in the fabric with the grey paint.  

You can see I needed to use two foam core boards to cover the back of the cupboard which means there is a seam.   Not to worry though, the seam is behind the shelf.

It took a couple of days to fully dry and then I put the painted boards up and did a bit of styling.  I went for a limited colour palette of yellow and white which is a combination I love.

I'll add another photo of the whole kitchen when I have time this weekend.   

Oh, and the $3 was the cost of two foam core boards.  Since I already had the paint the project was otherwise free, unless you count my time that is!  It took me a ridiculous amount of time to paint the grey, although I did find it very relaxing and peaceful to paint (and drink copious amounts of tea) while the rain poured down and the wind howled outside.   Using painted foam core board has the additional advantage of being easy to change if I decide I want to do something different in the future.

p.s.  You can see more photos of the shelves in this post.

Linked to:
Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming, 
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style,
Flaunt it Friday at Chic on a Shoestring Decorating,
Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence,
Potpourri Friday at 2805,
Thrifty Thursdays at Inspired by Charm,
White Winter Vignette and Linky Party at Songbird


  1. Very clever Grace. I love the design and your ingenuity :)

  2. What a great transformation! Best $3 ever spent!

  3. I really like it! So creative and it got me to thinking about my own cupboards in the kitchen. Well done! Kit

  4. That looks fantastic Grace! I love the color and the pattern. Easy to change out too. Perfect!

  5. Looks great Grace! And using foam core was a great choice.

  6. The pattern is slightly reminiscent of a henna another thoughtful reminder of your summer away.

  7. That turned out really nice and the price was right.


  8. Too cute! Love this ~ it adds so much!!! Thanks for coming by and visiting! I'm your newest "follower" too now!!!

  9. What a labour of love! It's just gorgeous - I love the pattern. The yellow bowls look beautiful against the grey.

    I have a slow percolation time, too. It took me almost two years of thinking before I actually decided to paint my kitchen cabinets.

  10. No one has EVER made a story about what color to put on the back board of shelving seem so suspenseful before! You don't need to worry about nterest when you write so well...And just wnated to say, that I love love love your Final Solution to the case...
    Congrats on your 3 dollar victory!

  11. Grace-this is absolutely lovely. It looks so fantastic---I'm so impressed with your creativity. What a great home you have.

  12. Wow this looks sooo good! Good job with the creative problem solving! I LOVE it!

  13. This is really nice work. Looks great behind the cabinet. Thanks for visiting our blog.

  14. That looks wonderful. That was some tedious work, but so worth it.

  15. It makes such a difference with the shelves. Very nice!

  16. What a clever idea! It looks so fresh and is very impressive! Great Job!

  17. Wow it looks great. I love the pattern. It really does add a nice touch to the shelves.