The Dog Days of Summer are here. It’s mid-July in North Carolina, and, as my darling Step-Dad used to say, “it’s hotter than a $2 pistol.” Days on end of 90+° have driven me inside where I worship the air conditioning gods and pretend that I don’t notice the proliferation of weeds sprouting in my gardens. To assuage my guilt about neglecting the weeding, I decided to deep clean my kitchen (well, clean it anyway.) As I was scrubbing all the gunk off the burner grates, it occurred to me that I actually like my kitchen. Oh sure, there are things I would like to change. Installing a spiffy tile backsplash and new flooring are definitely on the kitchen renovation list, but for the most part, I am satisfied with both the way it looks and functions.
I have not always felt this way. When we purchased our home, which was built in the late ’90s, the kitchen needed updating. The cabinets were natural maple with brass button knobs. (They were perfectly fine, but I have always wanted a classic white kitchen.) The countertops were a dark brown and black “stone-look” laminate, and the white over-mount sink had an ugly builder-grade black and chrome fixture. I had planned to remodel the kitchen right away, but, as anyone who has ever bought a home knows, other things took precedence, and we ended up living with the “old-style” kitchen for several years.
Inexpensive Kitchen Updates You Can Do Right Now That Make A Big Impact
There were two things that I did change right away because they were low-cost projects we could do ourselves. The first was to replace the cabinet hardware. I didn’t particularly like the shiny brass knobs (my 90’s house is loaded with brass), and they looked ridiculously small on the 42″ tall cabinets. The black stove-top, ovens, and dishwasher were relatively new, so I decided to go with Black Birdcage Knobs to coordinate with the appliances.
Creating an area to display dishes that would serve as a focal point for our open concept kitchen was the other project we tackled right away. We accomplished this by replacing the raised panels of the two cabinets above the stove with glass. (There are many tutorials on how to do this with a table saw, but Christy from Confessions of a Serial DIYer has a good tutorial on how to do this as we did with an inexpensive jigsaw) We also replaced the wooden shelf with glass and added Puck Lights. This was doable because we were able to tie these into the existing electrical of the under-cabinet lighting. My husband, who, bless his heart, is no handyman, did this whole project in a weekend. Poor guy, I keep coming up with all kinds of ideas, and he always tries his best to help me achieve my goals.
A More Substantial Kitchen Renovation
Five years later, when we finally got around to remodeling the kitchen, not surprisingly, since kids are expensive little buggers, we still didn’t have enough money for a total overhaul. The solid wood cabinets were in good shape, so we decided just to add some architectural details and paint them cream with a coffee glaze. We dressed up the cabinetry by adding a more substantial decorative crown molding, light rail molding at the bottom of the uppers, and skins that matched the raised panel doors on the visible ends of the cabinets. We also added decorative wooden appliques to the arches over the stove and the desk. The island got a makeover with black paint, acanthus leaf corbels, and fluted pilasters with rosette medallions.
The big-ticket item in our kitchen redo was the granite countertops. We installed Absolute Black granite on top of the cream cabinets around the perimeter and White Crema granite over the black island. We further replaced the white sink, which stuck out like a sore thumb, with a cream under-mount that coordinated with the countertop. And finally, we replaced the ugly faucet with a beautiful polished nickel fixture.
Styling The Kitchen To Play Up Assets And Downplay The Negatives AKA Camouflage
One of the things about my kitchen that I both love and hate is the number of electrical outlets on the wall behind the stove. I feel that the builder must have been having a bromance with the electrician because I could literally plug in every kitchen appliance I own at one time. It’s convenient to have six outlets on one counter-run, but they are not super attractive.
I would like to put in a tile backsplash, but the outlets make it problematic for a DIY project. I also would prefer to replace the flooring before deciding on a tile for the backsplash. My “temporary” fix for this situation is to hide the outlets behind transferware plates hung on the wall and by placing appliances and other decorative objects on the countertop in front of them. This “hide and seek” outlet game is not ideal, but the plates are pretty, and it works for the time being.
Flowers, plants, and fruit add life and color to the kitchen. I always keep a bowl of lemons or apples on the counter. They are inexpensive, and people can eat them or, in the case of lemons (which would be gross to eat), they are conveniently available for cooking. I don’t get enough direct light in my kitchen to grow countertop herbs, but in the summer, I regularly clip herbs from my garden and display them in bud vases as part of my outlet camouflage. Boxwood cuttings from my yard also add greenery, are free, and look fresh for over a month at a time.
Someday maybe, I will be able to do a total kitchen renovation, but for now, I am happy with my Inexpensive Kitchen Updates And Camouflage. Now, if I could just get someone else to clean it!
For more ideas on styling your kitchen check out my Spring Home Tour.
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