Kitchen and Dining Room Before and After

My make-it-work kitchen makeover is finished! I have a slew of before and after photos for you. Some of the befores are from when I started this recent decorating wave and some are from when we first bought the house, to show how far this space has come. I try to capture the same angle whenever possible. Let’s dive in…

Kitchen and Dining Room After.jpg

So much better than where we started…

Kitchen and Dining Room Before.jpg

The kitchen cabinets were professionally painted Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White. They turned out exactly as I hoped. There’s plenty of color and pattern elsewhere throughout the first floor, so I’m happy to have this space simply feel clean, bright, and cohesive. An added bonus is that paint, wood filler, and caulk conceal the previous owner’s DIY installation flaws.

Before:Kitchen Island Vertical Before.jpg

After:Kitchen Island Vertical After.jpg

Now that the cabinets are white, I considered replacing the counter stools with something wood and/or woven (like these gorgeous leather ones from CB2), but we really like these metal ones. They’re indestructible: our cat can’t claw them, I use them as stepstools all the time, and the handle cutout on top is really nice for moving them around. They’re from Overstock; all of the sources are linked at the bottom of this post.

Before:Kitchen Before.jpg

After:Kitchen After.jpg

Sorry, it looks washed out here – it was a sunny day and I’m not a great photographer. I trust you come here for realness and not professional-grade photography!

Before:Kitchen Island Before 2.jpg

After:Kitchen Island After 2.jpg

Speaking of photography: do you know what’s impossible to photograph? A freaking window. But I love the way this area turned out. It feels so much more intentional now that there’s a bit of decoration and proper moulding (for details, see Kitchen Progress: Faucet, Hardware, and Window Trim).

Before:Kitchen Window Before.jpg

After:Kitchen Window Clock and Hanging Cutting Board.jpg

This is a north-facing window, which I covered in frosted film (the view isn’t great) – it’s relatively low-light, but it’s enough for a potted pothos and an assortment of plant cuttings that I’m rooting in water.

Kitchen Window Hanging Planter.jpg

Kitchen Window Sill.jpg

Speaking of plant cuttings: my mother always has plant starts on her kitchen window sill as well. She’s been reusing an old Eggling shell my brother gave her 20 years ago. So, in honor of my mom, I asked my friend Jenni to include a few eggshells when I commissioned these plant drawings from her.

Framed Plant Drawings.jpg

I know you’re supposed to remove the glass for better photographs, but it took a thousand hours to get this grid perfectly aligned and there was no way in hell I was going to take them down to do that.

Moving along, I bought a new dishwasher, refrigerator, and slide-in gas range from Abt. We love having the fridge on top, and we have an ice maker for the very first time! What luxury.

Kitchen with White Cabinets.jpg

Before:Kitchen Range Black.jpg

After:Kitchen Range White.jpg

You may remember that I debated getting a white vs. black vs. stainless range (see Kitchen Decision Making). Obviously, I landed on white, and I’m happy with it. The grate helps it blend in with the existing countertop. The control console looks a little like it belongs in a hospital surgical suite, but it’s fine. I do like that the knobs are on top, and I really like the way it looks from the front.

Before:Kitchen Island Cabinet Before.jpg

After:Kitchen Island Cabinet After.jpg

You already saw this coffee + toaster nook in a previous post: Kitchen Progress: Butcher Block Shelf.

Before:Kitchen Cart Before 2

After:Kitchen Butcher Block Shelf over Trashcans

And this door makeover was documented here: Kitchen Progress: New Door, Trim, and Threshold Tile.

Before:Kitchen Door Before.jpg

After:Glass Door with Ceramic Tile Transom

Moving on to the dining area, which is adjacent to the kitchen. I’m using the same rug, chairs, and table from our last place (seen in our Apartment Therapy tour). The light fixture is the same as the apartment as well – that’s one thing still on my to do list. I need to have the junction box relocated above the table before I buy and install a permanent fixture.

Before:Dining Room Corner Before.jpg

After:Dining Room Corner After.jpg

I found the landscape lithograph prints for $5 each at an antique store in my hometown (Jefferson City, Missouri). The moulding around the dining room was installed by a previous owner.

Landscape Prints.jpg

The big splurge in this room is the Danish corner cabinet, purchased from SharkGravy.

Danish Corner Cabinet.jpg

That ZZ plant is turning into a beast – it’s almost overgrown this space. To the right, you can see a wall-mounted bottle opener and cap collector, which I installed at our last place as well (see Wall-Mounted Bottle Opener).

A couple more shots of the cabinet, because I love it so much.

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Danish Corner Cabinet Key.jpg

We keep bottles on top – shout out to my sister-in-law Kateri for this vintage Kentucky Tavern decanter. No one needs to know there’s Fireball in there.

Danish Cabinet Bar.jpg

Dining Room After.jpg

One parting shot. I’ll do a follow-up post to share some details and decisions I want to call out. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try to address them in that post!

Dining Room with Midcentury Table.jpg

Sources:

For more information about this project, check out these related posts:

Kitchen Decision Making

I am planning a make-it-work makeover of our kitchen. As a reminder, it looked like this when we bought the house:

downstairs18

And it looks like this now (“now” = when it’s spotless and I’ve cleared all the crap off the counter):

Current Kitchen

Why not a full remodel?

If I were to totally renovate this kitchen, it would lead to gutting the entire space: tearing up the floor, pulling down the ceiling, moving gas and plumbing lines, etc.

I think renovation money should be spent on major pain points (either structural or emotional), and this kitchen isn’t one for us. I’m sure there’s some ideal layout that would maximize the space and make us marginally happier, but eh. We’re not Dream Kitchen people. We’re Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken Kitchen people.

Also, I need to be mindful of not putting too much money into this house. (See this post from Room for Tuesday for some good thoughts on home renovation and property value.) If Jarrod and I are still here in 15 years (“here” = in this house or, you know, on this planet in a functioning society) and our property value has appreciated significantly, then we can reevaluate.

So, just like I did with my half-bath renovation, here’s a round-up of the decisions I’m making.

Floors – Proceeding with Cautious Optimism

The previous owner installed Brazilian cherry in the kitchen, seemingly on top of the existing floor. No idea why they did this. During our home inspection, our inspector joked “You’re not allowed to ask why,” which is advice I’ve tried to bear in mind whenever reckoning with the previous owner’s decisions.

Cherry Floor.jpg

The floor is super red, clashing with the general aesthetic of the rest of the house. The internet gives me hope that sanding it down and applying dark stain will help kill the red (e.g. see this Houzz thread). It won’t match the oak, and it won’t be my ideal floor color, but it will be better than the red. Fingers crossed.

Cabinets – 100% Decided

They’ll get painted white by a professional. Painted because they’re otherwise fine – nice even, for the most part. White because I love white kitchens. A professional because I hate painting and I’m a perfectionist, which is a fatal combo when it comes to a job like this.

I’m hiring someone who specializes in cabinetry and has impeccable reviews. They spray the cabinets, so it looks (and lasts) like a factory finish. I’ll document this process when it happens, but here’s an example of their prep work:

CabinetPrep.jpg

Just thinking about doing that prep work makes me want to cry, so it is worth giving them a big chunk of my annual bonus to do it for me.

Hardware – Already Here!

I went with Amerock’s Blackrock line, which is what I’ve used elsewhere in the house (e.g. our entryway closet). It’s high quality metal, substantial, and affordable. $5/each for the pulls and $2/each for the knobs. Done.

amerock-blackrock-hardware.jpg

Brass would have been a nice contrast to the black counters, but I didn’t find any I loved enough to justify the significant increase in cost over the Blackrock. I’ve decided to bring brass in elsewhere in the kitchen, like the lighting.

Lighting – Working on It

There are several recessed lights in the ceiling. Their placement was determined by no perceptible rhyme or reason – they’re nominally over the island and sink, but not centered. (See previous “Don’t ask why” mantra.) They were worse when we bought the house:

Ceiling Before

I replaced the eyeballs with new LED fixtures and they’re okay now.

Ceiling After

I am considering a pair of hanging pendants over the island, but that would require moving electrical and I’m not sure I want the visual clutter. Though I am swayed by how much I like these Pottery Barn Milk Glass Pendants

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I’ll probably just replace the existing fixture with a new flush or semi-flush light. This submarine-porthole-looking fixture arrived today, but I’m thinking it may be too low-profile.

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Good thing about lighting decision making is that there’s no shortage of options!

Decoration – Temporary Insanity

With nearly everything else being black or white, I’ll add some color and warmth with decor. I’ve picked out a new rug, have a plan for art, moulding, and shelving, and am shopping for a new clock. Last week I texted Jarrod: “Kitchen brainflash: CUCKOO CLOCK.”

Clock.jpg

I was really excited about this modern one until we watched the YouTube chimes video – does that clock chime 20 times for 7pm?! PASS.

Appliances – Feedback Welcome

I prefer appliances to blend in as much as possible, so I definitely want a white dishwasher and fridge. I’ve already picked those out.

white-appliances.jpg

The oven is where I’m unsure. We need a slide-in gas range with the control area on the front. There are very few options out there. Based on cost and our specs, I’m leaning toward this model. But should it be white or black? White would match the painted cabinets; black would match the counter.

Range Options.jpg

I’m leaning toward white because matching appliances seems like the obvious answer – and I vastly prefer the white one – but I’m worried about the stark contrast between the countertop and the range top.

Here’s the existing range:

Black Range.jpg

Here’s a very crudely done Photoshop job to help(?) show the range top with adjacent white cabinets and dishwasher (don’t worry, my cabinet pulls aren’t Duplo-sized like that):

Range in Island White Cabinets.png

So, imagine that but way, way better. Do you think a white range top would be an abomination?

Update: Thanks for the feedback so far! To clarify: the reason I would replace the existing range even if it’s with a different black range is because I hate the existing one. I want grates that cover the entire range top so you can slide pans around, and I want a broiler that it’s in the oven, not in the bottom drawer. Also, this oven’s temperature is 25 to 50 degrees off – I know that’s something I could fix if I liked the oven, but I don’t.

Bathroom Decision Making

Looks like I am moving forward with the half-bathroom remodel! I hit my savings goal thanks to our tax refund, annual bonus, and squirreling away of money. Now I get to dive into a capital project.

For reference, this is what our bathroom looks like currently:

Bathroom

It’s tucked under the stairs, in the center of our home’s first floor.

Stairs Bathroom

Virtually everything you see will be changed, so I have a lot of decisions to make. It’s equal parts fun and stressful. I’m nowhere near a congealed plan, but I wanted to round up the major choices. Many of you commented in my reader survey that you’d like to see more in-progress details, so here goes.

Floor Tile: Decided!

Marble tile doesn’t feel right to me for a bungalow bathroom, so I zeroed in quickly on porcelain mosaic tile. Here are a few options I considered:

Tile Options.JPG

Jarrod saw the penny tile and said “They don’t fit together!” and now I think he’s right: it’s weird each tile is an island in a sea of grout, instead of being more like a puzzle piece.

I was on the fence on basketweave vs. hexagonal until I stopped to appreciate the tile of the wine shop in the Merchandise Mart, where I work (the Merchandise Mart, that is; I don’t work in the wine shop. I would be terrible at that job, because I am an undiscriminating lush).

Wine Shop Floor.JPG

Simple matte white hex tile with black grout. Worn and imperfect, it still looked beautiful. And, this tile is very common in original bungalow floors. I’ll order it from Wayfair. Decided!

Wall Beadboard: Decided, ugh, Menards

Did you know Menards charges a 25% restocking fee for anything you order from their website? I’m not talking custom orders: just off-the-shelf online orders. I ordered something recently and was vexed – vexed! – to learn this. Don’t worry: I channeled my grandma, pushed back, and was issued a full refund.

Beadboard Sample.jpg

Anyway, I want a v-groove beadboard with wide planks, because it looks more modern, and I want it a few inches taller than the standard 32”. The closest thing I could find to what I have in mind is at Menards, unless any of you lovely readers have a hot tip.

Faucet: Decided, with fingers crossed

I want a matte black fixture, which is a limited pool of options. I plan to reuse our existing sink (to save money and reduce waste, and because I like it), which requires a centerset three-hole faucet – further limiting my pool of options. This MOEN Kingsley Centerset 2-Handle Faucet is The One.

Faucet.jpg

The cost was hard to swallow, but when it arrived it was clearly worth it. This thing is remarkably heavy. It’s beautiful. My only concern is that the arc of the faucet may make the water stream be too close to the front of our shallow sink. Fingers crossed.

Vanity: 78% chance of success

Our bathroom requires a very shallow sink and vanity. The 14″ x 24″ sink in there now is as big as the space can handle. Hours and hours of perusal of every online store plus lots of local shops did not turn up a wide variety of options.

I got quotes from a variety of places for a simple custom vanity, all of which came in around $1k (for the cabinet only – sink excluded). I am not opposed to spending that amount of money in general, but a tiny vanity isn’t really where I want to sink my budget.

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Why not a pedestal sink? You see this sink from the side, which is the least attractive part of a pedestal sink due to the supply lines and wall drain (for example). I know there are some nice kits for exposed plumbing, but I’m just not feeling that look here. Also, a vanity is the only opportunity for storage in this bathroom.

So, I am going to use the $109 IKEA SILVERAN vanity as a starting point, and customize it with brass hardware, inky-black paint, and furniture legs.

SILVERAN Cabinet.JPG

I’ll buy the pine version because all of the parts are solid wood. The $89 white one is foil/plastic-coated particleboard, which feels and looks a lot cheaper.

Here are some inspiration photos for the general vibe I’ll be going for, though none of these are exactly the end goal:

Dark Vanity Inspiration

Here’s the tricky party: I need to cut the vanity’s depth down to size to fit our 14″ sink. The 15″ SILVERAN is too deep, and the 9″ version is too shallow. So, that could end in total disaster. I’m willing to risk it, because I’m excited about this idea and I like the challenge.

Wall sconce: So many good options

Schoolhouse Electric – Davis Double Sconce ($199 fixture + $44/shade)

Davis Sconce.jpg

I would get the brass finish with the faceted shades.

Davis Sconce Faceted Shades.jpg

Rejuvenation – Graydon Double Wall Sconce ($399)

Graydon Sconce.jpg

Wade Logan – Rickford 2-Light Wall Sconce ($95); maybe too modern, but sharing because it’s such a good deal!

Rickford Sconce.jpg

Rejuvenation – West Slope Sconce ($399)

West Slope Sconce.jpg

This babe is my favorite by far, but I’m afraid the size options won’t work. 27″ is too wide, and 15″ seems too short.

But first, I have to choose wallpaper.

Wallpaper: All over the goddamn place!

Literally and figuratively all over the place. There are over a dozen wallpaper samples currently taped to our bathroom wall, in a wide range of styles. You know the Crazy Wall trope, where the detective’s obsession with the case is his downfall? That’s me in this bathroom.

Crazy Wall of Wallpaper.JPG

If you’re also on the hunt for good wallpaper, the brands I’ve been looking at include:

My Top 3 contenders are:

York – Stencil Overall (YC3414) (only $14/roll!)York YC3414.jpg

The online photos are so flat and lifeless – ordering samples is necessary to see what they’re really like.

York Stencil Wallpaper.jpg

Don’t worry, that antique bird towel hook is definitely staying. (I used it in our last bathroom.)

York – Ashford House Flower Vine (AK7500) ($14/roll)York AK7500.jpg

Speaking of channeling my grandma! In real life, it looks rich and hand-stenciled.

York Wallpaper AK7500.jpg

Cole & Son – Dialytra ($125/roll, unpasted, which will add a bit to the hanging cost)Cole Dialytra Pattern.jpg

Cole & Sons has the best product photos, which must be what $125 a roll gets you.

Cole Dialytra Paper.jpg

One point of consideration is that there are several awkward corners and angles in this room. A pattern with strict lines may make that more obvious. A botanical print would be more forgiving of the not-perfectly-square space, especially with the sloped wall (due to the overhead stairway).

Here’s a slap-dash, not-to-scale mock-up I put together back when I was thinking I’d do a white vanity, which – now that I’m looking at this – is maybe back on the table. Sigh.

Bathroom Options.png

I’m torn because I want something interesting, but it also needs to vibe with the rest of the first floor. You see it as soon as you come in the front door. I want the bathroom to be interesting when you’re in there, but I don’t want a bathroom to command your attention from our foyer (although I guess we could just keep the door partially shut).

Most importantly, I don’t want to go all wackadoodle just for the sake of punchy After photos.

What’s Left to Decide

Every time I feel like I’m close to having considered all of the decisions I need to make, I remember a ton of other things left to decide.

  • Mirror: Preferably wood and antique, circular or with rounded corners
  • Door
  • Bathroom fan: I have not even looked at the options. Surely this is an easy one? I’ll just buy whatever is rated highest.
  • Art
  • Baseboard and trim

Okay, that’s all for now. I’ll do plenty of other posts detailing the exact budget, final design board, and contractor plans. If you feel strongly about any of these options, please weigh in with a comment!

Thanks so much for all of your feedback on the reader survey – I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your funny, thoughtful, and encouraging remarks. It’s made me really excited to keep on blogging, and it’s warmed my paint-it-black heart.

Entryway Progress: New Chandelier and Rug

We have a side-entrance bungalow with a nice central entryway, opening into our kitchen on the right and our living room on the left. I suppose you could call it a foyer if you’re feeling fancy. It was far from fancy when we bought the house, though: it was super gross.

Entryway Before.JPG

I made it not-gross with cleaning and painting, and I made it functional with Flor carpet tiles and a peg rack (both leftover from our apartment). Otherwise, I didn’t spend much effort to make it look nice until recently.

Entryway Before 2.JPG

Here’s where we started. I can do better than just not-gross!

New Light Fixture

First up, I added a new ceiling medallion and light fixture: I bought the Mid-Century Long-Arm Chandelier from West Elm.

mid-century-long-arm-chandelier-o.jpg

You guys, when I first start dating Jarrod (13 years ago!) this tiger blanket was his actual bedspread. Not in an ironic way, either. He’s had it since he was a kid, and now it’s an excellent moving blanket / project cushion.

Tiger Blanket Light Fixture.jpg

The chandelier is super heavy and was a challenge to install but, ultimately, nothing insurmountable. I’m really happy with it now that it’s up there.

Hanging Light Fixture.JPG

The adjustable arms work great here because the closet throws off the center of this space. I was able to arrange the arms to balance out that corner.

West Elm Mid Century Long Arm Chandelier.JPG

New Rug

I also added a new rug: a Mazlaghan Persian rug found on eSaleRugs.com for $250.

PersionRug.jpg

It was the first time I’ve purchased from eSaleRugs. I appreciate that they post a lot of photos of each item, and their free shipping and free returns policy suits me well, too: I’m prone to buyer’s remorse, so it made it easier to pull the trigger. Thankfully, there was no need to make use of that return option – their photos are remarkably accurate.

Rug 1.JPG

That’s all for now! I’ll return tomorrow with a post detailing the final change I made in this first batch of improvements: new(ly altered) closet doors.

Entryway Progress.JPG

Update: see Adding Moulding to Inside Out Bi-Fold Doors

Cheap Bungalow-Friendly Light Fixture

Just a quick post with one more before and after from our bedroom – I wanted to spread the good word about this inexpensive semi-flush ceiling light I found on Amazon.

upstairs1

What a world of difference paint and caulk makes!

Landing After.jpg

The light fixture is only 36 bucks with free shipping: World Imports Lighting 9007-88 Luray 1-Light Semi-Flush Light Fixture. I like that it feels period-appropriate for our 1913 bungalow, while still looking clean-lined. It’s a steal for such a nice fixture and, if you’re on a budget, it’s a great alternative to Rejuvenation/School House Electric.

Ceiling Light Fixture.jpg

I bought two but have only installed one so far: the other stairway light fixture is 12+ feet above the landing. The fixture there currently does not have a globe or working light bulbs. Eventually, I may want to have a big chandelier of some sort here, but I want to pick out all of the first floor light fixtures first. In the interim, the Amazon light will work great, if I can get it up there!

Stairwell Light.JPG

I need to buy a taller ladder or teach Jarrod how to install a light fixture: I’m not sure which is more dangerous.