Our very first projects on this house included painting the bedrooms and overhauling the kitchen as simply as we could. We needed a functional kitchen, which it wasn’t, on a small budget and tight timeline. I wouldn’t say we remodeled the kitchen, more like refreshed what was already there. I don’t like to make big design decisions before actually living in a space, so we kept things very simple and will update as we live here. Or maybe we will redo the whole thing at some point, but for now, we like it enough with the little refresh we did. I didn’t take any pictures of the kitchen in it’s authentic original state, so here are a few in process.
This kitchen had a lot going for it. It is a good size and there are some great windows and natural light in this room. The picture window looks out onto the backyard which is a nice view since the previous owner’s wife was an avid gardener.
We didn’t have a large budget and we also had limited time, so we had to make decisions on what was most important to us and the functionality of this space for our family’s daily life. Our main goals for this phase were to center the stove under the hood, bring the refrigerator into the kitchen (you can see in the above photo, it was in the breakfast area), replace the counters, and paint the cabinets.
Before I show the results, you have to be told, these are not recent photos. They were taken before we had unloaded our moving truck hence the empty and undecorated room in the pictures you are about to see. Someday I will get some more better photos to show you, but for now, here is our kitchen refresh.
The cabinets are built in and original to the house, and while that’s a fun aspect to this home’s history, they were a looming limitation for us for a few weeks. They are not today’s “standard” size cabinets, which means a standard countertop won’t fit, a standard sink won’t fit, a standard dishwasher won’t fit….. Determining how to handle them was the longest phase of this project. We contemplated keeping them, replacing them, keeping them, keeping some of them, replacing them and ended on keeping them. We needed a functioning kitchen and didn’t have the time to replace them. We figured out how to work around their limiting aspects with some creativity and a little bit of divine intervention. We managed to raise and extend the countertops out a full inch by having amazing contractors (pictured in the “before” photos, who are my husband and father-in-law). The height was important to my tall husband and the extended depth was important for installing a sink. We will get to the sink soon.
I found a 20″ x 20″ grey tile for the counters from Home Depot. It has subtle movement and pattern which is what I enjoyed most about the granite I chose for our previous home.
The sink was the most impossible part of this project. Even after extending the counters an inch, they still weren’t quite deep enough for a standard sink, but ordering a custom sink would cost hundreds and went against our goals for simple and inexpensive. So, my plan was to pray and scour the unwanted. I took the kids to a Habitat For Humanity ReStore store and had to borrow a tape measure because of all things, I forgot mine. I went back to the sinks and there it was amongst the rusty old unwanted: a brand new, in the box, the right size, and $65 sink I had been praying for!
The original placement of the refrigerator was awkward and we knew right away it was something we wanted to change. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the way this side of the kitchen looked originally but you can see part of it in the “before” breakfast area picture which is the third picture in this post. It was a wall of upper cabinets and lowers with a counter beneath them. We tore out the lower cabinets and cut the uppers in half to remove the left half and make space for the fridge. My husband put a piece of plywood and some cove trim to close off the remaining upper cabinet and another piece of plywood above the refrigerator to create a ceiling the same level as the existing drop ceiling. We haven’t put anything permanent in place of that cream cabinet because we may open up that wall all the way up to the refrigerator in the future.
While we’re on the photo of the cabinet, let me show you the unpainted inside.
The wallpaper has lost it’s surprise effect at this point. Just assume any type of improvement I do on this house involves wallpaper somewhere in the room. I didn’t remove it in this case. I just painted right over all those flowers and it worked out fine.
Once the refrigerator was moved from the left side of the breakfast area to the right side of the kitchen we had a great big space to set our folding-leaf table and chairs. The island is something we already had that happened to be a perfect fit in this space and we love the extra workspace it gives us.
We have a lot we would like to do in this room still – like take down the drop ceilings and update the flooring – but for now it is “good enough” and we’re happy with the improvements we’ve made. Adding layers of decorating will go a long way as well, but with all the wallpaper around here at the moment, I can’t commit to when that might happen. One of the things I am very happy about is our decision to keep the cabinets. We may change them in the future but I feel good knowing we preserved them because whoever built them put so much time and effort into them 88 years ago and they are still beautiful and useful.