The $1821 Kitchen

It seems appropriate to re-post my very first blog article that I published almost a year ago.  I still love my “new” kitchen.  I hope you enjoy the transformation and find some inspiration for the new year.





More. Free. Labor.

I’m in love with my cottage.  However, the kitchen left much to be desired.  I have lived in the house for almost nine years, and only done minor painting to the cabinets and had the floor professionally done a couple of years ago.  In October,  hankering for a change, I wanted to re do the kitchen in a really impactful way under two important conditions: a budget of $1500 and cosmetic changes only.  I had to work with the existing flaws of the kitchen.  No ripping down sheet rock, no moving electrical junction boxes, etc and nothing structural.

I just longed for something simpler.  For a while, I wanted everything on display.  Scouring antique stores, ebay and flea markets…everything had to have a great container so it could be on display.  But too much of having everything on display starts to feel cluttered and the kitchen never felt clean…even though I clean on a regular basis.  Plus it was kinda exhausting making sure everything was always looking perfect because it was all out in the open.  Some closed door storage and major editing was in order.

Truth be told, I met only one of those two goals.  I went over budget by $321 because of taxes, delivery fees and unforeseen product substitutions that were more costly.

Still, it is a darn good kitchen for the money.  It is a very personal kitchen, not just because I did the work but because it navigates the way I do.  Having lived in the house for almost nine years prior to this undertaking, I inherently knew and understood what I wanted and needed out of the kitchen.  I am not sure I would have the same harmony with a kitchen that I designed and built without having lived in the house first.

I did all the work myself in 14 days, but I have to share that my wonderful neighbor, Darlene Kirksey, spent a day helping me install the counter tops which were too heavy for me to lift on my own and my ever helpful yard man, David Keel helped me with demolition on Day One.  Props to my lovely friend/neighbor Kathy Burt for bringing me a sweet surprise of dinner from my favorite burger joint since my kitchen was torn up and I was way too tired to fix even a sandwich.  Lastly, I need to thank Gus Tinajero, the GM at IKEA and his assistant.  He worked, in good faith to get me the countertops I wanted and offered GREAT customer service.  Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting several individual projects within the renovation:

  • Beautiful spice storage using lab bottles (click here)
  • DIY Pendant Lamps (click here)
  • Re-purposing an upper cabinet as a lower cabinet
  • Re-engineering a four drawer cabinet for the better
  • New life for old cabinet doors (click here)
  • DIY roman blinds (easy peasy for anyone, even a beginner)
  • Pantry Pride (click here)
  • Organizing recipes with a deconstructed book

Here are the before and after pictures.  It’s a little hard to tell in some of them, but the after pics are shown directly to the right of the same spot in the before pics. For additional kitchen and home tour pics, click here. Let me know what you think!

Remember to click twice to bigify!

Love Always,Cindy

As a post script, I am submitting this article for consideration for a feature in Cottages & Bungalos.  Stop by the blog when you have some time, there are some terrific entries already:

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Anatomy of a Redesign – Part 2, The Reveal


Cozy Niche.

I am a person who loves balance and symmetry.  I am learning that one trick of design is getting balance through asymmetry.  I am not quite good at it, but I am learning!

This re-design is really about one simple change that lent itself to an entire transformation….it has been staring at me for years and I missed it.  It involved moving my dining room table from the middle of the room (symmetry) to one side of the room (asymmetry).  By using two benches in a window seat fashion, it allowed me to tuck the table into the corner of the room and create a  more open space, improve the traffic flow and have a more intimate and comfortable dining area.

Here is a rundown of what I did during this re-design:

  • Benches.  The benches used for the window seat were handcrafted by a local artisan.  I had them custom made to mimic the seat depth and height of a normal chair.  The decision to build the benches with the same dimensions of a chair made all the difference in the world in making the benches very comfortable. (if you are interested in custom benches, please email me from the “contact me” page and I will give you the artisan’s contact information)
  • Cushions.  Another opportunity to add the vintage touch, I used old quilts for cushion covers and filled them with down.  The cushions are very comfortable and along with the throw pillows, make the dining niche very comfy and cozy.  They really invite you to linger and use the table for reading and computer work.
  • Collections.  A design trick is to group collections or use repetition to create impact.  So I used the various built in shelves to showcase my antique oil lamp collection, vintage compotes and milk glass.
  • Storage.  I was able to add an antique wall cabinet that I had sitting in my garage for flair and extra storage.
  • Cost.  The total cost for this redesign was the cost for the benches, which was very, very reasonable.  Other than the benches, everything else were items that I had: oil lamps, milk glass, pillows, wall cabinet, antique and vintage small wares and fabric and stuffing for bench cushions.

I hope you enjoy the transformation and find some inspiration for your space!



Here are the pictures:

Remember to click twice to bigify!




Some of the Best Solutions are Very Simple.

My inspiration from Swedish Interiors.


I fell in love with this book.


Same house from the kitchen photo above.


Some of the best solutions are very simple.  Part of the mandate of my kitchen remodel was to keep the existing lower cabinets.  However, they were construction grade, big box, off the floor cabinets that possessed neither quality or style…but I had to make them work on a budget.  One idea that crossed my mind was to mine the Internet looking for door and drawer fronts and while there were some at reasonable prices, there wasn’t anything that would fit my very modest budget.

The solution was to clad the existing door and drawer fronts with a simple bead board fascia and paint the cabinets.  A leak under the sink had bowed out the two lower cabinet doors so the budget conscious solution was to use a fabric curtain.  For continuity, the same fabric that was used for the roman blinds was also used for the sink curtains.  It took very little time and helped salvage drab cabinets and give them some character.  The cherry on the sundae were the over-sized, vintage, reproduction glass knobs.  Total cost for bead board and new knobs/pulls: $43. I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Love Always,