Episode 355: Kitchen Reno Fixes

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Happy holiday season. I hope you guys are enjoying this time of year staying warm, having cocoa maybe spiked with Bailey’s, and joining the fire and joining friends’ family. For me, it’s like a whirlwind from mid November to the end of December. It all goes so quickly, like I’m just going down a slide at a playground, it just seems to speed up as the days go by. 

I hope that you’re enjoying it.I hope you’re finding time to go to a tree lighting or a menorah lighting or just take a moment. I’m looking forward to taking a moment. I have a fireplace in my primary bedroom. And I am a fireplace junkie. And lighting that and curling up under the covers with my husband and watching bad TV while we giggle and eat chips and bed has just been the realization of a lifelong dream. And even though I’ve only done it one time this past weekend, it will be recreated. 

It’s just so nice when something that you’ve thought that you were going to love and wished you would have finally comes into your life and it’s even better than you thought. I feel the same way about the jetted tub that’s in my primary bedroom. i always dreamed never had. It’s better than I ever could have imagined. There we go. I hope you’re finding things to savor this holiday season.

Without further ado, let me get to the questions that are already in my mailbag. 

This episode, we discuss…

[7:04] What color would you recommend I paint the cabinets? How about knobs? (Heidi)

Question: 

My husband and I bought a 1-bedroom country cottage (our full time home) from the 1900s 2 years ago, and are slowly renovating what’s necessary and touching up the rest with paint, light fixtures and small updates.We started with the kitchen, which was the room in the worst shape. We replaced cabinets, flooring and repaired walls. Now I am at the decorating part; yay! At the time of the reno, I was into the gray phase, but not thrilled with it anymore. I’ve shifted to wanting more classic, warm tones, and more true to this old home. What color would you recommend I paint the cabinets? How about knobs? I would love to hear your professional advice for this kitchen – my favorite place in the house! I’m looking for inexpensive touch-up recommendations. The walls are white and countertop a marbled black. The ceiling and door trim has yet to be painted (white).

Answer: 

All right, Heidi, let’s dig into these pictures. And guys, if you want to see these pictures, you’ll want to follow us on YouTube. So we have an Affordable Interior Design channel on YouTube. Heidi, these pictures are very illuminating. I love that it feels so cozy. It truly does feel like a country kitchen. You’ve got some exposed shelves that are rustic wood. You’ve got white cabinetry on top with gray cabinetry on the bottom. You’ve got a white woven light fixture above the sink and the sink looks to be a deep farmhouse sink which I love. And then you’ve got stainless steel and black appliances.

There’s a lot going on in this small kitchen especially with the beadboard ceiling. There’s a lot going on. It’s definitely got the farmhouse vibe. You know what I don’t love about farmhouses and this is going to be controversial, but I do feel like the whole modern farmhouse is on its way out as well as the gray. So I’m gonna say this with confidence, I never truly liked an all white farmhouse, I don’t think that pure white is innate to a house like this. I would highly recommend painting the walls a color, because in addition to your stainless steel fridge, you have a white stove, and you have a white freezer. And there’s just too many tones of white that aren’t exactly matching. And so everything’s looking a little off, and it’s certainly not looking locked. 

So the number one thing I would do is paint these walls a tone, even if it’s just a warm beige, or something like that, it will definitely help to warm up the kitchen and make it feel less influx make it feel like you’ve started to make some choices. The other thing I don’t love in the kitchen or the craft curtains, I don’t love curtains in a kitchen because they do tend to get greasy with the stuff from the range and just food stuff in general. But here I just think that they look blousy and ill fitting, I would be much more inclined to go blind at this moment. And I think it would be a much cleaner look. I would also remove the drapes in front of the window above the faucet sink, and turn that into a blind as well, I think will look less baggy, saggy, and right now there’s a little bit too much going on for my tastes. 

Now let’s get to the question you actually asked me Heidi, you actually asked me what color you should paint the cabinets right? Now right now you have the uppers and lowers a different color. And I’m okay with that in a room that has a lot of cabinetry, it can break up that dense sort of block of one tone. But in this case, you have very few uppers, a lot of exposed shelving. And you know, the lowers aren’t that overwhelming in terms of quantity, I would make them the same. I would make them probably not white, I’m open to white actually, depending on the color of the walls. Because I definitely want to move that away from white and maybe do that ceiling, the beadboard on the ceiling in the white. So yeah, White could work for both. 

Or something that I think would be more fun is to do something like a color. I am seeing here with these sort of ashy gray wood floors. I am seeing sage green. Wouldn’t that be beautiful? Like a sage green, or a gray blue. I’m a little bit over the Navy. And I think it would be too dark for this kitchen, which doesn’t get a ton of natural light and seems to have just standard ceilings. But I really think a sage green would not only feel like a super country home, but would also add that touch of warmth you’re hoping for because green, while classified as a cool color, does have yellow in it which makes it warm. 

I think that would just be stunning. And then do some simple blinds and the off white wall color that leads toward beige. And then I would reduce it a little bit here . You have hooks on sort of a hall tree on the side on some shiplap then you have a hook on the door, then you have some hooks above the stove. Then you have a ladder that’s holding baskets above the freezer. There’s just a lot going on. And while I can appreciate the maximal feel of say a farmhouse, for me, it’s starting to feel cluttered, especially with the open shelving across the room. Less is going to be more with open shelving and less is gonna be more in a smaller kitchen. 

Heidi, when you ask me a question, you always get a little bit more than you bargained for. So I hope that helped. And I hope it gives you some ideas on how to move in a slightly different direction. 

[14:27] Advice for how gutting our kitchen and making it functional (Chrissy) 

Question: 

We’re getting ready to remodel our 80s traditional kitchen to our beloved modern farmhouse style. It’s going to be a complete gut and I’m a bit nervous about it. The size of our kitchen is 11’x18’ with the cabinets and appliances having to be placed down the 18’ sides (windows and/or doors won’t allow for anything to be put on the 11’ sides) so there will be no room for an island. I’m worried that it’ll look like an oversized galley. With our family growing by leaps and bounds I was really hoping to have a bar area with stools but because we can’t fit in an island that won’t be an option. I thought about not putting cabinets under our coffee bar and putting stools there but considering we will have our coffee pot, canisters for coffee, sugar, etc. I am worried there will be little room left for someone to place their plate, silverware and beverage. I did think about making it deeper, instead of the average 25 inch deep countertop opting for 36 inch deep (which will be the depth of our encased fridge which will be on one side of the coffee bar and our pantry which is the same depth on the other side). But I worry it won’t look right. Please let me know what you think. Thank you!

Answer: 

Well, Chrissy, I would be more able to let you know what I think if I could see some pictures, because right now it’s all theoretical. And certainly I can give you some advice about what people do and what is the standard. But with pictures, I can say, you know, let’s go off the trend. And let’s do something different here. Or wait, let’s go back to the conventional standards, right. You can go deeper with a countertop, but I typically don’t go any deeper than 30 inches. 36 inches is pretty severe and pretty deep. The other thing we want to think about is you mentioned that it’s kind of got two sides with limited options in terms of windows, doors and appliances, right. And you say you’re worried that it’s going to look like an oversized galley kitchen, but I think it is an oversized galley kitchen. 

One thing that really gets me is when people try and make a room something that it’s not or say, you know, you’ve heard me say before in this podcast, like a lot of my clients live in studio apartments. Well, not a lot of them, but some of them are right. But a lot of times when I’m working with those clients in studio apartments, they’ll say to me, Betsy, you know, it’s one room, but I want it to feel like four different rooms. I want it to be a living room, a dining room, I want to put up partitions, maybe a curtain, maybe the bookcases divider, and basically, they’re in denial, right?

They’re trying to get this room, that’s one open space into something that’s not innate to the space. And it’s always going to feel artificial. It’s gonna look like they’re trying to impose something architecturally that just doesn’t go. And it kind of takes away the true essence of the studio apartment, which is one open space that feels cohesive and flows seamlessly. 

I wonder if you’re not in a bit of denial about your galley kitchen as well. That’s just something that popped into my head. You know, no matter how much we spend on a house, no matter how we renovate a house, there’s always going to be things that we wish were different. I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating, especially during the holiday season. It’s the same with our partner, our family, right? There’s so many reasons to love them. But there are also things that we don’t love. But if you’re constantly pushing against the things you don’t love, constantly wishing that something that is the case was different, then you’re going to be fighting a losing battle and you’re going to be focusing on the negative rather than embracing that space or that person holistically.

So Chrissy, this is a galley kitchen, just embrace it. The other thing that troubles me about turning part of it into a countertop, is that when you’re in a galley kitchen, and you don’t have room for a peninsula or an island, what you’re doing when you have a countertop is you’re forcing somebody to look at the wall, because you didn’t tell me there’s an opening to say the living room. And this is not an L shaped countertop or anything like that. So when they’re sitting there eating their breakfast when they’re sitting there, you know, reading the paper having a coffee, they’re staring at a wall, which makes it less interesting to sit there and makes it somewhat awkward to sit with other people, right, because then you’re just frogs on a log staring at a wall. So I want you to consider not making it into seating and instead having that additional storage, because you mentioned that you’ve got a family that’s growing by leaps and bounds. And this kitchen is a nice generous size. 

But if you need storage, if you see that you’re a little maxed out, I think you would get more bang for your buck with additional cabinetry than you would get with an isolated space for a kid to eat their Cheerios while staring at a backsplash. You get my drift, guys, I dish it out. I tell it like I see it with you. Even during the holiday season, I have to be very frank with you, you guys, don’t come to me because you want me to affirm all your choices. You come to me because you want my thoughts. And those are my thoughts. 

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