If you’ve followed me on Instagram over the past few months, you may have noticed near-constant tweaking in our kitchen as time’s passed. Friends and family who came to visit during this time *may* have thought I was bananas, since, well… didn’t we JUST complete a full-gut renovation??
I found myself very drawn to black cabinetry, but I thought that the room couldn’t handle it because of the lack of natural light on that side of the space. Once this decision was made, I researched grey cabinetry online and after seeing image after image with this emerging trend, I settled on white modern countertops, a simple subway tile backsplash and gold hardware to tie in the vintagey feel of the rest of the home.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it turned out beautifully… it just didn’t feel like home to me. And while I achieved mini-milestones in getting us closer to the space feeling like us, it still wasn’t right.
Over time, I came to realize that I’d basically fallen prey to following the current trends rather than going with my gut regarding our personal style. It reminded me of this situation of us having to re-buy the sofa in our last house due to a similar pitfall.
I mean, grey cabinets with white countertops and brass hardware is very popular right now. And although it’s a crazy beautiful look and could definitely be classic, and long-lasting over the years, I doubt that I would’ve chosen this combo if images of it weren’t so readily available on the net.
If I’d have gone with my instincts as to what felt like our particular style rather than trying to emulate the pretty pictures that I admired. Obviously, I wasn’t going back to my first instinct of choosing black cabinets… No WAY.
So, my mission was to make the kitchen feel more like us in less expensive, easily changeable ways, while maintaining the more permanent elements of the space. After near-constant deliberation on my part, I realized that the light fixture irked me.
I knew that I could easily reuse it in our bedroom (which I have… stay tuned for that update), and fortunately, I also had West Elm’s smaller 8″ globe pendant on hand (I’d ordered it during the renovation, then missed the timeframe for returning it for a refund.
I’d planned to use it when we finally got around to finishing our wet bar, but decided to try it here first. Now, before I show you how it looks now, allow me to explain… one thing that also became apparent during these months of me staring at my kitchen incessantly for uncomfortable lengths of time, was that I LOVE contrast. So, before mounting the 8″ pendant light, I decided to spray paint it a lovely matte black.
Also included in this whole “Contrast Movement of 2017” as I’ve dubbed it, was switching out the vintagey gold cabinet hardware for more streamlined matte black pulls. Looks-wise, I love that they’re simple and sleek and that they lend just the right amount of black to the space.
From the get-go, I’d wanted to add something to fill the space above the sink.
Since this side of the room is pretty dark, I decided to go with a mirror to bounce some light around.
Literally, the only reason that I purchased it was that it was the correct size (or so I thought at the time… it was 20″ x 40″). I figured that I could alter it in some way to make it feel more casual.
Because I was so on the fence about it, I didn’t want to drill into the tile to hang it. And then we realized that the quality of the actual mirror was terrible (see how the reflection of the door frame is almost at 45 degrees? It was understated, modern, high quality per the reviews, and 18″ x 36″ – smaller than the first mirror, but larger than the second… right in the sweet spot.
I kept holding off on ordering it, because it was more money than I wanted to spend, AllModern didn’t offer free shipping on returns, and supposedly, the mirror was very heavy. Thus, mailing it back would be pricey if I chose to return it and I knew that we’d definitely have to drill into the tile to hang it properly. So, after our second failed mirror attempt, I bit the bullet and placed my order.
Joey hung it with heavy duty anchors by drilling into the tile/drywall. Now, since I’d moderned up the space so much, I still wanted to add some softness and vintagey elements to tie the kitchen into the rest of our home.
The other vintage-inspired element that I’ve recently added to the space is our new child rug…
It ties in the warm tones of the shelves and other wooden elements, as well as the black hardware, and it somehow makes the grey cabinets feel warmer as well. The contrast between the imperfect woven texture and the sleek white quartz countertops makes me giddy in such a nerdy way that I can’t even help myself. Plus, the added color on the ground is JUST what the doctor ordered for this space.
I wanted a modern sleek countertop to contrast with the vintagey hardware I’d chosen (which we’ve since switched out). Because it would be white with no variations, we wanted the strongest, most stain- and scratch-resistant material.
It was a splurge that we felt was warranted, and for the most part, it’s lived up to its claims. Even if set gently on the counter leaves thin, grey scuffs which have been difficult, if not impossible to remove.
Obviously, the counters are staying (for budget reasons), but down the line, I dream of granite with veining and pattern to camouflage stuff like this. I’m not sure that I can justify changing out a perfectly good countertop, but it’s fun to ponder.
Next, after living with our kitchen for the past year, we decided to make a few functional changes to the cabinetry. If you recall, we purchased our cabinets from Ikea and assembled and installed them ourselves (and by “ourselves” I mean Joey and my father-in-law did it). We like the look of the cabinets and the soft-close hinges make them feel posh.
We’ve had a few minor chips (my guess is due to toys being generously swung about), but I had the paint color-matched at Sherwin Williams and you seriously can’t even tell where the touch-ups are. In terms of the functional changes we’ve made, first we traded out the two drawers to the right of the stove …. Having 3 drawers on either side of the stove balances the space visually.
Plus, once we realized that the height of the triple drawers was still tall enough to accommodate even our largest pot, it was a no brainer in terms of adding additional storage to the space. AND we plan to reuse those two drawers in our laundry room when we eventually get to building a more permanent mud area.
Another change we made was trading out the drawer below the sink, shown in the pic below… First, it was a pain to reach around that large drawer front to get to the contents.
That being said, it was annoyingly cumbersome and the drawer was constantly getting wedged open from behind for various reasons. Second (and most importantly), that tall drawer front felt really flimsy and never laid flat against the cabinet box.
We feared that after repeated use, the problem would just get worse, so we decided to trade out the pull-out drawer for a pair of simple doors for the sake of longevity. The last change we made had to do with another pull-out drawer that I’ve never photographed before now. This cabinet pulled out, drawer-style with two wire baskets attached to the door front. Because it was the first cabinetry you saw when you entered the kitchen from the foyer, and it was SO far from closing flush with the cabinet box, it was very obvious. We can still pull out the baskets, but now the door simply swings shut, nice and flush. So, I guess it’s fair to say that we aren’t fans of Ikea’s pull-out cabinetry.
And the closest view that I could find to the “before” shot after the renovation (guess I forgot to take a pic from further back)… Even with how far we’ve come, I still don’t consider the kitchen totally complete yet (despite one erroneous proclamation made during one VERY excited moment on Instagram).
First, we’re absolutely ITCHING to install a skylight on the sink side of the room for some much needed natural light.
This is something that we’ve wanted to do right from the start, but it’s a pricier project (and one that we don’t feel comfortable DIYing) so we’ll see when we’re able to do it. We tried a battery operated set from Home Depot this past fall, but it wasn’t worth it. I’ve actually been cooking a lot lately and it’s been awesome being able to grab ingredients that are nearby.