When we moved into our home at the end of 2012, it was very clean and well-maintained, but it was definitely still stuck in it 1990’s builder grade state.
But I didn’t even care because I was so excited to be in a home that had 2 of my dream attributes: a mantle and a front door! Yes, you read correctly: a front door. Our first home didn’t have one of those, but that’s a different story for another day 😉 Humble beginnings. Anyways, we knew we wanted to renovate our kitchen but since we save up for all our home projects in advance, we knew this wouldn’t happen right away.
So we lived in our home with our kitchen like this. For over 3 years. And we were happy. I want to camp on that point for a moment: We. Were. Happy.
Having a beautiful updated kitchen was a dream of mine, but it did not define my happiness. I still welcomed friends and family into our home, hosted parties, and cooked for my family in that outdated kitchen and was just as happy doing that then as I am now.
The first year we lived in this home we didn’t set any money aside for this kitchen because we simply didn’t have any extra. Can anyone relate to that?! The following 2 years I worked on stashing aside bits of money whenever I could to build up our “kitchen fund”. I knew we wouldn’t begin this project unless I hustled to save the money to renovate it, so I was motivated and by spring 2016, I had finally saved $5,000. For us, that was a substantial amount of money. But the reality is that when speaking about kitchen renovations, $5,000 is a very modest budget, so we knew that we had to be smart about how we spent that money.
We decided to paint the cabinets and work within the existing footprint of the kitchen in order to keep costs down. My husband (being the saint that he is!) spent countless hours of summer 2016 removing the cabinets, sanding them, and painting them. We updated them with new handles and knobs in a matte black finish. We also removed the soffits to give the kitchen a larger lighter feel to it.
Many kitchens have a window above the sink. Ours does not. And adding one wasn’t an option since the garage is right on the other side of our sink (and not exactly a view I want to be looking at every day as I wash dishes ;)) But I still wanted to visually “lighten” the space above the sink. So I decided to remove the upper cabinets, and install open shelves instead. Best. Decision. Ever. My husband was a little skeptical at first (Where are you going to put the cookbooks?!), but I assured him that it was worth getting rid of some things and rearranging some things to have the open shelves there. Thankfully he went along with it!
The question I get asked most often is where we got the wood for the open shelves. While driving along one day, I noticed a house with a barn that had a bunch of old stuff sitting down by the road with a “for sale” sign. I pulled in the driveway and began talking with the owner. He had entire piles of old wood in his barn and out behind the barn, and he let me pick through them til I found just the right piece. It was a very long piece that he cut into 3 smaller sections for me. I loaded them into my car and $20 later, I was on my way with the perfect shelving for our kitchen! It was aged and weathered to perfection and we did absolutely nothing to change it whatsoever, other than cutting it to length to fit above our sink. I LOVE using vintage and antique items and materials that are already in existence rather than constantly consuming new goods, so sourcing this old wood directly from a local barn was a really cool piece of my kitchen that is so “me”.
The final feature of the kitchen is the subway tile which we installed from counter to ceiling. Despite hearing several times “You’re going to do tile to the ceiling?? All the way to the ceiling?! Shouldn’t it stop at the cabinets??”, I stuck to my vision. And thankfully my husband and father-in-law were talented and selfless enough to carry it through. And it’s amazing how much that subway tile to the ceiling has lightened and brightened our kitchen, and has truly given it a signature look that I love!
Our splurges for the kitchen were the quartz countertops and the farmhouse sink. These were also the two things that we hired professionals to install. I have to admit, I had no idea how much a farmhouse sink could cost (gulp!). But I knew it would become a focal point of our kitchen and it was a non-negotiable for me in our kitchen renovation. After all, I had saved for 2 years so it was worth it to splurge on these strategic long-term components of our kitchen.
So there you have it… Some Before & After views of our modern farmhouse kitchen reno! I’ll be sharing another post soon with more of our kitchen story, in addition to some things I would do differently next time around that may help YOU as you plan your kitchen renovations. Stay tuned!