Kitchen Renovation Reveal

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosEvery morning I turn the light-filled corner into my kitchen, and I almost can't believe my eyes. The past two months we've burned the midnight oil and spent seemingly every spare moment in our lives working on our kitchen transformation. I've almost forgotten what it looked like before, so these before and after shots below are a little shocking. I've always enjoyed spending time in the kitchen, but these days I'm practically kidnapping friends just to come hang in my kitchen while I cook for them. I think I need a larger refrigerator for all of the feasts I want to prepare for all of the dinner parties we need to host.

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosThe biggest impact of the new kitchen is all that white! It's so cheerful compared to the old, dark cabinetry. Because I adjusted my camera settings for the low light of our old kitchen, it's difficult to tell how much brighter our kitchen is now. It really is incredible how much light is reflected by the white paint. I also love that the dark, lower cabinets keep everything grounded, while the wood counters warm it all up nicely.

Now that I have some open shelving, I know I'll enjoy changing things around from time to time. Being able to actually decorate in our kitchen without sacrificing counter space is a real joy for me. As far as style goes, I was aiming for a contemporary take on a mid century-meets-country kitchen, and I'm pretty happy with how it worked out. You probably can't tell by our home's interior, but the exterior of our home has some pretty inescapable country elements to it, including a long, arched porch area and white barn siding. I think the new kitchen appropriately reflects that country sensibility without feeling like a rustic time capsule.

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosLife During Renovations

I don't even know how people manage life during extensive kitchen renovations that take months— just one month in this destruction was enough to cause incredible anxiety in my life. Look out! Toddler on a ladder! Oh yeah. It was a little stressful to say the least. (For the record, Lucy never got far up the ladder before we swooped her down and resorted to baby gates and television to keep her safe.) Our sink and counters were out of commission for at least three weeks, and during that time, all of our dishes and pantry items were stored away in boxes throughout our house. We ate a lot of frozen, sodium-rich meals and pizza. Since I couldn't make coffee (I use a French press), I ran to Dunkin almost daily— and I couldn't say no to a cake donut most of the time. Yikes! I kind of miss those mornings, actually. But I'd be lying if I said I can still easily fit into my pants.

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosI'm the kind of person who likes to work my butt off until a project is finished. Full steam ahead, I always say. But when you're counting on help from others, you can't just snap your fingers to make people jump. They have things called day jobs and choir practice and softball games and social lives. Waiting around was a really difficult part of this project for me. It wasn't easy to rest and wait when there was still work to be done, but I didn't have much of a choice when it involved things I couldn't do alone. So I did a lot of sitting on my hands.

There were a few nights Phil and I stayed up until at least four a.m. (Now you're understanding why trips to Dunkin were a must!) I really appreciated Phil's willingness to work alongside me at times like this when I know he was completely exhausted. That's true love, folks.

Once we got our cabinets back up on the walls, I could finally put away dishes and clean up the dining room. What a tremendous relief! It was all downhill from there— the countertops went in next, then shelving, then the greatly anticipated Return of the Sink (extended edition)! Once the area was livable again, I felt like slowing the pace wasn't the worst thing in the world.

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosEclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosNow that my life has returned to a more normal pace, I start every morning right here at my kitchen's bar. I usually have to tear myself away from this sunny place where I enjoy my coffee, NPR, and social media scrolling. Though I really just want to sit for a while on my reupholstered stool and soak in all the joy I feel at having completed the renovation.

Reflecting on the project, there isn't really any part of the design I would change, but I do have some wisdom I gleaned along the way. 

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosSemi-Gloss Paint— I always knew the truth about semi-gloss paint, but it never felt real until our kitchen renovation. Semi-gloss paint shows every single flaw in the object you're painting. Because of how reflective it is, it will show texture from brush rollers (see the sink vent area above), and any dents, bumps, or scratches. I don't notice it too much from day to day, but it sticks out to me when I look at these pictures. There are a few places I wish I would've spent more time filling and sanding when we were repairing old hardware holes on the doors.

Semi-gloss paint is a must for places that will be frequently wiped down, like kitchen cabinets. I love how easy it is to clean, but I hate how quickly it smudges. I wipe down our drawers and doors way more often than I ever did before, but the paint holds up to it nicely.

I noticed the semi-gloss paint took longer to cure than other paint (eggshell and satin finish), and oddly enough, the darker-tinted paint was worse at setting up than the untinted paint. I have no idea if this is a normal thing, or if it was an anomaly for me, but I'm storing that away for future projects– You might need to allow for longer cure time with semi-gloss paint.

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosEclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosEclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosPainting Brick– Don't be afraid to paint brick! I had it in my mind that it would be a huge undertaking, but it wasn't. I was also afraid of what people on the internet would say about me painting brick— a fear which probably stems from my days as a writer for Apartment Therapy. But it's my house! It's so bizarre that I even worry about what internet commenters would think about a change that made me so incredibly happy in our home. This post explains my experience with removing tile from the brick wall, repairing its badly cracked surface, and why we decided to paint it.

Open Shelving– I grew up with very pragmatic family members always raising an eyebrow at clutter. Because clutter=more things to dust, and it seems good housekeeping runs in my family. (Though that buck might stop here.) I can just imagine my grandmother raising said eyebrow at my open shelves. But I like to think of this mix between closed cabinets and open shelving as a nice compromise between vanity and practicality.

I will say, I have already had to dust everything on the shelves a couple of times since finishing the kitchen, so I get where they're coming from. Even items I use every day still gather dust— like my canning jar food storage. But it's not too much work, and I don't mind it.

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosEclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosEclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photos

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosBudgeting– I talked a lot about budgeting in my planning post, and spent more money than anticipated due to some personal choices (such as a fancy faucet with a far reach) and also some unforeseen expenses (see the end of my planning post for an idea of what those expenses entailed). I definitely think planning the money you'll need for a renovation project is a necessary step, unless you have unlimited funds. I really profusely discourage anyone from going into debt to finish a home renovation project, but that can easily happen if you hastily begin a project and put everything on a credit card.

When planning your budget, I suggest adding 10% to your foreseen expenses to include error in planning or expenses you didn't plan for, like fixing something that breaks or buying lumber to replace pieces you cut incorrectly. If you're working with an older home, you might want to overestimate your budget even more than 10% to include potential money pits like electrical rewiring, plumbing, and ventilation issues.

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosScheduling– Taking the time to make a renovation schedule is a smart idea even if you might be way off in your time estimation. A schedule keeps you motivated to work, even when you feel like ditching it all for a night on the couch with Netflix. (Not a bad idea, I might add— but perhaps you could schedule in rest days.) Sharing your schedule with people who have offered to help will also help them stay committed to your project, knowing that there's a schedule to stick to. Just make sure you're gracious about it— your helpers will appreciate every iota of kindness you send their way.

The most time-consuming aspect of this project was definitely refinishing the cabinets. You can see my timetable for our cabinet refinishing right here. All of that sanding, hole-filling, and wet sanding was the bulk of it. I would be happy if I never sanded another object as long as I live, but I'll settle for just a month off. Sanding is a pain, yes, but I always scoff at cabinet refinishing tutorials that skip this step. Paint builds up over time and affects the fit of your cabinetry. Also, wet sanding after priming really improves the feel of the paint finish– it's like silk after wet sanding. If you're going to do it at all, you might as well put in the extra effort to do it well.

Another time intensive part of this project was the countertop. We did a lot of practice cutting with templates, lots of measuring, and so much planning. It's worth the extra time to make sure you don't make a mistake when cutting into an expensive countertop material. You can read all about the process (and the mistake we made, which forced us to widen the gap between my sink basins) here.

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosEclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosEclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosSplurging on Hardware– The biggest sticker shock I felt during the planning process of our renovation was when I added up the estimated cost of our new hardware. I ended up compromising by mixing the expensive solid brass bar pulls I loved with cheap brass plated knobs from the hardware store. It turns out I adore the end result of mixing the two styles and wouldn't go back in time and use all brass bar pulls— even if I had the money. It still was a splurge buying the solid brass bar pulls for the drawers, but I think it really paid off. The hardware really is the icing on the cake, isn't it? I don't think I would love the result of our renovation as much if I had compromised completely on the hardware. Was it worth the extra money? Definitely!

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosBefore & After

And now I bring you a few more before and after shots. These images practically send chills down my spine! I chose to photograph our kitchen with the typical clutter that we see from day to day, like bread, fruit, my French press (it only ever gets cleaned right before I refill it every morning), and magazines— just so you could get a feel for what it's like being there in real life. Too bad you can't really come over for a cuppa!

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosHere are some handy links to all of my kitchen renovation posts:

-Planning a Budget Kitchen Renovation
Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets
Cleaning, Painting, and Drilling into the Brick Wall
Reconfiguring Existing Cabinets for a Fresh Look
How to Make an Inexpensive Plank Backsplash
Installing Butcher Block Counters with an Undermount Sink

Next I'll be sharing the space adjacent to our kitchen— the dining room! It underwent some changes recently too, and together they make this area my favorite place in the whole house. Definitely well worth the waiting and saving!

Eclectic Kitchen Renovation- including before and after photosAre you wondering about any of the fixtures or accessories in my kitchen? I've included sources for everything below.

Finishes:

-cabinet paint: Benjamin Moore's Black Panther in semi-gloss
-wall paint: Benjamin Moore's Bright White in Eggshell
-trim and backsplash paint: untinted white paint in semi-gloss
-butcher block sealer: Waterlox original low VOC in satin

Hardware, Fixtures, & Furnishings:

-butcher block counters: Lumber Liquidators (maple)
-brass bar pulls: Lewis Dolan
-brass plated door knobs: found at a local hardware store for $2
-faucet: Amazon
-espresso machine: Krups from Amazon
-pendant light: Amazon

-under cabinet stemware holder (brass plated): Amazon
-utensil rack: DIY

Decorative Accessories:

-landscape collage art: Jesse Treece from Society6
-photobooth panel: vintage

-paper towel holder (brass plated): West Elm
-tea kettle: Amazon
-radio: Vermont Country Store
-rug: Urban Outfitters circa 2009
-Le Parfait canning jars: from Marshalls & Grow Organic
-blue Ball jars: from my departed grandmother's kitchen
-bread box: Amazon (small and large)
-enamel tray by sink: West Elm
-soap dispensers: Amazon (dish soap and hand soap)
-tea towel: vintage
-baskets above refrigerator (fair trade): Amazon
-stools: eBay reupholstered with fabric below

-faux cowhide upholstery fabric: Amazon
-whale sponge holder: World Market
-refrigerator note station: DIY
-clamp light: Lowes
-cutting board under the bread: made by my dad in his high school wood shop!
-speckled bowl: hand thrown by my friend Austin
-enamel utensils and little white colander: World Market

I've tried to include as many sources as I could, but feel free to ask about anything unmentioned in the comments. Thanks for following along with this renovation journey! I've loved hearing your encouragement and advice along the way. Hopefully you feel inspired to get down with the DIY in your own kitchen. Remember— reusing old fixtures can produce beautiful, inexpensive results with a little hard work!  -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection.

  • Love this kitchen redo – the sink, the counters, the two-toned cabinet colors! Very nice – the redo has a really nice flow and light feel to it. Well done!

  • Yes I love it! The faucet, the drawer pulls – all so good. And thank you for admitting that you do have to dust even the stuff you use regularly in your open shelving. I always suspected that people were downplaying the dust factor.

  • Your barstools are soooo fabulous! Also I love that you kept the upper cabinets but still added open shelving–best of both worlds!

  • Fabulous job! I love the openness, it’s so inviting and allows for a great gathering place. I also love that you can see the fireplace in the distance. My obsession with fireplaces in the home is forever growing! The utensil rack behind the stove is super cute and a great use of space. I actually have a similar rack behind mine but never thought to put hooks on it until now! My last, but not least :), favorite aspect of the redesign is the cow print stool tops! I love any animal print and I especially love how you integrated into your kitchen!

    http://www.jjfaust.com

  • This was such a great series of posts, Mandi! Thank you so much for sharing! I love how much more open and inviting it feels with the white paint / adjusted cabinets. I think my favorite aspect of the whole project is the butcher block countertop. I’m definitely storing that in my mind for future inspiration. Renovating is tough work and you guys did an amazing job! My parents own a 150+ year old house and we’ve been renovating it room by room for the past 14 years (since Dad works, we typically only have weekends to work on the house and I’ve since moved out so he largely does the work on his own). We’ve yet to start the kitchen, but the rest of it is finished. I definitely feel ya on the anxiety of clutter / boxes of things during renovation! I’m so happy to see you and your husband teaching yourselves the skills needed to renovate and doing it yourselves! Such great skills to have 🙂 Congrats!

  • Wow, that looks so amazing! I really love everything about the final room, but in particular, I think it’s genius the way you hung the cabinets higher and then added the shelf to the open space below. I always hate that open space above the cabinets in some kitchens, but if I were remodeling, I would have never come up with this idea. Storing it away for when I need it, thanks!

  • i love the after! i always think it speaks highly of a good reno when the after is beautiful on it’s own (not just compared to the before). i’m totally using your kitchen as inspiration for my own. 🙂

  • Wow what a transformation! It feels very much like it came together so quickly, but i’m sure with lots of hard work. What an inspiring space to cook and create! Even with such a simple colour palette it feels so farm and inviting!
    Love it!
    http://www.oomphlove.blogspot.ca

  • I’m not a super regular commenter, but I couldn’t help myself for this post! The kitchen turned out beautifully, and while I’m still a renter, I appreciate the time you took to provide such detailed steps for each part of the process. Your humble and honest writing style makes it easy to absorb all of the information. All of your time and hard work makes it worth it to have such a beautiful,–and most importantly–functional kitchen! Enjoy! 🙂

  • Hey guys,
    Love this and all of all of Mandi’s posts. Also, can you bring back the Pumpkin spice playlist?

  • I don’t think I will EVER have cabinets with the space above them again. At least not if I can help it!!! Less dust and clutter.

  • The white cabinetry was such a good idea. Our house isn’t even that old (about 11 years), but we have dark cherry red cabinets and I know what you mean about a dark kitchen. The white looks so much more inviting. I love the mason jar storage too – very practical!

  • This is so charming! I like your choice to mix knobs and pulls for your hardware. Its a budget idea that doesn’t sacrifice style.

    I noticed the toe kick on the cabinets is still its stained wood tone, which i don’t mind, but i thought it could be an opportunity for a splash of color.
    Maybe something like this project from another blog.

    http://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/pimp-your-toe-kick/

  • Gorgeous! I love the clean look of all that white. And it looks like such a functional space too (especially with that middle-shelf area!), which is so important in a kitchen! I love it.

    Always, Anita

  • Your kitchen turned out amazing! I have really enjoyed these post, and seeing your progress along the way. Great job!

  • Seriously obsessed with this space. Possibly being a long term renter, I’m not sure my dream kitchen will ever come true. I do dream of the day and really appreciate all of your step by step advice that I will refer to in the future If I can. Thanks for the amazing inspiration and swooning!

  • First comment on this blog… I think.

    I have really loved this series of posts. I just bought a apartment and am doing renovations myself and its so refreshing to see someone else taking things on and completing them.. and making it look amazing. Also proud to see a fellow lady kicking butt. Its nice that you have such a great family to help too!

    Really funny about what you said about being nervous about what people would say, and writing for Apartment Therapy. I just started following them…. and It blows my mind how all the comments on that site are so negative and nit picky. It like this weird subculture of jerks picking apart peoples homes and posts. Nobody would say those things to peoples face, but hidden behind there keyboards!

    Anyway, I’m really looking forward to more posts from you (Mandy) Your the number 1 reason I check this site.

    Keep up the amazing work!

    🙂

  • So in love with this! I’m usually a super colorful kinda gal but this clean black, white, brass look is aaaaaamazing. Thanks to you I’m starting to think my kitchen would be great in this scheme with pops of color. Thanks for sourcing everything…I’m sure it’s a lot of work but much appreciated. 😉

  • Beautiful kitchen! I particularly like the heart magnets on the refrigerator and was hoping you could share where they’re from. Thanks!

  • The complete renovation is so beautiful and fresh. You described the feel/style perfectly, too! You put so much effort into it and have incredible taste. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kitchen looks amazing…love the brightness and the white open shelves…but my favs are those faucet & sink, and the utensil holder (best DIY)

    xo

    agoldentulip.blogspot.com

  • Such an improvement! Everything looks fantastic, very modern and clean. I think my favorite part is the light. So much light coming in. My kitchen is super small but it has a huge window at the end of it, so I think I’m inspired to go all white, too. We’ll see 😀

  • You executed the country feel of the kitchen brilliantly. It looks like such a cute, cosy place while still being very social. I always hate it when a room looks like a disaster zone during renovation (who doesn’t?) but the outcome is usually worth it and yours definitely was.

    http://www.raisethewaves.blogspot.com

  • It looks wonderful and I like that you spoke about the transition period in between because I am in one right now too, and you’re right, it’s not easy! But it is definitely worth it in the end. Now to convince a Dunkin Donuts to open up down the street from me…

  • Oh my goodness, girl!!! Your kitchen is absolutely gorgeous!! I love the navy blue cabinets with gold hardware!! I had to share on my FB page! Pinned!

  • OH MY GOODNESS!! I can’t believe the before is even the same photo! Well done – must have been a tough job but it looks so stunning! I want a kitchen like this one day when I have a house 🙂 xxx

  • So beautiful! Especially the two kitchen sinks. Renovating our kitchen is high on the list this summer too. It’s currently dark blue with a lovely yellow grease stained ceiling which hasn’t been painted since the 70s. Seeing as how the kitchen is somewhere I spend WAY too much time, I really can’t wait to get it cleaned up and feeling beautiful. Thank you very much for the inspiration. x

  • I love your kitchen too. When you first posted on painting cupboards the color black panther I kept coming back to look because I had just bought that color for my cabinets. Those island cabinets have not totally cured but my white dove have, which were painted at the same time. I used BM advance satin for both. So I do think the darker color has something to do with it too as I am getting worried that it will never cure. I have fun looking around this site!

  • i’m loving your kitchen, and have already bookmarked it for ideas later, but i’m really writing to say, blue toilet!!! that looks awesome!!

  • I’ve been following your kitchen blog for a while, and this post is so lovely!
    Honestly, I never tire of looking at your finished kitchen.. It is absolutely perfect!

    Keep on enjoying your light filled corner, you all deserve it!

  • What an amazing transformation! I love how this has turned out… So much brighter and happier! The benches really bring it together for me 🙂

  • What a fantastic job! We’re renovating our kitchen and have yet to sand down the kitchen cupboard doors and re-paint!!
    A colourful SMEG fridge would look stunning! I admit, our old fridge was fab and did a great job. The SMeG is just a sexy addition!
    Well done!

  • Everything about this kitchen is aesthetically pleasing. I love every little detail. This has given me very valuable ideas for when my partner and I buy in the next couple years- renovation may be a big part of the process. Loved this post!
    ambermarie

  • This renovation was so amazing! I dream of a kitchen like this! Right now I’m living in a rental studio, so that’s not possible, but I’m pinning this for the future! The “during” photo is such a mess! All renovations make a lot of mess really, but the result is so worth it! You guys did an amazing job there!

    xoxo,
    Gabi Barbará
    http://blogbarbaridades.com

  • I just love how honest and detailed you are, such a big help! We’re thinking of fixing up our kitchen next year.

  • Love how you reuse things – green and budget conscious! Raising your cabinets to the ceiling looks like it gave you better access to your work surface, so will be keeping that noted for when we buy a house.

  • I love this transformation! What an amazing difference before and after.

    P.S. a house not far from me painted their not-so-nice red brick house white and OMG it looks so much better. If brick is old or boring, painting it is a great idea 🙂

  • This is such a gorgeous transformation!! And so good to read about someone’s journey as we are going through a similar thing. More photos please!!

  • [email protected]

    Wow!. This has got to be one of the most impressive before and after transformations I have seen. Fabulous.

  • I read this post and immediately thought, the conversations we could have about living in a construction zone. Your kitchen is amazing. I’m impressed you knocked it out in a month. We are going on 6 months now. It’s functional and where we need it but not reveal worthy yet.

    Your kitchen is so bright and cheery.

  • The floors are original terrazzo. They are in need of restoration badly, but we’re not sure if we should restore them or cover them. We’re considering resale value. -Mandi

  • I actually bought black rubber trim to adhere to the space, but we haven’t gotten around to putting it in. We want to give the floor a great scrubbing first. -Mandi

  • Why no vent hood over the range? Did I miss something about it in the post? Might the grid behind the cooktop be a temporary measure until a vent hood is installed? I ask, because I live with a full-contact cook who would grease up that grid behind the stove (as well as its contents) in one meal if there were no venting.

  • There’s a fan in the ceiling to suck up the steam/smoke/fumes from the stove and ducts to send the air outside— it’s controlled by a switch on the backsplash. If grease in the air gets to be a problem with keeping our kitchen clean, we may have to shell out the cash to get a hood vent, but if that happens, I’ll want something minimal that I can trim up to look built-in with the shelves. It probably won’t end up being an inexpensive purchase, which is why we wanted to see if we would be happy without one.

    I do cook almost every day, but I can’t fit more than two large pots on my tiny stove, and I usually fry things up on the front burners with a splatter screen. So I’m not that messy of a cook, and that’s part of the reason I’m the one to always cook- I hate seeing someone make a big mess in my kitchen! Haha! If grease splatter is a frequent occurrence in your kitchen, then obviously the utensil grill wouldn’t be a good idea for your stove’s backsplash.
    -Mandi

  • Awesome Job! Very eye appealing! Just a question, where is your oven? I see the cook top but maybe I’ m missing something?

  • What a beautiful space! Great job!! So crazy how much of a difference the dark paint on the cabinets and the new counter top make. The whole kitchen looks so bright and inviting. Love your sinks as well!
    xo Nan – Simply Elegant Blog

  • looks fantastic! I’m also considering a kitchen renovation. From what it looked the pic, i didn’t see a hood over your oven? I want to take out my overhead microwave and wasn’t sure if I would need to install a hood or fan. Just was curious on your thoughts for your own kitchen in that regard. Great work! Looks fab!!

  • I see you’ve removed the hood above a stove and replaced it with that ceiling vent. Does that work well? I’m curious because I may be embarking on a kitchen renovation and I’ve never seen that before.

    Beautiful, beautiful space.

  • This is one of the most amazing transformations I’ve ever seen! Your kitchen is beautiful! How I wish to have a kitchen like that! But I live in a rental and my landlord doesn’t eve let me drill the wall to hang a picture. 🙁

    xoxo,
    Gabi Barbará
    Barbaridades!

  • I see what you have done on many of the kitchens, and it is such a nice “trick”. Cause its funny how simple it is to make a room look cleaner and better just the white colour 🙂 And last but not least bigger…..thank you for the share and the reminder of how simple it actually it can be.