Sunday, July 29, 2012

Makeover: Adding Colour and Contrast in the Kitchen

 I am one of the very fortunate women (who are becoming more and more common, it seems) whose husband loves to cook. And I'm not talking about barbecuing, which James also does exquisitely, but the real gourmet stuff. Don't get me wrong, I can hold my own in the kitchen, but since James cooks most of the dinners, it seemed only right that he have a proper kitchen to do it in. And so the kitchen makeover began.
These photos were taken by the folks at Homes in Motion, who kindly gave me permission to use them here, to advertise our house before we bought it. The door on the back wall opens out onto the back patio, and the one in the opposite corner leads down to the basement. Since we don't have the money to tear out any walls at the moment, the basic structure of the room had to stay the same. 


We love how bright the kitchen is, but hated having the fridge all the way across the room from the stove and sink. For financial reasons the cabinets, counters and floors had to stay (at least for now). Lucky for us, James' parents gave us a generous housewarming gift, so we were able to replace the fridge from 1986 (yup, that was the date on the sticker on the back) and the 27" electric stove with miniature oven. (No turkeys or full size baking sheets would have fit in there, never mind dutch ovens full of lamb roasts, which are not unheard of at our house.)


The other important issue for us was the lack of a dishwasher. We had to have one, not least because I abhor washing dishes, but also because it apparently uses less water to wash dishes in the dishwasher than it does to wash them by hand. (That's a convenient rationalization, isn't it?) Since it had to be installed close to a water source and drain, and we didn't want to lose a cabinet and 4 drawers, we opted for a mini dishwasher that was only 18" wide.

The biggest design challenge was figuring out what to do about our stranded fridge. We didn't want to put the fridge beside the stove, not only because having a heat source right next to the fridge isn't a great idea, but also because we didn't want to block the lovely window that's there. But where else could it go? After a few days of mulling it over, James came up with a brilliant solution. We would seal off the door to the hallway (after all, we already have access to the living room from the kitchen), and get a shallow fridge that would fit in the space between the liquor cabinet and the door to the basement. Eureka! (One of these days I'll post about the experience of hanging a 26" door in a 27" door frame that's not square, but that's a story for another day.) You'd never even know there used to be a doorway there now, would you?


We decided on black for the new appliances, since stainless steel appliances are significantly more expensive, and the ones that just look like stainless still seem to cost more than black. Also, we like black. We think it looks modern, and it's easy to keep clean. In order to unify the look of the kitchen given the black appliances and white cabinets, I had the brilliant idea (is it okay not to be modest? I think it was brilliant!) of replacing the white cabinet handles with black ones. 


In addition to jazzing the place up by adding black accents, we decided that the walls needed a splash of colour too. Along with our bright yellow/orange accent wall (which friends who helped us paint were really not sure about at the time), we opted to paint the bulkhead above the cabinets a lovely dark Georgian brick red that matches our banister.
For storage we used shelves that we already had, selected mostly because they fit the space. We also added a fantastic kitchen island that we found for $250! We love having the extra counter space, and it has a drawer and a shelf for added storage too. Best of all, we fluked out and found a mahogany one with the wood of the base stained in a reddish tint, to match our red accent bulkhead.


One of our favourite features of the kitchen was the built-in liquor cabinet, which you can see between the door to the living room and the door to the hallway. We wanted to highlight it as a special feature, so removed the door and painted the inside of the cabinet dark red. James had to use a screw extractor bit to remove the hinges, but once we had the right tool, the job went smoothly.


When it came time to decorate we were thrilled to discover that the faux-window painting that my mum had created for our kitchen wall in Austin, based on a photo that I took while we were travelling in France, was a perfect match with our new yellow wall colour. It now hangs over our kitchen table (you can see it in the photo, above). With a few more little personal touches, like these great canisters with little yellow flowers that match our yellow wall that James' mom brought for us from her house, the kitchen has really started to feel like home. 


I am amazed and what a difference we have made to this room without changing its fundamental structure in any way. It feels modern, bright and fun, which just goes to show what updated appliances, paint and and the right island can do for a kitchen!


Have you ever made a dramatic change to a room in your home without altering its structure? Perhaps you've changed it's purpose or layout just by swapping out the furniture, and updated it with fresh paint. If you have, we'd love it if you'd share your tips and experiences in the comments!

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