We are 90% done on this kitchen project. Not quite there, but we are so close. We nearly finished building the vent hood—it needs more trim and paint*—and we added height to the cabinets. Now the hood we built looks proportional to the cabinets around it.
I also added horizontal paneling to the backsplash on the other wall.
Still to be done is 1) adding height to the cabinets on the wall above and 2) replacing all the toe kicks underneath the cabinets that we tore out last summer when our dishwasher leaked. We want to 3) replace our leaky faucet and 4) eventually swap out our black oven for a stainless steel gas range. (*In addition to more trim and paint to the vent hood.)
But I’ve gotten lost on this project a few times, and I want to capture how I’m sorting it out.
A reminder of what it used to look like:
This project is a patch, not a reno.
Our budget priorities and goals mean that we’re not replacing our laminate counters or the existing tile backsplash for the foreseeable future. It might be a year or several before we get to them. But I have this need for things to be aesthetically pleasing while we wait for the day we can make a real change. Hence the patch. With paint, paneling, a new island, and some new trim boards, I patched over what we had just enough to satisfy my critical eye.
It’s not a reno. The more I’ve look at the kitchen, the more I’ve realized the countertops don’t match the floors. The counters are a cool gray, the floors are a warm beige. They clash. It’s more noticeable now that the other offending surfaces have been muted.
Maybe someday I’ll paint my laminate countertops—they also fight with my stenciled backsplash—or get new laminate counters. Maybe we’ll go the butcher block route, though I’m not convinced our lazy kitchen habits wouldn’t ruin wood no mater what I seal it with. Maybe I’ll paint my lower cabinets the perfect shade of green/blue/gray that will bridge my floors and counters. But for now my new strategy is: ignore them. I’ll update when that strategy begins to fail me.
This is my kitchen, not me.
As someone who blogs about my minor house changes and takes pictures of and writes about beautiful homes, I feel pressure for my own kitchen to be beautiful too. But I can’t afford the kitchen I’d choose to reflect me and my good, carefully cultivated taste. It sounds so shallow when I write it out, doesn’t it? I enjoy thoughtfully created homes. I appreciate the skill, the eye, and the artistry of pulling these together. But that’s not what this project is about. I love to think about tile and stone and hardware, and I’d love to try to employ all of these tools in a kitchen renovation someday. But this isn’t that time, and this kitchen doesn’t need to say anything about me, other than I have this need to make things look better without spending too much. And I might devalue my time a little bit. And take on things a little beyond my DIY skill level.
Inspiration photos can backfire.
It’s possible to OD in the inspiration phase. One of the main reasons I had to stop thinking of my project as a reno is the more I studied kitchen inspiration photos, the more the beautiful pictures felt like a kick to my pride. I’d taken the inspiration stage to the point where the images weren’t lifting the horizon of the possible, they were sinking my hopes before I’d gotten my project off the ground. I have to be careful to choose my point of reference. This is one reason why before photos are so helpful. They help keep you grounded in your starting-off place.
But I’d gotten too focused on beauty beyond my budget that I wasn’t seeing the beauty I have. This kitchen is the biggest one we’ve ever had. It gets great natural light and has windows that look out on Texas Live Oak trees. It has a coffee maker and, last but not least, food. I love this house and the people I share it with, this kitchen, the meals we’ve made here, and all the people we’ve shared them with. This is the point of reference I want to use when I look at what I have and what I want to change. And when I use this lens, I really love the changes we’ve made.
When I put together a final kitchen post, I’ll say more about the process of installing paneling over tile, how we built our vent hood, and show some of the in-process pictures that reflect my lost-ness on this project. (At one point the island and the vent hood were blue.) I’ll also include source links. For now, follow these links if you want to read more about how I painted my cabinets and stenciled the backsplash.