Kitchen Design: Minty Vintage

The rental property I recently purchased is in the process of being updated. It was already in good condition, for a foreclosure, but needed a little fanc-ification. The location of the house is interesting. It sits on the edge of the most desirable neighborhood in Cincinnati and shares the same zip code. It is also just one block from a town square with restaurants, cafes and cute shops. In order to attract good tenants, I wanted to make sure the home was cute, comfortable and up to the standards of the nearby neighborhood. Most changes will be in the kitchen where it was in good condition, yet builder basic and boring. 

Before

Kitchen Before with Oak Cabinets
Oak Cabinets in kitchen Before Update

You see here that this kitchen is a snooze-fest. Nothing special or blingy here. We have oak cabinets, vinyl flooring, mismatched appliances and bright yellow walls. Everything in here is usable and in good condition. Not everything will make the cut, though. I want to make this kitchen attractive to potential renters looking in this area, but I still have to keep my budget in mind. Every dollar in is straight out of my pocket and not coming back for a long, LONG time. Everything I do to this kitchen must be attractive, but stand the test of time of tenants to come.

The Plan

I need to give A Lovely Lark props for inspiring this here plan. Why reinvent the wheel when someone has already made the wheel for you? Am I right? Still, there's a little more to it. I'll need to keep as much as possible in this kitchen. Luckily, there is a lot in this room I can work with. Let's get into the what and the why....

  • Cabinets: They are in great condition and clean. They're staying. A coat of paint will update them and will be easy to repaint in the future when they become dingy or dinged up. I'm painting the upper cabinets Behr Ultra White and the lower cabinets Behr Smokey Slate.
  • Walls: Every room in the house is painted a different color. It's like a clown house. Pro Tip: don't do that. It makes the house feel segmented and smaller. I'm repainting the whole place a nice neutral gray called Behr Silver Drop. 
  • Floors: While vinyl floors are not my favorite, they are in good condition and work with the new design. This house is on a slab, no basement. So, because there is concrete below the vinyl, not wood, I'm not as concerned about water damage as I would be if there were wood subfloors. 
  • Appliances: I'm not liking the mismatched appliances. What is good news is that they are all in good condition and the stainless steel range can be sold. That money can go toward a new matching white one.
  • Counters: This is where I'm breaking the bank for the bling. Granite. Yes, I'm taking out the decent laminate counters. There's debate on whether granite is in or out. Personally, I still like it. I prefer natural materials over fake stuff. Any investor within 100 miles would tell me I'm nuts. I don't care. I have my reasons. They are:
    • I think it will completey transform this kitchen. 
    • I think a renter will prefer it over laminate. 
    • I believe granite counters will hold up for many many years compared to the laminate when it comes to tenant use and abuse.
    • The laminate is ugly.
    • I want it. I mean it IS my house. I can do what I want with it.
    • The cost of the granite is comparable to changing out laminate a few times, which I will have to do every few years give or take depending on wear and tear by tenants.
    • Did I mention I want it?
  • Backsplash: I very much dislike splattered grease and junk running down a painted wall. It's impossible to clean. So, I'm adding subway tile with gray grout which should be easy to clean up. The gray grout will hide any staining unlike white grout which will yellow over time. Remember, I'm keeping this house for a long time so style and material longevity are important. 
  • Hardware and Fixtures: This house has glass doorknobs with brass collars. It's cute and antique-y. I want to play off of that with the cabinet hardware, so I went with vintage-y looking bronze knobs, pulls and faucet. I know these colors don't necessarily match, but matching is OUT in my opinion. My contractor is skeptical, but who asked him anyway? Don't even ask him his thoughts on the base cabinet color.
  • Accessories: I won't be staging this house, or adding any artwork, but I the Etsy print and potted herbs work with the vintage theme rounding out the design.

Luckily, we won't have to wait too long to see an after photo of this kitchen. Work is underway and should be complete with in a week. Stay tuned for the big reveal very soon!

Got ugliness? Want your very own custom design? Click that box right there...

Kitchen Redesign: Schoolhouse Modern

Jessie Deye, otherwise known as @gymgirljessie, and I have been talking about her space for several months now. Back and forth we’ve chatted about what should she do about the floors, what about the ceiling, the counter, etc. I finally put together a design for her which ended up being what I would call a Modern Schoolhouse Kitchen. I took the aspects she had already decided on, like white cabinets and dark floors, and added the rest of the pieces to finish the look. Like many homeowners, she was getting overwhelmed by the multitude of decisions she had to make and trying to get it all in under budget. Mood boards are really helpful because you can see the whole room all at once rather than just imagining how it will all fit together. Even more difficult, in her situation, is trying to make decisions for a room that is changing by the week! 

The Before

Jessie’s kitchen was once a dining room. Two walls came down opening it up to the living room and eliminating a hallway. The living room was once lofted to the bedroom above but will now receive a new ceiling closing it in. The ceiling in what will be the new kitchen was torn out to expose the 100+ year old beams. Soon she’ll have new beams next to old beams, which was also a source of mental anguish. Don’t worry, there is a solution.

The Blueprint

The Design

 

The Road Map

  1. Ceiling: The most difficult piece of the puzzle! Jessie and I went back and forth on this one. Paint the whole thing or don’t paint it? "Ruin" the 100 year old wood or not? Let the living room and kitchen ceilings live side by side in awkwardness of new boards and old boards? No. There was no solution. Until there was! Finally, after lots of searching, I found the answer. Paint some of it. Dun Dun DUN!!!! Seriously, though. Instead of doing it all or nothing, why not make it a statement…ON THE CEILING? Paint most of the ceiling so it ties the two rooms together, but leave a strip above the island unfinished. Imagine how your eye will be pulled up to this fabulous unfinished section of beams of the room. Now this section and the old as crap wood will be highlighted. IT WILL ROCK.
  2. Flooring: In order to save some cash, the pine floors will be refinished. A dark stain will help the floor fade away to showcase the exposed brick walls and fabulous ceiling. Sometimes dark floors are poo poo-ed for their ability to highlight dirt. But, since Jessie’s unit is at the top of the building, it’s likely most of any dirt that would be tracked in would be gone by the time anyone gets to her door.
  3. Cabinets: Shaker cabinets are easy to find these days and will be around for a long time making them a good choice. There will be a large island with seating which will hold the dishwasher and a microwave on the end. The cabinetry will also run the length of the back wall. Instead of upper cabinets, shelving will flank either side of the range hood. 
  4. Shelving: This is an opportunity to get some rustic barn wood into the design to balance out the newness of the rest of the kitchen. The gas pipe shelving has been a favorite of hers in the past, although she could opt for black iron brackets as well.
  5. Counters: Ideally, white marble counters would be awesome with this design, but maintenance is a concern. A good alternative is a whiter granite counter such as River White granite. 
  6. Backsplash: To keep things in budget, simple and with the schoolhouse theme, I opted for white subway tile. A good go-to. To spruce it up a bit, a darker gray grout would be a good option. It could run to the ceiling, but since the ceilings are 11 feet tall, I’d suggest running it to just below the first shelf.
  7. Furnishings: These stools are interesting with the bendy metal bases but have the fun spinn-y tops. Gotta give Jessie somewhere to spin.
  8. Fixtures and Hardware: The lighting has to be simple in a schoolhouse design. A couple of simple shape-y glass pendant lights will bring a little sparkle to the room without being bulky and intrusive. The faucet has a powerful, utilitarian look. The cabinet pulls are clean lined, pewter schoolhouse pulls that finish off the look.

So, that’s it. I can’t wait to see the final room which should be finishing up sometime this winter. Let's hope for some after pics!

Kitchen Redesign: A Rustic Modern Kitchen

When we're not renovating houses, we're doing new designs for those who want to tackle the renovations on their own. A client asked us to put together something for her dining room and kitchen. She filled out our quick questionnaire and sent us some photos. Game on!

The Needs

"We need to move the washer/dryer- with this, we will be re-designing the eat in space of the kitchen. We're also looking to update the kitchen cabinets and floor. We don't have an extensive budget, but we are learning to be handy. We recently moved in to this house, and there's a chance we may move again in the next 5 years. So, we're looking for something functional for our family but not too custom that could potentially hurt the resale appeal. We are hoping to paint the kitchen cabinets white and change the floor of the kitchen."

The Room

Laundry closet in kitchen

The Design

When I saw this kitchen and dining area, I immediately knew what to do. Simple and clean lines of white cabinets and white backsplash would appeal to many buyers and won't be out of style within her 5 year timeline. A hint of color in the furnishings and window treatments would add a little fun without any permanency. 

The Roadmap 

  1. Cabinets: Let’s start with the most important part. We recommend leaving most of the cabinets, but paint them a nice crisp white. Behr’s Ultra Pure White is a good choice. To open up the space a bit, remove the cabinets to the left of the window, eliminating the awkward and bulky cabinet that sticks out over the peninsula. Ideally, the soffit would go, too but that could be costly. It’s ok to stay as it is. 
  2. Counters and Door Hardware: From your photos, it appears that you have black granite counters and stainless cabinet pulls/hinges that could remain and work with the new look.
  3. Flooring: To get the rustic look, use a tile that looks like worn wood. It will hold up well with the traffic in the kitchen and dining area. 
  4. Backsplash: Tile the backsplash with a simple white subway tile. It is classic, modern and inexpensive. White grout will give it a clean, simplistic look while a dark gray grout will give it a little more interest. Carry the backsplash from the refrigerator on the right, all the way to the peninsula on the left of the sink. We recommend carrying it all the way to the soffit where the cabinets to the left of the sink used to be. 
  5. Shelving: Replace the cabinets that were removed with open shelving. We like black brackets with a pine board painted white on top. If you will use the shelves for dishes, make sure it is deep enough to hold your dinner plates (10-12”). Keep the items on the shelves to a few neutral items to keep from looking cluttered. 
  6. Faucet: Replace the faucet with a modern stainless goose neck version.
  7. Laundry: Decide on whether to move the laundry to the basement. Several things to consider are: 
    • Do she really need more storage in the kitchen? 
    • Will moving the laundry to the basement be a huge inconvenience being further from the bedrooms?
  8. Closet: If she does decide that she'd like more storage in the kitchen and move the laundry to the basement, consider installing the same wire shelving that is in the pantry. This closet could be used to house small appliances such as the stand mixer, bulky serving ware and other items not used daily. Also good for this closet would be supplies used on the dining table for homework or craft time.
  9. Dining Area: A rustic wood table with a metal base will be great for meals as well as hold up to every day use. Add some interest with colorful metal chairs and an orb pendent light fixture. The rug could be used to add softness to the room, but could be left out in case kids will be dropping lots of food on it. 
  10. Windows: Bring out the bright color used in the dining chairs again in the window shades. Choose a geometric pattern that is lively for a roman shade over the kitchen sink and the same matching fabric in curtains in the dining area.

The Numbers

Along with the design and road map, she received a spreadsheet with the locations of all the items in the mood board, quantities she'll need for her space and the total cost to purchase the items for the 2 rooms. The total came to $2210, not including any labor costs and building materials.

What many of our clients do is use this as a starting point. We find middle ground priced materials at realistic costs, not best case scenarios. This way, if they find a coupon for Lowes or a similar tile at a discount store, they're going to come in under budget. Win-win! 

Get a Designer's Perspective On How To Remodel Your Crappy Bathroom

Ok not just crappy bathrooms. Crappy kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, garages and bedrooms, too. We love designing for our homes so much that we're now offering our design services to all of you! No matter your location We offer five levels of design help to meet your needs, whether you just need a fresh perspective or want us to tackle it all. 

style - $150

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Sometimes you just need an outsiders opinion. You'll send us pictures of your space and answer a few questions to give us some direction. We'll provide a mood board with an explanation on how it all works together. Order 2 or 3 different designs and have your pick!  Once you're ready, you'll have the inspiration you need to start choosing the materials, artwork and furnishings you'll need to whip that room into shape.

Includes a mood board and step by step design roadmap.

style & strategy - $300 

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For those needing a little more specificity. Includes the style package + a spreadsheet listing each item, links for where to find and purchase each item, cost breakdown and a total budget for the materials needed. 

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Changing the layout of a room is a whole different animal! This package is especially for kitchens or baths requiring a little rearranging. Includes the style and strategy packages as well as a new blueprint for your space.

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