When I moved into my little cottage/bungalow, the existing kitchen was a mish-mash of design elements. The dull yellow walls were topped with a fruity wallpaper border that extended from the breakfast nook area, which featured grapevine wallpaper. The cabinets were done in two tones of oak, an effect I’ve never seen before—and hope never to see again. The countertops were a faux marble laminate. None of these elements really went together, and the appliances also featured different colors and styles—almond fridge, white stove, white dishwasher with black trim.
There were a lot of things on the house to-do list—not the least of which was painting every room in the house, but that’s another story—so a kitchen renovation wasn’t in the cards. However, I couldn’t live with the kitchen as it was—especially the two-tone oak cabinets, which were just weird. They were solid wood and in great shape, though, and I’m a big believer in the transforming power of paint. Since the countertops weren’t going anywhere any time soon, I decided on a color scheme for the cabinets that would make the countertops work.
As you can see, the colors in the faux marble are in the beige/taupe family, with rust/bronze-colored “veins” running through it, so I decided to paint the cabinets a taupe color (Khaki) and replace the existing brass hardware with Old Rubbed Bronze hardware to pick up the color of the veining in the faux marble pattern. I went with a pale cream (Quail Egg) on the walls.
What a difference. Suddenly, with cabinets and hardware that worked with it, the faux marble laminate, instead of sticking out and looking strange, actually made sense and blended into the overall look of the kitchen.
I eventually got rid of the wallpaper in the breakfast nook, too, and decided to paint it the same color as the cabinets, to tie the two spaces together but make the nook distinct from the kitchen with its cream/Quail Egg walls. However, the wall opposite the cabinets suddenly seemed really white compared to all the khaki on the cabinets, so I decided to carry the khaki over to that wall to restore some balance. I left the cabinet walls alone.
After living with the kitchen for another six months, I began to feel that it needed some punch. The tone-on-tone effect of the cream and taupe, which had been such a relief after all the busyness of the previous cabinet and wall finishes, was starting to look bland. I decided that I needed to come up with a color that would compliment the taupe color scheme but liven things up a bit. I mentioned this one day when a couple of friends were over, and one of them said, “I see blue.”
I don’t really think of blue as a kitchen color, but I sat with it for a bit and warmed up to the idea. A soft Tiffany blue, maybe…hmmm…it could work. I finally settled on Diving Board, a Martha Stewart color. It did the trick.
It might not be my dream kitchen, and I’m not quite done with it, but at least I don’t wince when I walk in the room anymore. The blue wall makes me smile, and I don’t even mind the faux marble laminate so much anymore.
Later on, I added a shelf to the breakfast nook window. The nook gets great morning light (perfect for starting seeds and rooting plant cuttings), and the window offers a nice view of the back garden. I often sit here and read or work on my computer.
Costs for my budget kitchen fix: Old Rubbed Bronze hardware – around $90; paint – probably around $100 (including primer); bronze accessories (paper towel holder, fruit basket, utensil holder) – don’t remember, probably no more than $50 for all three; rug – $4.99 on sale at Target. The board and brackets for the nook shelf were probably $30.