What Would You Do, Kitchen Edition

I have something a little different for y’all today…today you get to makeover a kitchen, but you don’t have to do any of the work or spend any money. It’s the perfect kitchen remodel!  A friend from church recently saw my kitchen makeover and asked if I would come take a look at her kitchen and give her idea for a makeover of her own. I of course said yes and then thought to myself “wouldn’t it be fun to open this up to my readers and get more input than I’ll ever know what to do with?”. And so, here we are.

This is kitchen is a little different from mine because it is a nice house, with a nice kitchen, and a very open floor plan. My kitchen was crappy and kinda separated, so I felt like I could let my creativity flow freely. There was no way I could have made my kitchen any worse… that’s great feeling. Seriously. Anyway, I went to her house and took a bunch of pictures…now I want y’all to tell me what you would do if it were your house.

I already have some ideas of that to do with it, but I’m not going to tell y’all what they are because I don’t want to influence you. Though there are a few things you should know before you start mentally gutting her kitchen…

The countertops are granite and they are staying, so is the backsplash. Nothing is getting rearranged. Besides that everything else is up for grabs…colors, lighting, seating, shelving. I can tell you that she wants to refinish/paint/do something with the cabinets for sure, and something interesting with the island. I’m including a ton of pictures as well as some of the rest of the downstairs so that you can get a feel for the room and the style. Okay that’s it, I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

kitchen remodel





I have a little bonus for you as well. She mentioned that she would like to do something interesting and unique in the entry, but isn’t sure what. The picture below is taken from just inside the front door…I think the curved wall with the “windows”  would be a great statement wall. Now what that looks like….well that’s up to you!


So let’s hear those ideas, don’t hold out on me!


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  1. Hi Ashley,
    Wow,your friend is so fortunate to have a gorgeous house to start with! I’m sure you have some great ideas for her because your mind just seems like it works that way:)
    For instance, I think your penny countertop would look so good there.
    I also like the off white, kind of creamy colored cabinets that kind of look vintage.
    Is it possible to change an all wood cabinet door to partially glass- like leave the wood trim around edges of door and glass in the center? If so, I think that would look good on some of the doors.
    I like the hanging lights but it might be fun to change to warm colored shades.
    Thanks for this post. It’s a lot of fun re- doing a space even just in your imagination! I’m sure you will have some wonderful ideas for her Ashley:) Di

  2. I seriously have no design experience so this is scary and fun!! :) Bear with me as I try to put what’s in my head into words!! lol!!

    I love the look of different colors on top and bottom cupboards, so I think white on top and maybe a dark grey on the bottom? I noticed the tiles on stoves backsplash have color so if they aren’t grey maybe something that ties that color in. Also, adding moulding to the cupboards so the recessed part is gone and the moulding frames the center outwards would update them a lot.

    Also, if she’s willing to remove cupboard doors, I think the area to the right of the fridge could be build up to look like a breakfront. Create a fake side next to the fridge, add on some moulding to the sides and to the ceiling, fake feet at the bottom, cover up the tile backsplash with some beadboard and paint it all white and I think it would look like a built in!! I can see it in my head!! :) If you search “kitchen breakfront” on Pinterest there are some awesome examples that give an idea. :) It can’t look too colonial since her style looks more Mediterranean, so maybe no beadboard now that I think of it!! :) Oooohhh, an accent color could be painted on the back of the cupboards and on that back wall (on some kind of wood!!)!! Red or yellow??

    That’s all I’ve got!! Lighting isn’t in my skill-set!! :) But boy, this is a fun thing!! It’s fun to dream with someone because it’s all possible at that point!!! I can’t wait to hear what you thought of!!! I know it will be dreamy!!! Thank you for the chance to dream with you and your friend!! :)

    1. Breakfront must be a regional term I’m not familiar with in Minnesota but I love what you’re describing! The description that comes to mind for me is a built-in hutch. Is that what a breakfront is? Great idea!

      1. Yes, a built in hutch is exactly what it is!! :) I’m native to southern California and now I’m curious about the use of breakfront and built-in hutch regionally. I’m a nerd for regional dialect!! Both of my parents are from the East Coast so now I’m really curious!!! :)

  3. No ideas for the kitchen yet but that entry wall should be bricked in! You can use brick fronts (not very technical word wise here) and it would really add to the architecture of the arches without being cluttered by furniture or something.

  4. Ooooh how fun! Ok, um, I’d first take some cues from the adjacent areas. Since her breakfast seating is black with the cream upholstery, I’d think maybe a dark charcoal grey on the bottom cabs, and a creamy white on the uppers. I think the barstools are awesome – maybe reupholster in a cool fabric?
    I’d ask what her favorite color is, then choose a range of hues in that color to choose from.
    The pendants are nice, but they seem a little high? I don’t know. I’m just spit-balling here. I’m sure you will have some awesome ideas!
    Oh, for the entry, if you can see it from the kitchen, maybe use a more punchy, saturated version of the kitchen color for the walls. I can see maybe board-and-batten or beadboard on the lower wall (going up to the higher opening), and a really cool, leggy oval tufted ottoman sitting there. Maybe even suspend some salvaged paned windows – if she has kids, she could use those (and some handy command poster strips) to showcase special art pieces on both sides, which would still allow lots of light to come through.

    1. I think it needs to be modernized, as you know how to do, without making the entire house look outdated in the process. Don’t you have to stick with wrought Iron and earthy tones?

  5. I think top cabinets a lighter tone and the bottom dark,colors could be black on bottom and distressed cream on top. I see knocking the center pannel out of a couple doors….either glass or open shelves…for the wall loose the metal,a stencil would be way cool. I could see a pop of color in the lighting…loose the swag over the windows.

  6. One thing for sure, I’ll never have a decorating blog, as I have no clue. It looks great to me:~
    Good thing my daughter has a knack for it. Looking forward to see what you all see.

  7. My first thought was charcoal grey cabs and I’ve noticed that I am not the only one thinking this! My variation is to do both upper and lowers in grey, but either leave the island as is for contrast and to warm it up, or paint the island in a different shade–maybe the cream to lighten it up, especially since the chairs are dark. I agree with the suggestions of molding on top of the cabs, removing some doors on the uppers (or glass inserts), and the idea of some amber shaded lighting. I was also thinking of some hardware on the cabs– the rest of the house has an old world feel so I wouldn’t go modern; maybe some oil-rubbed bronze (although if the cabs are grey, it may not stand out enough). This would be great for the faucet as well. Good luck!

  8. I have absolutely NO design experience, but when I see something I love I can certainly copy it. And that’s why I’m referring you to this recent post from Our Best Bites (one of my favorite food blogs). Sara just built a new house and designed her kitchen to include absolutely WONDERFUL appliances. Here’s the post: http://www.ourbestbites.com/2013/02/saras-kitchen-tour/

  9. This is a fun idea, I love the open concept of the kitchen. I know what I would love to see, even though it might not match the sytle they have going right now.

    I would love the see the cabinets be painted dark, almost black on the bottom, and the top lighter, and have molding or some sort of trim put in to make them go all the way up to the ceiling.

    The island i think would look great bulked up with more, with balisters ( i think that what there called on the ends) and painted a lighter colour than the top cabinets. I would also like to see the barstools be re-finished with a bright gloss white and have recovered in a graphic print. More contempory lighting that is hanging with maybe vintage inspired lighting or contempory covered fabric shades maybe in a square shape.

    It would also be nice to take off the upper cabinet doors by the fridge and just have a shelving display of dishes, etc.

    As for the colours I would probally take colours from the backsplash, it’s hard to see what they are in the pictures.

    just my two cents, im sure you will come up with something compleatly amazing. Thanks for letting me play.lol


  10. I would go Moroccan theme.
    It will go well with the sage green.
    I would keep black appliances.
    Change breakfast chair cushions to a red prominent color.
    Light fixtures mosaic glass.
    Solid red canvas seats or chairs covers with a side tie.
    Rain glass in upper cabinets doors.
    Red sheer wrapped around wrought iron rod in brfst room.
    Lower end cabinets: door off shelving for cookbooks the cabinet
    Near stove top last cabinet (to the left) door off 2 wicker baskets
    Filled with spices and cooking oils and vinegars (if small children in home)
    Put toys and books in the baskets.
    Dried spices stored near stove in Moroccan bowls.

  11. This kitchen looks very very similar to mine. We have similar huge island with sink and dishwasher. No immediate window in the kitchen. Similar skin/beige color on walls. Oak cabinets. Two high arcs on both sides of kitchen. I am itching to get our kitchen renovated, but we just don’t have time. For ours, I would definitely change wall color to cream white or light grey as we don’t have any window and with current wall color it feels dark. I am also thinking to paint cabinets in antique white. We have inbuilt pantry with other cabinets so we cannot divide top and bottom cabinet colors in different colors. But I might get island cabinets painted in dark color – dark grey or chocolate as island has sink, dishwasher and garbage so island cabinets gets more dirty. Can’t wait to hear all other ideas.

  12. It is a beautiful kitchen and I think could be updated with only a few things. First I’d get some handles on those cabinets. I think cabinets without them look unfinished. It’s hard to tell because I can’t see the tops of the counters, but if feels as if the wall color is not doing anything to compliment the cabinets or counters and tile. It appears that color may run throughout the house so changing it may be a big deal. I would reupholster the island seat chairs in something fun after picking the wall color. Maybe even paint them black like the table chairs so you don’t have 2 different metals competing with each other. I would also get rid of the fake greenery on top of the cabinets. It looks a little dated. Finally I would look into some new artwork. While the crosses are pretty they seem to be the only artwork in the space.

  13. I would paint the cabinets white and the island black.
    Spray paint the bars stools black and rehupolster them.
    Make the two recessed cabinets open shelving.
    Maybe change four cabinets to the right of fridge to glass door fronts.
    I think the crosses are lovely, but maybe add a few other items or photos to break them up a bit.
    Add cabinet hardware.
    The wall color can stay, it’s a nice neutral.

    Ok, thanks for letting me play! Be sure to post the result, I know you’ll create something beautiful!

  14. To me her house looks “tuscan style” so I guess first she needs to decide if she wants to keep with that theme/look. If so, that will limit what you would want to do. For a “mini” makeover I would add pulls to the cabinets, maybe add a few glass front cabinets, paint and glaze them, also look into having the appliances match (for the dishwasher you could add “stainless steel” type contact paper bought online -about $30 – looks very real – my realitor could not tell the difference on my dishwasher!) . If she is going for a different look/theme completely that would open you up to doing so much more! Either way, I would do a stencil on the front/statement wall. I’m sure what ever you both decide to do it will look great!

  15. Sorry that I won’t be of much help. If you seen my kitchen you would understand. I hope you post before and after pictures.

  16. First off, lovely bones to begin! Lucky girl. Secondly, where on earth is her cabinet hardware??? There is no easier way to change your look than with great pulls/knobs etc! That said (with buggin’ out eyes, LOL), nosing around her house via your great pics, I would suggest French Provincial. I also suggest paint on the cabinets, but sometimes folks that have forked out much dinero for lovely hardwood cabinets are aghast to cover it all with paint. So, maybe a lovely glazing instead. Lets you add color while allowing the grain through. Spatter a little black here and there for some wormy-wood look. DELISH! I would go against the masses here and glaze the cabinets, upper and lower along the walls, a darker grey, while going lighter on the island. Maybe even, gasp, a color! Add some nice applique doo-dads in the panels on the island back. :) Oooh, or cover that island back with recycled shutters!! Then tie those shutters into your entry redo! If she’d like to keep the front of the entry subtle, def paint those angled bits with a pop of color. Oh my mouth is watering at your opportunity!!! Congrats and have a great time!

  17. I know the trend is to have painted cabinets, but it is just that, a trend. Why not leave the cabinets classic, since they look to be in excellent shape, and focus on something that can easily be changed when it is no longer cool to have painted cabinets.

  18. I already commented on facebook (Musch) without seeing the rest of the pics. Looking forward to before & afters. You really don’t need our input Ashley, I’m sure you’ll come up with some great ideas as always!

  19. I would echo the comments about taking cues from the other parts of house. I find that asking people to talk about their favorite room or piece of furniture/element in their house, tells a lot about their aesthetic. But also asking her what stood out about your remodel. (My guess is that it has more to do with your giving the room a cohesive feel, than anything else).

    Taking cues from the adjoining rooms, I would stain the cabinets a much darker tone, being careful not to go too warm which looks like it might clash with the granite. (although, if she’s up for the dual tone effect that you went with, giving the upper cabinets a white wash or pickle would be lovely) I’d paint the walls a barely yellow white in contrast and for all white hanging light fixtures to mimic the sense of lightness in the upper half of your kitchen. And darker more simple seating. Then edit, edit, edit the accessories. I liked in your space that you had neutrals and then the pops of yellow. I’d say safe choices for a similar feel would be saffron yellow or tomato red. But I’d want to try adding emerald green pops.

    Hope you’ll share the results.

  20. This kitchen has great bones, but its unfinished. Your kitchen transformation is beautiful, a refreshing update! But what makes it so eye catching is the details…layers of colors and texture. That applies to any room, of any price. It takes a bit of planning and an eye for design…you have this Ashley! Trust yourself. This oak kitchen is going to look great , I cant wait to see your ideas!

  21. Since I love French Country I would definitly head that direction. I would paint the cabinets a ivory and antique with a cinnamon stain. If she doesn’t want to paint her cabinets, add a little darker stain and then bulk up the cabinet trim with a even darker stain. Add cabinet/ drawer hardware. Paint the island a distressed black. Leave backsplash, countertops and floor the same. Change chair upholstry to a red/yellow print – options here are so open – anything from a buffalo plaid to floral to stripes to toile. Change fabric on stools to a co-ordinating fabric, then pair and add additional fabrics for window covers, tablecloths, placemats, etc. Add a gorgeous ceramic rooster on the island. I would paint the walls a rich red since it looks she likes that color (current curtains). Paint the light fixture black.

  22. Totally forgot to add to above post – large rug under dining table to warm up the space, plus runners in kitchen. Would also add some “feet” under the cabinets to make it look more like furniture.

  23. Like everyone else I think updating the cabinet color would make a big difference but… I cringe a little when I think of painting over the pretty wood grain. What about Gel Stain to give them a nice deep finish? I’ve never used it but I hear it’s great and takes almost no prep/sanding. (and I’d love to see you do a tutorial on it before I try it myself!)

  24. Oooh, fun! Thanks for letting us trot out our pseud0-designer hats. The kitchen is not terrible at all, just not feeling current. The tuscan style needs some updating. Here’s what I would do:
    – repaint walls. Looks like the present color is a pinky beige that does nothing for the yellowy beige of the granite and backsplash. Of course her floor tile is pinky beige… but I would try to ignore that and go for harmonizing with the granite since you pretty much can’t be friends with both at the same time. Whatever paint is chosen, make sure it ties in with the granite whether it’s a color or a cream or a gray.
    – New lighting. Home Depot has some neat wrought iron type chandys right now that are pretty, inexpensive, and don’t look vintage 1995. Or maybe she is tired of wrought iron and wants a drum shade or something, so be it! Over the island, the lights should be larger proportioned. These pendants look dinky and are hung a bit too high as well. Again, not sure what style she may be leaning toward to direct pendant choice- farmhouse, modern colorful, etc.
    – New stools please! These are very 90’s Tuscan. How about some upholstered Parsons bar stools?
    – I’d like to paint the cabinets all one color, probably an antiqued cream with darker stain in the grooves. The black fridge gets tricky in that case though, can she get a new one? Love the built in breakfront idea posted earlier! And yes, please add hardware to the cabs.
    – Let’s clad the island in something more interesting, beadboard or board and batten & corbels, and paint it a punch color different from the cabinets, a muted version of the accent colors you choose. Storm blue or deep cinnamon, something like that. Could you add a foot ledge/pole? I feel that might help connect it to the new stools better – right now the island seems to have its back to the stools.
    – I love the dining chairs and would not change them or even reupholster, but… that glass table disappears and feels insubstantial next to them. The table base looks great, just add a chunky wooken top.
    -new window treatments! I’m thinking white canvas-type panels on either side of a narrow black rod, with a color block at the bottom of the panels. Looped tiebacks can help keep them from interfering with the door opening and closing.

    1. Oh yes, and I second the motion for an (indoor-outdoor) rug in a great color/pattern under the dining area. It needs some help over there feeling like a room and not an underfurnished afterthought. This will ground it significantly. It’s a bit hard to tell the traffic pattern, but could the buffet be moved off the wall and act as a low divider between the kitchen and eating area? Might have to try it to see if it works visually or not.

  25. Oooh fun challenge! I’d definitely do a different color on the island than the cabinets, and the way it’s laid out, the lights over the island are a huge opportunity to do something cool and conversation-starting. Some kinda statement making pendants would be awesome there. Whatever she does to the cabinets, I’d also add some pretty hardware. That’s a huge opportunity to snazz up her kitchen. I hope you’ll keep us updated on what she does!

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