Open Shelving

Open shelving has been popular for a while. I’ve seen all kinds of shelves used from modern styles to reclaimed wood. Edges can be straight and clean or raw. Brackets can be black, bronze, or not exposed at all. There are endless possibilities. See my Pinterest board for some great photos and ideas.

Open shelves give a kitchen more space because it’s not weighed down with heavy cabinetry. I think a mix of cabinetry, open shelving, and cabinetry with glass faces looks nice. It adds variety and excitement to a kitchen that may seem a bit boring if there are just all the same cabinets. 

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New Materials for Old Houses

If you own an old house like I do, you want to maintain the charm and character, but you may want to do some updating at the same time. So, what new materials could you use that don’t upset the charm you’re trying to preserve?

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What to do with the Walls

When deciding what to do with your walls, you need to think about all the materials first. Put them all together like a designer would. Put your countertops, flooring, cabinet, hardware, backsplash, and paint samples all together to make sure they all blend. Notice I didn’t say match. They don’t have to completely match to look great. But they should be similar styles…all modern, all contemporary, all traditional. The colors should look good together. Don’t have all one color or all bold colors. Ground things with some neutrals or wood tones. Don’t just use color to add variety, use texture. Think about what mood your colors will invoke. See my blog on being your own designer for what moods different colors will bring out.

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Countertops on a Budget

So, you don’t have enough money for granite or quartz countertops. And maybe you do, but your house wouldn’t support it (you wouldn’t get your money back once it’s sold). Do you have to go with a cheap looking laminate?

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Installation

When I started on my kitchen project, I tried to get estimates from builders and home improvement companies. Many people either quoted me an extremely high price or didn’t have time to fit me into their schedule. I was told by a friend that Lowe’s installs countertops and tile, so I decided to get estimates from them. 

I had installers come to my house and measure. They then sent measurements to Lowe’s, who estimated the cost of the materials with the installation and called me to go through numbers. After learning the estimates, I decided to go with Lowe’s, because, well, I didn’t have many options at that point. However, my experience with Lowe’s was pretty poor. So, I decided to write a blog about what they did well and what you might want to look out for if you decide to have Lowe’s do your installation.

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Changing Hardware

Several years ago I had beautiful wood cabinetry that was worn in spots. I thought about painting them, but had a hard time losing the beautiful wood grain. They were maple and many of them had the rare Birdseye pattern in them. But I really wanted to try gray cabinets. I searched on Pinterest for gray stained cabinets. I thought this would give me the gray look while also keeping the wood grain pattern visible. I loved the pictures I found and decided on a gray stain. The next challenge is finding someone who will do the job. Refinishing a decent amount of gray cabinets is a JOB. I finally found someone to do it and quickly realized it would be disruptive (the kitchen would be torn apart for about three weeks) AND expensive (much more than painting them would be). At the time, my husband was not thrilled with the idea.

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White countertops

Whenever I visited a person’s home and see what they chose for their countertops, they typically choose some sort of color and/or pattern. If it’s laminate, the color could be green, beige, or a rust color. If it’s granite, there is some sort of stone look, but typically in a color with brown or reddish tones. However, if you watch HGTV, a countertop with color is NEVER chosen.

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Kitchen Cabinets...Old or New?

In a kitchen or even a bathroom renovation, you may have to decide what you can keep and what you should replace. If you’re trying to save money, you may have to salvage as much as you can. Cabinets are one thing that can be salvaged in order to save money. Also, many old houses may have original cabinets that you might want to keep to maintain the charm of the home. However, they may still need some freshening up.

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Getting Estimates

If you’re new to renovating, you may not understand how things are built. Do you know that you usually do the framing, then the electrical and plumbing, then the drywall, painting, and other carpentry? If you’re changing out surfaces, figure out which needs to be switched out first. It could be based on reasons like getting things dirty. It could work better to do the painting and then putting in the floors so that you don’t have to worry about a drop cloth. Doing electrical before you put in the backsplash and then having the electrician come back to install the covers is the way to do things. Or, your process might depend on style. You may need to see what the floors look like before you choose a countertop, for example. If you know the order of how things need to be installed, you might be able to be your own general contractor. If you can, you’ll save a lot of money.

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Before you do any renovations, you need to make sure you can afford the project. I get taking out a home equity loan so that you can make payments for a larger project. That may work for you as long as you can stick to a budget and be disciplined enough to make the payments. I prefer to make sure I have the money first, however. 

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