The Kitchen | After

Last spring we embarked on another little kitchen refresh in our 1950s ranch house.  Yep, these days it takes me a whole year to post afters.www.tphblog.comBefore I take you on the tour, here is how the kitchen looked when we viewed the house before buying in 2007:

ranch 017

What I love about this kitchen redo is minor change equals major impact.  The first kitchen changes happened in 2008.


This isn’t a huge kitchen renovation.  We only switched out the refrigerator and the dishwasher so all appliances are the same finish, stainless steel.  We kept the existing granite countertops and tumbled marble backsplash–although the color of the marble actually was pink and didn’t coordinate well with the granite, which complicated my paint selection process.  I wanted to go white on the cabinets, but it just didn’t look right with the marble and granite so I chose Sherwin Williams Brainstorm Bronze.  We kept the existing cabinets and just replaced the doors with a shaker style and added millwork to the soffit to give the illusion of cabinetry to the ceiling–this dramatically affected the feel of the room by making the ceilings seem higher.

The 2008 changes were an improvement to the previous kitchen arrangement, but after a few years the wall of upper cabinets and the mullioned-kitchen window were making me feel closed in.  And I loathed that pink tumbled marble.  We did our best to keep as much as we could to minimize costs but do enough to make a big difference.

We removed all the upper cabinets and soffit that spanned the sink wall and installed a new kitchen window.  It was amazing what this did to open up the space–so happy!

I had planned to put basic white subway tile on the wall for a classic and affordable solution, but when I asked for designer Sherry Hart’s opinion, she suggested this gorgeous 6 x 12″ white marble.  She pointed out how well it went with the granite–coordinating with the grays and the browns speckled in the countertop–and, most importantly, it modernized the kitchen and distracted from the ho-hum granite.  The marble cost twice as much as the originally-planned subway tile, but it was so worth it–Sherry said it would be, and she was right!  I love it, the scale and the subtle veining.  The marble elevates the kitchen in a way the white ceramic wouldn’t have.

I was so thankful that I could confer with Sherry about these changes.  Having another person with a trained eye and immersed in the business to weigh in on the options is so valuable, and I would encourage anyone to hire an interior designer–even if it is just for consultations.   Mistakes can be avoided, beautiful discoveries and options revealed.

I’m still surprised that I went with a navy for the cabinets.  I had narrowed down my choices to gray or navy but knew deep-down I’d play it safe and go with the gray.  But then as I wondered if I could pick a gray to blend with our mismatched stainless appliances, this now-famous kitchen was published in Canadian House & Home.chg

I think officially those cabinets are black, but they look navy and I was sold.


The brass handles were a surprising Home Depot find!

Chris, the contractor, custom made the red oak shelving where closed upper cabinets used to be.  I’m an open-shelf convert.

The table has been with us for 12 years now–originally all-over pine and then a brief stint in orange.  I stripped the orange and used some leftover gray paint for the table base.

Chris also made the bench for us–great for kids.  On the matter of new chairs, my first gut feeling was to do the Panton chair.  But, of course, I had to look at a million and one different chairs to finally realize that indeed I wanted the classic chair.  They are surprisingly comfy.  And Ol’ Big Red, the chandelier that I bought from Ally, makes me so happy.

So there you go, finally, yellowed and unstyled photos of our kitchen refresh!

Here are the deets:

Paint | Benjamin Moore Polo Blue

Handles | Artesia Liberty at Home Depot

Pendants | Sfera 8 from Rejuvenation Lighting

Chairs | Vitra Verner Panton at All Modern or the knock-off

Tablecloth | Handmade for MyColor Paint Party

Rug | eSaleRugs

Artwork | Yours truly (my daughter did the orange still life)

Cat | Heaven sent

Please don’t hate me because I don’t have the marble tile info…I will update here if I can dig it up.

Splatters & Drips

One of two things comes to mind at the mention of slinging paint.  1)  A sullen artist in Long Island boozing and dripping himself into Abstract Expressionism super stardom.  Or, 2)  An irresistible ragamuffin in a paint splatter sweatshirt and/or with a paint splattered backdrop…empty paint can and paint brush props are totally optional.

Lavender Mist (turned on one end) by Jackson Pollock and Jillian from Awkward Family Photos

I have a little chair in the guest room that I covered in a ivory cotton over 8 years ago.  It was time for a change.  So with reupholstery plans as a Plan B and nothing to lose, I busted out some black paint and, well, now they call me Angela McDrizzles.

Have you noticed all the paint-inspired patterns?

Brushstroke Lamp by Bunny Williams for BeeLine Home


Painter’s Chair at Suzan Fellman


Bamboozle in Opus Collection by Jim Thompson Fabrics


There is a little pillow bedecked and besplattered with black paint at the loft made from my trusty drop cloth, softened through 10-years of washing.  I’ll have to get a photo, and while I’m at it, I should give you a little sneak peek, too.  Let’s plan on that for next week.

What do you think?  Do you prefer your paint on the walls or do you think it is a little harmless fun on the upholstery and accessories?

Have a wonderful weekend, y’all!  And thank you for stopping by this week.

Toy Joy!

Thank you for existing Toy Joy.

What a nice way to top off a day in Austin.  It was sunny when we arrived and nightfall when we left.  You are that good, Toy Joy.

C’mere and dance with me you creamy topped vegan cone in tights and charming elf shoes.  I’m gonna lick yo’ face.

The kids were so distracted by the explosion of plastic wonder that they didn’t even see the stash I had at the register.  Christmas gifts.  I am a sneaky one.

Toy Joy

2900 Guadalupe St.

Austin, TX 78705

The Study…A Before & After

Hey, there, Good Lookin’!  Can I interest you in a B & A today?  Just don’t try any funny business because I’m wielding really, really sharp pencils.  Okay, I’d love to show you around our new study/office/homeschool room.  Follow me!

The beforsies.  Get a tissue if you need it.

And, the after.  Now give me the tissue.

I no longer loathe this room.  In fact, I LOVE it now.  We all do–and find ourselves hanging out in here together.  This is the room where I work, blog, and homeschool.  Now that we are homeschooling two kids this school year, it feels like we are doing this for reals now–unlike the last two years that just felt like practice homeschool.  It was absolutely imperative that the room have a cheerful turnaround and function much more efficiently.    If it didn’t, I was going to lose my mind.

I wanted two computer stations and one workstation that could support two children and a teacher at a time.

I also wanted flexibility with the workstation by orienting it where three sides could be utilized.

That is Dearie, our homeschool mascot.

And it needed to function like a traditional school room so that a child or two could sit at the desk and face a marker board, when necessary.

I went to IKEA with these ideas yet still vague on how I would carry it out.  After meandering their office department, I configured a few inexpensive Vika tabletops and bases into a T desk.  The green desk is the Vika pine slab painted Benjamin Moore Clover Green (2034-10).

I bought the long pine slab and a shorter one to make the waterfall edge on the front.  An IKEA magnet board attached to the front makes a nice spot to practice phonics with magnetic letters.

The green top sits right on top of the white laminate tabletops and is secured to the back wall–thanks to Chris.

I used three different bases for the tables–one with a door for a computer tower, one with an open shelf, and one with drawers.  This keeps me much more organized and clutter out of sight.  (Do you have a slight addiction to these white melamine trays?  I have four.)

I am so happy now to have my own little work corner with a file cabinet within reach.  I had been using little accordion envelopes stuffed under my desk.  That is no way to operate.  I have a place for all my stuff!  Do you see the painting?

I couldn’t stand looking at those dark, vacant windows peering out into the garage any longer (I had such issues with this room!).

Throwing up some big canvases to cover up the windows seemed like a good idea…until I was painting five coats of paint on each triangle.  But I love that expanse of light and color now instead of sad little windows.  The daybed is perfect for read alouds or as an overflow guest room.

If you are in your 30s, I guarantee you had a yarn ship of this design in your house growing up.  On clearance at Urban Outfitters.

There is storage deluxe in our Mengel Module piece.

Do you remember how it needed love?

Isn’t he gorgeous now?  I will tell my secrets in another post…

I decided to do a gallery wall with art I already had–photography from my friend Rachael, an abstract painting done by my son when he was three, drawings and a painted heart by my daughter, a painting by my Aunt Rita circa 1983 of a brunette schoolgirl, a shell tray that was a wedding gift from a longtime friend who bought it in the South Pacific, and a yellow bird–a hostess gift from Nester.  Uh, it wasn’t yellow when she gave it to me, and I felt bad changing it until I realized, “She’s the Nester…everything she owns has been painted 583 times…or is it 584?  Anyway, she’ll be proud.”

My oldest son went through an obsessive magna doodle phase as a toddler.  He drew this amazing composition of the alphabet when he was three.  I loved it so much that I made it into a painting three years ago.

Remember these chairs?  It really was genius to flip-flop the vinyl and tapestry on each chair.  I mean, really brilliant.  But sometimes you get all brains and no beauty.

But how do you like them now?  Smart and beautiful!  Fabric from Lewis & Sheron.  Rug from FLOR.

Of course now that the room is all done, it seems like it was as easy as…

Letters cut from scrap wood in our garage and painted gold.

Thank you to Chris for helping to put the pieces together and building a frame for the marker board.  And, thank you to this guy.
He is an IKEA-putting-together lovefool.  Thank you for not balking with each IKEA flat box I carried home.  And they say you aren’t handy.  I scoff at them!

So here I am in my new and improved study, tapping away at the letters and constructing strings of verbal magic for you each day.  But, it is here that I reveal a dirty little secret…I have a repulsively filthy pinkie on my right hand–apparently.  What in the world, MacDaddy?  Why is the colon/semicolon key so dirty?


Well, I hope it was worth the wait.  I know it was worth the work for me.  There is a new happy attitude in the air here…and check out Design Refuge for their before and after challenge!