Upgrading Our China Cabinet

When we bought this china cabinet for out kitchen a while back, we were so excited to finally have some extra storage in our kitchen. It only ran us $40 (plus the cost of paint) and it has served us well.

But. When we were decorating for Christmas, we needed a place to put the gold bookcase from the living room (since it sits where our tree goes), and we figured the kitchen was the best place for it. So we temporarily (or so we thought) relocated the china cabinet to the garage for the season and moved the gold bookcase into the kitchen.

The problem was, the Christmas season ended and I didn’t really want things to return to the way they were. I liked the bottom half of the china cabinet exactly where it was in the garage, and I liked it a hell of a lot more than I had liked it in the kitchen. I had been itching for something new in the kitchen for a while now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. So, Corey and I got rid of the top half of the hutch (we just tossed it out on the curb and a few hours later it had found a new home with a neighbor!) and let the bottom half stay where it was. We moved the gold bookcase back to where it belongs, and began the search for a new china cabinet.

I’ve been half-heartedly looking for something for several months now, and have been super disappointed with the lack of choices. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and we didn’t want something super traditional or boring. We’re pretty picky.

But apparently, it was meant to be. Just a couple of days after Christmas I did another search, determined to find something and I stumbled on the absolute perfect china cabinet. For $100. And I knew right then I had to make it mine.

So I did.

It’s significantly bigger than the old one, which I adore, and I’m actually loving the wood tones in here – it ties into the breakfast nook chairs so nicely.

We bought it with the knowledge that it would probably need a bit of work, but we have every intention of just living with it for a while before we make any alterations. For one, the bigger size means that our light switch for the breakfast nook is covered up. We don’t use it very often, so it’s not a huge deal – for now, we have a little plastic hanger sitting on top of the hutch that we use to reach behind it and flip the light on if needed. Long term? We’ll cut a hole in the back of the hutch so it’s easily accessed. We’ll have to open the cabinet to get to the light, but since we use it so rarely, it won’t be a bother.

There are also some spots on the side of the cabinet that are pretty banged up – it’s not a pretty look, and of course it just so happens to be on the side you can see all the time (if you look closely, you can kind of see them in the above photo – one near the top and two on the bottom half). Annoying. We haven’t figured out exactly what we’ll do to fix them, but I think we’ll start off with one of those stain pens and see if it will at least camouflage it. They don’t bother me too much for now – I never mind a piece that looks well-loved, so I’m hoping that the pen will be enough to make it blend in and look okay.

The back of the cabinet it (obviously) the biggest problem. Ew, right? The pattern and color are super traditional and, um, ugly, and I am definitely not a fan. We’ll eventually replace the entire back (it has a small hole in it anyways) and will probably paint it a fun color or something, but I don’t want to do anything that permanent until we’ve lived with it for a while and are positive we know what we want. But I also cannot live with that terrible pattern and color in my kitchen, so I had to do something about it stat.

Enter my leftover Christmas wrapping paper. Seriously. I measured the back, cut a piece of wrapping paper to size, and used some double-sided tape to toss it back there to hide the ugly. It’s not a perfect (or a long term) solution by any means, but it was free and I think it makes a huge difference in updating the entire piece. And now I don’t cringe every time I look at it. Which is a nice perk.

I’m obsessed with our new china cabinet, and I am so excited about how much more storage it gives us than the last one. Plus, we’ve still got the bottom of the old one the garage holding most of the same stuff it held before, so we even have some empty space in this one – which is definitely going to be helpful with all the new baby stuff in our house!

Have you upgraded any pieces in your house lately? How about some temporary fixes to make things tolerable until you’re able to fix them the right way?

Kitchen Window Upgrade

I’ve already talked about how I wanted to update the window treatment in our kitchen. We added these short curtains a while back and, while I love the fabric and the idea of cute little cafe curtains, it just didn’t work for us. I didn’t like the functionality and they looked kind of cluttered next to the sink and cabinets. And, as dumb as it sounds, I hated how the pattern clashed with the pattern on our dishtowels.

I know, I’m a dork.

I’m a big fan of simplicity in kitchens – I like for all of the main pieces to be neutral so that the color and pattern comes from accessories on the counter, dishes, and all that other fun stuff. So, these curtains were cute, but they had to go.

Corey and I wavered back and forth a little, but I was pushing for bamboo-style blinds from the beginning. I love the texture and the natural color they bring, and I liked that they’d function a lot better than the curtains – much more out of the way!

I finally got Corey to agree to my plan, so we grabbed these woven blinds from Lowe’s recently. They’re not actually bamboo blinds, but they’ve got a similar texture and Corey is more on board with these guys than the is with actual bamboo blinds, so it’s a win-win.

Before I show you, let me warn you that I did not clean my kitchen before taking these photos. Corey and I are in the middle of a furniture project (and we’re working on it in there because we are crazy), and I’ve had a hectic week with grad school work, so it’s just not clean. Please look past the mess.

So, uh, I LOVE THESE BLINDS.

(Please also ignore the awful area on our wall that still needs to be patched. I promise, it’ll get taken care of this summer.)

This solution is so much more fitting with the style I want for our kitchen – a neutral color, lots of texture, and they layer right in without looking cluttered.

And, as an added bonus, they don’t clash with our dishtowels.

I’m just sayin’. That’s important.

What’s your stance on kitchen window treatments? Do you like to keep things neutral like me, or do you prefer more pattern and color?

This entry was posted in Kitchen.

The New Windows!

I can’t believe we’ve had these new windows in for two whole week and I’m just now talking about them.

They’re pretty.

I want to kiss them.

(I do. Sometimes. Shh. Don’t tell anyone.)

I explained a while back that we were getting new windows in about half of the house because our old ones were horrible, failing, and just generally making our lives miserable (you think I’m exaggerating, but YOU try cooking dinner when it’s 100+ degrees outside and your kitchen is basically a greenhouse).

It has made a huge difference in the comfort level of our house to have these beauties. The back half of my house no longer feels like a sauna in the afternoon, and we have a much prettier view of our backyard, thanks to the new setup.

I thought it might be fun (for me, at least – I don’t know how much fun you’ll have) (at least I’m honest) to go through all the windows we replaced and see what they looked like before and after. Before we started this whole process, I had NO idea that there were so many different options for window configurations, and it felt super overwhelming when we were starting out.

Let’s start with my favorite one – the dining room. Here’s what it looked like before (all before photos except the kitchen sink window were taken after we took down the blinds):

And here it is now:

Much better, right? We have two giant sliders that both open up (an important note, since not all of the windows opened before. And not because they weren’t supposed to) and an unobstructed view of our backyard.

I have to say, I am NOT missing the three sets of disgusting, chewed-up blinds that we used to have on here, but the windows are looking a bit naked. We have plans to update all of the window treatments throughout the house, but if I’m being honest this one is probably on the back burner for now. We still have pretty good privacy here thanks to our fence and the row of trees in our yard, and the most scandalous thing we might be doing in the dining room is eating dessert before dinner, so I don’t mind if someone wants to peek in.

Next up is the kitchen.

The window above our sink looked like this before:

And looks like this now:

It just looks cleaner, right? Our plan in here for window treatments is to ditch the curtains (I love them in theory, but they just don’t work for us in real life) and put up a bamboo blind for some texture and call it a day. It will probably stay up most of the time because I love having a view into the yard when I’m doing dishes, but I still want something there because as much as I love naked windows in photos, it feels weird in my own home.

The bay window area in the breakfast nook looked like this before:

And is much prettier now:

I am SO glad we decided to go with a big picture window in the middle instead of a window that opens. We rarely open windows in our house, anyways (because we live in Texas and there are maybe two weeks out of the year where it’s even feasible to do so), and when we do we never really open this one.

Once again, we’ll end up with some sort of window treatment in here eventually, but we aren’t sure where we’re going to land yet. It’s such a big area that I feel like we need something neutral-ish, but I also don’t want to be too boring. We’ll see where we end up!

Now let’s head upstairs to see the two windows we replaced up there. First up is the reading room window – we originally hadn’t planned on doing this one yet, but when we were working on it a few months ago we noticed that the window didn’t actually close all the way…which is kind of a problem. We thought about going ahead and knocking out both of the extra room windows, but it saved us about $500 to just go with this one, so we did. Having all of our windows actually close is kind of a priority, you know?

That’s the before, and here’s the after: 

Once again, much better! Now that this is in, we can finally finish up the trim on this part of the room (we were waiting for the new window) and trim out the window/add a window treatment. We have no idea yet what route we’ll go in here for a window treatment – all I know is I’m dying to get that trim finished up!

And finally, our master bedroom. Before:


After:

So pretty! This is one that I’d actually love to leave naked because I think the view of our giant tree is just fabulous, but unfortunately having it open also gives all of our neighbors and anyone passing by the house a nice view into our bedroom. Which we don’t want. Right now we’re still rocking the too-small white curtains that we’ve had forever, but they’re going to get upgraded, stat. I think we’re going to go with curtains only in this room (no blinds or shade), so that we can leave ‘em open during the day and close them at night – best of both worlds! We’ll, of course, make sure the curtains are actually the right size this time.

And with that, you’ve seen all of our new windows! It’ll be awhile before we get around to the next set of windows, because we want to spend some time paying off these guys (and our new garage renovation, which is still chugging along!), but I think with our next round we’ll finish the upstairs, and then down the road we’ll replace the last few downstairs.

Have you ever had windows replaced? It makes a huge difference!

A Dramatic Tile Makeover

Guess what?

It’s ANOTHER post about my kitchen.

I’m on a roll!

Unfortunately, it’s really so bad that all these projects are only making a tiny dent in the ugliness.

But a tiny dent is better than no dent. Right?

And today’s dent is definitely not tiny. In fact, I think it’s pretty big.

You see, there’s this area of my kitchen you don’t see often. Because it’s embarrassing. And ugly. And so horrible that I really just want to pretend like it doesn’t exist.

THAT TILE. Seriously? Who picks that tile?

(If any of you happen to adore that tile, please know I do not judge you for it, and I’m sorry for being so mean to it. It’s just really ugly.)

Funny story about the tile: When we were first showing this house to my parents right after we bought it, we were all standing in the kitchen and I made a (very sarcastic) comment about how the tile was my favorite part of the house. My mom replied (in a very NOT sarcastic manner) that she was sure we could track down some more of it so that we could continue it throughout the rest of the kitchen.

I love that woman, but she’s slow to pick up on the sarcasm sometimes. Don’t know how she managed to birth two of the most sarcastic people in existence.

Anyways. I hate the tile. Eventually we’re going to give this kitchen a complete gut job and basically start from scratch, but considering we just paid an arm and a leg (and maybe a kidney or two) for our new windows (which are getting installed NEXT WEEK!) and our garage renovation (which is slow going, but I’ll have updates soon!), it’s not going to be in the cards for us anytime soon.

So, I decided to go for a quick fix.

Check it out! It’s not blindingly awful! It’s white! And crisp! And clean! And, dare I say, PRETTY!

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while but have been waiting to track down the tile paint kit that Home Depot is supposed to carry (but doesn’t actually carry because I can’t find it anywhere). So, finally I broke down and decided to just paint the dang stuff with regular paint. I used Zinsser primer (which is the only stuff I’ll ever use) and regular old white paint. It’s probably not the most durable solution, and probably not what I was “supposed” to use…but it worked and I love it. So I’m just gonna roll with it.

There’s no real tutorial here – I just painted it like I’d paint anything else. I was a little worried after the first coat of primer, because things weren’t looking so hot.

I decided to just power through it, though, and I’m glad I did. I figured it couldn’t look any worse than the fruit, so there was no reason to stop. After the second coat, I had higher hopes…

And after one more coat of primer and two coats of paint (yes, this took a lot of coats!) it was looking pretty amazing.

I’m so glad I decided to risk it and try this project…I love how it turned out and it makes that whole little area feel much less cluttered and awful. I probably wouldn’t try this technique on an area that gets foot traffic or that needs to be cleaned super frequently because I’m not sure how the paint will hold up, but this little area stays pretty clean and doesn’t get messed with very often, so I have high hopes it’ll last us until we can rip it all out and replace it!

Have you painted anything unique lately?

Scalloped Kitchen Chairs

When Corey and I originally moved into this house over a year and a half ago (!), I honestly thought we would never use the little breakfast nook in the kitchen.

I mean, honestly. We’d lived in nothing but tiny apartments that didn’t even technically have dining rooms, so it felt downright luxurious to not only have the most giant dining room in the history of the world (our dining room table is 104 inches long!) but to also have a breakfast nook larger than any other dining area we’d ever had.

If I’m being honest, it seemed a bit overkill.

BUT!

After living here for over a year and a half (!), I have grown to adore our little breakfast nook. We use it all the time. Corey eats breakfast here daily, and we sit down to a big breakfast here every single Saturday morning.

And guess what? We use the dining room too!

I still feel a little silly saying that we actually need two separate dining spaces, but, um, we do now.

It’s so nice to have this little area in the kitchen to plop down for a quick breakfast or lunch (or just do get some work done), but to also have the giant dining table for when we have guests or want to sit down and have a nice dinner at home together.

So, in summary, we love the breakfast nook. And, really, it’s the only area in the kitchen that actually feels kind of “complete”. We think the furniture in this little area is perfect, and it’s really come together nicely over the last few months.

But, can we talk about those chairs?

Ugh. I love them so much it’s almost embarrassing, but that fabric? HOT MESS. I actually like the color, but it’s gross, dirty, and completely falling apart.

Cute, right?

We’ve been meaning to recover them for forever, but I have had complete design paralysis when it comes to actually choosing a fabric. Should I go floral? Graphic? Pop of color? Neutral?

I DON’T KNOW!

After months (and months and months) of indecision, I finally decided it was time to just make a damn decision and go for it. After all, it’s not like it’s particularly difficult to recover them if I hate the fabric I choose.

So, last week  I finally ordered some fabric.

I went with a scallop pattern in navy. It’s more color than a black or gray fabric would have been (and this area definitely needs color) but it’s neutral enough that we can still layer in colorful accessories without worrying about clashing. And, it ties in nicely with the navy chairs in the dining room, which is a win-win for me.

So finally, after owning these babies for more than 6 months, I recovered them this weekend. I’m always tempted to gloss over the steps to recovering chairs, but it’s something I’ve gotten asked about a lot in the past so I’ll go over it again – I promise it’s ridiculously simple.

STEP 1:

Remove the seat part of the chair.

STEP 2:

Remove the old fabric. Curse at the  chair many times while you do this. Remember that this is by far the most difficult part of this process.

It helps if you watch some Vampire Diaries while you do it. Ian Somerhalder makes everything better.

(Ew, Corey’s computer screen is dirty.)

STEP 3:

Cut your fabric to the right size for the chair – leave a few inches on all sides. Lay out the new fabric (iron it first, please!) and plop the seat on top of it.

STEP 4:

Enlist your handsome husband (or wonderful wife, or fantastic friend) to help, because this is a two-person job. I mean, you can do it alone if you want. It’s just easier with someone else.

STEP 5:

Pull the fabric tight on one side. Staple.

STEP 6:

Keep going. Cut off the extra fabric when you’re done. I know that’s not particularly descriptive, but this is one of those things you’ve just gotta learn as you go. It’s like wrapping a present…and just remember that if you mess up, it takes just a few seconds to remove the staple and try it again!

STEP 7:

Put the chair back together and marvel at the amazing job you did.

LOVE.

This might sound dramatic, but I feel like this transforms this entire little nook. The navy goes so well with that dark wood and the gold legs that it makes me a little weak in the knees. And having some pattern over there makes the whole area feel so much more put together and complete.

…now if only we could do something about that terrible floor and wall texture/color.

Oh well, baby steps!

Have you done any small projects that make a huge impact lately?