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How to completely mess up your kitchen remodel: a step-by-step tutorial

Once upon a time, a cute boy and a decor-obsessed girl bought a fixer-upper, and gutted the kitchen, giving the girl the chance to create her dream kitchen.

Finally, those years of living in tiny rentals and gazing longingly at home photos and magazines would pay off! There was no reason for the new kitchen to turn out any way other than exactly what the girl wanted.

But something went terribly wrong and the girl learned lots of lessons and to this day, has a kitchen for which she is incredibly grateful, but which looks nothing like what she originally intended to create and kinda bums her out from time to time, when she forgets to be thankful for the newness and freshness of it. Let’s learn from her, shall we?

Our kitchen
We have cream colored solid maple Thomasville cabinets we bought from Home Depot, oil-rubbed bronze faucet and cabinet hardware, solid brown/kinda crystally quartz counters and a slate backsplash.


It is not offensive. It is very, very functional. But it’s just nothing like what I set out to create. And I think that’s why I’m so mad at myself.

Where it all went wrong
I designed the kitchen in the dinosaur ages pre-pinterest, but I had spent many, many blissful hours thumbing the pages of home design magazines and knew exactly what I wanted: white cabinets. Dark floors. Everything smothered in carrera marble.
kitchen

source

When we went cabinet shopping, we shopped all over: big box stores, tiny cabinet makers in boutique shops, weird warehouses in the ghetto, you name it. At one place, there was a “designer” wandering the showroom to help customers choose their finishes. I told her that I had dark wood floors and wanted white cabinets. To which she replied: “Oh, you don’t want white cabinets. That’ll be too stark a contrast with your floors. You need cream.”

And because she was A Designer – A Professional – I thought she knew better than me what I wanted. From then on, I stayed away from white cabinets and only shopped for cream. But you know what? I DID want white. I put way too much value in what some other person (“a designer!”) said I would like, and ignored what I already knew I loved. I must be wrong if A Designer! says so.

Huge Mistake #1: Trusting someone else’s advice instead of truly knowing my own style and trusting what I loved.

Huge Mistake #2 came when we finally picked out the cream cabinets we planned to install. We ended up finding them at Home Depot. You know how they have all the little cabinet doors on display and you can choose the color, finish and style you like best? We chose the “pearl” finish based on how it looked there, on display, under Home Depot’s fluorescent lights.

NO!!! Take the sample door home, look at it in the light at your house, and be suuuuure that it’s the right color you’re intending to buy. Because 6-8 agonizing weeks later, when our cabinets finally arrived, I almost cried* at the sight of them. They were a weird muddy brown color with greenish undertones. Not fresh white. Not even cream. I was SO BUMMED.

*I did actually cry. Whatever. I had something in my eye.

Huge Mistake #2: Not making color choices in my kitchen, in the light where they would be installed. It really matters!

In the photo above, Andy had installed the new upper cabinets but the old white lower cabinets remained. The kitchen stayed like that for a while, and the stark difference between the muddy new cabinets and the fresh white old ones wrenched my little decor-lovin’ heart every time I looked at it.

Here’s the thing: cream cabinets are NOT ugly or bad. But if you look at all the trim and wall color choices I’d made so far, I had chosen all fresh, clean colors. The cream just did not work with the rest of my house.

I called Home Depot. Called Thomasville. Asked if we could trade them in… could we paint them? Anything? I tried to find a professional to paint the cabinets because we didn’t trust ourselves to get the perfect finish, and it was waaay out of budget. I decided I’d forego the countertops and backsplash I originally wanted and try to choose counters that would make the cream cabinets seem a little brighter… and maybe I could save this whole mess… at least a little bit?

Huge Mistake #3: Making more expensive mistakes to save earlier expensive mistakes.

We shopped for all different kinds of counters, knowing that we wanted something solid-surface. At one point, I found this huge slab of granite with tons of gorgeous movement. It had blues, white, cream, every color that might pull my kitchen together and it was so unlike anything I’d ever seen. But I was so beaten-down and mad at myself over the Cabinet Drama that I thought it’d be smarter to choose something a little safer. So we went with the solid brown silestone. I didn’t love it, but maybe it would fix the cream problem? I just couldn’t stomach the idea of taking on anything risky, decor-wise. I’d been burned.

Um, here’s a memo: Silestone (quartz) counters ain’t cheap, yo. They were more expensive than granite. Are you screaming in slow motion (“nooooooo!!!”) at Past Kelly to not plunk down large sums of money on the counters she doesn’t LOVE to accommodate for the cabinets she also doesn’t LOVE? Are you sensing a speedy downward spiral? Yep.

(Side note: This whole experience might be part of why I’m passionate about DIY and saving money on decor. Because I like to reserve the right to change my mind, and spending lots of cash on something precludes that right. At least in this house, if it’s a splurge, I’m stuck with it. If it was inexpensive, it’d be easier to stomach the change.)

So now with the cabinet and counter decisions made, I was left with the hardware and backsplash to try to pull this whole mess together. I found the slate tile which had the blue of my walls, cream and brown, and went for it. Here’s a closer-up photo of the counters, with the blue walls in the background, and a sheet of the slate tile.

I do like the backsplash, a lot. Like I mentioned in the last post, I don’t care if slate is trendy or not. I just personally dig it. It just wasn’t exactly what I’d set out for when I started this process.

Finally, the hardware decision. I had fallen in love with the idea of crystal knobs in the kitchen, and I promise, this was before everyone else was doing it, so it seemed a little weird. Andy felt “meh” about it, the way he does about anything trendy that he hasn’t had a chance to adapt to yet. He thought they were bathroom knobs and it might be weird to have them in the kitchen. In my gut, I thought they’d be beautiful, but I hadn’t learned to trust it yet.
slate tile backsplash at view along the way
Once again, I was nervous about what other people thought, and I chose the oil-rubbed bronze “safe” choice.

Last huge mistake: Like I mentioned before, I was afraid to speak up to the subcontractors when they made a mistake. In the kitchen, we had someone install our counters. We told them we needed three holes drilled for the faucet, and they drilled them SO CLOSE TOGETHER that, when the faucet knob is on the right side of the faucet, where it should go, you can’t even turn it. We had to twist the faucet so the knob is on the left side, which feels so awkward and wrong. I watched the guy drill the hole, screaming “NOOOO!” in my head, and said not a word. That is just dumb. There’s no good excuse for that.
Oil-rubbed bronze faucet and slate backsplash

What do you get when you make a bunch of safe choices, combined with decisions based on what other people say you must want? A room you don’t love. Every time.


Five years into making lots and lots of decisions – and many mistakes! – on our home, I’m finally starting to learn the lessons:

…to trust and choose what I love.
…To lean away from “safe” if the riskier option is something I know I love.
…To take the time to define and understand my own style.

This is why it’s so important to define your style and follow these decorating rules: it can save you money because the decisions you make will last.

Functionally: what works well in our kitchen
Looks aside, here are some places we think our money was well-spent:

1. Hot water dispenser
That little faucet to the right of the main faucet dispenses near-boiling water. It’s BRILLIANT. I think it was about $200 and we use it every single day. I never would’ve thought to install one, but we lived in a rental once that had a hot water dispenser, and we used it alllll the time. Love that thing.
Oil-rubbed bronze faucet and slate backsplash
2. Undermount sink
If it’s at all within budget, I hiiiiighly recommend an undermount sink. It’s so easy to sweep crumbs from the counter right into the sink, without that annoying little sink ledge that collects dirt and grime.

3. Scratch-and-dent appliances
There’s a scratch-and-dent appliance store near us which sells appliances for SO much cheaper than new, and in most cases, the scratches and dents are behind them, in places you’d never see. We bought most of our appliances there. Our microwave is super fancy, with a touch screen, but we didn’t pay much for it.

HOWEVER, we bought it so early in the construction process, that in the midst of our kitchen remodel, we accidentally dinged it up, visibly. DOH! (Maybe the “scratch-and-dent” idea was a self-fulfilling prophecy?)

4. Cabinet upgrades
With five years’ hindsight, the money we spent on some of the cabinet upgrades was SO well-spent. JUST LOOK at this gigantic drawer! I could just crawl in there and splash around amongst the spatulas. SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES! (Movie quote… anyone?)
Gigantic utensil drawer - and lots of lessons learned on how to do a kitchen remodel right!
And check out this sweet, deep pot drawer that has a little lid drawer on top of it. Lifesaver!
Double-decker drawer for pots and lids, plus lessons learned on how to do a kitchen remodel well!
And we have this tall skinny cabinet, which we actually had to include to make our kitchen work. It was a weird situation where we needed something between the fridge and the wall so you could open the freezer door all the way, but if we did a full-width cabinet there, it would take away precious counter space.

And now we have a place dedicated to wine glasses, champagne flutes, and… um, juice.
Tall, thin cabinet for alcohol storage, and lessons learned from a kitchen remodel
(Don’t panic! That ultrasound photo is still on our fridge from when I had Mila. Ain’t no buns in this oven, y’all.)

Future Kitchen Plans
I’d be lying if I didn’t say there have been days where I’ve been tempted to just throw caution to the wind and paint the cabinets! Like, maybe one day when Andy is at the grocery store, he’ll come home and I will have painted one cabinet, and there’ll be no turning back.

The countertops and backsplash are here to stay though, so that’s why I haven’t taken the plunge yet. But someday…

All in all…
I am infinitely thankful for the function and newness in our kitchen! I still don’t take any of it for granted, even years later. I just hope that sharing how I would’ve changed the process will help someone else with their kitchen remodel, or maybe be a good reminder to us (especially me!) to do your homework to find your style, and create rooms you love regardless of what anyone else thinks. (Unless you’re married to them.)

Lessons learned from a kitchen remodel: how to make the right decisions so you don't end up with a room you hate

What do you love about your kitchen? Would you change anything? Have you ever redecorated a room and been less than thrilled with the results?

P.S.: If you liked this post, you’ll love the Decorating 101 Series:

…And make sure you check these out too!
budget_before_and_afters



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Comments

  1. Julia @cuckoo4design says:

    Oh no, when you describe it like that, then I really feel for you because I totally get what you mean. Regardless, your kitchen is still beautiful! Maybe one day down the road you can just tackle the cabinets yourself and paint them :)
    I’m a huge fan of white cabinets and white(ish) countertops, so I feel ya.

    • Yes, speaking up is a learned art for most of us!!! I’m impressed with how great the results are despite it not being your “dream”!!! I’m guessing Andy will make your kitchen dreams come true one of these days!! It’ll be a “business” expense! :) XO, Aimee

      • k says:

        Not only is it important for you to speak up but, if you do use a contractor, make sure that he/she speaks up when things go awry. I had one that didn’t and the subs didn’t show up on a regular basis so the project took longer than it should have, costing us more. He also didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so when things were installed incorrectly or the wrong things installed (if you notice that all of the bathroom fixtures are the same except for one, doesn’t that tell you something is wrong?) he never said anything. The problem was, some of those items can’t be returned once they’ve been installed so you’re either stuck with them or fighting with your contractor to take the $ off your bill. No fun. I had a number of conversations with him and he just hemmed and hawed about how he couldn’t do anything about it. I should have fired him and hired someone new but we were so deep in, I didn’t feel like I could. Lesson learned: Just because you hire someone, whether a contractor, a designer, etc, doesn’t mean you can’t fire them mid-job, if they aren’t capable of doing the job you hired them for.

        • Amber says:

          THANK YOU for this comment! We struggled with our contractor for a while and in the end he left things undone and still charged us way over budget. Looking back (only a month ago), I wish I had spoken up more but I was so scared THAT would cost more! Why are renovations so hard in all aspects!?!?

          Love your blog and your ability to tell stories :)
          -Amber

    • katherineisabel says:

      OOOMMMMGGGG….I just bumped into this sight when I typed in the google bar, I do not like how my kitchen turned out, help!”, …ouch…I feel every step of this pain as well as every inch of your gratefulness. We spent so much money and time picking things out…I am scared to try anything again..my kitchen turned out way too modern..oh, who’s fault?? That would be me. My lifelong dream of owning Viking appliances came to fruition, only to have our model discontinued once installed…the warmness I so wanted is not there, again all the time being careful to remember how fortunate I am to even be able to do such things…I wish I had you help me, I love this blog/website/whatever it is…can’t wait to read more..Thank you so much for your inspiration and brutal honesty..love, love, love it!

  2. Laura says:

    Oh my goodness, I love this post! Well, I’m so sorry you aren’t happy with your kitchen, but thanks for sharing because I feel like this would totally happen to me. I hate speaking up. :)

    PS- Painting cabinets is way easier than you think! Just go for it! Once we did, it was like, “why did we wait so long?!”

  3. Carly says:

    Thank you for this! We are getting ready to redo our master bath and I needed to hear these reminders!

  4. Yvonne says:

    I could see pieces of myself in what you described, especially when you explained that the subcontractors drilled your kitchen holes too close together and you responded in your head. We’ve been remodeling our kitchen for the longest time. It has been the one spot of our apartment that has held up at least a dozen other plans I’ve had. The fault lies in who we hired to build our cabinets. Granted, the price tag was 1/3 cheaper than the Thomasville ones I had my heart set on, but 1 year has passed and they are still(!) not done. I have box frames, no doors, no drawers. It’s a mess. Since I am dealing with a friend of a friend, who is seasoned in years and has some health issue (so he claims each week), and who took on a huge commercial contracting job for a bakery chain in our area in the middle of our kitchen cabinet build, I’ve remained peaceful and friendly when I speak with him (even during our 20+ rescheduling phone calls because he didn’t show up for xyz reason), but after I am left staring at my kitchen and seeing photos of complete kitchens online, I get perturbed and verbose…like now.

    Anyway, I’ve come to a point where I’ve learned how to build some furniture and use some woodworking tools. If he doesn’t show up as promised this Saturday, I’m building the doors and drawers myself. Reading your article/post has reminded me that I need to trust myself, but it also is that if I want to save a buck, I ought to bite the bullet and do it myself. I’m certain I would have had a complete kitchen by now if I did.

    Thank you for posting those words, “Speak Your Mind” above this box. Although, I fear that I spoke too much of it.

  5. Jenna says:

    Ah Kelly, this just made my heart sink reading this, because I have so completely been there (although fortunately not with a kitchen remodel). I am still learning to completely trust my gut over what other people say, but I am definitely getting there. And it is hard when you feel sad about a space because your decorating heart doesn’t love it but you know that you should feel grateful for having such a nice space. I totally understand where you are coming from.

    p.s. loved the Step Brothers quote ;)

  6. Ah ha! Step Brothers — I see what you did there.
    That slate back splash and your way of arranging the tiles really does wonders for this kitchen. Simply gorgeous! I see what you mean about the cream-colored cabinets though. Why did the contractors say you couldn’t just paint them white?

  7. Brittany @ Creating Space for Five says:

    That was one painful story…..but glad you learned from it. I cringed at the cabinets because we had oak in our cheap-o kitchen and we bought a kit to paint it….I painted the cabinets white and liked them so much and wanted to leave them that way….but the kit came with an optional ‘glaze’ and my husband and the cheap side of my brain convinced me that since we had technically paid for the glaze we had to use it or I was wasting my money. Oh and I had been painting cabinets for weeks, and so I was in a hurry by the time glaze step came a round. Its not pretty. And I cant tell me husband yet that I want to repaint them all…..again…..he might pass out.

  8. Lesley says:

    Hi from here in the UK – I can sympathise with you – we had problems with our kitchen installation but 7 years on I still love my kitchen and the choices we made. There are some thing I wish we had been able to have and some things like the granite where next time I will choose Corian or Caesarstone (my husband says there will not be a next time!) As regards your cabinets being painted I do know that in the UK some car spray paint specialists will also spray paint kitchen doors/cabinets. Not sure this is something available in the US but just a suggestion. Best wishes.

  9. Love that movie!
    The hard lessons are the best lessons, right? They’re also the most expensive. Ugh. Thanks for sharing your story-somehow it helps knowing I’m not the only one kicking myself for things! I do love your cabinet space, btw. That deep pot drawer is fantastic! I have wrestling matches with mine daily. But I always win!

  10. Emily says:

    You took a risk. You made decisions. That’s more than I can say …. I’m so afraid of making a mistake that I’ve been living with an ugly, outdated kitchen for years. I would love a kitchen as pretty as yours, but I understand your frustration with the process. (If you still really want those crystal knobs, I would go for it! That would not be an expensive change, and maybe it would make you feel better.)

  11. Runt says:

    What a great post! I think your kitchen looks great, but you have to be the one to love it since you’re the one that uses/sees it everyday. Shoot, if you saw my kitchen you’d never think of not liking your kitchen ever again!! Let me tell you – our appliances are 100 years old, the cabinets are ugly and some of the doors don’t even sit straight anymore. The walls are BRIGHT red (I do like red, just not in my kitchen) and the top 1/4 of the walls aren’t even painted. There was an UGLY wall paper border up when we moved in and we took it down. Of course the previous homeowners didn’t paint the wall first, so they put up the border AND THEN painted the walls WHICH MEANS there’s an edge where the paint met the border and kind of pooled up in the crease… WHO DOES THAT?! So we will literally have to sand the wall before we get around to painting. The floors are bad too. The faucet leaks, the disposal is ALL WRONG and the counters are the cheap-o laminate stuff. We bought the house with the intent to redo it, but life got in the way and it’s still in the same state as when we moved in almost three years ago. OH, AND I only have two drawers in the whole kitchen. Sigh*

  12. Christine says:

    I wish we were neighbors…and had coffee in the mornings. I’d be yelling: Go Kelly! Go Kelly!….Just do it…you are spending wayyyy too much time hating your kitchen and living with the fear that you might mess it up instead of 2 weeks of DIY to fix it and get what YOU NEED. Painting the cabinets is so easy, use a sponge roller and just know that you’re going to have to do about 3 coats, maybe 4. Easy Peasy! Take those crappy countertops (Yeah I hate them, they show every crumb don’t they? I had black ones) and re-use them elsewhere….bathroom? for a laundry room, built ins for a bedroom, that way your not wasting money….and get what you want! Your kitchen is where you do the most work.

    Go Kelly! Go Kelly! I know you can do it, I believe in you :-)

    • Deb says:

      I agree, so many people have painted their cabinets. Pinterest and Google are full of links to tutorials to do it. That Home Site has a paint forum with all kinds of advice about what kind of durable paints to use. You should go for it and paint the cabinets white if you think it will help you like your kitchen a little more! If not love it!

  13. Crystal B says:

    I say go for it and paint them. I’ve seen some crazy finishes take on paint, so I bet you could. The professionals just want you to come back and buy more cabinets rather than tell you that you can paint over them. In the pics, it looks like your lowers are white and the uppers are cream. Just the way the pictures came out?

  14. Nancy says:

    For what it’s worth, I think your kitchen is beautiful. But I definitely can relate to your end result not being your gut desire. We did our kitchen from a total demo. I really wanted the most beautiful browny, wavy granite counters, but having already done soooo much work on my own to save money (for a whole year, driving 50 miles each way, while husband worked at his job), I didn’t have any fight left in me when my husband suggested black granite tiles because it was cheaper. Never mind that I was going to have to lay them myself since my husband thought I could totally do it since I had already layed floor tile in 2 huge bathrooms and the slightly huge kitchen. BTW I hate laying tile!!!!!!!!! He guess he figured I must have rounded that learning curve 2 bathrooms ago. Let’s just say we won’t be sliding any glasses down that kitchen counter. It turned out better than I thought it would when I was about half way through (after my son said “ya know, a good carpenter, etc learns how to hide/disguise any mistakes they may make :D”)
    I still dream about my solid, brown granite counters though. (Did not know that black granite requires polishing every time it’s wiped or it’ll show streaks uggh) And still have hopes it will happen some day.

  15. Jill Flory says:

    Get some Annie Sloan Chalk paint or Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint and paint those cabinets the white you always wanted. If I can do it so can you!!

  16. Hilary says:

    Thanks for this great post! I rarely see something so truthful in the blog world, and as I start to think about my own kitchen remodel I’ll take your words to heart.

    I’ve really appreciated your whole home anniversary week. Thanks for being one of my favorite blogs on the web!

  17. Sarah says:

    I can so relate. I tend to listen to everyone else’s opinion when it comes to big changes instead of going with my gut. I’m also cheap and sometimes pick a more inexpensive solution that I don’t like as much b/c I feel guilty about spending more money. Great post and some valuable lessons. More and more I’m starting to just do what I want regardless of trend and it makes me much happier.

  18. Oh man, I’ll bet this was a tough post to write. It is tough to admit when you make a remodel mistake, especially when the world is watching! I often end up on the other end of the spectrum spending way too much time thinking out things and testing them before taking the plunge. I hate to ask others’ opinions in case I am swayed. When we re-did our guest bathroom, I took forever thinking about it and didn’t really ask for any opinions and now love that it is such a clean and modern space with walls full of penny tile and painted white floors. The only one outside my house I asked about it along the way was my mom and she thought I was crazy, but I am so glad I didn’t listen to her because I love it! But in other spaces where I’ve asked for opinions, I always end up regretting it – I just can’t get others’ thoughts out of my mind. Luckily, I think your kitchen looks great. And if you don’t love it, save up and re-do – heck, it’s only decorating. Thanks for sharing the ups and downs Kelly!

  19. We still have Abe’s ultrasound pics on our refrigerator, too :)

    I know what you mean….I have a perfectly lovely kitchen with highish end finishes that I feel like a brat whining about, but it’s just totally not what I would have picked. In our case, it was here when we moved in, but had we needed to redo the kitchen right away, I can definitely see myself making a lot of the same mistakes. And I love slate, too.

  20. I absolutely love this post! So helpful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  21. Well if you don’t learn from your mistakes then you will be bound to repeat them! Thanks for sharing… being a designer I would never tell someone not to do something they loved, but if I really felt strongly against what {my client not a random person I happen to meet} I would tell them and give my points why. But in the end if they have a vision that is when I was hired to carry out! Your kitchen is still lovely!

  22. When we built our house last year I had wanted light creamy white cabinets with dark granite but when I went to pick it out they took one look at my three boys running around and told me they highly recommended me not getting white cabinets-that one incident with a sharpie would be all it takes to ruin them. I thought I was going to throw up-I had spent so much time on my “plan.” We ended up opting for very dark cabinets, middle tone granite and white subway tile backsplash and I do love it, but it looks dark to me. But like you said, it’s there now!

  23. Rae says:

    This is such a relatable post. I remember having a relative that spent every minute with her custom cabinet makers actually showing them what she wanted done, and then teaching them how to do it!! I wish I had her bravery! I agree with several others–Paint, Girl, Paint! And if you get itchy to try something else on your counter tops, check out this site that offers a peel-n-stick type thingy. Love your blog! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Courtney says:

    I love love love white cabinets, and I cant tell you how many people and “designers” tell me not to do it. I tell my future hubby that one day he might just come home and see some painted white and like you said there is no going back. I love your cabinets and all the cool features and great use of space. So much more room for activities! Awkward moment – when you say that quote to your mom about the larger shower in her new house ;)

  25. For what it’s worth, I love your kitchen. Truly, I do. Also, I’m going to sneak in your house when you aren’t looking and paint your cabinets for you. ‘Cause I’m cool like that. But really, coming from someone who has painted every cabinet in every bathroom and kitchen in this house….you can do it. And it will look great. Also, I will trade my 1970′s pretty white cabinets that don’t function well at all with your cream very functional cabinets anyday. Name the time and place and we’ll swap. Lurve ya, gurl.

  26. Jolene says:

    Thank-you so much! I was about to have fancy crown molding installed this Tuesday around my new tin ceiling and I had wanted to paint it BM’s poolside blue (like all the walls in my eat-in kitchen). However one of the contractors told me that “If the crown is turquoise it won’t ‘feature’ the new tin ceiling like a white crown would.” I didn’t like it but decided to listen to him anyways. And now I’m going home to paint 100+ft of crown molding with BM’s poolside blue after work today. Even though it’s already had two coats of Behr’s Bleached Linen. The tin ceiling is a feature whether or not the trim is white. In fact I think if it were white it would take away from the tin! THANK-YOU!!!!

    My inspiration for turquoise crown molding: http://www.houseofturquoise.com/2013/07/jamie-salomon-olson-lewis-architects.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+HouseOfTurquoise+%28House+of+Turquoise%29

    • Mah says:

      NEVER listen to a contractor when you have your mind made up!!! They don’t care about what your vision is, they only care about getting it done the same way they do ALL of their jobs! It is easier for them!! Believe me I fought with the counter top company about NOT having a seam in the corner of my counter top! I WON!

  27. Kayla says:

    Oh man!!!! I totally feel for you there! It’s so important to know exactly what you like. I feel like I’ve made mistakes and compromises, especially when it come to furniture to keep the Mr happy!

    I painted my kitchen cabinets last summer a greige color and have since gone back and forth thinking “maybe I chose the wrong color”. Then, I remind myself what the end result would be with the dreamy white quartz countertops I long for and I feel better. (Now I have ugly cream tile and laminate). It’s always a work in progress!!!

    Blessings,
    Kayla

  28. Nancy says:

    Oh, I am currently living this!! Between being a bad decision maker and being concerned about everybody else’s opinion, the changes I’ve made aren’t always what I love. I’ve been choosing each thing (cabinet color, paint, counters, floors) as I go along, just one thing at a time, instead of having a solid design in mind and sticking to the plan. I’ve been on a rollercoaster with each installation….one thing I love, the next thing not so much. I was at a point where I really liked everything so far and then had laminate floors installed. Hardwood wasn’t an option because of a couple of issues — which was fine — but I didn’t really get the look I was going for. I have such a hard time picturing it beforehand. But, I am going to make the best of it (and order some nice rugs?) and chalk this up as a lesson learned. I really thought I’d enjoy the process of picking out everything from scratch (and maybe on an unlimited budget that would have been the case), but it has been very stressful!! I’m much better at tweaking the old stuff to make it more my taste than starting from scratch. First world problems :-) And your kitchen is beautiful, by the way! But I totally get what you mean!!

  29. This is why I don’t ask people’s opinions anymore. Such good points Kelly :) You have to design for you and your tastes. You are the one that has to look at it everyday! xo Kristin

  30. I totally understand where you’re coming from! I made a lot of decisions based on what I thought would look good when we did our upstairs bedrooms instead of waiting until I had a great idea of what I wanted to do. I’m reminded of it every time I go in my dining room (the one room I love) that I should have done what I wanted all over the house in the first place.

  31. Yup, splurging=stuck with it in our house, too, which is why I hate spending money on anything. :P It’s sort of paralyzing. We’re in the process of redoing some things in our master bedroom (first big project we tackled) that produced less than stellar results because we didn’t know what the heck we were doing. I’d like to think that all of the mistakes could be avoided by reading posts like yours and listening to the people who say “wait to do anything major for at least a year” BUT it’s all part of the learning process to figure out what works for you and what you like…and who actually wants to wait a year, anyway? ;)

  32. Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing all your lessons learned and I am sorry you are living with a kitchen you’re not in love with. I’ve been there with letting a designed push me in a direction I knew in my gut I didn’t want to go – but it was with my wedding band. I ended up with one I hated from the moment I got it – which was after my wedding! Luckily, my husband, for our 5th anniversary had the one I truly wanted specially made for me. I smile every time I look down on it now – so I say bite the bullet and attempt to paint those cabinets white – I’m sure if any one can do it, you can.

  33. I have a kitchen design question— do you ever just feel like painting the underneath of your upper cabinets? i think about painting mine white sometimes but i don’t know if that’s a super weird thing to do, especially since we’re only planning to be in the house another 3-4 years.

    • Constance Bevitt says:

      Stephanie: Depending upon how old your cabinets are, some manufactures make undercabinet fittings to match whatever color your existing cabs are. Another thing to consider is whether or not you have under cabinet lighting (a strong re commendation to have such). If you do, then make sure that when you paint the under sides of your cabinets that you make such the color doesn’t make the lighting stand out more. This is one reason many kitchen designers put railings on the front of cabinets – to reduce the line-of -sight for the under cab lights. (this is also something you can easily do after installation…and it also minimizes the view of the surfaces under your upper cabinets.

  34. Shavonda says:

    Such a great post Kelly. I love how open, honest, and humorous you are about a situation you aren’t completely happy with. The one word I always try o avoid in my design process is Safe. That’s probably why it takes if forever to make decisions and put things into action. I try to avoid giving in to the easy choice to do what’s “expected” when I know in the end I really what to go with the “unexpected”. Thanks again for sharing your story. We live and we learn and you know better for next time, right!?

  35. summer says:

    even if you didn’t plan for it to turn out how it did, i absolutely love your kitchen. and you should absolutely paint your cabinets… its going to drive you nuts if you don’t, you think about it ever day, and its probably still burning your hide! thank you for your advice- you are absolutely right about everything you said.

  36. Oh Kelly! That was so hard to read because this is exactly what happened to me when we were designing our downstairs guest bathroom pre blogging days. I knew exactly what I wanted but changed EVERYTHING up because a designer made a few comments and suggested something else. Way to bring up past memories that I’d rather forget! ;) Here is to us speaking up and sticking to our gut! High five, girl! We can do it! I SO wish I would have been able to read your post when we were remodeling that bath…would have been a lifesaver! ;)

  37. Gwen says:

    Trust your gut. Know your style. Take risks.

    I think I gots it, baby! I’m in like there’s no tomorrow…

    {You’ve just save several people loads of heartache and cash, I am sure… you go, girl!}

  38. riley says:

    Paint the cabinets. Just do it. Why, after all you’ve said, are you still afraid?

    Just do it.

  39. Such great advice, Kelly — I love that you’ve analyzed exactly what went awry! Sometimes we’re not happy with something and we just can’t put our finger on it. You’ve nailed this one!
    xo Heidi
    PS — your kitchen is still a “looker”. :)

  40. Katie @ pps says:

    I LOVED this post. But not as much as I love your juice cabinet. WOW.

  41. Kathleen says:

    Great post, I think many people will read this and it will help them immensly. We painted our cabinets last year, and although it was a lot of work, it was sooooo worth it. I know what it feels like to hate my kitchen and now love it. So I highly encourage you to take the plunge and paint those cabinets the color you really want!
    Good luck!

  42. Great tips, Kelly! It stinks that you don’t have the kitchen of your dreams but at least the remodeling experience taught you some valuable life lessons :)

    I love everything about our kitchen BUT I spent a ridiculous amount of money on builder’s costs upgrading everything to get it the way I wanted. All of that money was rolled into our mortgage so I’m going to be paying for it for a long time but I try not to think about that ;)

  43. Hey Kelly, try not to feel too bad. I know… it’s hard. It’s one of those humongous life lessons: learn to trust yourself more than you trust others and it takes time (and sometimes mistakes) to get there. But you get there and the next time you don’t do the same because you are a smart cookie :) And your next kitchen will be fabulous. Because there will be a next kitchen.

    Then try not to fall in the trap that the prev. homeowners did in our house: Wanting a specific design for so long that by the time they got around to realizing that kitchen dream, it was horribly dated. I give you exhibit A in our house where a kitchen put up in 2006 looked like a time warp from the 1990.

    Now go find a paint brush so you can get those white cabinets. Or get a spray gun. I just got one and they are so much fun. If you considered a different back splash – even though, I know you love this one – then those glass knobs would be great too and I bet you would even love the brown counters, because they are pretty timeless. How much is a back splash in the grand scheme of things. Not that much…

    M-kay :)

  44. Sharon B. says:

    Great post, and I could follow along and understand how the whole kitchen remodel went down in your mind. What a lesson learned but I’m so glad you can share that and some very good advice on following our own gut. The kitchen of your dreams sounds amazing and very much like you – you’ll get there some day. We remodeled our kitchen about 4 years ago and we have the same faucet you do! But with the handle on the right. If I was at your house, I’d be all confused. ;) Love the hot water faucet, I had thought about that when we remodeled and I wish we had done it. I was waiting to hear this story and so glad you told it!

  45. At least the kitchen is still beautiful, even if not to your taste.

    I gotta say, your house reminds me a lot of my parents’ house in Ivey Grove in Kennesaw. Looks like almost the exact same plan except in reverse!

  46. Robyn says:

    Stepbrothers! That’s my favourite scene! I think those countertops will look gorge when the cabinets are paint white! :)

  47. This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. Funny, real, educational. Love it. I think we can all relate to getting something that isn’t really what we wanted and having to make the best of it.

  48. Lisa says:

    As usual, you make me giggle whilst reading your posts! Your kitchen is lovely, AWESOME!, new!, but I totally get your point and appreciate you writing about this topic. While your kitchen is awesome and new and you are hugely grateful for it, it isn’t exactly your vision of your dream kitchen. OY. I think a few years post-renovating, everyone has things they might have done differently, and it’s not fun when they are big-ticket items. The big lesson here is go with your heart – not what the cabinet makers, the countertop people, the House Beautiful designers recommend. It was so interesting to read about your experience as we figure out our future kitchen design.

  49. Terre says:

    Thanks for your insight and advice. I had my whole kitchen chosen, and then I went home and literally could hardly sleep for two nights. My husband, bless his heart, told me to go back to our designer at Home Depot and go through the whole process again. I did and I’m so glad I finally listened to myself and got what I really wanted. Here’s hoping I still feel that way when the remodel is done!

  50. Bliss says:

    We went to buy a car once telling each other any color but tan, I didn’t want tan. How, I will never know, but the salesman talked the Past Bliss and Brawn into a tan car! We joke about that still, but I did take down the last ones ultrasound from the fridge.

  51. A little binding primer, a brush, a roller, and the white paint of your dreams! While you’re add it, some crystal knobs. It will all just bring you so much happiness in an already beautiful kitchen!

  52. Marjie says:

    How well I can relate! I really empathize, especially when the choices were so much $$$. I want to give you a hug of sympathy! Kitchens are used sooo much that it sort of rubs in the disappointment the way another room–*any* room–would not.
    When a sinking foundation and rotting cupboards proved the catalyst for a -surprise!- almost total kitchen redo (how to choose lights and floor and lights and fans and lights and…in two weeks, or thereabouts–horrors!), I was surprised to find how difficult some choices were. And some things I just had to sort of go with the flow with and shrug my shoulders–whatever.
    Since we had major help with the financing, and because I plan on living here till they carry me out feet first in, say, 50 years or so (I’m 53 now, so I will be o-l-d!), my choices leaned toward the durable, permanent, I-will-never-do-this-again-if-I-can-help-it variety. The experiences of others has reinforced that decision. (Choosing the cheaper option isn’t cheaper if it needs replaced in 15 years and you have to pay someone *again* to do the same thing–my husband is not a DIY.)
    LOVE your pot drawer!! Wish I had one! My two, no three, true pleasures among many in my kitchen are: a pantry with the microwave in it so it is flush with the wall (no microwave/hood combination); a two-tiered silverware drawer which fits almost all that I need in it; and a 3-inch-wide spice pullout between the sink and drawers, right at the counter where I do most of the food prep. I thought I wanted a spice cupboard (top) and that didn’t work. Good thing, because this is waaaay better!
    Thanks for sharing. By the way, your kitchen is very attractive, and it looks like it serves you well. And the people who use it are the best deal of all. :)

  53. Cyndia says:

    This is likely the best post I’ve ever read. It should be required reading for anyone even considering a kitchen or bath remodel.
    I’m still living with my 1950s kitchen that we had plans to renovate more than 5 years ago, and just can’t afford yet. We’ve changed out the countertops from mauve (yes, you read that right) to gray steel (we made them ourselves), and I ripped out the backsplash (gold sparkly laminate!) and installed inexpensive white subway tile. But I’m ready for real cabinets that are functional, doors that close, and lots of drawers. I cannot wait.

  54. Oh hun!! This was heartbreaking to read! Covering an expensive mistake with another expensive mistake – arghhh. Yes, I was screaming ‘NOOOOOOO!!’ at Past Kelly. Bless her, though, it’s all a learning process this DIY thing, no? We’re learning loads at the moment with the bathroom remodel and have spent far too much trying to make some bath taps that I wasn’t even that mad about work that simply don’t. So we’ve lost time AND money. Meh. Funny too, because I actually designed an entire bathroom around a tile I only kinda liked because it was cheap and asked myself at the end of it, ‘Is this my dream bathroom?’ and realised (thank god) that it really wasn’t so I had to start all over again. Gotta trust your instincts in this decorating game! You should probably sue that decorator that told you to get cream and then you can afford to get a new kitchen! ;) Oh and also, you do actually have a LOVELY kitchen and I know you know this but yeah, it’s not the same as a dream kitchen, is it? :-/ One last thing in my rambling response, you can totally paint those cabinets if you still wanted to. Check out the car sprayers in your area – it won’t be super cheap but it’ll be worth the professional result xxx

  55. Tracy says:

    This is the first entry I’ve read on your site and I just wanted to let you know I love your writing style. Thanks for making me laugh this morning! (good advice, too!)

  56. Martha says:

    I love your post because its so real, we have all been there, made a big bad decision. I so get that. I know your inspirational photo showed all white, and you don’t have that now so go all the way with it. Paint them!!!!!! What can you be afraid of, you already don’t like them, so you can only make them better, right. Paint the lower cabinets navy and leave the upper ones alone. I would definitely paint the lower ones, yes, yes i would! Just a thought

  57. This is such a great and helpful post! I have yet to tackle my kitchen remodel, so it’s good to have someone who’s been there done that to preach to me about the pitfalls of not going with your gut. I too want white cabinets, and a few other ideas, but I need to nail it down before I start, I think.

    And your movie quote is from Step Brothers – one of my husband’s favorite movies. Ha!

  58. MimiG says:

    Bad decisions – we’ve all made them. I do want to tell you that I think your Silestone was your best decision! I much, much, much (almost screaming) prefer it over any other countertop I’ve had. I wish I had your dark color, I have a lighter “blech” color and your dark just shouts. Love it.
    As far as painting the cream cabinets, go for it. You may have to repaint the bottom ones to match, but hey, it’s YOUR kitchen – go for it! The wine storage on the side of the fridge – brilliant!

  59. Shannon says:

    I can literally feel your frustrations on this one. When we first started decorating our townhome, I totally played it safe and went with that I thought everyone else liked — dark cherry wood furniture and leather? Great!!.. For some people, totally not for me!

    In our new place, I totally plan to kick my reservations to the curb and to decorate my house however makes me happiest!! :)

  60. Lora says:

    I will call you Dragon, you have to call me Night Hawk.
    Girrrrrl, I am notorious for listening to other’s opinions and following bad advice. It started in 1998 with a TACKY prom dress. I still harbor ill feelings to that lady who said ‘that looks fabulous on you!’ (It didn’t.) Since then, I have purchased two vehicles that somebody else wanted. Our house: the only one we looked at. THE ONLY HOUSE WE LOOKED AT!! Because I felt sorry for the lady that owned it. Yikes.
    ‘I remember when I had my first beer.’

  61. deborah says:

    I don’t like spending money on big things. It’s hard to always picture what something is going to look like. We moved into a new-to-us house last year that didn’t have a kitchen on the main floor. I thought choosing countertops was hard. We did laminate and you have these tiny little samples and you’re supposed to picture how it’s going to look. I am impaired in the picturing-how-something-will look area. BUT, I LOVE my kitchen. I’m quite happy with it. My husband was great help in choosing.

    Definitely go with your gut instinct. I am not a designer~not even close~but I’ve learned over the years that if I LOVE something, I will continue to love it for a long time. If I’m on the fence about it, I’m going to get tired of it MUCH quicker. I have decor items that I’ve had for years. I loved them 15 years ago and I still do. I also have had lots of stuff pass on to the second hand shop.

    This is an inspiring post, but I am sorry you don’t love your kitchen even though you appreciate it. And I think you need to find some crystal knobs!!!

  62. Thank you for sharing this post! I can totally see myself living out this story and being afraid to speak up and go with my gut. I’m sorry your kitchen didn’t turn out like your dream but it was helpful to hear your experience. Here’s hoping that someday you can do it the way you want!

  63. antiquechase says:

    This is such a great post with honesty! New follower! come by and say hi if you have time! marcy

  64. So many good points, Kelly! I’ve been working on trusting myself over the years, too. I’m so glad you didn’t give up & have started following your heart! Look where it’s taken you!!

  65. Maurita Weaver-Miller says:

    OMG!!! You are hysterical! I just happened upon this blog a few minutes ago by way of “Southern Hospitality.” I absolutely adore Rhoda’s blog, and am so glad the she featured you today! I have a feeling if you lived in Ohio, we would have to get acquainted. I love your style of convo! This is the first post I’ve read on your blog, I’ve laughed so loudly that my 15 year old, asked “if I was ok.” I can’t wait to read every single entry!

    P.S. not every designer tries to shove their opinion down someone else’s throat… I listen to what the customer wants and needs before I even infuse my opinion into the mix. I am careful in what I say because I don’t want to put such a great doubt in their mind as to prevent them from getting what they love.

  66. Pam says:

    Okay – so I totally agree on the love your own style piece. We’re doing a bit by bit overhaul with my hubbie MAKING the cabinets. What that means for us is that we spend a lot of time doing things that people think are weird (like a tall skinny cabinet next to the stove (think upper only but like your wineglass storage), which is perfect for spices and pulls out. I see the pluses in yours in mine (although my pot drawers don’t have lid storage drawers – but now that I’ve seen it, I’m on it. Brilliant!)

    Sometime in the future you’ll be re-doing the kitchen (they don’t last forever) and now you’ll be wiser and will come out with something that screams out about you :)

  67. Ugh, Kelly I feel like I’ve been gut punched reading this, because I have SO been there. Well, not that deeply invested, but I did paint my entire living room, balcony and staircase in Benjamin Moore Sailcloth and HATED it so much I called the painters back out to redo the whole thing in RH Silver Sage, which was perfection. Paint is a lot different than counters and cabinets, though. OH, how I understand the second guessing of decisions to be “safer” though. Time and time again I find myself doing this. It’s one of the major reasons I could never be a residential home designer. I am much better off in the commercial field where I am working with men in industrial plants who don’t give two turds about what color their offices are.

  68. Jeannie says:

    I enjoyed this read a lot. I always have trouble choosing colors. Not because I don’t know what I like, but because little swatches are hard for me to visualize life size. And you are right. You need to bring those color samples to your home, to see how your lighting affects it. I did want to add one thought. I love white, stark white. So it is never an issue which color of cabinets or wood trim to go with. But I discovered something when I moved into out current home. The previous owner combined white AND cream everywhere. So though there was some wall paper, it had cream background, not white, but the woodwork was white. I will always use both colors in a room. It affects towels, sheets, bedding, curtains, all of those linen choices and makes them work. I guess my colors are white and cream and everything else turns into the accent color. Anyway, I like your kitchen. Thanks for sharing your lessons.

  69. I have to admit, my stomach kept turning as I read this post. And I always thought your cabinets were white until you showed the photo of the previous white lower cabinets with your current upper cabinets. I’m pretty sure I let out an “ohhhh”. But if you hadn’t shown me that photo I would have lived the rest of my life thinking your cabinets were white. I will say that I love your undermount sink. Our house is a “starter home” isn’t really a granite/silestone undermount sink kind of house so hopefully in our next house I can have that luxury. I had never heard of a hot water dispenser. I would have assumed that was a filtered water dispenser. We’re currently in the process of planning our kitchen makeover so this post came at a great time. Don’t be surprised if you get random emails from me asking your opinion on things.

  70. All great lessons overall! I totally agree on the undermount sink. Luckily, the previous owners of our house thought that was a great idea too so we lucked out!
    P.S. Loved the “Step Brothers” quote, haha!

  71. I’ve really been enjoying reading this series, Kelly. And like many others, I too, was shouting, “No, no!” as you were relaying your selection process. Your kitchen is beautiful! Unfortunately, it’s not what you had originally envisioned. Such a great lesson for us to learn to trust our own design instincts.

    13 years ago, when we were building our home, nobody had white cabinets in Texas. They just weren’t popular. (Even now, you’ll usually see oak or cherry.) The designers, my husband, and the selection team all tried to discourage me from the white cabinets. (Someone actually used the word, “Strange.”) I had them in our South Carolina house and knew that I wanted them again. (My shy, mousy self stood her ground and I ended up with the white cabinets.) My tastes have evolved since then and I would like to redo all those original design selections–but I’m still loving my cabinets!

  72. Carolyn says:

    I love your kitchen. At first I thought you were being tongue in cheek and a bit spoiled ( something I can relate to- I’m not being critical). Let me explain- you and I have the same floor plan. We bought / built this house 10 years ago and it was the smallest floor plan being offered by our builder. All of the others had keeping rooms with fire places, double ovens, etc. Our kitchen is small, functional. I cried ( in private) after we moved in and I realized how little cabinet space I have. Now after 10 years, we have raised our children here, re painted and refreshed a little. It’s really a home. I love it. By the way, I chose cream distressed cabinets and love them. I went with my gut and refused to listen to anyone. Everyone adores my house. Even me now! Your house is beautiful and you are so blessed. Don’t ever worry about what others think.

    • Kelly says:

      I was a little terrified of writing this post mostly because I don’t want to seem spoiled. :) It is SUCH a first world problem, and we are blessed more than I could ever imagined. Your home sounds beautiful! I think we (you and I!) have a great amount of cabinet space. I feel like it makes me be selective in what appliances I own and buy – we don’t really NEED a quesadilla maker, you know? – but there’s space for all the must-haves.

  73. Thistle says:

    I was nodding the entire time I was reading this post….and then I *sigh* as I look at my cabinets! WHY!!!!!! I should have trusted my instincts, too! I think there was just such sticker shock!

    Thanks for the lessons learned….but your kitchen really does look amazing!

    Happy day!
    karianne

  74. Christy@Confessions of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer says:

    I don’t know what took me so long to come check you out. I’ve seen you featured all over the place, but your post on how to cut a mirror popped out at me on Pinterest and I’ve been here ever since…like over an hour! Your witty writing style cracks me up and makes me want to read more…and I love everything you’ve done to improve your house so far. As for the kitchen, I feel like I settle because I know what I want, but what we can actually afford or what we actually find isn’t the same as my vision. Also, this was my husband’s house first and some design choices he has made have me a bit stuck…like adding texture to the walls?!?! Hmmm now I have popcorn walls too…delicious! I’m working on it, though. I’m subscribing…I could use a dose if you in my life. :)
    XO,
    Christy

  75. Amy says:

    Everyone is saying how sad they feel for you, but I’m looking at you in a whole new light, and to me, you’re even more amazing. Even though you’re not 100% satisfied (not that we ever are for too long) with your kitchen, you still stay(ed) up beat, you had a right to cry, but most of all you remembered how blessed you are!! The Kitchen although not what you wanted is still very pretty, and gives me a peaceful feeling just looking at it. I can picture you sitting at the counter staring at it at times thinking about all you would change, sighing and then picking yourself back up and moving on! You Kelly, make the rest of us feel great! And all because you show us that you’re not perfect like so many other D.I.Yselfers <– yep it's a real word, Lol.
    Now I must thank you for letting me know to just trust myself and not care what others say. You'd think we'd know that since it's us who will be living with it for years! So Thank you very much!! Would you mind if I share your "big drawer" with you? It's absolutely dreamy, but the pot drawers are my all time favorite!! I don't think any bottom cabinet should have just doors and shelves! I'm afraid one day I'll be bending down (practically laying on the floor) to get my pots and lids and won't be able to get back up again…. and I'll have to lay there until the boys get really really hungry! :D

  76. This was a really great read for me since we will be tackling this so soon. Your kitchen looks great even if it isn’t the way you wanted. Just think you will eventually have another kitchen to redo in the era of pinterest, so that makes up for the whole thing!

  77. Tammie says:

    I have four words for you: Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. I lived with plain-Jane builder cabinets for five years, and finally decided to take the plunge. And I’m soooooo glad I did. No sanding, no priming, no fuss, no muss. Seriously. My husband calls it “voodoo paint.” It seems a little expensive — but trust me, this stuff goes on like a dream — and you will be amazed how far a gallon goes. Give it a try! Look it up on Pinterest. That’s where I found it (and where I found you). Thanks for the awesome post.

  78. Corrie says:

    We just got finished with a whole house remodel. I learned some very valuable lessons….many you repeated here. Stay your ground when you know you are right. And do not settle for what someone else thinks looks good or right! It is a long, hard process but worth it in the end. Thanks for sharing. It made me feel better about some of my wrong choices:)

  79. Beck says:

    Loved this post, found via Pinterest and thought I’d better read that! The best one for me was mistake number one, I think this is something I could definitely be guilty of.
    xx

  80. Courtney says:

    We just renovated our kitchen and I had the same experience with the desire for white cabinets but being convinced that cream is better. Nope. It’s not. It’s definitely not better. It matches very little unless you like brown and shades of brown. If I could re-do anything it would be the colour of the cabinets and the colour of our flooring (we went with the dark wood floor- a total waste of cash since they look terrible after the kids and pets do anything- like walk across it or heaven forbid, shed a hair on it). I agree with you on the upgrade in cabinet hardware- worth every penny- love that the drawers open fully and that they are soft closing so there are no slamming of the doors! Yah!

  81. Natalie says:

    I think this is a great post for people renovating their kitchen. However, I think the first mistake was not selecting all finishes at one time, having ALL samples of paint, tile, wood, metals, trim and cabinets etc. at your house first Then being able to review in the specific room especially within the rooms lighting. Once you have looked at everything for a couple days then go search for the money deals but maintaining your design concept. As a designer myself selecting finishes as a whole is key to making it all work and remembering all the little details. Your design concept is main priority and I have to fight all the time to keep contractors from trying to cut corners and budgets so its easier for them. Always speak up especially since your paying the bills.

    • Kelly says:

      Good point! We knew what we wanted in terms of finishes, but once the cabinets came and they weren’t what we were expecting, we had to change the entire concept to “fit” that new finish. Sure wish I could have this to do all over again!

  82. Mary says:

    Oh my, I had to pin this just to remind myself of lessons learned. YOu see I’m old enough that not only have I done a lot of these mistakes too, I’m now (quite a few years later) fixing them. One other thing I’ve learned is that no remodel/redecorating project comes out perfect (watch Sarah R and see how she sometimes “eats” a big expense due to not being the right thing–I can’t afford that!). THere is always something I would do differently or “never do that again” type of thing. In my kitchen it was having the stove and the sink so far apart. But overall, that’s something I can live with (and curse everytime I walk dripping stuff from the sink to the stove!) Great post!

  83. Morgan says:

    The most helpful kitchen remodel post I have ever read bar none. Thanks for posting with courage and honesty!

  84. Amy says:

    When we bought our house it had light maple cabinets – so I had them toned dark espresso for $1500 vs the more Tuscan look that would have cost $3000. They’re fine but not what I wanted. However, I did replace the bronze knobs with crystal and I am in LOVE. Mine were from homedepot.com and 40 ish knobs were like $150 (actuAlly acrylic but totally fab). I did buy a few wxtra in case my 2 year old breaks one off :P Worth every penny and highly recommended. Now to find a backsplash…

  85. SJ says:

    I think your kitchen is lovely but I totally get what you’re saying and have experienced the frustration of listening to others. I wrote something similar about trusting your gut after our kitchen renovation. Granted, I love our kitchen, but there are a couple small things that I should have gone with my gut on and instead trusted the “professionals.” Luckily I stood my ground where it really mattered. Live and learn I suppose. Great advice for others contemplating renovations!

  86. Julie S says:

    Do it. Start painting one day while Andy is out so you don’t have to talk to him about it and then he will have to help you finish! Bahahaha! That is totally the cowardly kind of manipulation I get tempted to do, too. Drop some hints about a project I want to undertake, ignore the lack of enthusiasm because hey, he didn’t downright FORBID me, did he? and then when he gets home I will be halfway into it! Not recommended ;) but really glad to know I’m not the only one whose mind works in devious ways.

  87. Martha Revis says:

    From the looks of it, I don’t think there is ever any huge mistake in the kitchen. I know this sounds wrong but there are just no perfect things or places in the world. It will always have flaws. So I think your kitchen is fabulous but let it work its flaws sometimes.

  88. Ann says:

    Been months since I have read a long blog post all the way through. This is brilliant, thank you! I, too, compromised on so many things in my own kitchen remodel. Luckily, it was done on a super-cheap budget, so someday I will be able to re do it probably. But the work involved is what stops me! My boo-boos: 1. I WANTED slate-blue gray glass tile, but got scared at the last minute and went with beigey tones to be “safe”. 2. I was unhappy with my wood counter install, and didn’t speak up whilst they were being installed… and now I hate that spot they did wrong…. 3. To be cheap I got an overmount stainless sink instead of the porcelain farmhouse sink I originally wanted :( 4. Went with dark espresso cabinets when I originally wanted off-white. I have learned to like the look, but I’ll never love it. Luckily, I fought to have my kitchen island in the off-white, and surprise, that island is my favorite part of the entire kitchen! And, boy did the cabinet contractor try to push me not to choose the contrasting color… so glad I stuck to my guns.
    p.s. I think your kitchen looks great anyhow :)

  89. Thanks for sharing this blog. I really learned a lot from it as well as enjoyed reading it. Now, I know a little bit about kitchen remodelling and I’ve realized that it is so much fun especially that I am starting to find joy in cooking.

  90. My biggest regret is painting the cabinets dark not light. Now that’s on my ‘to do’ list … but there is so much more to be done before I “wrap around” back to the kitchen. Oh, and don’t tell my husband. He has no idea … :)

    Linda

  91. Steve says:

    I can sum it up in one mistake. You chose the wrong source for your kitchen. I am a kitchen designer that would not have left the mistakes happened. Sorry your project didn’t turn out the way you wanted. We CERTIFIED designers have the letters behind our name for a reason.

    • Karen says:

      Dear Mr. Steve Certified Designer:
      Are you off your medications? Because if you approach customers with THAT attitude, you won’t have any business, certified or not.

  92. I really like the use of tiles on the walls. It gives the kitchen a great look. Yours really stand out with the blue walls. I think it looks great! Thanks for the post!

  93. There are many people who would love your kitchen. However, YOU have to love your kitchen. I totally get what you mean. Our last house was perfectly fine. It was new when we bought it, so there was no reason to sink money into changing the kitchen or bathrooms or flooring. BUT none of the choices felt like us. Even the standard doors and trimwork around the house drove us crazy because we prefer classic, beefier moldings you would see in homes from the ’20s. When we needed to move into a different school district, we simply couldn’t find any houses that fit our aesthetic. So what did we do? We built ourselves our own 1920s-style Craftsman bungalow.

    Unfortunately we still cheaped out on a few things that now I regret, and they don’t feel like me. But, again, they’re only five years old now, so it doesn’t seem right to spend money to change them. We’ll see ….

  94. As if I didn’t write enough already, I also wanted to add that I too fell for the advice of a well-meaning interior designer who just didn’t get me and the look I was going for. I wanted a linen-look sofa and we ended up with black leather. Go figure. I wanted a coastal vibe, and he presented me with leafy botanical fabrics. Go figure. Luckily I only invested in the sofa, which is fine but I still feel like I’m fighting it every day!

  95. mimi says:

    I like everything except for the color of the cabinets. I agree, those need to be repainted. Hopefully, you can repaint those to the snow white color that you need. Thanks for all the advice on everything. I will keep that in mind if and when I ever redo my kitchen. I once babysat in house with the hot water spout. It is indeed awesome.

  96. Cassie Zupke says:

    I once decided to go bold in my kitchen and bought this lovely sage green paint that looked great in the store and not so great on my kitchen cabinets. What looked like sage turned out to be minty green. Blah! Three days (and several coats of primer and paint later) I had beautiful white cabinets that I love. Bite the bullet and repaint!

  97. Cameo says:

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE repaint your cupboards and post a tutorial on it because I’m aching to refinish my hideous golden oak cupboards. I want to strip them and paint them white/cream. Yes, I am sure that I don’t want a glossy shiny white. Well, maybe white but not superbright white. Maybe a bright cream. Actually at this point your cream would be a vast improvement to my oak. And I have beautiful glass doored cupboard doors where I keep my dishes and nice pitchers and glasses and I love them…..they just need to be cream/white. I’ve looked at various websites on how to do them but I think I’d trust you the most. So PLEASE do it!!!! Thank you :)

  98. Jami says:

    First of all, your kitchen looks great! At least you haven’t done your bit by bit, and after 9 years, still aren’t done because you’re afraid to MAKE a decision! I will tell you though, we found a great couple who redoes countertops, cabinets, etc. They did a fabulous job on mine, and it only cost 800 dollars!!! Lots of time and trouble though, so I would definitely hire it out. I related to your post, because I want what I want, and I know I’ll be talked out of it! I want glass tiles on the backsplash – husband wants stone, etc. He’ll win. ha. Thanks for your post. It made me laugh and also have empathy for your situation!

  99. Christina Nelson says:

    When I started working from home in 2007, I designed myself a home office of built ins with a u shaped desk and was sure it was what I wanted. And I decided to save money by leaving in the old carpet. And the builders did a crap job. Every day I sat at that desk, facing the corner (might as well have had a 5′x5′office) with my arm on an uneven counter joint and felt depressed. After 5 years, I finally had enough. I had it all ripped out, replaced the floor, and had a new T-configuration put in (this time I actually asked a designer – I usually don’t trust ANYONE else’s opinion). Now the window is at my back…I face out toward the door of this 12 x 20 foot space, and I am renewed. It was a very expensive project that I did twice. But in the last 6 months, I feel like I have been reborn.
    If your issue can be made 50% better by a week and a few coats of paint, do it. You will walk into that kitchen every day hearing the words “I’m so glad I did this.” And you will take 20 pounds off your chest.

  100. Lisa Roetker says:

    Your story about the “professional” reminds me of an experience I had when planning my wedding. I found a pic of a yellow cake decorated with daisies that I loved and ordered it from a bakery. Then I met with the florist and we came up with my bouquet. When I told her I needed a daisy cake topper she told me I couldn’t have daisies on the cake when I didn’t have daisies anywhere else. I was so worn down from people telling me what I had to do or couldn’t do I relented and said ok to a blue hydrangea topper. The pics of my yellow daisy covered cake with blue hydrangeas bugs me to this day. Lesson learned!

  101. Mavis says:

    Thanks for sharing your kitchen experience. It’s just me and to date, I’ve never been able to afford a total kitchen remodel. This year, I knew I was going to finally be in a position to do new flooring throughout most of my house, so I decided to spruce up a few rooms. I too love white cabinets, so I ended up painting mine. Used Countertop Transformations on the the counters

  102. tonya lee says:

    Girl, I LOVE THIS POST! What a great way to share what you’ve learned, and I also love that you’ve learned it! Most people in their 60s still haven’t embraced their style and learned to feel comfortable choosing the stark white cabinets even though the designer says ‘no.’ Coming from a “designer”… sometimes we need to learn to be quiet. I hope the most integral part of my job is to help my client figure out what they want, not what I think they want. What valuable lessons you share, not only with homeowners but also with us designers out here who think we know better. Much thanks!

  103. Judy B. says:

    I share your pain. I remodeled my kitchen 3 years ago, like you say, pre-Pinterest and really before all the amazing home design blogs..or before I found them, anyway. The kitchen design mags and books had limited space and thus limited ideas….one would be colors I liked but not the style, another sort of the right style but wrong colors…all the kitchens were such a specific look, most not my cup of tea at all. Then, as you say, going out to talk to “professionals” further confused me. Every time I was on the right track, someone would discourage me, every time I was on the wrong track, someone would encourage me. And so many decisions…overwhelming. Then, when you make a bad decision, it snowballs into multiple bad decisions.

    I seriously dislike about 75% of what I did. Wince evrytime I walk in the kitchen. Spent a ton of money. I am overly sensitive about visual things. It is so nightmarish for me that, here, three years later, most nights, I still wake up and immediately get a sick feeling in my stomach and start thinking about it. It is so bad for me that I think we are going to redo the granite countertops with something cleaner looking. It is horribly expensive but we can swing it and honestly, this is bad for my mental health. I may eventually paint the cabinets as well. White people’s problems for sure…but when you spend that much money and end up with something so not beautiful, it feels like you’ve been robbed to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

  104. Judy B. says:

    I also want to add…don’t know if you have taken any action on your kitchen yet..but, have you considered panelling the backside of your lower counters, the part your counter stools sit in front of? To my eye, if your cabinets are white, that part wants to be white too. Or if the cabinets stay cream, that wants to be cream too. Rather than blue. Perhaps beadboard panelling?

    • Audrey says:

      Yes to this! I actually love your kitchen, it’s different to the usual white kitchen that everyone else seems to have. How about changing the wall to a nice earthy colour, maybe a light brown, tan (anything but magnolia) or even greenish colour. This would tie everything in together so much more, the blue seems very stark or cold against everything else…..plus if you’re not happy with that, it’s easier to correct a wall paint than a kitchen cabinet paint!

  105. Judy says:

    Came across your blog, grateful for your sharing yourself and can so relate to you like so many others here! I have not begun my kitchen remodel yet because I am so stressed out at the thought of it all that I cannot even begin! Frozen with fear, I think if this was going to be my forever home it would be much easier, however, we will be moving in a couple years, and need to update to sell. Which really isn’t any easier, cuz I still have to find a contractor I can trust when I don’t even know where to begin with that. Then I have to think about cabinets, do I go super cheap route, IKEA, or midgrade, have no idea about cabs, there’s so many out there, its just all too overwhelming!!! Serioulsy, where are all these designers that you see on TV that can take 15 thousand dollars and give someone their dream kitchen??? It’s so frustrating! HELP!!!!
    Judy

  106. Alicia says:

    Oh goodness, I love this so much! Thanks for sharing! I found you from The Nester’s blog and I’m so happy I did. Home decorating blogs that aren’t afraid to show the not-perfect are some of my favorites.

  107. Aly says:

    You know what? You did save that kitchen- and it is beautiful. The backsplash is the jewelry of it. Your kitchen is warm and rustic- it is beautiful. Don’t paint this one. If anything, put some of your crystal knobs on it. I love a white kitchen too, but lately have been craving something with the stone…Enjoy it!

    • Amy says:

      You speak to my heart about trusting you gut. And making mistakes. It’s nice that good always comes out of bad. Like the lessons you’ve learned for next time and all of us who will trust ourselves a bit more too! Thank you

  108. Thank you from a non-decorator who is about to move into a new place in a new state and is thinking of hiring a decorator to help me put things together. Maybe I ought to just gather ideas and trust myself and use the decorator money on a new piece of furniture to fit in the new place!?
    What a great story. Made me laugh! And think…
    Gotta say though, your kitchen is sure pretty.
    Laura

  109. When we started our kitchen facelift almost 3 years ago, I hired a designer because I didn’t trust myself to pick the colors even though I knew exactly what I wanted. I let her talk me into a horrific cabinet color. Thankfully the painters tinted the cabinet primer so I had a chance to preview the color choice…it looked like bleach wood from the 80′s!! Bad Bad Bad!!! I went to our local Ace Hardware, checked out a BM paint deck and my Mom & I picked out colors for the kitchen & I got EXACTLY what I want. Wonderful article!!!

  110. Ugh…that is all so frustrating! It’s still a beautiful kitchen but I see what you mean…it’s just nothing like your inspiration pic.
    Those damn “designers” kill me! My mom just built a beach house with an all white kitchen and bathrooms and some “designer” told her to get cream cabinets too. Now the bright white sink and the white subway tiles make the cabinets look dingy. And the white and blue marble in the bathrooms doesn’t match the cream cabinets in there, either.
    And don’t even get me started on the advice she got from the “designers” at Ethan Allen!

    Regardless, you have a beautiful kitchen. Enjoy it!

  111. chri says:

    This post makes me feel so sad … such a typical story I bet though. I have painted many many kitchen cabinets , it is doable and you can get a beautiful result. Those cabinets you have are really beautiful. I wanted only white marble for current kitchen even though everyone tried to sway me away from it , turns out I love it , it was right…you are so right do what you want and don’t listen to professionals who don’t know you …good lesson. if you feel like going the painting route here is how I have found a successful result http://chriskauffman.blogspot.ca/2012/04/painting-cabinets-part-two.html
    Chris Kauffman

  112. Catherine says:

    This post was so well written that I could feel your anxiety, and disappointment! We have all second guessed our instincts. Thank you for affirming us to trust those “Gut’ instincts, they are never wrong!!

  113. Alie B says:

    For what it’s worth, I think your kitchen is lovely. I actually like the cream cabinets! I think they provide warmth, where white ones would be chilly; particularly with the blue walls. Great job. I appreciate that you have shared your experience in order to help others, but you have a very functional and funky kitchen. You should be proud of yourselves for taking on such a project! :-)

  114. Cheryl in Wisconsin says:

    Oh, I feel your pain. I have been here before. And I don’t always learn: I bought and installed curtains for my living room this past weekend even though I KNOW my tiny living room does not support curtains as a design element, they’re too fluffy and visually predominant. It requires a window treatment flush with the trimwork. I did it because curtains were cheaper, and now I haaaate them. Duh!
    (‘So much room for activities’ is a favorite line at my house.)

  115. I’ve been ’round and ’round with my kitchen, too, and I know exactly how you feel. I’ve worked with what I have, and although I’d love to gut it and start over, I just can’t right now. I know how you can make one little design decision that leads to a series of substandard ones, and how frustrating that is … and then you have to live with all of them! I’m trying to learn from past mistakes, just like you have! I loved this post. :-)

  116. Kelly says:

    Hi, Kelly. I love your post! It is so brutally honest. I’m sorry that you got bad advice from a designer…and that you had to learn these lessons the hard way! Your advice is invaluable, however. As a designer myself, I would NEVER have offered that kind of “assistance” without getting to know you and your space. It is so important for us (designers) NOT to dole out arbitrary advice – look what happens?!?!

    I’m definitely sharing your post.

    And, your kitchen doesn’t look bad…but I’m sorry it didn’t turn out how you expected. Just a little food for thought – if you had hired a designer who “got” you, I think your end result could have been much different.

    Again – thank you for sharing your story.

  117. Awesome post!! Love everything you had to say. I wrote a post like this about why I am remodeling the kitchen I already remodeled. I really feel your pain. On the after I love that wineglass juice combo cabinet. Good idea. Biggest advice is not compromising the dream. For some stupid reason even though I wanted granite cabinets, at the last minute I “downgraded” to Corian. I hated them literally the day they were installed. So I really know that sad feeling. It has been over ten years and I can’t take it anymore. Pulling the trigger on a remodel and talking to contractor and architect. Enough is enough.

  118. Great post. When I was younger I would just let things slide even though they weren’t exactly what I wanted. I’m older, wiser and more experienced now. We’re in the midst of a major renovation and I have a weekly chat with the contractor about how things are going and not going. My money, my project, my way. Ooooh I sound old and crotchety. It is what it is. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  119. Well first off, your kitchen is quite lovely. However I TOTALLY understand that “didn’t get quite what you wanted” feeling :-( I’m an interior designer who does a lot of redesign/restyling so I work a lot with ‘what ya got’. Sometimes it’s very very difficult to try to give them the room of their dreams when somebody else (yes another professional!) along the way talked the client into something they really didn’t want. I’ve had to try to ‘fix’ a lot of others mistakes and sometimes we just can’t do it without spending more money than they really have. So we make the best of the situation. (There’s usually something we can do to try to make the room look at least a little better.)

    Because I don’t work for any store or any product line, I NEVER try to sell something specific to anyone if they’ve really got their heart set on a particular thing. However, I will explain how their choices might be difficult to work with sometimes. In the end, they hired me to help, not make their home around my likes or dislikes. :-) (Like in your case you REALLY wanted white cabinets but the store-paid designer told you to use cream.)

    So now you have a beautiful kitchen….just not the one of your dreams. Go get that white paint and paint those cabinets! Whooo hooo! We did at our former home and I never looked back :-) Time consuming but certainly if you’ve painted before and if you read tutorials, you can DIY very well. Just know there might be a few things in your kitchen that might take on a new personality(like the backsplash) against pure white as opposed to cream. Who cares anyway! You want white:paint them white. You’ll love it and be forever happy :-)

    All your points were excellent! They are what I tell my clients time and time again (eg. do not pick items in the store without first seeing them in your own environment…cabinets, countertops and especially paint colors).

    So the bottom line of your story is “If you have a dream go for it!” I’m forever telling my clients “Don’t decorate for your friends, relatives or neighbors. They don’t live here—You do!” :-)

  120. Carole Stevenson says:

    Hi Kelly, I just finished your article on lessons learned from your kitchen remodel. We have just started ours (using a contractor) demolition is pretty much done and the redo phase will begin soon.

    I can’t thank you enough for your advice. I have been torn between what others will think (husband, contractor etc) and what I really, really have in mind, esp for the kitchen. You have just given me a “confidence booster shot!” I will stand my ground where I still can and make it come out all right in the end. Thanks so much!! Carole in Austin, TX

  121. GREAT article. Reposted & linked back to you. Subscribed & liked on Facebook. Love your writing style, photos & insight. Keep up the great work!!

  122. Bettsi says:

    Awww, I feel ya! I’ve been in those shoes too. When we bought our house I very much wanted a colorful cottage feel, but somehow that ended up with me having bright royal blue carpets. (What?!) Its very easy to be intimidated by the trades. But honestly, you don’t have a bad kitchen and I love that you have many things in it that you do enjoy. Life’s too short to spend time on regret!

  123. Julie says:

    Kelly, thank you for being vulnerable in this post. Decorating is scary to me. I’m afraid of finding out I have no taste. Thanks for encouraging the frail among us by revealing that even someone as talented as yourself can be led astray by a momentary lack of confidence. That helps me be braver.

  124. JoyfulImperfection says:

    Oh I’ve totally painted the cabinet door and “tested” to see if I could pry off a hideous backsplash tile (which led to a big gaping hole.) See? http://www.joyfulimperfection.blogspot.com/2011/03/kitchen-risk.html

    But then I FINALLY convinced my husband to let me paint a door black because I knew it would be gorgeous even though we both love white and the results are one of my favorite parts of our house!
    http://www.joyfulimperfection.blogspot.com/2012/01/kitchen-reveal.html

    Thanks for your post, so many rooms I’ve waited and waited on because I want to know what I want before I do it, know what I mean?

  125. Susan says:

    I am so glad to hear that I am not the only one who has done this. For years I wanted built in bookshelves on either side of our French doors in our family room. Well the built ins were going to be more expensive than I had anticipated. So I let the designer talk me into free standing bookcases because they would be less expensive. Mind you these were being custom built. I haven’t even had them a year and everyday I look at them I feel so disappointed! Lot of money spent to be so disappointed. I feel your pain!

  126. Vanessa says:

    Kelly even if you are standing right there watching, things go wrong. As you were watching the man drill holes the first cut had already been made. I have made mistakes myself – oh why did I do that? I should have measured and stood back and taken my time! Once, I told my contractor to make sure everything was lined up. When I got back later in the day a light over the sink was off about a quarter of an inch. I didn’t have the heart to point out his mistake partly because that’s all I would have been doing, showing him how wrong he was. I did not make him do it over because I’m not that kind of person (and I don’t want to be).

    Anyway, nicely written.

  127. Jody says:

    Yes, I just have to agree with others here, start by getting yourself some crystal knobs asap!! Then after you’ve warmed up to making changes, paint those cabinets a nice bright white. Later who knows…. but those small changes will move that kitchen waaaay closer to what you wanted. Good luck.

  128. Rubie says:

    Wow this kitchen is outstanding and has a Unique style. Remodeling is done perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

  129. Alisha says:

    I absolutely love your kitchen! I have been looking for a blue to paint my kitchen and I love the blue you chose. What is color?

  130. LAanwa says:

    I wish I’d read this article this time last year. Upon buying a fixer upper, I too, had the opportunity to have my dream kitchen but second guessed myself because I was outvoted by my husband, mother, and Home Depot salesman. Why did he even get a vote??? I’m still mad at myself. The kitchen looks very nice but it started this downward spiral because it dictated the blending of the rooms attached which ultimately changed my plans for the entire house. The worst thing is that it cost a small fortune and the look I wanted would’ve only been around $2000. It’s too late for me but save yourself!! HEED THE ADVICE IN THIS ARTICLE!!!

  131. What a great post (even though it made me sad for you). I can totally relate, albeit on a smaller scale with our fireplace remodel. We started in one direction, and I ended up not liking it. But we had put in SO much work, the idea of starting over again made me want to cry! But, we did start over, and I’m so glad we did, because I got the look that I wanted. It’s taken more than a year(!) to get there, but it will be worth it in the long run!

    P.S., I paint cabinets (I did my own, too). I would paint yours at a discount if you were nearby. ;-). It still is a lovely kitchen, but I totally get where you’re coming from on it not being what you had envisioned.

  132. Xavia says:

    I’d love to hear your opinion – now – about how you feel about the undercounter sink mount. It just seems like there would be a lot of “crud build-up” between the sink & counter, and that would ultimately also be difficult to clean/make sanitary? (It’s too bad they can’t mold sinks into granite or whatever, LOL.)

    • Kelly says:

      I actually just wrote that post a few months ago. I think there’s significantly less crud/build-up with an undermount sink than with the alternative. That’s actually one of the reasons I wanted undermount – SO much cleaner and more sanitary. :)

  133. Ana says:

    We are just about to embark on a complete kitchen remodel…and I have decided to choose everything without the help of a designer, for that reason. I actually said to a Designer, “If I’m going to live with mistakes, then I want them to be my own, not someone else’s vision of what they thought I should have!”. Not to mention that for a designer to come measure your space, do up two plans to choose from, and input it into Auto-Cad and make notes for the cabinet makers, is about $2,000 if it’s not included in the cost of the cabinets. Anyway, it’s good you appreciate your kitchen regardless. If I were you, I’d ditch the oil-rubbed bronze and add some sparkle with different knobs and faucet/hot water spout/soap combo — maybe satin nickel. You can then have a faucet with the handle on top, instead of on the wrong side, lol. You can also replace just your cabinet doors — maybe doors with glass inserts to bounce light around? Just ideas to contemplate. cheers

  134. Ana says:
  135. Kris says:

    As a designer, it’s unfortunate to see how many commenter (including yourself) do not trust ‘designers’ due to a bad experience with basically a stores sales person who probably has minimal, if no design credibility. Many of these issues could have been managed, as designers provide more than one option of color and finishes that you really are in control of, we just help to suggest based on knowledge and experience. Also, we act as a buffer between you and the contractor or subcontractor – they really must listen to our specifications given – such as the spread of your faucet, which you/they obviously had no guidelines on where it was being placed or knowledge of where they should be placed. Next time you want to try a remodel, perhaps consult a designer, maybe multiple to find one that suits your taste and I guarantee results will be better. A ‘decorator’ doesnt necessarily have the credentials or education of how to properly deal with any of these situations, nor does a Home Depot sales person.

  136. Shannon says:

    When we redid our kitchen the contractor asked where I wanted the light switch and which lights did I want connected to each switch. I told him. He told me I was wrong. Told me I should do it a different way. He was fired and we finished the kitchen the way we wanted it. It was not fun firing the guy, a really nice guy, sorry! And the kitchen took waaaay longer than if he had finished, but we did it, and did it the way we wanted. So happy now!

  137. Kylha says:

    Hi again.
    I’ve read this post before, but I wanted to write and thank you for all your words of wisdom (and the other funny ones you throw in for free, lol)
    My husband and I are in the middle of a massive renovation on a house. And for the first time in all our 14yrs of marriage, my husband has thrown caution to the wind, and unless it’s something he REALLY can’t stand, has told me to style the ENTIRE HOUSE. My way. My preferences. My eclectic, very around-the-world-theme decorating style.
    While thrilled with the freedom, the responsibility of choosing our home’s personality has made me, at times, almost puke with the thought of making all those decisions (I was doing more deep breathing exercises during the choosing and shopping of features in our house than during the combined labor of our two children).
    And I think it was the whisper of your voice, from my earlier reading of this post, that helped me make some of my decisions. For instance: we bought plain Jane basic cupboards and everyone, including my husband, excitedly suggested (or insisted) on a deep wood stain, with the cheapest, most boring, plain silver or gold handle hardware. BUT I DIDN’T LOVE IT. I wanted crisp white (painted) cupboards and bead board door inserts, with knobs, cup pulls, and all other metal accents in oil-rubbed bronze. I almost let it go to the point of no return because I was so scared of saying what I REALLY wanted, what I REALLY loved. But I really think your post was back there in my mind, muttering about not loving your kitchen but trying to stay happy with it.
    So, I researched every single thing or item I wanted. I found the easiest and thriftiest way of making over the cupboards with bead board paneling. I found round oil-rubbed bronze knobs at such a great price that with the money saved from those, we could buy the oil-rubbed bronze cup pulls I found too.
    Then I took a deep breath (thought about stopping there) and talked to my husband. He was disappointed with not going a dark wood stain on the cupboards. He was unsure about adding in bead board. He wasn’t really sure about the whole oil-rubbed bronze thing. But he agreed… to all of it.
    Our house isn’t finished yet (we’ve had to go on hiatus due to his seasonal work), but I love it. And not just my kitchen, the whole thing. He bought me the front door I was drooling over, though I was fully expecting to get a less expensive, marked down, door. He bought the faux stone finish for the outside that I love. He even agreed to helping me paint some of the kitchen cupboards black when I realized that I loved the combined black and white look.
    Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t gotten every single thing I’ve picked out. We’ve compromised on lots of details here and there. But on the things I REALLY wanted/loved, we did it my way (song quote anyone? lol).
    So thank you. Thank you for taking the time to write about your diy world of renovating, decorating, and recycling. And thank you for taking the time to write about, not just your decorating triumphs, but the things you’ve learned the hard way. I doubt I’m the only one who has learned a thing or two from your posts, but I wanted to take a minute (okay okay, a lot more than a minute) to let you know what it has meant to me.
    Aaaanyways, now that you have this giant ‘comment’ to read, I’m gonna go. But thanks, again.
    Kylha

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  139. This is the reason why DIY projects can help you get better results. You call every decision! Kitchen cabinets can come in so many colors and styles, and if you already know which one you want, you shouldnt ask for any advice because it will only confuse you!

  140. Tracy says:

    The kitchen is beautiful but I understand exactly what you’re saying! We painted our cabinets and I agonized over every paint choice and step of the process. The funny thing is that I was going for what you ended up with! We were painting navy blue cabinets and ended up with great results. I thought I’d share our photos in case you decide to paint them! Prep, prep prep, I believe it made all the difference. good luck!

  141. Theresa says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post. Everything you did is exactly something I would do. EXACTLY. Watching the guy drill the holes- that would be me: too afraid to say something because I would always assume I’m wrong and they’re right. But I also want to say that your rules apply to dealing with EVERYONE. Not just the lady at Home Depot or the contractor; your husband too. If your husband is like mine and doesn’t really care about knobs at all, then just go with what you want. He might say “I don’t really like those” but trying the ol’ “just wait and see, you will love it” usually works (and is true). Obviously, if my husband REALLY hates something I won’t go with it. Same goes for actual wall colors because it is really the only thing my hubby will notice. So I have to get his input on that.

    Anyway- you have a beautiful kitchen- someday it will be everything you want. Thank you for the great post.

  142. Dana says:

    It’s 5:05am. Can’t sleep. I found you on Pinterest. Higher power has once again intervened and confirmed to me to not second guess myself by way of your post. You just saved me. I realize now how important a design board can be. That way I can’t be swayed by someone’s else opinion. I wanted green cabinets. I love the Annie Sloan paint because of the no priming and you can just slop the paint on. Using a recipe to get the exact color every time was not for me. I don’t get along well with recipes. My dog wouldn’t even eat my food. Using a recipe to get the color I wanted would be a disaster. I listen to to someone’s advice and choose a color that would match on my swatch. I ended up with a muddy color. After a little research I found that I could paint over the chalk paint if I didn’t wax it. The hesitation to go ahead and repaint was the the time I invested in that muddy looking mess. I decided that I just couldn’t live with it. I’m in the process of buying samples of latex green that I wanted in the first place. Yes, SAMPLES. When I get the color I’m looking for then I’ll buy the paint. Try the Annie Sloan paint on your cabinets. It seems expensive. It goes a very long way and you can water it down. You hang in there, Girlie! One project at a time and you’ll have your kitchen the way you want it. Thanks again for your article. If you would like to follow my progress with the redecorating, I’m on Pinterest.com/dh0wel. The board is titled All Mine. Love ya!

  143. Kindra says:

    I love your kitchen and I would actually change only 1 thing. I would paint over the blue and make it a lighter cream then your kitchen cabinets. I would take off a door and take it to Home Depot to match a lighter shade. Love the flooring, counters, and back-splash.

  144. I like the first kitchen, it is just as small as my own and looks really spacious. I haven’t come across remodeled kitchens as small as my own but am glad this one gave me some ideas on how to revamp my kitchen.

  145. Lee Ann says:

    Your first mistake was assuming the sales person was a designer. Unless she went to a 5 year program that was FIDER accredited and she was registered by the state and/or a professional member of an accredited organization (ASID) my guess is that she was a decorator. Anyone can proclaim themselves a decorator. A “real” interior designer would create a space that reflected your personality and not their’s or one based on trends.

  146. julie says:

    I also have a re-done kitchen that I don’t love. I also did not listen to myself with what I wanted and I got some bad advice from the Home Depot lady designer. Also listened to my MIL and did not open the kitchen like I wanted to.

    I actually really like your cabinets and agree that the cream is better with the dark floors. Since they are new cabinets, instead of painting them YET, I would start by painting the very nautical looking light blue that is all over. I think this is a cheap place to start and will probably really change your view of the cabinets. Its an easier fix that painting the cabinets. The existing blue is calling out for white cabinets. Time to let the blue go.

    Just an idea. I have not read all the other posts. Good luck.

    • Robin says:

      I would like to add my 2 cents for you to consider, because this is so fixable. I have two thoughts…

      1). Change the tone of your existing blue walls to a softer blue with warmer, greyed down undertones and paint a warmer white or cream on the trim (to match cabinets or a shade or two lighter). This will make the cabinets read more as the ‘white’ you are craving while still maintaining the colour scheme you love. Basically you would be going from what is a mixed cool and warm scheme that is fighting each other to an all warm scheme. I realize you were going for a cool scheme, but there are now too many warm fixed elements (countertop, splash, cabinets, hardware) that shouldn’t be ignored. I fear that painting your new cabinets white will make your backsplash, knobs and countertops pop visually (perhaps a too harsh contrast) and since these were not your favorite elements you may be disappointed when they are accentuated. Plus, the factory applied cream paint on your cabinets will be a better finish than a DIY paint redo…..unless you remove them and send them all to be professionally lacquered.

      OR…

      2). Pull a taupe, grey or cream colour from your backsplash tile and repaint the walls. The trim would then be the cream to match your cabinets or a lighter version. This could be a more sophisticated tone on tone scheme with softer contrasts….not unlike your dream kitchen photo, but only with warmer tones. You can add blue accents with your accessories if you miss the blue…and if the blue is elsewhere in your home, provide continuity.
      Keep your warm tones clean and fresh….not muddy.

  147. Hey this surely is a good read; the pictures have made it all the more interesting and attractive. Kitchen remodeling is one thing that needs a lot of prudence and skills as well, therefore one should go in for kitchen remodel contractors as they are now available at fairly less prices.

  148. Dana says:

    Hi- I love your blog! Can you fill me in on your floors? Are they d.i.y.? Are they refinished plank or layer and then finished? I love a contrasting floor with light cabinet and darker countertops. Thanks!

  149. Waltman says:

    Thank you for this article. I’m married to a Kitchen and Bath Contractor and he always listens to what the customer wants first and for most. Remodeling can be overwhelming for some and that can become problematic and overwhelming for the homeowner. From observing, my husband will give the customer a door sample, that way, they can take it home with them for a couple of days. This will give them some time to determine whether or not it’s the right choice for their color, design, etc. I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. Remodeling is just like anything else and that means you have to do your research and like you said”Listen to what you want”.
    Good Luck on future projects! Angie

  150. Raschelle says:

    My I say I see this all to often. The kitchen is a hugely complicated project. Can it be a DYI for the average homeowner. Yes. But here is my one big piece of advise. Go to a higher end Kitchen Cabinet company, not the box stores. Talk to 3-4 different designers(Who do not work at home depo. What designer with any talent works at the box store!!!! ) Once you find one you are comfortable with(yes you can find one). Ask them how much it would be if they could come to your house for a consult only job. when they come have your questions and ideas written down. Go down the list and have samples if you have ideas of what you want to do. For a total of maybe $300.00 for a 2-3 consult you will get input, advise and in the long run it will save you all the mistakes that happened here on this blog. Then you can go and buy and install everything you want at your inexpensive prices. This is the biggest investment you will make in your house. That $300.00 over the next 30 years to love your kitchen is so worth it. I understand trying to save money but this is just to big of a investment to gamble with. Plus once you have a plan with that Kitchen Designer you will have the confidence to tell that contractor that is not the way you wanted it done. From a Kitchen Designer who has been in the industry for over 28 years of Kitchen Remodel jobs you have to watch those contractors like a hawk and watch them on the details. Some are not as detailed oriented and you end up with a faucet installation like she did. So sorry your kitchen of your dreams did not happen. It is good you are sharing you story to help others I hope my addition helps them even more so they do not go thru what you did.

  151. Ted says:

    I definitely love your kitchens, I envy the way you emerged your kitchen. After reading your blogs I am now looking for kitchen remodeling in Fort Worth TX so I can start my kitchen project ASAP.

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  153. Sharon Rubens says:

    The movie quote you are referring to is Step Brothers! It’s one of my favorite movies ever! I love all the rooms you are renovating/remodeling! It gets me inspired for my very own renovating projects. My husband and I moved from a 610 sq. ft. condo into a 3150 sq. ft. house in the suburbs. The house was a bankruptcy and short sale house, so we definitely got a great deal! However, the house was built in 1993, and was never updated or taken care of. We initially had to spend our money doing things that no one would ever see, like get our crawl space cleaned, our gutters cleaned, an exterminator for our shed in the backyard, etc. We are in the process of getting a new roof, but after that, we can concentrate on updating the inside, along with gradually getting more furniture to fill up our very empty house! One question I have is, how did you get rid of the gold on your fireplace in your living room? Did you paint it black, or did you put on some kind of a chemical to take off the gold? Unfortunately, our house is filled with gold, so little by little, we have to replace every single door knob, door hinge, faucets, etc.! Again, keep the pics coming! You are a great inspiration!

  154. rena says:

    Nice post.Really helpful to remodel.

  155. I was wondering… did you discover any plumbing problems when gutting your kitchen?

  156. Take off the hardware and paint those cabinets woman! Clean them with TSP, buy a GOOD quality paint and go to town. I’ve done it, and it ‘s not that hard… and buy your glass knobs :) Life’s too short.

    • You could also look at stripping them down (lots of work) then painting. If they’re solid wood, that would be an option. Or “pickling” if you ant to see the wood grain. I have painted many an ugly cabinet with crisp, white paint and new hardware. A total transformation :)

  157. Constance Bevitt says:

    A great article. Bravo for being so frank about your choices and decision making. I am suggesting additional “lessons” to add to your article. (and I am so glad you directed people to look at the materials in the lighting of the actual space you are remodeling – it is so key).

    1. Lighting is essential in kitchens. Ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. Think of it as the jewelry of your room.
    2. Paint is the cheapest change you can make to any space. When selecting finishes and colors consider the design in terms of its own integrity (not in terms of how well it matches your current paint color). You can always change the paint color (and people often do). Besides, there are a HUGE number of choices for paint.
    3. Countertops: you may love the look of Carrera Marble, but most Americans are not willing to manage them to keep them looking pristine. They are very porous and subject to much staining. If you have a cleaning service you must specific what they use to clean the marble because it will damage it over time (Better, pick an engineered stone that looks like a marble but needs no maintenance (Cambria has some great choices.)
    And, lastly.
    4. Manage your contractor do not let him/her manage you. This starts with a clear contract where as much is specified as possible. Additionally, be firm that any mistakes will be corrected at the cost of the contractor (not your cost). Never pay up front, but have specified milestones for payment. And report unresponsive and/or shoddy work to the BBBureau, to your city or county consumer protection department.

    If you do decide that you really are not happy with the counter you installed, you can have it carefully removed and donate it to a local Habitat Restore or similar charity. You can take the full value tax deduction, subsidize your new counter and make some other DIYer very very happy.

    Again, GREAT INSIGHTS in your article. (and you can still change the hardware to crystals.. even if you can only find chrome and crystal, they are easy to spray paint to match your oil rubbed bronze look.)

    Cheers,

    C

  158. Debbie says:

    THIS is exactly why I have needed to remodel my master bath for well over 2 years and have NOT done it. I have met with 4 different contractors that all told me I didn’t want what I said I wanted when I really did want what I said I wanted ….. I was all the way to chosing the finishes with one contractor when he informed me of all the things I was wrong about. When people come into my home, they always tell me how lovely it is, that I have a good eye, that I have an aptitude for decorating. So why would so many contractors presume to thing they know more about my taste than I do? I am to the point of DYI and it is a HUGE job but I can do a lot of it and I can hire the rest and I am pretty sure I will love it so much more than hiring it out!

    Thanks for your transparency. It helps to not feel like I am the only one that second guesses my decisions based on a little comment from a ‘pro’ or my well-meaning husband’s indecision.

  159. Shala says:

    I totally understand this. My husband talked me into staining our cabinets “red oak” during our remodel when I wanted to paint them a soft gray. I have dark granite with slate backsplash and hate how the cabinets just swallow up the color of them, same with the teal glass knobs I bought. We’re planning to paint them this year as he finally agrees with me. (BTW don’t wait to switch out those knobs! I bought my gorgeous glass ones when Hobby Lobby had them 50% off-$20 well spent! They’ll even order more in for you if they’re out of a particular style)

  160. Sue says:

    Thank YOU for all this great advice!
    I LOVE your backsplash and counter. And one day, you’ll paint those cabinets white, girl. :)

  161. Stacy Bree says:

    Ooh girl, I geel your pain. I’m on my second one now. Sorry for your disappointment though, such a bummer!

    The biggest thing that I learned from my kitchen remodel was to NEVER buy the first appliance/cabinet/lighting fixture you see. I fell in love with crazy expensive lighting, convinced myself I HAD to have it, and then a few weeks later, came across several websites that had pretty much exactly what I had ordered…for half the price. There’s nothing worse than knowing you overpaid. I’m doing things much differently this time around!

  162. Tammie says:

    I think the kitchen of your dreams is an easy fix. One idea I will throw your way is most non big box paint stores have designers now working for them (Benjamin Moore Stores etc.). Most of these designers have had years of experience and just do it because it’s their passion. They charge around $50 per hour but most time all they need is 1-2 hours to give you detailed paint(exact colors etc) and design ideas on paper for whatever rooms in your home you want. I think for $100.00 bucks its a steal ! Granted you do the painting and layouts but they help you by coming to your home and looking at your taste and go off that, that way they can visually your style. I know that’s what the great designers always do… like Candice Olson. I did this to my current home and well lets just say I got way above and beyond what I expected. I don’t think many know about these designers so they never utilize them.

    Good Luck you will get there!

  163. ashley says:

    I really like the darker sink fixtures and backsplash. I absolutely agree that you need to go with what feels best. It’s definitely okay to ask for “advice” but you need to choose your own style.

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  165. Kristen says:

    I can TOTALLY see how one little compromise has a domino effect on the rest of a renovation. I’m in the midst of redoing my kitchen. You and I have the same EXACT inspiration photo. I too envision white cabinets, white/grey counters and dark wood floors. I have had trouble staying in budget and getting exactly what I want, so I did find myself starting to settle in my mind, toward a granite that had flecks of browns and creams, then the backsplash I envision would need changing, etc, etc… and I started fast forwarding in my mind to a kitchen that is “fine” but not at all what I originally wanted. I’ve gotten opinions from “experts” too, but aside from functionality, it all just comes down to personal taste. Thank you for confirming that I should keep going strong with what I want. I feel for you, because I felt myself going in the same direction and imagined my daily annoyance :(

  166. Pamela says:

    I know the feeling, same thing happened to me. I finally put Annie Sloan chalk paint over the backsplash I had a tan tumbled marble with bronze rope running through it> I also changed the knobs and fixture. I am just not an oiled bronze type of chick

  167. Holli says:

    I so get this! We redid our kitchen (not out of choice, but due to a water leak) and I would have done so many things differently if I was not worried about keeping it neutral to be able to sell. Five years later, and still in the same house, there are aspects of the kitchen that I hate! Oh well. Live and learn, I guess!

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  169. Aaron says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been going through the renovation process as well and have had our fair share of disappointments already – for example, who knew the city inspectors could completely ruin your drawings. I’d always encourage you to speak up and remember that if you don’t, no one else will. Yes you have a beautiful kitchen, though in my mind – you shouldn’t have to “settle” for things when you have put a giant amount of your personal money into such a project. You held up on your end of the bargain – you PAID THEM YOUR MONEY, they need to hold up to their end .

  170. Elizabeth says:

    Hi – Do you mind sharing the name/maker of those amazing backsplash tiles?
    I am now coveting that brilliant use of space to the left of your fridge and wish I saw this just a month ago~ Thanks :)

    • Kelly says:

      I don’t know the maker of that one specifically, but there’s lots of slate tile online or even in your Home Depot. The color of our tile is called “Autumn Desert,” so if you google something like “Autumn Desert Slate Tile,” you’ll find a ton of different options. I think ours did come from Home Depot, but it’s been a while so I can’t remember exactly.

  171. You have mentioned every step very clearly to complete your kitchen renovation in an easy way. These tips will help people to save their time and money. Thanks for sharing.

  172. Marie says:

    Thanks for the tips. I’ve made some shout-outs to you along the way, but here is our final product: http://lifebeyondsilicon.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/our-kitchen/

  173. nas says:

    I think you did a great job with everything. I would paint the cabinets white, and get white handles, and it’s not expensive if you do it yourself, just do the research and ask a lot of people. I hate cream. As for the backsplash, it’s great I think, it holds the kitchen together and gives it this authentic look. You did over dramatize the disappointment, I thought I’m going to be seeing tilted countertops, or fridges that dont open all the way or something. You have a beautiful kitchen, and this creamy color can go. Just do it starting with a cabinet or drawer that’s under where the sink is, just in case there’s a disaster and you have to live with it. That way it’s not exposed directly. Good luck!

  174. holly says:

    What would be awesome is to maybe do some stenciling or pattern on a few of your cabinets n white or even a color that matched your scheme to Make them pop and feel more like who you are!

  175. Such wise words- thanks for sharing this real experience and not just the pretty things. Been browsing around your site for an hour now. Will be reading more. :)

  176. jessi says:

    lol, i’m pretty sure you’re living my life. this sounds like me planning my wedding, remodeling a house with my mother, etc, etc. i glad to be at the age with the experience to say “stfu, i know what i want and i know what i’m doing.” ah, to go back in time with that confidence…… no more of that! i can’t wait fr our next house so i can remodel it the way i want! crazy choices and all!

  177. Brooke says:

    What color are your walls? Love it!!!

  178. Nico says:

    people think it is easy to remodel you kitchen but in actual fact there is a lot more to it that’s why i believe get a professional to help. And feel your stress lift as thy figure the mess out.

  179. Christina says:

    Hi Kelly. I just wanted to say thanks for your blog on your kitchen remodel. I’m planning one in the near future and am struggling with my own color choices and budget friendly options. Thank you for sharing your experience while cabinet shopping because I too can be easily swayed by other people’s opinions. I had a similar incident when choosing the brick color for our flower beds…needless to say I still cringe when I see the tan colored bricks when I LOVED the light grey ones. But, I love your kitchen and will take your advice to heart as I prepare to give my kitchen an over haul.

  180. Kim Wilson says:

    I am so sorry to hear about the problems you had doing this kitchen! I know renovating can be stressful. Our kitchen took four times as long as it was supposed to because the contractor left halfway through, in the winter, with the wall wide open, and didn’t come back for a month. I still can’t even talk about it. But it did turn out ok in the end, with my favorite part being one of the smallest details – the wallpaper borders! I guess it’s another lesson, get pleasure from the little things!

  181. Marissa says:

    Hi there! I love your backsplash! Do you remember the name of the backsplash? I would love to try to find one exactly like it!

  182. Amy says:

    I randomly came across this page and I just wanted to thank you for posting. As someone who hopes to one day build a home, it was really helpful advice. Your “mistakes” could truly happen to anyone, especially someone who is so conflict averse like myself (and seemingly you:)). I could really see myself getting gently nudged by a designer and questioning myself, and silently grimmacing as a contractor misunderstood directions. If it helps, I think your kitchen turned out beautifully but I can certainly understand the bummage that comes with feeling like it isn’t exactly what you wanted.

  183. Kevin Carney says:

    Very good lessons learned. I suggest to people that when they find a color (walls or cabinets) they think they’ll like in their home, to get a color matched quart (or gallon) of paint in that color and try it on at home. Who cares if you ruin your current cabinets with a less than perfect paint job. You’re tearing them out soon anyway. Live with the color in your kitchen for a week or two and see if it works for you, or if you need to try another.

  184. Melissa says:

    Wow, this article spoke to me quite a bit. I feel your frustration all to well! For me it was a mess that started with ‘saving money’. I was upgrading our dining room and installed a brick veneer wall. I wanted old style red brick…the stores in our area for god knows what reason didn’t carry this. Instead of looking elsewhere – other nearby cities, I instead picked ‘beige’ toned bricks that were on clearance. It went downhill from there, as like you, my initial plan for a lot of white on adjacent walls, no longer would work with this dominant beige everywhere – a colour I never really liked lol.

    The trick is to stop second guessing yourself or rushing, as you want to get it started asap. I also did this with selecting paint colours. I went into the store thinking, I’ll get a warm white that contrasts with the the beige bricks..3 cans later, I ended up defeated, using a mid tone taupe colour that is too close in value to the bricks. My husband was angry with how much I was spending so I left it as is, trying to convince myself I like it. I’m miserable.

    I also bought a persian run online that I could afford – very dark in colour. This room desperately needed light colours on the rug but nope! I got the rug that was affordable (the light ones are $$$). As a result, my dark cherry wood furniture has been swallowed into the dark rug, next to the mid tone walls…originally, this room was going to be contrasts between white and ‘wood shades’…unbelievable. What a depressing mess.

  185. Jannet says:

    I know you posted this quite a while ago but I just found your story through Maria Killam’s blog. I feel like it’s fate to have run across this right now. I am about to buy a house which will need some renovation! I fell into a similar trap in our last house and am glad for the reminder to go with what I love instead of what someone else says. I am going to have a narrow space next to the fridge. Now I know what to do with it.
    Our current kitchen has the big pot drawers. Best decision I have ever made for the kitchen! New kitchen is all cabinet, I will miss those drawers so much.
    I hope you have painted the cabinets by now. I worked up the nerve to do it years ago and it really wasn’t too hard. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  186. Mary says:

    Hello! I saw this via Maria Killam’s blog and just wondered if anyone had commented on the wall colour? Looks like you changed it to a crisp light blue (clean, as Maria would say) from the more creamy green. If you squint just right, can you imagine if you had left all the walls green or a similarly ‘muddy’ colour? Those cabinets would not look half as dull…
    Or have you already painted them white?
    My kitchen cabinets are cream and my ceiling, trim and appliances are white. All it took was looking at your post to know why instead of hating my white appliances I should paint my cabinets white…!
    Thanks for sharing your photos and writing, and thank you to Maria for reviving your post.
    :)Mary (…find me on Pinterest at Feng Shui Staging)

  187. yes i think a lot of people can relate to this i have learned from mistakes. All i can say is save up and try again.

  188. Todd Thomas says:

    LOL…LOL…We did some of the same things…this is part of the reason why we now now a cabinetry business……I wish I could make this required reading for my clients………
    Good Job on the post

  189. Vlad says:

    Hello Kelly. Great insight on to what can be learned from someone else’s mistakes. Also gives everyone the confidence to undertake a project like this even when things don’t go according to plan. Your detailed explanations of how you feel things went wrong and how you feel you could have gone about it differently will prove helpful to many. On that note, what are you opinions on and did you ever consider glass tile back splashes and a glass countertop? Keep up the great post and thanks for the knowledge!

  190. Designer Cabinets Granite and Tile says:

    Valuable lessons anyone who is planning a remodel should take to heart. Designers should assist you in figuring out what you want, not tell you want you want or don’t want.

  191. I totally get your mistakes. I have been there in various situations where I have told myself that the “professional” knows better and then lived to HATE the bad decisions. I have window treatments in my kitchen that have been there over 10 years because they are custom and the “professional” told me this style would work best. Well now that so many years have gone by that my husband has (hopefully) forgotten how much we paid for them, those babies are disappearing when we redo our kitchen! From now on I decide and I am not being pushed into something that I “should” do! (Well, I at least hope this doesn’t happen!) Anyway, thanks for the advice and the great reminder to go with your gut.
    -Shelley

  192. Sad Reno says:

    Oh my gosh I related to what you wrote! Thank you for telling your story and know that it made me feel much better. I, too, am mad at myself because I knew better when people were telling me what wouldn’t work and what I needed to do. I know have a $20,000 ensuite that I don’t even like. It’s not quite finished so like you I’m on to Mistake #2 – how can I save this? I’m so sad!
    Unfortunately, we’re doing a major reno all at once – also a big mistake if you’re a perfectionist. There’s just not enough energy in one person to keep up with all the decisions. But I was talked into doing it that way by my contractor. I really like my contractor but we’re so different when it comes to decision making. He’d just go out to the local hardware store and buy whatever. I fuss over every decision. I knew that about myself before starting and yet STILL allowed myself to be talked into starting before I was ready AND into doing it all at once.
    I guess we can get something out of all of this – ‘speak up for yourself and don’t be afraid of being judged for doing so. It’s your life, therefore, you’re right.’

  193. AS says:

    I, too, have gone through gut-wrenching decisions with our home remodels, which is now going on and off for two years. But one thing struck me about your kitchen. It’s beautiful! Perhaps part of the reason you don’t like it is because it doesn’t seem to blend with the neighboring cold colors. One way to blend everything in, and still keep your fresh, white painted crown and trim would be to paint your walls either white – which is very popular now – or tan, like SW softer tan. Granted, you would be going to a more neutral palette, but you could introduce your blue color in other ways – draperies, rugs, accessories. If you look on pinterest and houzz you will see exactly what I mean. Here is an example: http://www.houzz.com/photos/363542/Kitchen-traditional-kitchen-minneapolis. Good luck!

  194. What a wonderful & insightful post. Thank you for your honesty! All things considered, I still really like your kitchen.

    Warmly, Michelle

Trackbacks

  1. [...] blog post from View Along the Way about her kitchen remodel disappointment.  She makes some great points about what to do and not do [...]

  2. […] I think this post is one of my all time favorite posts I’ve read on the internet about decorat…Disappointments, listening to professionals who have never been in our home and whose work we’ve never seen, second guessing ourselves–I have done it all and then some. Kelly, thank you for daring to even make a decision, see the good in it and teaching us! I predict your next kitchen, one day, will be the most spectacular thing we’ve ever seen! […]

  3. […] 3. Lessons from a Disappointing Kitchen Remodel […]

  4. […] How to completely ruin your kitchen remodel: I was amazed to hear so many of you could relate and have made the same mistakes in your […]

  5. […] really liked this article about a disappointing kitchen remodel. The author didn’t listen to her gut and ended […]

  6. […] This blog has been a journey away from that perspective and toward freedom. I still have my own decorating rules (and you can read them here) but it all comes down to decorating with what you love. Because it’s your house, and what does anyone else know? (This would have saved me infinite grief in the harrowing tale of my kitchen remodel.) […]

  7. […] accent colors or, better yet, the backsplash tied different parts of the kitchen together like Kelly’s slate.  My choices of white cabinets and black countertops made any creams or earthtones pretty much a […]

  8. […]  Lessons learned from a disappointing kitchen remodel […]

  9. […] we both have concluded that the ultimate test of whether or not something is going to be permitted to bust our budget is love. Do we love it? Does it make us smile? Does it make us happy? Do we think about it, even after we […]

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