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After pics: The Kitchen (Longest Post in History Edition)

I hope you’re sitting in a comfortable chair.

Because if you actually read this post, instead of just scrolling through and looking at the pictures – YES, I know you do that. Cheater. – you might be here a while. Bear with me! This was the hardest, most difficult room we renovated, of course! So it gets the longest blog post in history.

This is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the place. The cabinets don’t look so bad here, but the laminate was peeling off the MDF and they were literally falling off the wall.
Kitchen Before: Border, White Laminate Cabinets, Vinyl Floors
Meanwhile, the floral border was offending me, most of the appliances were missing, and the fluorescent fixture wasn’t flattering anyone’s complexion.
Kitchen Before: Border, White Laminate Cabinets, Vinyl Floors 2
Check out how the weight of the upper cabinets is pulling the sheetrock off the studs. It felt like at any moment the cabinets could come tumbling down in a massive pile of rot, MDF and previous-homeowner germs.
Kitchen Before: Border, White Laminate Cabinets, Vinyl Floors 3
Kitchen Before: Border, White Laminate Cabinets, Vinyl Floors 4
Starting to take off the floral border, and most of the cabinets removed. We lived like this for MONTHS.

* * *

Here’s where I pause and tell you about my ridiculously American emotional trauma. I love looking at home design mags and blogs, and before we bought this house, had been literally dreaming about my dream kitchen.

It would have gleaming white cabinets, dark hardwoods, carrera marble countertops and white subway tile backsplash. It would look like this:
White Kitchen, Carrara Marble Countertops, Dark Wood Floors
We started the process of renovating the kitchen by buying our gleaming white cabinets. Aside from our house, this was the most expensive purchase the two of us had ever made, cars included.

I was so excited to get my gleaming white cabinets in — but when they finally arrived about six weeks after we bought them, we found the color we’d chosen was anything but a bright, pretty white. More like mud.

I was devastated. I literally lost sleep. (See how American this is? That the worst problem I had in my life was that my new cabinets weren’t going to get me to the dream kitchen I saw in my head? So spoiled!)

I called the cabinet store and begged them to replace the doors. I got bids on how much it would cost to get them completely repainted. I thought about repainting the entire house to make the mud color look more white. I’m not kidding.

Finally, I settled. I realized that the cabinets had to stay as they were. And that this color wouldn’t work with my carrera marble countertops, and they wouldn’t work with my white subway tile backsplash.

It was back to square one.

* * *

Here, Andy and my dad had installed one row of cabinets (See how they’re not white? It still hurts my heart a little.) and we started putting in the new appliances.

Appliances were courtesy of our local Home Depot clearance store and a scratch-and-dent place. None of the appliances showed scratches and dents when we bought them, but a couple of them had to weather our construction site long enough to earn a few scars.
Kitchen Before: Partially Installed Cabinet Wall
(We lived like that for months too.)

Andy had torn down the old half-wall and installed a new one that would be able to support our new countertops. He did this while my dad was out of town for a few months, which means he actually googled his way to learning how to do this, with some help from my dad over the phone.

Here, with all cabinets installed and the floors finally in!
Installing a Half-Wall Kitchen Island
Pause while I spend a couple more months agonizing over what to do for the countertops. My parents, my brother, Andy and I signed the half-wall so our legacies will live on for all eternity. Or until someone takes off the countertop and erases it.

My dad’s signature says “I sweated in this place,” and that’s an understatement.

Okay, for real. It was time to make a decision on countertops. My goal was to come up with something new that would make the cabinets look a little less brown. At this point, I was so terrified of making another expensive mistake that I went with the safe option: a quartz countertop in a brown color that has little sparkly pieces mixed in.

Quartz looks and feels like granite, but it’s a little more scratch-and-heat-resistant, and we had some concerns about the potential for radiation in granite. So far we’re really happy with how it’s holding up. It actually hides messes a little TOO well!

Here’s a close-up shot of the countertops, while we tried to settle on a backsplash. Again, my entire goal was to make the kitchen cabinet color look like it wasn’t an expensive mistake – that became the driving inspiration for this entire room!

You can’t really see it here, but I loved how the slate pulled out the blue wall color, the cabinet color and the countertop color all at once.
Slate Backsplash Tiles, Brown Quartz Countertops
Finally – a finished kitchen! Walls are painted blue, new recessed lighting and hanging pendants installed, crown molding added to the cabinets, and new barstools:
Wicker Barstools, Brittany Blue Walls, White Cabinets, Slate Backsplash Kitchen

Oil-rubbed bronze faucet and hardware, and our slate backsplash:
White Cabinets, Oil-Rubbed Bronze Drawer hardware Kitchen

A close-up of our slate backsplash. This was our first time tiling a vertical wall. Or designing a backsplash, or really… doing any of this.
Slate Tile Subway Backsplash with Diagonal Feature
My talented husband installed a light behind this glass-door cabinet where we house our glasses.
Updated Kitchen with Angled Glass Front Cabinet
Cream Cabinet Wall in Kitchen with Stainless Appliances and Slate Backsplash
Updated Kitchen, Dark Wood Floors, Brittany Blue Walls, Angled Cabinet
I can’t even tell you how revolutionary it is to have an actual finished kitchen!

Every time I turn on the stove, run a load of dishes in the dishwasher or wash a pot, I am grateful for the new appliances, or the fancy features on the faucet. I’m not over the newness and convenience of it at all, and plan to never take it for granted.

Thanks to my parents for their hard work helping us in this room, and my poor, poor husband, who had to do the work and put up with my whining about the cabinets!

Let's connect


  1. I love our kitchen. Good job designer!

  2. No one can tell it was not professionally done.

  3. haha. 🙂 i totally understand the interruption of a dream. but, you, my dear, pulled through and made what was a disappointment to you look like an unbelievable nook of comfort and peace. it is so beautiful! so so beautiful. im thinking andy should be a handy man… for real… his name is his destiny.

  4. to me the most amazing thing is all the stuff installed under the sink.
    two "P" traps
    one drain stack
    one air admittance valve
    one garbage disposal
    one basket strainer
    one tail piece
    one P trap for the dishwasher drain
    a junction box with a switch
    I didn't think we would have room for trepidation

  5. I love the kitchen color! Would you mind sharing what color it is?

  6. Thanks! It's a Benjamin Moore color called "Brittany Blue," but we had it color-matched at Lowes. I think it may have come out a tiny bit bluer than the BM color

  7. Thanks for the color info. By the way, I like your cabinets better than "bright white." If you go to, search for "extreme home makeover," and sort by "most viewed all time," you will find a house called the Brown House. They have light blue walls, crisp white trim, and kitchen cabinets similar to yours. It is my favorite house of all time! Sometimes seeing a professional do the same design scheme as you makes you like yours even better!

  8. Can I just tell you how much I love this post? I did read the whole thing and thought it was great that you admitted it was an American thing to lose sleep over the color of cabinets. You're right, and I totally do the same thing sometimes, too!

    My first thought would have been to paint the cabinets white rather than change all the other plans, but honestly I really love what you did even more than your original plans. The colors are very calming and pleasing. The slate is absolutely gorgeous.

    Very well done!

  9. Anon, thanks for the great tip about the Extreme Home Makeover house! I definitely checked it out and it absolutely gave me peace. You're so right! 🙂

    And Catherine, thanks for the sweet comments. I love your blog!

  10. Wait… So why didn't you get the cabinets you ordered? And why, when the cabinets came in and they weren't the color you'd chosen, did you have to keep them? You couldn't return them?

    That said, I *love* your new kitchen. I really think the color mixup was a blessing in disguise. You brought it all together so beautifully. Our new-to-us house has honey oak cabinets and a seriously bad DIY tile countertop, and we can't wait 'til we have the time and resources to change that… I'm bookmarking your post for inspiration for when our day comes. 🙂

  11. Live, Laugh, Love, Recycle says:

    Your kitchen looks great! I am jealous 🙂 ~Barbara

  12. Our Little Beehive says:

    This looks beautiful! I love a good "after" kitchen post. I think my favorite part is the lighting inside the cabinet. No, my favorite part is that you guys did this all yourselves (dads are included), a girl after my own heart! Thanks for leaving us your link. xo

  13. Mirutamarisen says:

    i just need to know where did you buy those quartz countertop im doing something similar and im looking for something inexpensive

  14. Mirutamarisen, We googled around for Silestone suppliers, then called and compared prices. I don't actually remember who we used, but they weren't stellar so I wouldn't recommend them even if I did. It's tough to find quartz at an affordable price! Good luck to you. 🙂

  15. Wow. Maybe not what you originally dreamed of, but the end result is BEAUTIFUL! I really love the warmer tones and the backsplash is gorgeous. Nicely done!!

  16. What is the name of the paint color you used on the walls?

  17. This is such a beautiful transformation! This is exactly what I’ve been dreaming of for my own kitchen – can’t wait to show it to my husband! Would you mind sharing where you got those beautiful barstools? I’ve been searching for affordable seagrass stools and these look lovely. Was the backsplash tile purchased at Lowes or Home Depot?

    • Thanks so much! The barstools came from – I don’t think they sell them in stores – and the backsplash tile came from Home Depot (I think!). Good luck on your kitchen!

  18. This is beautiful, Kelly! You have given me so many ideas for my kitchen. Check out this post (I know bad photography, etc. but this was when I first started blogging) kitchen is SOOO much like yours. Down to the wood trimmed countertops, the design of the wall/bar is a lot a like, the angled sink, etc. Ughhhh and I hate it! LOL! 🙂 Got lots of ideas from your redo!

    And one thing about your cabinets – could you glaze them or would you want to glaze them? (Don’t know if you like that look?) Then it would look like they were meant to be that way. Although I don’t think yours look bad – but they aren’t white-white.

  19. Love your kitchen. Our layout is v
    Identical except for I have a very large built in corner cabinet which takes up all my room and I’m consequently ripping out. I’m having a hard time putting my fridge next to a wall for fear it won’t open all the way. Can you take a picture of the cabinet that between wall and fridge? What is the cabinets width? This would help me tremendously.

  20. Despite the disappointment, it turned out so beautifully. You and Andy sure know how to make some lemonade. 😉 Featured you (of course!) in the Spice Up Your Kitchen Awards, thanks so much for linking up and making me laugh, as always!

  21. Hey kelly,
    You are funny, came over from Jen’s Iheartorganizing, ur laundry is so beautiful, love the peacock stencil, so I started reading many of your posts and I am so happy to see this island/kitchen bar. I am very short so its a big inconveniece for me as its very tall and hides the living room and its a clutter catcher… I hate it. Do you keep it nice and clean like up in the photo or do you do something with this area, how do you decorate it ? do you have any suggestions as to how to use it other than using it as eating nook? I can never use it for eating. I would need a stool to get on the bar stool to sit and eat on this. Thanks in advance.

  22. I loved that you made lemonade out of your lemons. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel and the cabinet guy did them wrong so I am having to adapt too. You give me hope and inspiration that I can pull this all together.

  23. I love, love, love the hardwood floors you chose. I want them, I need them. Where did you get them?!

  24. I, too, would love more info about those gorgeous floors!! Our kitchen has a similar layout, and we love what you have done. 🙂

  25. I have been eyeing the PB seagrass barstools and have seen posts mentioning the target version as knockoffs. How do they hold up? Are you happy with them still or are they more of a “for a few years and replace” purchase? Thanks!! I think you did a great job with your not-so-loved cabinet colors as well.

    • Thank you! The target versions have been holding up well, with the exception of the wood legs. They get beat up pretty easily, and you can see the dings in the wood where it’s raw wood and not black underneath the finish, but I just take a sharpie to it! 🙂 I’m happy with ’em!

  26. Woah! I love it! I can SO identify with your emotional drama… i am renovating my kitchen, SOLO… with a little help from my dad; i will hired someone (or my dad) to put in the countertop and i am going to try the backsplash on my own… and of course painting… thankfully i have a friend who loves to paint! And the floors… will hire out. BUT i took my cabinets apart, stripped, sanded and sweated and stained and re-assembled… and found i was not too happy over the color either!! AFTER all that sweat and labor… but, i am trying to embrace and imagine where to go from here. Your story inspired me… thanks. Much needed!

  27. hi, I’ve read all your post…( it was not so long^^) you have win the challenge for me, i had died at the “not so withes doors” but you have created a beautiful space, and if you had never told all the difficulties, nobody knew. bravo!
    ps: excuse my English, i’m a belgian^^

  28. Hello! Can you please tell me where you purchased the backsplash tile and the brand name? I love it. Thanks!

    • It’s just slate tile in a color called autumn something. I don’t know the brand but they sell this color slate at most tile stores. Good luck!

  29. This kitchen is absolutely fabulous!! Love everything about it, 

  30. Beautiful kitchen, you have a great taste!

  31. You had a wonderful vision and executed it beautifully! keep sharing more blogs.

  32. where did you get the kitchen tile? what is the name of them?

  33. Where did you get the slate tile backsplash?


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