I wanted to share with you guys the story of my kitchen, the space that I love most in my house at the moment.
But let me tell you, it didn’t start out that way.
Lately, I’ve been really mulling over the idea of letting my house just…you know, be my house. How can I say this poetically…it’s this idea of embracing the un-coolness of my home and then making other people on the Internet think it’s cool.
I kid, I kid. Well, sort of. Because if not, what is blogging?
Anyways, I am starting to appreciate when the original decade or style of a house is allowed to just be or is enhanced maybe slightly. Even if it is brown aluminum windows that are off-set on corners of the house creating an awkward, inexplicable need to constantly balance the room out with tall furnishings. I realize that these ugly things are sometimes what makes a space feel original.
I’ve been running into articles and images on Pinterest from places like Design Sponge and Apartment Therapy featuring older homes with tons of style and originality. I started noticing that one of the reasons I was drawn to many of them is that they were maybe a little ugly, but still styled. Often in a very collected way, leaving you to think to yourself, “wait, why is this so cool?” And maybe homey and approachable too. Like real people lived there. But trendy, cultured people. With Chemex coffee makers and stunning earthenware collections.
In Emily Henderson’s book “Styled,” (which I mentioned here) she says that part of what makes styling so wonderful is it’s ability to change our perspective about a space. I love, love, love this statement.
When we moved into our house, the kitchen cabinets were original oak with bronze exposed hinges straight from the late 80’s. (I hit the jackpot with bronze in this hizzie).
In probably about 2008 during a previous ownership, the home went into foreclosure and the bank came in and “renovated” *cough, cough*. You know, by doing things like slopping a bunch of pinky-tan paint everywhere (and I mean everywhere) and putting different flooring material in seemingly every room. The bank reno also included throwing black granite not only on the countertops…but all the way up the backsplash. Because if you want to sell a house, well, granite.
Now you know I love me some black granite, but that kitchen was dark, yo. So when we had the home painted before moving in, I BEGGED my husband to let the painters spray a rather sloppy layer of white gloss paint on the cabinetry (they did…and right over the hinges too.) I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS AS A BEST PRACTICE. However, it was a few hundred bucks added to the price of the bid and meant me not painting cabinets so I was elated. Still am.
What that left me with was an interesting, high-contrast combination of shiny charcoal granite, bright white cabinets and un-matching black and white appliances. After whining about taking down the backsplash and scheming about ways to get stainless appliances and subway tile in, I decided to be a grown-up and stop it already. A kitchen renovation was not in the cards for the foreseeable future. And to be honest, it sounded overwhelming. Heck, neither David or I really wanted to put in the time or money. Or worse, that painstaking decision-making process of “we’re spending a butt load of money on this so we better get this cabinet hinge right so we don’t regret it for all of eternity.” We did that with a pool last year and I think we have been properly traumatized in that regard. And plus, well, the appliances are functioning pretty fine except the dishwasher.
I have a couple of friends who have this gift of visualizing a room before it is created. I DO NOT HAVE THAT. When my day comes to renovate, I will be hiring one of those friends because I become very overwhelmed and confused when trying to visualize from a blank canvas. However…I can play with and analyze something that already exists until I like it. Know your strengths, people.
So that is how I started pretending like I was a professional stylist working for a fancy magazine in San Francisco. (WWAPSWFAFMISFD? What would a professional styist working for a fancy magazine in San Francisco do? I just ask myself this whenever I get into a pickle of any kind. It really seems to work.)
After trying a bunch of stuff that looked stupid (see, aren’t we glad this isn’t tile stuck on a wall), I decided to play with a high-contrast look using my white wedding dishes and some black chalk paint. I thrifted and Amazon-ed and scrubbed paint off hinges and pinned many-an open shelf.
Then one day, my monochromatic-farmhouse-modern-antique-eighties kitchen was born. I don’t typically lean towards country or farmhouse, in fact…usually, blech. But I kept throwing in little things like Mason jars and wood utensils and it kept looking good. I mixed in some modern and well, it worked. My favorite part is the open spice cabinet, which was a happy little accident.
And that is one important lesson I learned for myself about style: Yes, I have things I like. And want. And pin. And obsess over. But I also have reality. Most people do. And sometimes when working with limitations, the best thing to do is allow the space to be what it really wants to be.
The end result feels a little bit original and a lot me.
Here are some links to some articles that inspired me about my kitchen.
And here is my kitchen Pinterest board.
A Simple Kitchen Makeover without Paint
Young House Love on Phase 1 Projects
Stylist Anne Parker’s Kitchen
Ode to an Old Kitchen
Making Nice in the Midwest Kitchen Renovation