It is very rare that we meet someone with the exact same taste as us, so why would we expect our home buying search to check all the boxes of our style preferences? We all know that we can change paint color easily, yada-yada-yada and that we shouldn’t let small cosmetic issues to stand in the way of buying a home. But can you see the potential when you walk in the door or when you check out those listing photos? In this fast-paced digital world, our brains are wired to make snap judgements and write things off pretty darned quickly. My husband and I walked through the house we live in now and wrote it off. Weeks later we came back with a fresh perspective and it became immediately clear that it was the right home for us. In this current sellers market we would have lost out on the perfect home for us just by waiting two weeks. In some of these blogs I would like to walk you through different things you can easily change as soon as you move in so you can be better equipped to reimagine on your first walk-through. I will often be drawing from my own personal experience. Today, I’d like to start with the kitchen.
A kitchen is one of those places that we don’t think we can do small-budget upgrades. It absolutely is! In the first home we bought our kitchen was lime green. A simple coat of paint actually did go a long way. The home I live in now, the kitchen was simply not my style. To go a step further, it felt like the total opposite of my style. However, the experiences from living in my first home allowed me to re-imagine what was possible in my new kitchen when I was walking through it with my real estate agent. Below is the before and after of our kitchen.
1. First, I made a mental wish-list of what to do (and then wrote it down later). It started with the cheapest and easiest upgrades first up to the most expensive. We have lived in our house for almost two years now, you better believe that list is not complete. Baby steps. We may never get all the way through the list and that’s certainly okay too. We have done enough changes to where I feel like it’s my own.
2. Paint, yes, can help. Sure. You know what else can go a long way when you first move in to help update a kitchen? Hardware. Change out those knobs and pulls for something sleeker and fresher. I have done this in both homes I have owned. In my current house, there were round, brushed silver knobs originally on my cabinets. Sure, the knobs were fine and unassuming, but when I changed them out for brushed gold cylinder pulls, it really made the space look more current. You could go to your local home improvement store to buy the hardware but I always like the fresh, unique options I find on Etsy. The set of hardware for my first house came from myknobs.com.
3. Next, lighting. I will devote an entire blog to this subject in coming weeks, so I won’t dwell here, but change the light. Just do it.
4. The color theme in my kitchen is what I wanted to change the most. Off-white cabinets, white appliances, cream countertops, a beige sink, and off-white backsplash tile. It was a lot of shades of white, but not the super-modern and fresh white kitchens we’re seeing everywhere now. We couldn’t afford to change it all at first, so our first big project was the backsplash. My thought was if I broke up the white parade with a color backsplash it could make the kitchen tolerable for far longer. I also really didn’t like the Italian scenescape tile to begin with. Through much painstaking thought and brainstorming and tile samples, we finally landed on the navy tile you see in the photo here. I was originally going to order custom glass tile, but when I realized the shipping was going to cost the same as the tile, I decided to scrap the idea and found these awesome tiles at Lowes for 1/3 of the price. The tile shape also complimented the cabinet shape, so it was a big win!
5. We will eventually change our appliances to stainless steel and run a gas line into the kitchen for a gas oven/stove. We will also go with a gray concrete (or composite to look like concrete) sink with a brushed gold faucet.
6. I added a rug to bring it all together. A rug in the kitchen seemed strange at first, but I saw my sister-in-law do it and it really pulls the space together. I waited until I had some reward money at West Elm and I got the really nice rug for under $50.
My point is, you don’t have to do everything all at once, but it helps to decide what will really make it feel like yours and what you can afford first.
There are some kitchen projects that are big and hard, and there are others that just aren’t. I look for smaller projects that make a big impact. The return on investment (ROI) of any kitchen, large, small, or just upgrades is quite high. To add, when making changes to my house I’m always trying to balance my taste while making sure what I’m changing will stand the test of time. You will probably end up selling your house at some point and if it’s 10-15 years down the line, you don’t want to check every trend box on the list in 2021 for it to need a complete redo in 2030 for another buyer to moan and groan about. An updated kitchen will really help your house stand out to potential buyers.
Next time you look at an online listing with a kitchen that doesn’t vibe with your style, imagine what it would look like with different hardware, lighting, backsplash, a rug, new sink and faucet, paint, etc. You can do it!