I said in my last post that I hadn’t had the right lighting to take proper photos of the changes we’ve made in the kitchen at Pearson House. I still don’t have that light, but I decided to post the best “after” shot I could muster so that we at least have some record of the changes in this room. If I take better photos at some point, I’ll add them to this post.
Before I share the “after” photo, take a look at the “before” photo.
:: Dated and Drab, Before
Oh my. This was quite the project. But we accepted the challenge, and here is the room now:
:: Bird’s Eye View, After
This renovation is different from any I’ve done before. In the past, I would have gutted the kitchen and started over, but since adopting an eco-friendly design approach, “gutting” is not something I aspire to. Instead, I feel compelled to reuse, repurpose and/or reinvigorate furnishings, finishes and materials whenever possible.
In the Pearson House kitchen, here’s how Jon and I implemented the eco-friendly design approach:
- We scrubbed every inch of the ceiling, walls and cabinets. In doing so, we found that all surfaces were in surprisingly good condition and that major repainting was not necessary.
- We scrubbed every inch of the floor and found that it was in pretty good shape. Most of the stains that had accumulated over the years were superficial and came off with some time and effort.
- We removed the busy and dated border that wound its way around the room just above the picture molding.
- We replaced all the dated appliances with new, high-end stainless steel appliances. The old stove and dishwasher were donated, and the old refrigerator is now in the basement, where we use it for additional food storage.
- We replaced the lighting with stainless steel industrial-look pendant lights from Home Depot, and we added under-cabinet lights to brighten the countertop area beneath the wall cabinets.
- We had a new sink and faucet installed, which immediately brightened the entire space.
- Rather than replace the laminate countertops, which were in great condition but had some deep stains and sported an outdated gold pattern, we painted them with a quick-drying acrylic paint designed for laminate surfaces. I chose the same color that we used on the living and dining room walls so the spaces would feel unified. (I knew the colors would look somewhat different, since one was on a vertical surface and the other was on a horizontal surface, and that’s precisely what I wanted. If the wall and counter color looked identical, everything would feel one-dimensional and matchy-matchy as opposed to varied but coordinated.)
- We painted the sliders under the wall cabinets that allow the kitchen to either be open to, or closed off from, the dining room. These sliders are made of pressed wood and were clear-coated, which made the space beneath the cabinets feel dark, weighed it down with an unsavory ’70s-era feel, and kept the cabinetry bank from feeling unified. We chose to paint the sliders the same color as the countertops so the counter and sliders would read as one continuous unit.
- We built out the island, which had a gaping hole behind the old stove, since that stove had its own back panel, which the new stove does not have. For the island backsplash, we chose tumbled travertine tiles with a linen-colored grout, and we topped the back of the island off with a piece of solid hardwood so it can now serve as a landing area for glasses, dishes and other items.
- We removed the flexible plastic floor border which had been installed as a backsplash behind the sink and behind the countertop on the room’s left wall. In its place, we installed a single row of the same tumbled travertine tile used on the island.
Even though Jon and I did this work ourselves and ushered the space from the “before” state to the “after” state, I can’t overstate how shocked I am at the transformation this room has undergone. Again, this is a whole new approach for me, and I very much appreciate having had the chance to see how much a room can be altered without taking it back to the studs.
I do have a few more ideas for ways to further improve the space, ones I might have implemented in the future if Jon and I weren’t moving back to Kansas City. Here are those ideas:
- Lengthen the countertop under the windows so it extends all the way to the refrigerator and adjust the sink so it’s centered beneath the bank of windows. (It’s off center by a few inches right now.)
- Remove the countertop and cabinets on the left wall of the room. These were added sometime in the 1950s, judging by their styling, and they crowd the room to a degree. With these cabinets removed, the island top could be extended to bar width using two Craftsman-style corbels affixed to the island’s outer wall, and two stools could be positioned on the other side of the island to create a casual dining space.
- Paint the cabinets with a low-sheen oil paint in either SW 6149 (Relaxed Khaki) or SW 6150 (Universal Khaki), which are one and two shades deeper, respectively, than the countertops. This would immediately lighten up the entire room and unify the counters, tile and cabinets into a cohesive scheme.
- Evaluate the walls after the cabinets are painted and decide if a slightly warm off-white color similar to the home’s ceiling and trim color might be less stark than their current shade of bright white.
- Paint the picture molding the same color as the walls so the walls aren’t divided horizontally by a dark line.
- Cover the existing floor with a high-end, eco-friendly resilient sheet vinyl available at Gary’s Paint and Decorating or through special order at Home Depot. I would go with a deeper neutral color to ground the room, perhaps in graphite or steely gray.
- Install two sets of IKEA cable lights side by side, extending from the wall above the windows to the opposite wall of the room. These cables could accommodate various pendants and spotlights positioned strategically to illuminate the entire space, with special attention to the island and sink areas.
- Install an oversized industrial gooseneck faucet.
- Switch out all knobs and pulls with sleek, modern brushed nickel pulls. Think IKEA in terms of styling.
Those are just some ideas I’ve been kicking around as I spend more time in the space and learn more about how to best optimize it. In a perfect world, we’d be living here for the rest of our lives and would have all the time needed to make every change we would like to see in this lovely kitchen. But I’ll take what we’ve done so far, since the space is looking pretty sweet in its current state.
My next step is to invite a poet I admire over for dinner so Jon and I can cook up, and share, a proper meal in our newly tricked out space.