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Kitchen Makeover – The Reveal

Kitchen Makeover – The Reveal

Hi! I’m off to Haven tomorrow to meet fellow bloggers and brand sponsors. If you are a fellow Haven Maven, then welcome to my blog.

Today I am finally going to show you the finished kitchen. I started the kitchen back in September of 2012, when we moved into a 164-year-old federal-style brick home in north central Ohio. Initially, all I wanted to do was remove the wallpaper and rip up the carpet. I swear. That was it. This house has a way of changing even the simplest of plans. Here’s where I ended up.

Kitchen Remodel - After - Sink Wall

If you haven’t seen the before picture, you are in for a treat. This is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house.

Kitchen Before - Sink Wall

Green gingham and grape wallpaper, stained Berber carpet that probably looked good for five minutes, until someone spilled something on it. Carpet in the kitchen really ought to be against the law.

I’m going to take you on a clockwise tour of the kitchen. The sink is 12 o’clock. Let’s talk about the sink wall. We removed all the cabinets, which I didn’t like because they spilled over into the door frame. We also switched out the dishwasher and moved it over to the other side of the sink. When the dishwasher was open, it blocked entry into the main space in the kitchen.

We also moved the pantry out of the corner and  then exposed the brick wall. Here’s a during shot, to show you what we were dealing with.

Sink Wall - Progress-002

We retrofitted the sink cabinet to hold the Ikea, DOMSJÖ farmhouse sink, which I love. You can party in that sink it’s so big. We sacrificed some precious counter space for the sink, but it was well worth it.

Kitchen Remodel - After - DIY Ikea Dmojo Sink

Kitchen Remodel - After - Exposed Brick Wall with Plumbing Pipe Open Shelves

We also built the open shelves out of 1/2" plumbing pipe and some wood boards. I love the open shelves. They are very easy to use and I love the industrial look it gives the kitchen. We installed the light and bent the pipe to house the electrical wire using a tool our local hardware store let us borrow. I had to fill in some holes in the brick wall from the old electrical outlets, using bricks we had in the yard. I got the bricks back too far in the wall, but it’s not really that noticeable unless you are looking for it.

I should stop and say that when I say "we" I mostly mean that I did it. Hubs helped me with a lot of projects in this kitchen, but about 85-90% of the work done in the kitchen was done by me.

Kitchen Remodel - Open Shelves with Plumbing Pipe

Turning to the right of this picture is the window wall. Tall windows are a key design of Federal homes. I have two of them in the kitchen which seriously limits how things can be laid out.

Kitchen Before - Window Wall

My problem with this wall was the cabinet there. Initially I was excited for a cabinet with glass doors. Until I tried using it. With the door on the left open, I had to reach under it to get to the shelves, which meant I could reach the bottom left corner of the cabinet. The right side wasn’t much better. I also didn’t like how short the windows were compared to the cabinets.

I found a solution I liked better.

Kitchen Remodel - After - Window Wall

All the wallpaper you see in the above Before picture, was attached to a false wall. When we pulled the false wall down, we found some lovely mold growing in that space, missing chunks of plaster, rotted window casing and we were left with a wall that looked like it’d been riddled with bullets.

Window Wall - Progress

We added the board and batten to cover up the majority of the problems. We beefed up the trim around the windows and built a heater cover for the exposed radiator. In lieu of the cabinet, I installed a wide shelf.

Kitchen Remodel - After - Open Shelf

Since we have already moved from this home, I had to style the after pictures with things from my neighbor’s house and other items I could find. I actually had my spices up on that shelf and loved having them close to where I cooked. The teal wall was an exercise in patience to get smooth again. I probably did twelve rounds of plaster to get that wall smooth again.

We left the cabinetry for the stove area as is. In order to remove the carpet from the kitchen, we actually had to remove all the base cabinets because some genius put the carpet in first and then the cabinets. We played with many layouts while we had things removed, but we ended us sticking pretty close to the original layout. With three doorways, two large windows and a chimney run in a small space, layout options are severely limited.

Kitchen Remodel - After - Stove Peninsula

Let me just say that painting these open shelves on the end had me on the floor on my back, twisted sideways to get all the little nooks and crannies. It didn’t help that I had to paint 1 coat of primer and three coats of paint to get them finished. You can read about my painting woes on my Diary of a Sad Painter.

Fish Basket

We also added a wider counter to the stove space for a small bar, to make better use of the space. I used barn wood for the back of the peninsula and I love the rustic look it adds to the kitchen. Finding the exact right stools took me awhile, but after months of searching, I found some on Craigslist and snatched them up. A little spray paint later and they were perfect for the space.

DIY Barn Wood Island with Painted Stools

Turning to the right again, we are now looking at the wall opposite the sink. This wall started out looking like this.

Kitchen Before - Pipe Chase

I made this the new home for the pantry cupboard. The bump out in the corner is for pipes to the radiators upstairs. Since the house was built before radiators, the pipes had to be added after the fact.

Kitchen Remodel - After- Pantry

I copied an idea I saw on Pinterest to make the open shelf on the side of the cabinet. It’s not deep enough for books, but it’s perfect for some pretties.

Again, this is make-do styling, but you get an idea of how the space can be used.

Kitchen Remodel - Open Pantry Shelves Top View

Kitchen Remodel - Open Pantry Shelves Bottom View

The full view of this wall started out quite different.

Kitchen Before - Stair Wall

You can see the cabinets go all the way to the archway. There is a desk area in the kitchen with a small counter in the corner. I removed the little cabinet (third door from the left) and moved that cabinet behind the cabinet you see closest to you on the far right. I’ll show you that in a minute.

We removed the desk, put the large cabinet that used to be by the sink in it’s place. The cabinet to the right of the fridge area is now on the sink wall.

It’s a little confusing, but here’s what it looks like today.

Kitchen Remodel - After - Stair Wall

See the little cabinet on the right, above the microwave? That’s the one I pulled off the other wall. Hubs thought I was weird for wanting to put it sideways, behind the other cabinet, but it works there. I didn’t sacrifice any cupboard space and it helped with design for around the fridge.

Here’s a better view of the space.

Kitchen Remodel - After - Refrigerator Wall

We built our own countertops using porcelain tile. I loved the idea of soapstone counters, but not the price. I found some large tiles (12"x24") and butt-joined them together. We sealed the joins with epoxy. It is hard to tell they are tile and mostly looks like a solid surface.

Kitchen Remodel - DIY Porcelain Tile Countertops

We did have to trim the edges with wood because the tile did not have the same color all the way through the tile and my idea to use tile for the edges didn’t work. However, I ended up liking the wood trim better because it ties the butcher block counter from around the stove to these counters and makes it look intentional. Which it wasn’t.

I had a gap there to fill in front of the chimney, so I built some open shelves.

Kitchen Remodel - After - DIY Open Base Cabinet Shelf

Originally, I kept my ice cream dishes and banana split boats in this space. It was just the right size for them.

Kitchen Before - Fridge Wall

In front of the chimney, I took the old cupboard that was above the stove and cut it down to fit in this space. We pulled the cabinet out from above the fridge area, built a fridge surround and then used the glass doors for the cabinets on either side of the fridge. Again, Hubs thought I was weird and didn’t understand where I was going with this idea. I think it turned out okay, and Hubs ended up happy with the arrangement, too.

Kitchen Remodel - After - Fridge Surround

To make the cupboards all look more finished, I filled in the space above the cupboards and added crown molding. Our ceilings are only 7.5" tall, so there was just a lot of light-sucking dead space above the cabinets.

Kitchen Remodel - After - Refashioned Cupboard

Some 1/4" plywood on the side of the rebuilt cabinet connects it to the other cabinetry.

Another one of my projects in the kitchen was the DIY Chalkboard fridge. It’s a fun way to use the fridge. The menu was a big hit with my family and heaven help me if I didn’t stick to it. People’s taste buds were calibrated for whatever I wrote down, so deviating from the plan was NOT appreciated.

Kitchen Remodel - DIY Chalkboard Fridge

Underneath the ice maker chalk pen holder, I wrote the recipe for No Bake Cookies, a family favorite. I also have some math going on as I was trying to figure out the spacing for my new stair runner. We have friends who love to come over and write messages on it to us. I use a chalk pen, which is easier to use than real chalk and just wipes off with water. I suggest my friend buy the pen and try it on her black fridge. She did and it worked.

Okay, we are almost done. Whew! Next to the fridge is an area I needed to fill when I stole the original cabinet from this spot. I had a table that I rescued from off the side of the road that was just a little big for the space. When I had a dog that kept turning over our garbage can ever time we left, an idea was born. I repurposed the cabinet into a built in garbage can.

Repurposed Table into Built In Garbage Can

I loved how the original top of the table had paint that matches my walls. I did not add that. It’s actually distressed for real and I didn’t do anything to the top of the table other than clean it and cut it to size.

The little shelf was originally designed to put the dog food and water there. I nixed that idea when I discovered what  huge mess the dog made when he ate his food. Plus, his butt was right in the main walk way. Now it holds more pretties.

Built In Garbage Can From Rescued Table

Some left over barn wood from the stove peninsula, a rescued table and a $3 cupboard door from the ReStore made of a great solution.

DIY Built In Garbage Can

This is pretty much where I got to before we moved to Utah. I had one more project in mind for the kitchen and when I came back to finish up the remodel of the house, I squeezed in some time to make my final project.

This is where the pantry originally lived. I didn’t really have an issue with it being in this spot, I just liked it better in the other corner.


Out in one of the out buildings on our property, we had an old shelf I thought would work for this space.


A little spray paint, some wood taken from our family room/bathroom remodel, some sanding and drilling and screwing in a ton of screws later, I ended up with this little beauty.

Repurposed Barn Wood Shelves

I am seriously debating taking this with me when I go back to Utah. I love it and I will be able to use it in my new kitchen which has even MORE of a storage issue than this kitchen does. #HardToBelieveButTrue

Just a few more things to mention and I will wrap it up. We planked the ceiling to hide some issues up there. We used 1/4" plywood and I believe the boards are about 6" wide. I can’t remember. I built the light for the space using a tin tile I found at Goodwill for $4.99

Kitchen Remodel - After - DIY Bare Edison Bulb Chandelier

That’s another thing I want to take with me, but I won’t. It goes too well in the space and I don’t want to try to find something else. I can always make another light. I show you how to make the light on my Bare Edison Bulb Chandelier post. #TrustMeItsEasy

It is hard to take pictures in this kitchen because there is either too much light or not enough light, but I wanted to say that this shot is the one with the truest to real-life colors.

FrouFrugal Kitchen Remodel Colors

The colors are Sherwin Williams Iron Ore on the base cabinets and Passive on the upper cabinets. However the Passive was mixed in Advance Paint by Benjamin Moore and came out more green than the original formula. The ceiling is Valspar’s Glass Tile, lightened by 80%, although I think I would have been happier with a 60% lightening. It’s just a touch too light for me. The upper walls are Patina Blue, also by Valspar. The white is just high gloss white by Olympic but Lowes is discontinuing that paint in some stores. Ask me how I know. :-/

I don’t have a step-by-step break down of pricing, but we stayed very close to our budget of $1,500 for this remodel. It was long and hard and I wish we could live here longer with the finished kitchen, but we are hoping our efforts help our house sell quickly.

I will be writing some follow-up posts in the coming months on how I did some of these projects. If you have questions, please ask and I’ll be happy to help. Tell me, was it worth the wait?



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    creme anti rugas recently posted…creme anti rugasMy Profile

  2. Incredible. Lovely. Unique. I would trade you for this kitchen in a heartbeat!! (I have some work ahead of me to get mine up-to-snuff)… you’ve got a new follower in me, and I’ll be watching for your great tips, fantastic work!

  3. Your kitchen looks wonderful. I can only imagine how hard you must have worked to make this happen. Enjoy it!
    [email protected] recently posted…Tequila MojitoMy Profile

  4. You were right, this kitchen is awesome. I love the open shelves!

    Shannon ~
    Shannon recently posted…Haven & Love 2014My Profile

  5. Love so many of those details
    Valerie recently posted…Mushroom TurnoversMy Profile

  6. OH MY! This transformation is gorgeous! When I own a house, and need to transform anything I want to hire you! This is seriously amazing! I never would have thought of all of the little (and big) details that you did. It is the dream kitchen I never knew I wanted and now don’t want to live without! Seriously awesome!
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  7. I am crazy in love with this room. You did a magnificent job. I can’t decide what my favorite part of the room is. What a great blend of vintage, new and repurposed. Lesley

  8. It is incredible! I can’t believe how much work you put into it. I am sad you won’t get to enjoy it for long though 🙁

  9. Way to go! Love the barnwood on the island and on the table/counter. And the brick wall…I would give my left arm to have a brick wall! Sorry you don’t get to enjoy it longer! I say take that shelf with you. You’ll love having something from your old home in your new one.

  10. Love, love, love your kitchen! So awesome to meet you at Haven! (totally love your blog name)!

    Have an amazing day!
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  11. Jenene Horner :

    I have a kitchen with green wallpaper, and your makeover is gorgeous! Great inspiration…oh and did I mention we moved to the Cleveland area in 2012 also…Thanks for a great read during my morning coffee…its really beautiful.

  12. We’re considering exposing a brick wall in our kitchen and would certainly like to know more about the issues you faced and fixed. Also, how hard is it to mount shelves and cabinets onto the brick surface? Can the brick surface support much weight?

  13. I, too, have watched (no gawked) at your patience with designing this kitchen from the beginning. I have worked with a 50+ yr. old kitchen & it was no fun trying to level everything out. Older houses shift & you never know what you are going to find behind the walls or under the floors. You really had your work cut out for you! But you won! All your blood, sweat, burns & tears have paid off big time. You should be mightily proud of what you conquered!
    Get some rest & God bless!

  14. You continue to blow me away with your talent and awe-inspiring ideas and creations. Want to do my house next? I long to be like you when I grow up.

  15. She is absolutely correct when she says most of the work was hers. I used the power chisel to remove the brick, helped with the sink install and the ceiling planks. I also did most of the rewiring, other than that she used me mostly to hold things in place and help her lift heavy stuff. It turned out great. She has vision that I never appreciate until it’s finished.
    – Hubs

  16. I love love love this kitchen! You are proof that I CAN and WILL remodel my kitchen for pennies on the dollar! Thank you so much for sharing this and I wish you safe travels and some rest on your way to Haven!

  17. A job well done. I’ve enjoyed the progress in action. Straight a way take the shelving with you, it is one of my favorite thing you did. So, on to a new adventure, new home and new postings. Peace be with you.

  18. Worth the wait? YES I can now die happy!!! You are the MOST incredible designer/visionary/talented person I have ever seen create this lovely kitchen with NO MONEY. I am just amazed. The design does not look compromised. It looks like everything is where it should be. It is imaginative beyond expectation. And you reused/repurposed/made faults into assets (like the plywood over the cabinets). THANK YOU for the lovely tour. Hubs might not have been as hands on as you but he certainly did not limit your imagination/creativity and that is help in itself! And your carpentry skills make us all step up our game.

  19. Absolutely incredible! I am so sorry you don’t get to enjoy it more.
    All the colors you picked are gorgeous. I love the wall color next to the bright white. All your solutions for the cabinets are perfect. And your workmanship is impeccable. Would love to see pictures of the rest of the house too.