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Mini refresh of my kitchen - away from Tuscany

January 11, 2019

Our house was built in 2009, by a builder for him and his then-girlfriend. The girlfriend was young, early 20s. He did all the structural work and she picked all the finishes. As a result, our house is structurally quite over-engineered, but some of the design choices left a bit to be desired. We moved in in 2015.

I'm wanting to move away from the "tuscan" style of much of what she picked. I don't have the time or energy for a major renovation right now. I hope to do a more major renovation sometime in the future (either new counters, sink, cooktop or full on everything), but it's far off.

The counter granite is cream, gold, with a fair bit of black and some grey veins.

Here are some unstaged photos.

I started by painting the travertine backsplash a cream color. It did brighten the space and take away the clash of the pink beige travertine against the gold in the counter. I also replaced the satin nickel knobs (the coating was starting to peel) with unlaquered brass.

The artwork can change. Those are old Ikea prints that I dug up to cover some holes that the previous owners had left.

The stools could change. I had bought them for our old house and they are awfully practical for our young kids (vinyl seat).

I could add a window treatment to the window over the stove, but I don't necessarily need it for light or privacy.

The diamond shape behind the stove was formerly stainless steel tile. I hated it. I still kind of hate it. I'm thinking about hanging a collection of plates over it. Potential arrangement for behind the stove:

I am considering replacing the pendants with brass school house fixtures, maybe with a black stripe to pull in the black in the counter.

And finally I thought about a new faucet. I love this one! But oh, the price...I'd have to love it forever.

Any thoughts on the ideas I mentioned? Or other things I can to do update the space without big, expensive, structural changes? If my ideas are a hot mess, please let me know, it wouldn't be the first time :)

Comments (130)

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

    You have already tackled the major element that made it lean "Tuscany" -- the rest isn't all that much so, it is just the staggered uppers that remind me of the days when Tuscany was all the rage. If you wanted to go to the expense/trouble, it would be possible to disguise the staggering by having a carpenter build faux cabinets or even real boxes to which you would add doors to level them out.

    It should also be possible to remove the more ornate detail, on the hood for example, and replace with something simpler. The floors work for a number of styles, and so does the wall color. I think the current trim/painted tile color is perfect with the counter and cabinets - which should help you in selecting a new wall color.

    I like all the fabrics and rugs that you are considering - you have a good eye for the colors to go with your counter! I would only suggest getting a pop of another, slightly bolder color into the space somewhere. A dark blue, perhaps, since you have blue elsewhere in the house.

  • l pinkmountain

    Here's the photo of the painted range. I found it when looking for images online on "toning down orange oak wood" which I have all over my house. Kinda gives you an idea of how bringing in a bit of grey and blue would work.

  • pennydesign

    I don't understand a whole kitchen redo in 5-6 years??

    Your cabinets are beautiful and timeless...and you have said that they're good quality. Hopefully, they'll be going strong in 5-6 years....and another 5-6 years after that.

    Painting isn't necessary and I think it will actually shorten the life of the cabinets...

    Your kitchen is lovely and if the sink is the only issue, you're very lucky.

    I think we all (me included) do too much comparing because of Houzz. I would be ecstatic in your kitchen...

  • Peppapoodle

    What Pennydesign & Nancy R said^^^^^

    Your kitchen is very pretty! And classic. Your granite is calm &Chas the cream &gray to work with for fabrics.

    Re: the sink....... wonder if you could retrofit a farm sink by cutting the granite &faux top drawer from lower sink cabinet?

  • Butternut

    Oh I am not completely committed to a full on redo in 5 years! It's merely a possibility. There are a few layout issues that could be improved that may not be visible in the photos.

    There is a very large aisle between the island and the stove. I tend to prep on the island, then have this awkward task of carrying chopped onions into the pot like 7 feet away. I've filled part of that gap with my kids' stool, but still. There's a completely useless trash compactor, which is a waste of space, and thus I have no trash next to the sink. I would love to have a prep sink again (I had that in my last house and it was wonderful). There is a slight lack of drawers. In 5 years, the appliances will be 15 years old and MAY be due for replacement...they are Thermador so not bad quality but still. Anyway, I know these issues are way up on the "first world problems" scale and that this kitchen is better than most, but still...I've had better and I know I could do better with this space.

    Peppapoodle - I totally love that name...I had a dog named Pepper and we used to call her Peppa-puppy and it reminds me of that :) I thought of that...but the sink is actually placed pretty far back in the counter, because there is a bump out there...so I don't think there is enough granite behind the sink to put a farm sink there. I don't know if I'm explaining that well. I've actually gone as far as purchasing sinks to see if they will fit, and so far, all have been a no go :(

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

    I think I remember Joe Corlett posting some threads showing himself swapping out sinks in both granite and solid surface counters, where the hole had to be recut. Try looking for those for an idea -- the problem would be finding someone with his skill in your area

    Another option would be to cut out the sink area and replace it with something that is compatible in looks. Less desirable, but to me I would rather had a good sink than a perfect counter.

    Your sink cabinet is good sized, why not put a trash pullout in it?

  • Butternut

    Ah, now I'm going to get on my "poor sink choice" soap box for a minute

    So I have this funky shaped double bowl sink. Which they shoehorned into a 30" sink cabinet with a bump out, with decorative filler on either side. The whole point of this shape of sink is so that one can have a larger sink in a standard depth counter and still have room for the faucet. But since they put the bump out, that didn't even matter. Consequently, the back of the sink is cut too far back from the edge of the counter to accommodate any farm sink I could find.

    This also makes the faucet off center to the window, which bugs me. It's not the biggest deal in the world, but why in the world did they choose that particular sink??

    The faucet is actually mounted backwards (lefthanded) because they cut the hot water tap too close to the main faucet. Or something. I don't know if they meant to do that or not, but there is not room to mount the faucet the right way. And with the disposal, hot water tap, dishwasher plumbing all going into that small sink cabinet, it's really crowded. So crowded my pull out faucet keeps getting hung up, so I bought some special tube, and it still doesn't work!

    Oh, and the granite is not well templated either, with mismatched negative reveals that catch all means of grossness.

    I've bought several single bowl sinks in that vague shape in hopes one would fit...but the way the sink is shoved into that small cabinet, the amount of plumbing that would need to be moved, etc...it would not be cheap. So I decided I'd save the money and let the compound interest work towards my counter replacement..

    Anyway, yes, there are worse problems in the world! But...i hate that sink!!

  • tartanmeup

    I would hate that sink too, Butternut. You're describing functional issues there, not just form. It's something you use multiple times a day and it's failing at making the mundane effortless.

  • OutsidePlaying

    That sink is messed up. I wonder you hate it. So many good ideas gone wrong with the mashup.

    Butternut, do you mind sharing where you found the last rug you posted? It’s the runner you show with the fabric on Monday. Thanks.

  • Butternut

    Outsideplaying - it’s a Ruggable! So the top part can be machine washed. I don’t have it yet but I got 20% off and I pulled the trigger on it so I should have it in a few weeks.


  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio

    Ooh, I have my eye on a Ruggable rug too, for my family room where I like to exercise. Have you bought there before? Please let us know what you think of it when you receive it!

  • Butternut

    Raee I’ve never tried them before! But I have been curious. I figured a busy kitchen is a pretty good place to try it out. Mainly concerned that it won’t stay flat or will be constantly shifting around, so we will see.

    Wall color? SW Egret white. photos taken in natural light.

  • Butternut

    Thought I would update, since I got the ruggable yesterday.

    I like it! It has no pile, so it won't catch crumbs. It's not super cushy to walk on like a rug with a traditional pad, but it is soft. It makes a bit of a funny sound, sort of like stepping on velco, but I only notice that when the house is silent, which is not often. It does not seem like it will move around or bunch up, which is the problem I've had in the past with thin rugs. And I think the color is good.

    I'm not happy with my placement in these pictures...I'm actually wondering if I need another one (3x5'?) for the area in front of the stove and move this one up toward the sink.

    I have painters scheduled for this week to paint all the gold away. Yeay! I have chosen BM Ballet White.

    I'm still waiting for the second pendant.

    I have the fabric for making the roman shade for over the sink. Hope to get that done in the next few weeks.

  • tartanmeup

    It looks good! I also wonder if it would look better nearer the sink. Kind of wish it were longer. I've heard good things about those rugs. Happy to hear you're pleased.

    Good luck with the painters. I'm sure you'll find Ballet White a refreshing change.

    Butternut thanked tartanmeup
  • Butternut

    That’s what I’ve been playing with this morning. I wonder if I should order another one and run it all the way from the corner to the end of the island (towards the camera in this picture)

  • tartanmeup

    I'd be tempted to do that! Could you "attach" them in some way that's easy to detach when time comes for washing? That's their appeal, right? The machine washability?

    Butternut thanked tartanmeup
  • Butternut

    I've been thinking about this...I bet you could just seam them together if you had a heavy duty sewing machine. They sell up to 8x10 so I'm sure 2 of the runners would fit in my machine. For now, I moved it in front of the stove though.

  • Denise Kaser
  • Anna MB

    Could you possibly tell me how you painted your tile?

  • Butternut

    Hi Anna,

    It's somewhere in this thread! Basically, a coat of Zinsser 1-2-3 primer, then gloss trim paint.

  • Sheeisback

    I was wondering if your lights were up yet. I’m excited about your kitchen. :) It’s going to look good. Did you decide what to do about the runner?

    Butternut thanked Sheeisback
  • mtnrdredux_gw

    Ballet White is an excellent color!

    Butternut thanked mtnrdredux_gw
  • Butternut

    Ballet white is great! They just painted this week and it's a big change. Very much lighter, brighter, and more modern. I love it! It was expensive, but it was definitely time.

    Unfortunately, I don't have the second pendant yet. Still on backorder. Expected by the end of the month, I guess.

    Have the fabric for the roman shade and planning to work on that this week.

    Haven't decided what to do about the runner. For now, it's in front of my stove where it fits better.

    Kitchen was in heavy use tonight. It was DH's birthday and the kids and I made lobster mac and cheese, caesar salad (w my special homemade dressing), chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and chocolate covered strawberries. All that "help" created a big mess! Not that I'm a neat cook in the first place!

  • pennydesign

    My invite must have gotten lost in the mail, I guess....

    In all seriousness, that's what a kitchen is for. Looks are nice, but family is what makes a beautiful kitchen.

    Butternut thanked pennydesign
  • Louise McCarthy

    I really enjoyed this thread. Happy birthday to your husband Butternut :-)

    Butternut thanked Louise McCarthy
  • Butternut

    Considering these prints from Etsy to hang where the old Ikea prints were. Trying to figure out sizing and if I want them matted etc.

  • Louise McCarthy

    Yes, matted and fairly big, I think.

    Butternut thanked Louise McCarthy
  • Butternut

    The wall is 9 ft...so I'm looking at a set of 3 at 12x18 each. With a double mat and frame they'll be about 18x24. Then 3-4" between them so that would cover 62" or about 57% of the wall by width.

  • Butternut

    Pendants are in! Sorry for the unstaged photos.

  • wwbungalow

    They are perfect!! Love them.

    Butternut thanked wwbungalow
  • Butternut

    What do you think of this faucet? In Luxe gold?

    Would mount it right handed (instead of left handed as my faucet is now), and then move the HW dispenser to the soap dispenser spot. Plug current HW dispenser hole (or cover it with the escutcheon).

    Buy a pretty countertop soap dispenser.

    (current dysfunctional set up)

    Cheaper than the Waterstone. Better?

  • tqtqtbw

    You have an excellent eye for design. I love that you painted your travertine! I had a huge difference. If only I could get away with doing mine. But I promised DH "no more projects" when I selected everything for our post fire-remodel. LOL.

    Butternut thanked tqtqtbw
  • rantontoo

    You might want to try a separate post about your sink and whether it can be changed out; I think it can. Life is too short to be constantly aggravared by a sink. Joseph Corlett (florida) will sometimes comment on sink queries.



    Butternut thanked rantontoo
  • Butternut

    Thanks...I actually did that already! https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/5522823/am-i-stuck-with-this-sink

    And private messaged Joe...who agreed that it would cost at minumum several thousand dollars to mess with this particular sink. I'm not up for that when I'd rather save that towards replacing the counter in the first place.

    To recut a counter and replace a sink, you need to choose a bigger sink. This one is right at the limit of the size that can fit in the existing 30" cabinet. It's also pretty deep and too far away from the edge of the counter to do a apron front.

    C'est la vie, moving on :)

  • Butternut

    I'm happy with the botanical prints from Etsy

    I'm less happy with the roman shade I made. I still love the fabric, but I aimed for a "relaxed" roman shade because I wanted to see the fabric, but keep as much of the window uncovered as possible, and I'm not a huge fan of very straight roman shades.

    But I think the pattern gave it a little too much swag and now it's looking a little like an 80s valance.

    Before I rip it apart and start all over, thoughts?

  • tartanmeup

    The prints are gorgeous! Love your shade fabric as well. Not sure about the swag. I think we need to see a tiny bit more fabric at the sides. Is that doable?

    Butternut thanked tartanmeup
  • sheesh

    Can you center the motifs on the swag? Do you have more fabric? It's beautiful.

    Maybe instead of a swag you could make chair cushions or recover what you have. That would really show off the print.

    Butternut thanked sheesh
  • sheesh

    Is it really a working Roman shade, or is it a swag?

    Butternut thanked sheesh
  • Butternut

    It is a working roman shade. I'm not sure what you mean center the motifs?

    I have a little bit more fabric, I intended to make a matching cover for my dog's crate, but I can order more.

    It would never survive as chair cushions in my house :)

    Tartan - I can let it down, I think that's the only way to see more fabric at the sides.

    The way it's made is to cut it flared at the bottom. I got the measurements from here: http://www.fabric-calculator.com/RelaxedRomanAngular/index.html and I followed the advice for a standard flare, but I kind of wish I had cut it a bit narrower and thus it wouldn't be so swagged.

  • tartanmeup

    I agree with you: it would look better a little less swagged.

    Butternut thanked tartanmeup
  • mileve

    All of your changes have really transformed your kitchen. Paint color looks great!

    Butternut thanked mileve
  • sheesh

    I completely understand about the chair cushions!

    I'm not going to say any more about the motifs. Just enjoy your handiwork and lovely fabric.

    one thought, though, is maybe make two straps to pull up The swag where the window uprights are. You'll still see the fabric but it would be less "swaggy." Unless you plan to lower the shade, of course.

    Butternut thanked sheesh
  • Butternut

    I doubt it will be lowered much. The fabric is beautiful, but because the print is large and repeat is large, and the shade is 57" wide so it needed to be seamed, I had limited areas where I could cut from. Plus I think it was not quite printed straight.

    By straps, you mean something like this? Not belt buckles, obviously.

    I was aiming for something more like this

    But maybe I flared it too much, or maybe the window is too wide, or maybe I didn't have the right fabric. Sigh.

  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    The proportions are off. I can't sew much beyond sewing on buttons and darning socks, but to me it looks like you need to have the top part a bit longer/deeper before you start with the folds. And you need to have a bit more length on the sides. Most of the roman shade is the swag, which I think is the problem.

    And there do seem to be a lot of folds. Would it work as a faux roman, since you said you doubt it would be lowered much?

  • Butternut

    I think if it were more like this it would look better

  • Butternut

    no idea why that came sideways

  • sheesh

    I think that might look great, butternut. It seems to fit the space better.

    Yes, when I suggested the straps (I don't know the correct term), what you show in the picture is what I meant. I was thinking that you could make the straps in the same fabric as the shade, but I like your shortened shade much better.

    Butternut thanked sheesh
  • beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally

    Butternut, I'm thinking more of proportions like this (and yes, I realize yoru window is larger and wider),

    It would be about as long altogether as you have it now, but the longer part would the "drop" (I don't know what the correct term is, sorry!) before the swag rather than the swag itself.

    I think it also might look better to hang the roman shade higher, so that it's the same height as the cabinets. Which would give you more light/window AND more fabric. That might be worth playing around with.

    Butternut thanked beckysharp Reinstate SW Unconditionally
  • Butternut

    It can’t be mounted any higher because the crown on the cabinets is narrower than the window frame.

    the shade would look like that if I let it down but would cover too much of the window.

  • El McKeaner

    Butternut: may I ask where you bought the frames for the prints and also the size? They look great!

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