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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 (104)

  • justretired

    Thanks for the instructions, Butternut.

  • Butternut

    Well, I ordered 2 of the Hinkley Fletcher pendants in brass. They will take a few weeks to come in, but I'll be sure to update!

    Considering one of these color consultation thingys to find a good creamy neutral to work with my trim color. The last time I wasted so much money on paint only to find it looked horrid with the trim. If I am paying painters I especially don't want to mess it up!

    Have my finger on the trigger to order a runner to go between the fridge/sink and the island. 2x/8 should do it for my 9 ft island. Want to bring in some gray to bring out the gray in the counter and minimize the gold.


  • mtnrdredux_gw

    Maybe someone has already said this, but if you have 3 lights now and go down to 2, I think you would need to move the lights into the space between the three? -- costly and unsightly.

  • Butternut

    Maybe someone has already said this, but if you have 3 lights now and go down to 2, I think you would need to move the lights into the space between the three? -- costly and unsightly.

    That's what I initially thought, but I don't think so! The current pendants are mounted in the middle, and halfway between the middle and edge of the counter. I suppose if you were doing 2 pendants to start with you'd mount them at the 3rd mark, but it comes out to just a few inches difference. Since you can't ever look at the island straight on to the long side, I don't think one will notice.

  • Springroz

    That fabric is gorgeous!! How does it look next to the paint? Love the way the kitchen is evolving!

  • Annette Holbrook(z6b-7a)

    Just have to say I love your playroom. But that could be because I have that exact rug(except in black) and I have 2 benches in the same Folkland fabric as your 2 side chairs lol!

    I was going to suggest a fireback for behind the cooktop but see that’s been mentioned. I have seen them at salvage places for decent prices.

  • Butternut

    Annette - too funny!! I am not sure I’m in love with the style of the Folkland chairs but I loved the fabric so much...

    springroz- I think I’m going to paint the whole area actually. I was thinking the paint is 10 years old it’s probably reasonable. Just need some time at home to play with samples etc to get the right color.

  • Annette Holbrook(z6b-7a)

    I love the Folkland fabric, it is pricey, though. So when I saw the benches with it on sale I snagged them with no actual plan for them. Using them as window seats currently.

    Also, you seem to be pretty handy. What about making a framed tile piece to cover the diamond? Not this exactly, but this is the idea.

  • Sheeisback

    Oh wow that fabric is great! I like it with your counters. I think it works well because the warmer color is also in there.

    Would you mind sharing the size and brand your your brass knobs? Thanks!

  • Butternut

    Shee - they are from House of Antique Hardware, 1 1/4", classic cabinet knob. I wasn't feeling creative that day :) I like the way they are patina-ing (is that a word?) so far.


    Annette - I bought these from West Elm, I think, and they aren't super high end construction. When we got them there was a problem, it's escaping me now, but they had to send a new seat or a new back. I ended up with an extra half of a chair, and who can use that? But I cut off what I could salvage of the Folkland fabric before we trashed it. I still don't have a plan for it but maybe one day I'll make a pillow or something :)

    I think I'll get a roman shade made from this Waverly fabric. And maybe a new cover for my doggie's crate. Still looking for the right grey runner...considering Ruggable for practicality.

  • Butternut

    I was perusing some instagram stuff this weekend and really in love with the combo of toile, chinoiserie, and buffalo check.

    Considering this runner:

    to go with a roman shade in this fabric

    with these counter stools

    reupholstered in a buffalo check sunbrella

    But waiting until the pendants arrive to make a final decision.

  • Sheeisback

    Oh, I like all that and am excited to see it. It’s going to look good!

  • Hansen

    Love your changes, brass plate looks awesome. Ithink you are getting it to a more traditional look. I would suggest painting island and walls white.

  • Butternut

    Shee - thanks!

    Hansen - I don't think I'm up for a cabinet painting project at this time. I would want it professionally done and the thought of finding the right person with the horror stories I've read about poorly painted cabinets seems like a lot of hassle I don't have time for. But if I did paint...I'd probably paint the uppers cream and leave the fridge, oven, and lowers cherry.

    I am looking into getting the walls painted white. Just have to figure out the correct white.

    Pendants came...hope to work on install this weekend!

  • justerrilynn

    Butternut, really love your idea of cream uppers and just leaving the range hood to match lowers. For what painters charge I would just replace the upper doors with factory finish painted ones from Conestoga. I’m sure they have the same style and a paint grade maple isn’t all that expensive. Conestoga uses Sherwin Williams oil base but you could get a matching acrylic to paint the frame/sides/crown yourself.

    If you are serious about the light uppers down the road...before you paint the walls you can find out what standard SW paint colors most closely resemble some of Conestoga’s (custom for them) cabinet paint colors and then paint your walls.

  • Butternut

    Justerrilynn - oh, that's an interesting option. I looked at Conestoga's website, not sure how to find a cabinet person who deals with them. I don't really have too many doors on the uppers...6 solid doors, 2 side panels, one glass door in the corner. And then the crown and light rail. That would definitely alleviate some of my concerns about durability with painted cabinets!

  • Nancy R
    It's a beautiful kitchen. I would proceed with caution. The one thing that jumped out at me is the dark colored stools. I would replace them with something in a cream or off-white color first.
  • Nancy R
    It's a beautiful kitchen. I would proceed with caution. The one thing that jumped out at me is the dark colored stools. I would replace them with something in a cream or off-white color first.
  • justerrilynn

    Butternut, I’ve used Chad at Cabinet Makers Choice a few times but many others have used The Cabinet Joint (?) They have online sites. Or, check with Conestoga for dealers.

  • Butternut

    Hmm..very interesting! I'll need to think about this a bit more.

    I'm not skilled at photoshop mock ups. But does this look too choppy?

  • tartanmeup

    Just a few uppers lighter? Yes, that would look choppy. All uppers light and all lowers dark would be fine, as shown in your example pic.

  • justerrilynn

    Yes, it looks choppy. You could possibly get away with leaving the range hood. However, the more I look at it...due to all the different heights you might want to do all the uppers. I might try doing just the face of range hood cream and leaving the rest of the hood box in the wood. All other uppers all cream. You could always paint the hoods exposed wood if you don’t like the two-tone.

  • happy2b…gw

    I would replace the island stools with something lighter like Nancy suggested. I would proceed with caution replacing upper cabinets for a two tone kitchen I personally do not think it is an improvement. Honestly, your kitchen does not need much more to bring it more up to date. Your painted tile, the new pendants, and the metal tray on the backsplash have done wonders. When you get the new window treatment up and runner laid it will be beautiful and a totally refreshed kitchen. Your cabinets are lovely and work beautifully with the new decor you have added.

  • l pinkmountain

    I saw some nice photos when I was looking for backsplash ideas that had the range hood a different color than the rest. That looked OK if you don't mind drawing attention to the range. In the case of backsplashes, it was because there was something fabulous behind the range.

  • Butternut

    Yes, I think the range hood would need to be painted if I did anything...Will have to do some more thinking on that. The oven cabinet and fridge cabinet can't be half painted, so those would need to stay cherry. My mom did cream uppers and natural cherry lowers in her island house. I think her fridge cabinet is cream too but I can't even remember! She was starting from scratch with a new kitchen though, not changing something existing.

    I think the grey chippendale stools will read lighter than the ones I have now.

  • 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.

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