jamie_watson9

What to do with this kitchen on the cheap.

Jamie Watson
August 11, 2019

We bought this house two years ago. It’s perfect for the three of us but I want to liven up the kitchen. The cabinets are solid wood and have some intricate features so painting them would be a big task. I was thinking of doing some type of backsplash, but have no clue what type. I don’t have a decorator’s eye by any means. These are pics from when my house was staged prior to us moving in. It looks exactly the same except with a toaster and key rig. Any ideas?

Comments (40)

  • Jamie Watson

    That’s supposed to read Keurig.

  • branson4020

    Change the flooring, maybe add an accent wall. Cabinets and backsplash are fine.

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  • myrica4

    You could have the 3 upper cab doors near the sink modified to have glass fronts instead of solid panels (you can be selective/ don’t have to do all) and update hardware


  • myrica4

    When the refrigerator needs to be replaced do a counter-depth version so it doesn’t stick out into the room. I wouldn’t replace it just for aesthetics now, it looks fine.

    This is a small detail - the bright white square outlet (?) or wall plate(?) on the side of the lower cabinets near the sink: paint it or replace with black to make it recede,

  • Jamie Watson

    Replacing the flooring in there is definitely on the list. There’s hardwood in the dining room which flows into the kitchen. We’ll probably try to carry that through to there. As for an accent wall - do you mean painting it, adding some type of wallpaper, etc?

    We want to replace the fridge, but won’t do so until it’s time. It’s about 15 years old. Adding glass doors to the large cabinets would be a great look, imo. I would then have to make my dish storage look pretty.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

    The flooring is the big thing and while this is just my opinion, I think most items in a kitchen should reflect a cooking element. So if you're going to decorate, use a beautiful KitchenAid mixer instead of a vase or tchotchke. I see now that this is a staged photo and you do have a different elements on the countertop.

  • Gcubed

    What about a different wall color? A light sage green or a a blue-green?
    You don’t have much backsplash, so you could find a nice tile but I think I’d paint first

  • herbflavor

    The floor color and cabs work well together. Leave the floor as the time of a bigger remodel will involve that. The wall color would play up the cabs if it were a very light green or whitish w gray geeen undertones. The current wall color isnt good w the wood tones. Because the cabs are not positioned in long runs along a wall which is often the case in older kitchens I'm not sure I'd change to glass doors. The cabs are quite pleasing really. A backsplash along w painting the walls is what I would do. You don't seem to consider the fridge as needing or justifying replacement. I might not agree w that assessment in honesty......go ahead and look at new fridges.

  • myrica4


    “do you mean painting it, adding some type of wallpaper, etc?”

    No just the white square on the side, nothing major. If it’s a plate just get a black or dark brown one so It doesn’t stand out.

  • jhmarie

    Before considering a backsplash, be sure you are happy with the countertop. I have no problem with it, but backsplash comes after countertop and I just want you to do things in the right order or you risk damaging a new backsplash trying to change a counter. I have a personal preference for a hood over an over the range microwaves - I'm short - and I would change that.

    This is my wood kitchens idea book with both new and older, refreshed kitchens.

    https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/75202366/list/wood-kitchens


    Remove the 4" backsplash before adding another and if you don't have under cabinet lighting, consider it. It was my most functional change - absolutely love it - and it will really help brighten up a kitchen with black counters.

  • Jamie Watson

    I’m happy with the counters. They’re granite, so I’m definitely not looking to replace them. The house was built in 2006, so things aren’t that old. If I paint the kitchen, I’d believe I’d have to paint the dining area also. I don’t see a good diving point for the two paint colors if you know what I mean. I’ve attached two more photos of how the kitchen goes into the dining area.

  • jhmarie

    I think your counters are fine - just wanted to be sure that if you were thinking of a change, you did things in the right order:) I was wondering what the doorway (white, closed door) to the left of the dishwasher led to? Also, do you have a style preference? Since these pics were staged for sale, the decor is not what you have, so hard to go from them.

  • herbflavor

    Living and dining handle the warm yellow walls ....white trim bigger spaces etc you could pick a blue undertone pale white for kitchen walls and that would complement the wash of yellow . Paint does age but if the living areas surfaces are fine I might still just focus on kitchen walls. What can you handle doing, feel like doing, ? Paint has transformative results ....it is work , but diy type . You could do the spaces over time. Lovely looking home!!

  • Jamie Watson

    I will take some pics of what my lived-in kitchen looks like in a few. The door in the kitchen goes to the laundry room and then into the garage.

  • Jamie Watson

    Pics from just now. I truly wish we wouldn’t have put the aquarium there. It’s a saltwater tank and is brutal to move.

  • Jamie Watson

    The big vase did sit beside the fireplace but my dogs tail used to knock it off. The place now is just to keep it safe.

  • Olychick

    There are some great articles/videos about painting vinyl flooring. If yours is in good condition, it might be worth a try to save $$ for something else on your list. I'd make it closer in tone to the wood floor color to minimize the contrast between them. Or maybe do something fun in a pattern.




  • myrica4


    Your kitchen color scheme is similar to ours - wood cabinetry, black granite, light yellow walls that carry through adjacent spaces. The cabinets are 30 yrs old & I would never paint them! The granite is 18 yrs old and still looks fine. All we’ve ever done to the kitchen is change hardware, light fixtures, paint color & appliances (minor stuff). Can’t seem to attach a photo now. I don’t think you are looking at a budget-breaking project.


  • Gcubed

    How about some rugs/runner to add color and cover some of the floor? And I know you have kids and they want stuff hung up, but maybe you can find some magnetic frames and "highlight" a piece art pieces/week in a rotation. Will help declutter that part of the kitchen (or save up and get the counter depth SS fridge-- something you can reuse if you do a full remodel). I think your cabinets look fine- I mentioned above that changing the wall paint would bring life to the room too.

  • Jeff Jones

    Right now, the trash cans and “EAT” sign are the focal point; how about some large art instead, and removing the items from the fridge?

  • Jamie Watson

    Those trash cans...I should definitely move them. Not sure where to be honest. I like the idea of an accent wall or a large art piece for the focal area.

    As for painting the flooring - that sounds scary but I’ll catch some videos on YouTube to really look into it.

    It’s so hard to take down my daughter’s artwork. I have to do it when she’s not around. She’s very attentive so I have to be sneaky.

    As for paint, should I look for a grayish shade? The room doesn’t get a lot of natural light. That window by my table is the only one and my backyard is filled with trees and forest behind the house.

  • Gcubed

    I would not pick gray with your cabinets. I think a soft green or blue would look nice.

    As for your daughter's artwork: don't remove it all, just coral it. It may be a fun project for her to curate her art and pick the "best" for the week and rotate in a nicer looking magnetic frame. Then find a "save box" for her where she can keep the rest.

  • Yayagal

    Gray wouldn't be right on your walls but this color would work as it complements the yellow tone of the dining room.

    BM paint. Goes beautifully with wood.

  • cat_ky

    The only real thing I see wrong with your kitchen is the wall color. It doesnt go well with your cabinets at all. If the dining room is all part of the kitchen, then change out the dining room wall color too. Even if the color in there went with your cabinets, which it doesnt, its still not a very pretty color. Try light aquas, light blues, light greens.

  • lulu bella

    I concur that a new wall color is in order. Otherwise the cabinets look really nice as does the counter top. I am not sure about the floor but it works for now. I really think painting the walls will give you so much of a refresh.

  • Jamie Watson

    Regarding painting, is the consensus to paint the entire kitchen and dining area?

  • Abby Carr

    Changing the paint is easy and fun. I may be weird but I like to paint and see the transformation develop. You can actually paint every few years just to change things up. Its the floor I would be most bothered with. I would choose a porcelain tile (that does not mimic wood) and have it laid in a diamond pattern or at least a staggered design. I would not use anymore wood just for variety.

  • motherwallace

    Yes, paint both the kitchen and the dining area some shade of sage green or light to mid blue green.

  • Jamie Watson

    I like the “In your eyes” shade from BM mentioned above. I also like this one: Windy Sky from BM.

  • Jamie Watson

    What is also frustrating is that everywhere I read says golden yellow is a perfect complimentary shade to darker cabinetry. That’s the wall color I have. I’m not good at this.

  • Abby Carr

    Maybe it is just the shade of yellow. Go to Behr website, upload a photo of your kitchen and use their visualizer to get an idea what the color looks like on your wall. When you narrow it down, make sure you buy the sample sizes first before committing.

  • Jamie Watson

    Thank you, Abby. I’ve been trying on shades. It’s helpful.

  • Olychick

    Don't take down your daughter's artwork!! You'll have plenty of years to stare at a blank refrigerator door; enjoy and delight in her creativity for now. If you want to move it to a designated "art" board, she might love that, too. Lots of ideas on pinterest for how to display kids' art.

  • justerrilynn

    Sorry if this was suggested (I didn’t read every reply). Are those cabinets still available to buy? The only thing that really jumps out at me is your lack of countertops. If the little pantry was removed, the frig could go there. Then add a base of deep drawers & an upper cabinet. You could probably find the same countertop for a longer piece. Doing that would make a nice bigger counter area. I did something similar in my last house and it was the best thing ever to have more work surface. I didn’t once mind losing the puny pantry. Some of the bulky items I had in the pantry fit in the new bottom- deep drawer.

    I understand if that’s out of budget. However, I wouldn’t spend money on a backsplash with things the way they are.

  • myrica4

    Maybe this is what you mean by a golden yellow? A decorator picked this Benjamin Moore “Suntan Yellow” after seeing our cabinets & surroundings (kitchen has cherry cabs & black counters). The color goes through the kitchen +living+dining+hall.


  • Abby Carr

    Check out this discussion...its all about yellow paint with several photos:

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/2671948/what-s-your-favorite-yellow-in-the-kitchen

  • Jamie Watson

    Ahh! Thank you for that link!! I discovered that I have SW’s versions of Pittsfield Buff on my walls in my entire house. I attached the paint mix from my garage left from the builder.

  • myrica4

    Re: yellow next to dark cabs/counters - we found the paint next to the cabs looks very pale/pastel/washed out, then looks very different & saturated next to the super-white trim right above the window:


    in the rest of the public spaces the same color looks deeper like this



  • Jamie Watson

    Myrica4, that’s what is going on in my kitchen. The shade on my walls is a bit pale, but against white, it looks nice. In the kitchen next to the richly colored cabs, it gets washed out.

    So based off of everyone’s input, I should go with under cabinet lighting, paint, create a worthwhile focal area (haha not the trash cans), and maybe update the hardware, and clear the fridge a little.

    Thanks everyone! I’m always interested in hearing more recommendations!

  • Gcubed

    Do everything you mentioned and post a new pic. I think you'll be surprised how far all that will go in regards to how you feel about the space.

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