Tuesday, January 6, 2009

a la mode hits the road: an unexpected kitchen re-do

Don't you love it when your day doesn't go as planned in a good way? This morning was our first day back at Classical Conversations, a weekly class my children attend. After the usual getting kids groomed, dressed, fed and loaded in the van, and driving 20 minutes to destination, I found it curious that no other vehicles were in the parking lot. After a quick phone call, it turns out that we start back next week instead. "Cool," I thought. "I just endured 2 hours of stress for nothing...and now have disappointed, teary-eyed children." So, we spent the morning at the library and then headed over to my sister-in-law's house (since we were half-way there already) to hang out with her and my nephew. 

And then the fun began. I ended up redecorating my sister-in-law's kitchen! Here's a little background...

My brother and sister-in-law (we'll call them M & M) moved into their home last Spring. It's sort of a temporary situation. They're renting it for a steal while they sort of plan what's next in their life. So while it's a great financial situation, M isn't getting to nest as much as a girl would like. She loves a pretty home just like we all do but because it's not their house, she is seriously limited. There are wallpaper issues, dated cabinetry issues, and turquoise countertops. Like me, she is not a millionaire so every penny counts. Several months ago we found some great fabric at a thrift store along with a curtain rod and a bunch of drapery clips. But our schedules never meshed in order for me to help her out...until today.

We decided to focus on the kitchen. We did 3 window mistreatments and repurposed her wall decor. We used what she had plus about $12 in some additional fabric, trim, and a plate hanger. 

This sad wall has peeling, oil-based paint. These lightweight wooden tiles I'd found at a garage sale for practically nothing made a fun backsplash to cover up the peeling paint above her Waffle House-inspired breakfast nook (if you can call a ginormous built-in booth a "nook.") A little hot glue along the top of each tile did the trick. I wish we'd had more tiles to continue the backsplash but that's okay. It's better than it was and therefore beautiful. 



Got an extra "fringey" afghan that's screaming "Hang me up?" M did. We put her thrift store rod above the window sink, folded over an unused afghan (that we cut in half long-wise), clipped it with drapery clips and voila! It's a free and cozy curtain. 

We needed some fabric for the breakfast "nook" windows, so we headed to the fabric store and bought some 40%-off fabric and 30%-off trim. Total cost: $12. A bit pricey for us but worth it (since that's all we spent on the whole kitchen!) The red fabric has some turquoise and yellow flecks in it (that don't show up in the photo) and it's really beautiful fabric. We also bought some upholstery tacks to do the mistreatment. Alas, when we arrived home the tacks were absent. Evidently we left them in the cart and never purchased them. M was sad, but I was determined to finish the project, tacks or no tacks. Who needs tacks or hardware when you've got a hot glue gun and a whole bag of glue sticks? The solution: hot glue the valance to the top of the window trim. To recap, I cut one yard of 58"-width fabric horizontally, hot-glued the frayed ends under as my "hem," hot-glued the top of the valance to the top of the windowtrim, and hot-glued cream-colored pom-pom trim to the bottom of the valance. 

Finally, we rearranged some of her cute coffee wall decor and repurposed some other decor just sitting in her cabinet. The end result:
Move over Waffle House, there's a Starbucks in town!

Don't you just want to cozy up in M's nook and have a steamy cup of Cafe Verona? I do. It just goes to show that even dated pine cabinets, peeling walls, and turquoise countertops were no match for our resolve to creatively and frugally make a pretty space.

A few more things. M already had the pretty yellow Tuscan canisters and serving pieces. She also had the lovely red and turquoise serving pieces. These inspired the colors we chose for fabric (as did the afghan.) She also had purchased a lot of coffee-inspired wall decor on e-bay a while back for $9, most of which we used. (M is the best e-bay hound I know.) The little French cafe plaques above the sink were just sitting in her cabinet. The shame! Now they're out and proud. Oh and don't worry that the lovely Tuscan platter perched in the window sill above her sink will fall. It's securely propped up with some tiny nails I hammered in front of it, directly into the sill. 

So, my day gone wrong ended up as a day gone right! It was fun to see M so happy with her cozy kitchen...and it made me feel great to know that I was able to help pretty up her space.


  1. Time to de-lurk and ask, "Wanna come to my house next?" You did a lovely and fantastic job!!

    I found you a few weeks ago via Heather. :-)

  2. I think your ideas are so creative and obviously so thrifty which gets two major thumbs up from me. And even though I'm posting on this post, I want to comment on your more recent post about "why?" and I am a 34 year old SAHM of two little ones and even though I'm not homeschooling, I go through the same dilemnas as you. So refreshing to know I'm not the only one!!!

  3. I love it!! Thanks for sharing.
    BTW- My kitchen is almost identical to yours. (Well the counters are cream, but same wood, same shelf, same wooden scallopy thing.) How funny.
    You've given me a little inspiration towards my next step in decorating. I have a hard time with that. I guess it's due to low funds and fried brain cells!

  4. So I just made my way over here from facebook, and I gotta say I'm super impressed. I couldn't imagine anything to bring that house into this decade? century? But wow, you've really done it. It looks great!!

  5. What a cute and cozy kitchen. I need to get some coffee wall decor for my kitchen!


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