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Before & After: Kitchen

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

This kitchen was tragic. Tired oak cabinets, pink laminate countertops, and crappy appliances that all died within a year. But we had other fish to fry, so it stayed like this for longer than it should have.

One thing we did do immediately was add more workspace. I found the commercial butcherblock island on Craigslist. The seller claimed that it came from the kitchen of Buddy Guy's Legends, a Chicago institution, and maybe it actually did. There is a distinct dip where someone did a lot of prepping. I love it.

BEFORE (ish)

Since the floorplan worked ok, we did a "soft renovation," painting the cabinets and adding a crown, putting in quartz countertops, tiling the backsplash, replacing the dumb ceiling fan with recessed lights and a pendant, and updating all the hardware.


Having a deck off the kitchen is by far the best part of this kitchen. One entire wall is glass.

When we were FINALLY able to rip out those hideous pink laminate counters, I knew I wanted quartz. I decided to move away from the marble-look that's super trendy and chose Natural Limestone quartz countertops by Viatera, in a warm organic gray. For the cabinets we went with a deeper, greenish-gray, Sandy Hook Gray by Benjamin Moore.

Vintage brass hardware I scored at a garage sale, 18 knobs for $5!

Instead of boring white subway tile, we chose sexy hexys from Home Depot.



For the long, blank wall in the hallway we DIY'ed a magnetic chalkboard to hang E's artwork, papers and photos. The vintage phone allows me to wander around the kitchen while I'm cooking dinner with the receiver tucked between my ear and my shoulder. I don't ever actually do that, but I like knowing I could.

Since we didn't change the layout, the side of the stove & micro remained exposed. And the sides were not stainless like the front. Instead they were black and textured and really fugly. We ordered a roll of stainless steel online, and adhered it to hardboard panels we cut to size. They're attached with strong earth magnets, so they look like part of the design. The ability to do projects like this is why I married my husband. What a stud.

Where the previous owners had a table, we brought in more storage. I found this this hutch on Craigslist for $250. It was salvaged from a classic Chicago 2-flat by an architect during a demo, and he painted it black and added a crown. Now it holds pantry staples and my ironstone collection. The Martha energy is strong.

Some weirdo before us enclosed this porch but with inappropriate materials that were moldy and disgusting. We ripped it all out, gave away the gross hot tub, and created an outdoor living space next to the kitchen.

90% of the furniture is thrifted, natch. My favorite secret source is a resale shop in the burbs that gets donations of floor models from the Merchandise Mart. Champagne tastes on a Miller Coors budget, baby! If you're nice to me, maybe I'll take you. There are also a couple of simple diy projects. Pull the wiring out of a vintage chandelier and add candles. BOOM, mood lighting! Sew a few hems onto dropcloths. BOOM, outdoor curtains!

Yes this photo is overexposed but the neighbors are junkers and it's better than seeing the washing machines and bikes in their yard. They are very nice but we use these curtains a LOT.


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