MY QUARANTINE PROJECT: MY KITCHEN

I’ve been really wanting to renovate our kitchen for many years. As an architect and designer, I know exactly what I would do and I also know how expensive it would all be. As a result, over the past few years I decided to put the kitchen on the back burner and instead focus my time and resources on renovating more affordable areas of our home. It was a good plan. But now that I’ve transformed a lot of spaces in our home into what I want, the kitchen is really starting to bother me even more! It’s a totally different style, color palette and feel than the rest of the house now. It honestly feels like you’re in a totally different home when you’re standing in the kitchen. 

So back in February, I decided I’d had enough… it was time to turn my focus to the kitchen. I decided that I would either go ahead and renovate it and turn it into my dream kitchen, or I would update it enough that I could at least feel okay with the room until I could afford my dream kitchen. After running some specific numbers, I realized that it was going to be very expensive to turn my kitchen into my dream kitchen, and we currently have college tuition for our children to think about so it could end up being maybe 5 years before we can afford to renovate the kitchen. There was no way I could live with the kitchen we have now for the next 5 years so I needed to do something to make it acceptable until then.

I’m guessing I’m not alone. There may be someone else out there looking for a low-cost update to a space until you can finally afford your dream renovation. Well, if you are, here is my tip: Identify your focus and limits before you start. This is something I do on every project anyway, but it was particularly important on this one! 

The first thing I did was take a little time before I started to set my max budget. It’s never wise to put a lot of money into a room only to tear it all out a few years later. So the budget had to be low enough that I was okay tearing it all out at some point. I decided $1500 was my max. This budget became a limit that helped me make decisions along the way in terms of what I should replace now and what I should wait to address when we do our full dream kitchen renovation. 

The second thing I did was identify what I really hated about the room. Basically, what was driving this particular renovation to begin with? What would I need in order to be able to endure this room for awhile? (This is a different list than I would have made if I were designing my dream kitchen.)

Here’s my focus:

  1. The room needed to have a look and feel that fit with the rest of the areas in my home that I’ve already updated
  2. I wanted to improve some areas that weren’t very functional
  3. I needed to fix/remove a few things that were eyesores/damaged (including water stains on the ceiling and a nonfunctional old intercom system)

Every time I wondered whether it was worth updating something in my kitchen, I referred to this list and my budget. It helped me to focus on what was important and what wasn’t.

So my plan was to start my “limited makeover” of my kitchen in March having no idea that COVID-19 would hit then. Right before COVID, my schedule was crazy busy. The firm I work for was swamped and I was upping my hours, plus my kids had many activities and events planned for the spring, and I was also interviewing contractors to start a big project in our back yard which I would be managing during the spring. Add to that my kitchen reno that I was working on by myself, and looking back, I’m not sure how I was planning to fit it all in. Once COVID-19 came to the US my schedule was completely turned upside down. My kids activities were cancelled, events were cancelled, and the work at my firm came to a grinding halt. We put the back yard project on hold and then quarantine started in our state. With plenty of time stuck at home, I knew I wanted to focus on getting my kitchen done. And so this is what I did…

Here is what my kitchen used to look like:

After:

No, this is not my dream kitchen… at all! I was hesitant to even share this project on the blog because there’s still a lot I don’t like about the final result. But it works for now until I can afford my dream kitchen. It’s certainly better than what I had before. And I kept the total cost to $1500! I did all the work myself, but I think it was worth all of the time and hard work.

1 BATHROOM, $300, 5 DAYS: FINAL REVEAL

I recently took on a new project: our guest bathroom. This was more than a project though, it was a challenge. It ended up being a kind of case study on what impact you can have with very little time and money (since I have little of both these days).

I challenged myself to give my guest bathroom a new look with only $300 and 5 days of work. I’m happy to say the challenge is complete and I like this bathroom so much more than I used to!

Take a look at what the bathroom originally looked like…

And here is what it looks like after 5 days and $300 invested…

5 QUICK BEDROOM REFRESH IDEAS

Wishing you could give your bedroom a whole new look? Well, you don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to make a difference. As little as a hundred dollars and a couple hours can make an impact.

Here are some ideas! Just choosing one from this list can go a long way in changing the overall look and feel of your room…

5R-beddingsource
01. CHANGE THE BEDDING

If you want to give your bedroom a refresh while only addressing one area, it might as well be your bed. After all, you probably spend most of your time in the room using your bed. Treat yourself to some luxurious new sheets, a comforter and fun throw pillows to give your bed a whole new look. There’s nothing more satisfying than falling into a bed covered with fresh new bedding after the end of a long day.

Use your bedding to introduce new colors, patterns and textures to your bedroom and it will likely end up feeling like a brand new space. There are lots of fun and trendy bedding styles out now at very reasonable prices!

Some ideas…

Plum & Bow Soukay Delicate Comforter  |  Coastal Stripe Blue Pillow
Nate Berkus Sheet Set  |  Pia Medallion Quilt & Sham


5R-sittingsource
02. CREATE A SITTING AREA

You don’t have to have a lot a space in your bedroom to make this happen. If you can’t fit a large chair or a group of seating in your room, then try a small bench below a window or at the end of your bed. Even a small chair in the corner can create a nice retreat to relax and curl up with a good book. Whatever you choose, make sure you add beautiful pillows and/or a blanket to dress it up and make it more comfortable.

Adding a special sitting area can not only expand the use of your bedroom, but it can also make it feel more tranquil and luxurious.

Some ideas…

Boston Loft Lindley Storage X Bench  |  Campground Throw Blanket
Safavieh Marcella Bench  |  Poang Chair


TIPS FOR BUYING USED HOME FURNISHINGS

Okay, so I have a major problem: my mind won’t stop designing! I have plans racing through my head for all the rooms I plan to redo next. Yes, there’s my dining room which I’m currently working on, but there’s also my mom’s guest room, our bonus room, my kids’ bathroom and my daughter’s bedroom all coming down the line. And my thoughts are exploding with all the possibilities for ALL of those rooms. Honestly, if my energy level could keep up with my brain it’d be all good!

All of that has made me realize it’s time for a trip to the local flea market in search of some affordable items I could use for these upcoming makeovers.

The local flea market here has over 600 vendors! That amount of merchandise can easily become overwhelming. But even a trip to a small thrift store or a quick search online for some used home decor can be challenging if you’re not fully prepared.

So with that in mind, here are some tips for getting the most out of buying used home furnishings, whether you’re shopping thrift stores, consignment sales, flea markets, antique stores, yard sales or online sites like Craigslist and Ebay.

So here are my tips for buying used home furnishings…

Be prepared

Don’t forget that most of these sellers/stores only accept cash so have more than enough on hand. And make sure you have a vehicle large enough to transport whatever you plan to purchase (I made this mistake during a recent trip to Asheville, NC).

If you’re looking for something specific or expensive then do your research before shopping. Figure out what the going rate is for the item and google ways to spot a fake.

Look for the unusual and unique

The great thing about buying used home furnishings isn’t just that it can save you money, but often more importantly for me, it can help you score some very unique one-of-a-kind items. Whether I’m searching online or at a local flea market I’m always keeping an eye out for that unusual piece that I can’t pick up at the local mall.

Look for interesting shapes, colors, materials and textures. Look for items that have character and maybe even a story to go along with it. Simply anything that you haven’t seen before that you’re drawn to may be worth the money. After all, there’s no guarantee it’ll still be there the next time you go shopping.

Be open minded

I always go shopping with a list of items I’m looking for for my current or upcoming projects, but I don’t limit myself to that shopping list. I keep an eye open for anything interesting because you never know what treasures you might stumble upon.

Look for items that may not be exactly what you want but could become what your looking for with a little work. Maybe a new coat of stain, some new furniture knobs or some mirrors installed in the doors will turn that dumpy piece of furniture into your dream item.

I am regularly looking at the inventory thinking how could this be transformed into something better?

For me, the best way to figure out if an item is worth a makeover is to focus on cosmetic changes. Cosmetic changes would include changing the color, the pattern or the fabric of the item, but would also include replacing smaller elements like furniture feet, decorative accents, lamp shades, picture frames and handles. These are all fairly easy to change. What’s harder to change is the overall shape and construction of the item. So I’m always looking for products that have a great form and only need some cosmetic changes.

If you need some inspiration in this area check out the bottom of this post.