Shore Condo Files: The Kitchen

So back to the shore to show you the kitchen... (If you're wondering what is going on in here, click here to catch up.)

I've already mentioned that we painted the whole place as one of the first orders of business. The kitchen got a coat of one of my favorite colors, Restoration Hardware's Silver Sage. Just love that color - sometimes its blue, sometimes its green, sometimes its gray. Lovely.

We also got a new (cheapo!) fridge because the last tenant was so disguisting we just couldn't bare putting anything we would eat inside of his. A new table and chairs from JCP on super sale was one of the first things ordered. And of course we scrubbed the hell out of every nook and cranny. But alas, there is only so much a brush (scrub or paint) can do. And there is just so much to hate in here. You might be thinking it doesn't look that bad but trust me, its worse in person.Wanna see my irk list?


Its not in the cards (or budget) to renovate the kitchen right now. Maybe next year or the year after if all goes well? But not now. In the meantime I want to make a couple of changes that are long overdue like swaping the light fixtures and replacing those god awful blinds. But I'm loathe to do anything that is not going to work perfectly with the post renovation room. In other words, I'm suffering from decorators paralysis right now.

I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do when the time comes to do some demo in here...but until then Im sure I could do more to make it a little nicer that isn't going to be wasted later on.

So I'd love to hear your thoughts. What do you think?


  1. What about a quick tile job on the countertops that you'll replace some day? Something REALLY lively or REALLY simple.

  2. I'm with you - I know how it is to be all or nothing when it comes to renovating. The wall color is beautiful and helps a ton. What about FLOR carpet tiles on top of the laminate? And since they're modular you could repurpose them elsewhere later down the road...

  3. Holyoke: Good idea about the tile but the counters are too crooked and warped for a tile job to look anything but drunken.

    J+K: Thanks. Carpet in a kitchen gives me the willies. Maybe Im more of a neat freak than I realize?

  4. Susann8:58 AM

    maybe replace the counters with something not so expensive, like solid wood from ikea or the home improvement store? it's not such a big surface, so it shouldn't get too costly... also,maybe add open shelving where the upper cabinets stop half way? as for the floor, the laminate is really yucky. i guess there is not much one can do about it. maybe at least an area rug under the table? shifts the focus... hardware on the cabinets could be replaced...

  5. Budget always ruins my greatest ideas. But, your kitchen already looks so much better! I love Silver Sage from Restoration Hardware too! It makes the biggest difference in that room.
    Lila Ferraro
    Queen Bedroom Sets

  6. Do you really have to replace all the cabinets and do a complete demo?

    What about removing all the upper cabinets and replacing with open shelving? I love the look and it might work better in a weekend house where you probably dont have as much stuff to store. You could paint the lower cabinets and replace the hardware.

    Then you could replace the counters and whatever appliances and fixtures need updating.

    Also - do you have any solutions for someone who has like 4 ugly fans in her house? I feel like we need the air circulation but they are really god-awful looking. It's an old house without central ac and we are in North Jersey so it's a bit less breezy than the shore.

  7. Just throw A LOT of beer in the fridge and you'll be fine. Ha!

  8. 1. I LOVE that you also see a huge nipple when you look at that style of light fixture! Whose idea was that design anyway?

    2. I second Ms. Goodhouse on the open shelving idea. You could even go so far (budget permitting) to do the shelves within framing that can eventually support doors once you find what you want.

    3. Could you contact a contractor, supply store, or Habitat for Humanity to see if they have remnant marble slabs that you could have cut into super large cutting boards for cheap? I suppose you could also buy large butcher block boards to the same end. You'd get nice, new, clean surfaces, and you can add little adjustable feet or something to the bottoms if you need to control wobble.

  9. I think the IKEA cabinets are fine; I'd just replace the counter tops! I like the idea of taking off the doors and leaving the tops open. Would be a breezy look!

  10. Anonymous10:07 AM

    Hee hee you said nipple! I LOVE the table and chairs you got........just stay on that end of the room (LOL). I have seen fridges painted all the time so it could be sprayed to match the stove. And I say tile the counter as well.

  11. The countertops would drive me crazy, so for now I'd just put in some formica. Since it's going to be replaced anyway at least formica is relatively cheap and it will be clean. On a more expensive fix, you could put in granite and afterwards when you decide to replace the cabinets the granite can be reused. That's what the installers told me when we had our granite counters installed anyway.

  12. "Nipple Light" Cracking up! That's funny!
    You know my feelings on open shelving in place of the's extremely inexpensive to do and would give your kitchen SO much more personality. I know Mr. Brownstone is against it but so was my husband until he saw the results...I say go for it!

  13. I have something in my own home renovation, a word I imagined up for just this situation -- permanary. It's for something about halfway between permanent and temporary. Something nice enough to look at/live with for a prolonged amount of time, but when you actually get to do what you *really* want to do with the space, it goes. We've been in our house about three years and we're just now removing some of the initial permanary improvements, like cheap carpet in one room and blinds in another.

    So don't beat yourself up about it. Get yourself something reasonable and nice to look at, but maybe not the utmost highest quality, and when you get around to removing it, then decide if it's something you want to hold on to or not. :)

  14. I think changing out simple things light the light fixtures, and adding some new curtains would do a lot for the space. Maybe just start with the easy stuff and go from there?

  15. i didn't really think it was all that bad until you added all your comments LOL. i say, if you don't want to invest too much, especially since you're planning a reno, just do a quick lipstick job with things you can use afterwards. Making it pretty for the time being (maybe add some artwork you'll use later, some fresh flowers in pretty vases etc) might just be enough to hold you over. And I think some inexpensive curtains from Ikea would change the look of the back wall and then when you do your reno, you wouldn't be out much.

  16. It's tough to make recommendations without knowing where you want to go with it. That said, it IS possible to do major renovations piece meal -- especially if you have a solid plan. Actually, I've done it quite often. For instance, you could replace the upper cabinetry with open shelving or start re-wiring the electrical. Assuming that you intend to tear everything out, I'd stick with changes that are off of the floor and fairly immune to demolition dust.

    By the way, that new color is FABULOUS.


  17. Love the reference to the "ugly nipple light." Why do they make these things? I don't want boobs all over my ceiling.

    I can totally relate to your feelings of frustration. Being inside a house that's "just not right" despite knowing it's wonderful potential can still be frustrating. Consider painting the cabinets as a temporary fix. Paint always does wonders for my own sanity, even when I know it's only a stopgap.

  18. I'd start with the lighting and window treatments, knowing those will stay, and then look into whether or not painting the laminate flooring would hold up for the time being until the renovation. I once had engineered floors I disliked so much I really wanted to just paint them, could work in a beach house!


  19. Never a plain jane: Nice idea about the marble cutting boards. I love that!

    Amy: The plan is to do some open shelving in the reno (whenever that happens). There is no doubt we'll do a reno here at some point. The walls and floors are all crooked behind the cosmetics so that has to be fixed regardless.

    No suggestions for you on the ceiling fans. I have a little retro fan for the bedroom that I much prefer to a ceiling option b/c it can be cleaned easily and put away when not in use. I know they have a use but I prefer the alternatives b/c I find them offensive looking.

    Susann: I dont want to spend money on new cabs or countertops that are going to be junked in a couple of years. I could paint the cabs but they are so randomly placed I don't think that would make much of a difference. Its all very poorly thought out. (The current counters are from Ikea and they don't hold up well - wouldn't recommend)

    I'd like to do some minor cosmetic things like new window treatment and light fixtures b/c I feel like those can be reused. But putting good money on top of crooked walls and rotted wood just seems wrong.

  20. Now that you point out there are real structural problems and that you definitely have to gut it, i second the BLAH BLAH BLAHger and say, the hell with it. Beer in the fridge and deal with it all in the off-months! (Of course curtains and lighting in the meantime if you want)

  21. I was very curious about whether the counters were from Ikea after reading that the cabinets were. Good to know!

    I think lighting is a great place to start. The ceilings seem pretty standard...maybe 8 feet tall? Odd that someone put a ceiling fan in the kitchen...I could see it in a bedroom, especially in a home with high ceilings, but the placement seems really odd.

  22. What about ripping up the floors and just doing an exposed, stained concrete? I think that usually has a bit more of a modern look than you're going for, but it can be done right to fit any style. I love this color:

    It will just take some elbow grease, and even though they're work, it will be very inexpensive. We have them in our salon, and we get so many compliments on them. People are always surprised to hear that it's just concrete.

  23. New window treatments could go a long way and what about a round rug under the table and chairs. Could that help draw your eye away from the mismatched appliances and splintery cabinets?

  24. Paint the counter tops and then seal them. I would also paint the cabinets.

  25. I say change out the light fixtures and add window treatments.

    After that... Do what the BLAH BLAH BLAHger said, and put some beer in the fridge! Well, I don't drink beer, but a daiquiri would do!

  26. Janelle1:18 PM

    I have absolutely no good ideas for you but I wanted to say that the IKEA cabinets might be saved with new fronts and handles. Actually, I'd probably paint them a creamy color, add new hardware, and call it good for now.

    But mostly I wanted to ask a serious question: What is so wrong and ugly about ceiling fans? I keep hearing people talk about the true blight they are on a room, and I don't understand. I always thought they were actually pretty ingenious. However, my house is full of ceiling fans (Los Angeles summers on a budget...) and I'm afraid that people are laughing inside when they see them. Can you please explain for a truly clueless girl?

    P.S. I love the paint color in the kitchen :)

  27. I would resist the urge to change the light fixture until you do a total overhaul. For now I agree with Quinn who said that you should just paint the counters and seal them. I would also change the cabinet hardware ASAP.

    good luck!

  28. Eliminate that ugly fan first - it's much more noticeable than the nipple light, and will have the biggest impact in the space. Then, add a runner in the kitchen to cover up a bit of the laminate flooring, and pop a round coordinating rug underneath the cute table. I like Janelle's idea of painting the cabinets and adding new hardware, as well as the suggestion to add open shelving - that would add some balance above the stove.

  29. That new paint color does so much for that space already! Love it, along with the dining set.

    Hmm.. I would, for a quick and easy fix, replace the cabinet hardware and just paint the countertops and slap some polyurethane on them for now - they'd be a little refreshed, and hopefully not stick you with splinters anymore. :)

    And (I suppose to answer/go along with Janelle's comment?), I think there is a time and place for ceiling fans. My rule: If you don't have good ventilation in a room and it gets hot, use a ceiling fan (or a regular fan). It's what they're for. We had one in our kitchen when we moved in, and the first thing we did once we got the keys was take it down. I mean, a ceiling fan in the kitchen? What were they thinking? It wasn't until we started actually cooking in the kitchen that we realized the reason for the fan: there is NO AC vent in the kitchen -- AT ALL. So, the joke's on us - we went out and bought a nice track-lighting-contemporary looking fan, and now we stay nice and cool while we cook. :) That's just my two cents on the subject - if I can get away with it, I don't use them. I think regular lights look much nicer, however, if I need air flow, then by all means I use a fan! (and they do sell pretty nice looking ones nowadays, too!)

    I'm excited to see what you have in the store for your kitchen!


  30. Aura: Stained concrete is great but there isn't concrete under the floors. Its a rickety wood subfloor of some kind. So laying down concrete over wood isn't an inexpensive option.

    Janelle: I don't have a good answer for you why I think ceiling fans are ugly. I'd feel the same way if people put a heat lamp on the ceiling. Sure, its a practical way to get to an end result but its an eyesore. There are scenarios where it works fine - like in luxurious safari tent - but I've never seen them in a persons home and not hate it. But its just how I feel. Im sure there are people who love them too. Its just a personal preference.

  31. Formica countertops are inexpensive, then go and enjoy the beach! Its summer..leave the reno for the fall and winter. My .02:)

  32. Catalina2:51 PM

    Mrs. Limestone,
    I believe those cabinets are from the Varde line, am I right?
    We have them in our kitchen at home, but use open shelving instead of cabinetry on the walls. They are cheap stainless steel Ikea Shelves (I think they're actually intended for bathrooms). I'm not sure these would work for you if you're going for a beachy look, but I can send you pictures if you like.
    Best of luck! Renovations on a budget are the most fun, they involve so much creativity (:

  33. caroline (withonlytwo)6:14 PM

    Some eye-catching blinds or curtains would go a long way. Design*Sponge had a tutorial recently on making fabric roller shades. Two of those in a nice large-scale pattern (can't go wrong with damask) would give the dining end of the room some more presence.

    Totally hear you on the boob light and the ceiling fan. Could you replace the boob's dome with a round lampshade with a diffuser added? Like this, but on a slightly smaller scale?:

    Switching up the countertops is tough to do on the cheap. Love the idea of large marble cutting boards. Depending on the size of the countertops, you might even be able to totally replace them using remnant pieces.

  34. Anonymous6:31 PM

    After reading this post, I read the Nate Berkus post . . . loved the built-ins there, and made me think that perhaps you should paint the cabinets in the same Restoration Hardware color as your walls, but obviously in a semi-gloss, not wall flat. It would create a quiet, seamless effect, minimizing contrasts.

  35. I think you should call it a BOOB light instead!!!
    I would not focus too much on any changes that you make now blend well with whatever you do in your reno (other than lighting) cause it may be a waste of money.
    I would however go as Cheapo as possible and quite frankly paint is your friend here. Hard to tell how bad the counters really are but I would fill them with wood putty, sand and
    paint with Rustoleum countertop paint . Buy 2 of these cutting boards from Ikea that wrap around the counter edge and put one on each side(over the worst parts). Paint your cabinets white, paint and reuse the existing handles,add painted open shelves above stove and the other side above dishwasher. Paint your stove with black appliance paint and call it done! Put down a fun beachy washable throw rug in front of the sink , but I'd leave the floor alone. Along with your new lighting and blinds you should be able to live with it till your ready for the really big reno!!!

  36. Anonymous6:35 PM

    I'm with whoever suggested putting up open shelving either in addition to the upper cabinetry or in place of it! That could help it not look so choppy. And you could very easily (and cheaply) swap out the existing counters for IKEA's butcherblock counters. New hardware on the cabinets, obv. Maybe paint the cabinets white? Add bamboo blinds. And you must do your knock-off turquoise chandy in lieu of the fan! Add a Dash & Albert runner in the kitchen for some more color! It is definitely moving in the right direction! What a fun new project to work on. :)

  37. I understand not wanting to do anything that isn't going to remain after the big reno. This might be too much to do now but I would totally rip out those upper cabinets and use open shelving. It's such a small space that it should help open it up and also give it a modern feel. I second everyone else on getting rid of the countertops. A good tile would be great.

  38. I love Silver Sage, too. We just repainted our kitchen this color. What a difference it made!

  39. I agree with everyone else. Paint the cabinets, add some open shelves, and get a new cheapo countertop. Since you have the black fridge, how about painting the stove black?

    My next suggestion may not be beachy, but peel and stick tiles in a black and white diamond pattern may be a fresh temporary fix for your floor until your big reno.

  40. Oh, and what about wicker storage baskets on the open shelves?

  41. julianna1:13 AM

    The laminate floors don't look terrible in the photos, but if they're heinous in person, then rip them up and paint the subfloor. We lived on the subfloor for the first few years we were in our house -- the carpets were absolutely disgusting, so we ripped them out, washed the subfloor with bleach, then painted it with oil-based Kilz (the kind that's also a sealer and stain-blocker). If you want the ability to clean the floors (we didn't care, but since you're at the beach, they might get dirty from sand tracked in), then use porch and floor enamel over the primer.

    Yes, the rectangular pieces of subfloor have a different look than long strips of wood floor, but it doesn't look that peculiar. Especially if you follow previous posters' suggestions and top it with a rug under the table and a runner in the kitchen.

    The best part is, this project would encompass some of the demo you'd be doing later when you do the full-on renovation.

    As for the lights... if you really hate the nipple light and the ceiling fan that much, just get something cheap from Ikea that you won't feel guilty about getting rid of in a couple of years when you do the real reno.

  42. What about painting the kitchen cabinets? Sarah Richardson paints Ikea cabinets in almost all of her houses (LOVE her)! You could do it in a deeper shade of the silver sage and it could be really interesting, or just go standard white which I also love (my kitchen is all white cabinets). I know it's taboo in the decorating world, but what about laminate for the counters? You can do it super cheap (even off the rack at Lowes I think which you cut to size). At least it would be clean and you wouldn't have to get the tweezers out after making dinner :) You also wouldn't feel badly about ripping them out for something out. Another option is butcher block. As for the floor, I think you could do some peal and stick tile and really make a huge difference. Another option is that locking faux tile which is kind of neat, and easy to tear out in a few years (and maybe reuse or sell).

    Can't wait to see the result!


  43. Would new Formica slip under the metal edging on the counter? You might not even have to glue it down.

  44. "nipple light"......FUNNY! I have those in my basement. LOL! Came with the house. Not changing them though because we might move again in a few months. Railroad calls:)

    I am all or nothing. If you can't stand it just do a few things to make it where you are comfortable there. Then when the budget allows, get what you really want.

  45. I agree with the poster who suggested replacing the cabinets with open shelving. It can look really nice....

  46. I could never look at a kitchen the way you do

  47. I feel the paralysis. I have it when I want to do a little (with what I can on my budget) but know that certain things are just better left ugly until the real overhaul.

    What about starting with drapes to add some color or texture to the space. I can't remember what blog it was but one had drapes made from a drop cloth - great and cheap diy that would add some texture to the room - otherwise a clearance fabric that you love - I know you can sew!

    Would it be possible to maybe paint the cabinets for now - or is it more work than its worth? I would definitely say open shelving for where the cabinets just stop for some reason and some white dishes/cake stands/vases/flowers etc on display. Hope this is maybe even slightly helpful?

  48. Hmmm.... if it were me I'd be able to live with ugly over the non-functional. If your countertops are stained and splintery then that would be the first thing I'd fix, in any capacity. You could do marble tiles to tide you over cheaply or buy some butcher block slabs (an 18x25 slab is around $100 at places like butcherblock

    Then I'd replace the cabinet hardware, and add some 2" white wood blinds and cream curtains with black accents.

    And I have a few of those ugly ceiling lamps in my condo. Darnit, now I'm not going to be able to look at them without seeing nipples. LOL.. a trip to the lighting store is in my near future. =)

  49. I like the idea about painting the counters with Rustoleum counter paint.

    One possible idea idea for the floor, although I don't know if it would be too much color, is the NYSTED runner at Ikea. It's 6'7" x 2' and is a boldly striped plastic weave. (Black, two blues, orange pink and yellow) I've had one for a year and it never shows dirt (perfect for a beach house) and just needs to be hosed off once in a while. And it's only 29.99.

    Sorry, but I like ceiling fans, just not the multiple lights underneath and not over a dining room table.

  50. carolyn7:17 PM

    We painted our new kitchen and great room silver sage..its the best!

  51. Amzing how a fresh coat of paint can do wonders! I love silver sage. We used BM's patriotic white at the shorehouse which has a similar silver/blue/green depending-on-the-time-of-day quality. Perfect for the beach! How about a matchsticky blind on the window? We got ones at Lowe's that were meant to be temporary but we love, so they're staying put.

  52. Ohh, Mrs. Limestone, isn't Silver Sage just the best! It's my bedroom color and I love it! Gosh..what would I do?..I would have come to you for advice if it were my kitchen... :) I love the idea of butcher block or marble slab on the counter. I'd probably paint the cabinets and change the hardware. In the meantime, could you flip the blades on the fan if it's white on the other side? It might make it somewhat livable until you change the fixture out.

  53. Anonymous6:00 PM

    Oh you have me LOL about "standard issue ugly nipple light" because I ALWAYS think the exact same thing about that style of light fixture. I never say anything to anyone because I can just imagine a foot-in-my-mouth moment where I say, "those light fixtures look like they have a nipple" and the homeowner then says, "oh...I just purchased it last week and it's the love of my life, you biotch! Now all I'm going to be able to think about when I look at my lovely light is nips."

    Anyway, I'm glad that you share the same disgust for them that I do.

  54. Anonymous1:40 PM

    Maybe consider using builders' salvage to replace the cabinets? This is a good site:

    They also have lights.

    ;) SamiJ

  55. Anonymous5:14 PM

    The picture didn't seem that bad until I read your comments. At least, it seems, you have fairly decent appliances. When you say "lame laminate", are you dissing all laminate or just yours in the kitchen? The reason I ask,is we just put laminate in our living room after living with bare sub-flooring for the last two years. You want to talk about a total dump, you should've seen our place. The skanky wood-grain formica countertops were warped, moldy, and just plain yucky! Perhaps, until you are ready for a total reno why not do one of those coatings (concrete/granite look) that you apply over formica? I've seen it at Home Depot or just swap out the formica. Also, upper shelving is the way to go in a tiny galley-like kitchen. That's my humble opinion. Thanks!

  56. Now that you have painted the countertop. Have you thought of replacing the upper cabinets with open shelving? Then add some artwork for the walls and a runner to camo the floors. Adding new curtains in a great print would also perk it up.

    How about beaches of the world photos from all of your great trips on the walls?


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