In my last home makeover post, I asked which room reveal you wanted to see next and you said, “the kitchen”. Well friends, ask and you shall receive.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through some of the links in this post, you won’t pay a penny more, but we’ll get a small commission, which helps keep the bar stocked.
The kitchen was by far the biggest transformation in the rental unit in my new 1940s-era duplex, which is another way of saying, “This is the room where we spent the most time and money.” For reference, here is the before:
Yes, this is the same room. Indulge me as I dig into some of the more creative design choices pictured above. The cabinets are white melamine which have been lovingly adorned with a black peel and stick faux wood veneer – if you look closely, you’ll see the previous tenants even wrapped the hood fan with the same peel and stick veneer.
The backsplash is tinfoil. The wallpaper is also peel and stick. The monstrosity on the right-hand side of the image is a massive open shelving unit with a moveable island below. It is completely obstructing access to the door to the side stairs. The countertop is an unconvincing melamine interpretation of green marble and the flooring is a sandy-hued vinyl that may have been white, at one point.
There was some serious sweat equity involved in disrobing all the cabinetry, walls, and ripping out that massive shelving unit – huge thanks to my parents and my boyfriend Michael who got their hands dirty with me in this renovation.
The colour palette for this room was entirely inspired by this wallpaper from Rifle Paper Co. We installed the peel-and-stick version ourselves which was nearly a relationship-ending enterprise and not something I’d recommend doing on your own. If I were to do it again, I would hire a professional and opt for a traditional wallpaper instead of the peel-and-stick. It’s holding up well but it was a real nightmare to do ourselves and our install isn’t perfect.
We wanted to keep costs as low as possible and I’ll provide a full cost breakdown for this project below. As such, after we stripped the cabinets, we took them to Paint Magic to have them professionally cleaned, touched up, and painted this beautiful sage green called “Garden Path” by Benjamin Moore.
We replaced the white hardware with these simple brushed brass knobs which were very affordable and well-made ($27.69 for 10 knobs). The green countertop had to go and we replaced it with a butcher block style countertop from Ikea – the Karlby in Oak Veneer. We needed two lengths of the countertop for this project and we used an off-cut to create a little sitting nook in the corner.
I loved adding this little nook because I think it’s imperative that the cook be kept company while they work their culinary magic and this corner offers a lovely perch for drinking sparkling wine and making sparkling conversation. I opted for the Ready Stacking Counter Stool by Blu Dot (now on sale) in green to tuck into the space nicely and complement the tonal sage green colour palette.
We were able to pick-up some beautiful 24″x24″ terrazzo look floor tile in a green/grey colour way from the Euro Tile & Stone Outlet here in Ottawa for an absolute steal ($3/square foot), along with a subway tile in a beige tone for the backsplash (tinfoil didn’t seem like it would work well with my design vision). If you’re based in Ottawa, I highly encourage you check out the Euro Outlet and/or their main showroom for your next tile project. The products I’ve used may be sold out now but I’ve linked similar styles above.
We added a small skirt to the bottom of the upper cabinets to balance the proportions and also allow the addition of under cabinet LED lighting. We kept all the existing appliances (fridge and stove) which are still in good working order but added a low-profile over-the-range microwave as there wasn’t one before and it seemed like somewhat of a necessity for an Airbnb rental.
I wanted the kitchen to feel like a modern interpretation of the home’s original era (midcentury) so I leaned into the cute kitsch of the wallpaper and added decor touches like this pear cookie jar (now on sale) and a cute citrus print from Etsy.
Lastly, I didn’t want the bold print of the wallpaper to overwhelm the space so I replaced the oversized wall-mounted open-shelf cabinet with a large chalkboard which Michael and I made ourselves (saving us hundreds of dollars). We use the chalkboard to share important information with our guests like the WiFi password and emergency contact info. We also invite them to leave comments/drawings. I will create a unique blog post with a step-by-step walkthrough on how we made the chalkboard, it was shockingly easy and we didn’t even need to use chalkboard paint.
So, how much did all this cost me? Drumroll please…
We saved a lot of money on contractors as we did everything ourselves; my friend Kasia’s husband Matt was kind enough to assist Michael with the floor tile installation which was the only labour cost incurred during the project.
What is your favourite element of this design? I’d love to know what resonated with you most!