KITCHEN RENO BEFORE + AFTER: The Blame for the Blog’s Hiatus

It was my kitchen’s fault. The kitchen ate up my time so I couldn’t blog. My procrastination had nothing to do with it.


This past February I began the process of cosmetically upgrading my kitchen.

The Vision:

  • British Pub meets Blake Lively
  • The civilian’s version of Nate Berkus’s kitchen

The to-do list:

  • re-position appliances/cabinets (long unnecessary story) (C)
  • back splash (C)
  • floor tile (C)
  • new hardware (A)
  • update cabinets (A)
  • paint (A)
  • new lighting (A)

(C) – contractor  (A) – Amanda Nell

The Limitations:

  • same layout
  • same countertops + cabinets
  • the dreaded “B” word



Our condo was a rental unit before we bought it. It looked slightly unloved, save the newly installed appliances.





BEFORE dsc_0820



BUY IT. THE OCCASION WILL COME. I purchased this light fixture almost three years ago. It was on sale at an amazing price, and I knew I was going to give the kitchen a facelift…eventually.



These images have been buried deep within iPhoto since February. They’re a little painful to look at.



I used Farrow & Ball’s Studio Green in high gloss. The best advice I can give when painting your cabinets is to take your time. It’s a looong process. First, I removed the hardware and doors. Then in a friend’s workshop I cleaned the doors, filled holes, re-drilled new holes. Next I sanded, primed, sanded, painted, sanded and painted them. Repeat entire process on cabinet boxes.



Alright. That’s enough of the old.



BE BRAVE: I was nervous about a green-on-green situation. I had to have this paint color but knew replacing the countertops was an unnecessary expense. So few internet examples existed of same color cabinet and counter top. So, I threw a Hail Mary and gave it a shot anyways. Since everything else is clean and neutral it balances the heaviness of the green.
This paint wins everything! Depending onthe light, the dark dark green can appear teal, black, navy and forest green. High gloss paint is very durable and cleans up more easily than matte, which is 100% necessary for yours truly. That ball of dough and those specks of flour everywhere aren’t just props, and someone’s gotta clean it up.
Believe it or not this semi-galley kitchen boasts 32 cabinet doors! Almost all are opened once a day. My little antique step stool is now a new favorite. I re-upholstered it simply using a staple gun and a turkish towel. (note: the dough has relocated to the oven)
TIE IT TOGETHER: One major component must tie together all other major components. In this case the mosaic marble tile contains the dark green, grays, golds, browns and white found elsewhere in the room.
These gems deserve time in the spotlight! Why? Because they’re one of my best frugal finds. If you want the chic-est cabinet pulls around then there is a good chance you’ll pay upwards of $15/ea. For 40 pulls, that’s over $600 just in metal! Sure, I could get cheap ones at a big box store for $2. Then again, I could also eat McDonald’s for lunch instead of Sweetgreen. These gorgeous weathered brass pulls from Amerock cost $8.12/ea but were on sale for $4!
SAID WHO?: Do not covet stainless steel appliances! It’s a conspiracy created by I don’t know whom, but they’re absolutely ridiculous! seriously though, buy what YOU love and think would look great in your space. We love the matte steel by GE because it doesn’t smudge. Unless we find a dark matte steel (slate) one, we’ll soon replace the fridge with another black as we don’t want something that ruins the flow by severely contrasting with the cabinets.
MIX METALS: Copper shelf paper from Amazon is a witch to install, but one of my favorite details!
TIP: Everything must multifunction. Incense burner + jewelry holder in one.
TIP: See above. Italian ceramic serving bowls + cat trough, although Bellatrix Starr has yet to return them to their original function.
USE IT: Use your fine china on the daily! Display it so it doesn’t fall out of sight thus out of mind. Honestly, who will care if a dish chips or breaks?  Your husband?? Yea, okay…
TRUTH: Who else finds that bar carts are rarely used as bars? It’s really styled storage space. I still adore my Serena and Lily south seas bar cart. TIP: Stop watching/reading the news until January.
MIXED MEDIA: For different shapes and patterns, keep them in the same color family. And in the case of tile, use the same grout too.


  • PATIENCE: DIY-ing is not for you if you impose strict timelines upon yourself or if you become easily flustered at mistakes. You WILL miss your deadlines and you WILL make mistakes.
  • TIME vs. DINERO: Yes, I saved a few thousand dollars by painting the cabinets myself, but it took forever. If you work full-time hours I highly suggest you have them professionally done. This theory also applies to pretty much everything DIY.
  • RESEARCH: The internet is your bestie. When you find an item you love, research it. I promise you it exists elsewhere on the interwebs for a better deal.
  • CREATE YOUR VISION: This kitchen, inspired by Nate Berkus’s own, existed somewhere inside my head. But more people than not told me to keep the original cabinets, including a few friends, my hubs (sorry!), an interior designer, my contractor…. In the end my stubbornness prevailed and now I’m obsessed with my kitchen. The lesson is to go with your gut; not everyone can envision your vision.
  • ASK FOR HELP: This is a THANK YOU to the dear friends who let me take over their workshop (aka basement), the fine YouTubers who just want to share information with the world, the sweet gentlemen at the various hardware stores who answered alllllll of my many questions, to the always reliable Google and finally to my patient husband.





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