Monday, January 11, 2010

An Uptown Kitchen Makeover

The kitchen here at STUDY HQ has been complete for months, but it wasn't until yesterday that we finally got around to photographing it. You may have seen snippets here and there, but we think it deserves a full-fledged post. What was once the least favorite - and arguably most disgusting - room in our little slice of Uptown rental heaven has become by far the cheeriest space. But first, a look back...

Thar she blows. And no, your eyes don't deceive you. That is a toilet seat and two moldy humidifiers laying by the door. Who knows what the previous tenants were cooking up in here, but whatever it was it left a seriously powerful layer of grime on the ceiling that caused a few calluses and only once, tears.

No mind though. We knew the place had good bones and fell in love with the built in cabinet. After every surface was thoroughly scrubbed we started things off with a fresh coat of Benjamin Moore's Linen White. No surface was spared (radiator included) but we realized the vinyl flooring was looking more and more filthy the cleaner everything else got. Not to mention the cracking, missing tiles. So better judgement and landlord be damned we decided to install a block stripe floor using black and white vinyl tiles.

The installation was shockingly quick and easy and only got truly hairy around the radiator. Plus Oskar looks really good photographed against it.

You might say yes, but you why put money into something you can't take with you - to which we say, for under $50, nothing beats the peace of mind a new floor brings knowing you're not walking on the detritus of tenants past.

From day one we'd remarked on the insane lack of counter space so, thankfully, the refrigerator was able to fit in our obnoxiously large pantry - a reno project for another day - and two butcher blocks were moved in to flesh the place out. At this point we'd more than satiated our need for clean with buckets upon buckets of white paint, so Benjamin Moore's Gentleman's Gray was brought in for the back door.

Because we are masochists, a racing stripe border was added in the same color in order to break up all the white and give the room some definition.

We think the result is pretty fantastic, but getting it just right with no bleed marks took at least six passes: four with tape and two for touch-ups. The main issues lied with having to account for an uneven ceiling and dealing with a truly horrible speckled texture on the wall. Note - "sand" paint is an abomination.

Because things were getting a little dour what with all the black and blue stripes, we decided to really showcase the built-in by giving it a coat of Benjamin Moore's Cabana Green.

This particular cabinet was originally supposed to be Prairie Green - as inspired by Anne Gridley and Gary Graves' farmhouse library from Country Living - but in all the lighting we tried, Prairie never looked right in the space. For a minute there we almost forged ahead and painted it Prairie anyway, but cooler minds prevailed. The Cabana achieves the same effect and looks correct for this room albeit with a worse name.

Full disclosure - this cabinet only has four functional drawers (there should be five) but such is renting reality. We suspect if we called the landlord to fix this he might just tear this beauty out and install something made of fiberboard and PVC so we'll stick with our mostly functional gloriously green cabinet.

Other inexpensive but effective changes we made involved installing a white subway tile backsplash and adding some much needed Ekby Mossby shelves, available from Ikea.

So far this kitchen has withstood the tumults of a Halloween extravaganza, Thanksgiving, two impromptu parties, and one very rambunctious Beaglier, all with excellent results.