Before and After: Kitchen Edition

Are you sad for me? (thanks for letting me borrow that, Sara!)

This is the kitchen I inherited when I bought my home. I knew I wanted a fixer-upper, something to add my own flavor to, and as you can see, this house has definitely given me (and is still giving me) the opportunity to do so. My favorite part of this kitchen was the laminate countertops that had split, buckled, and swelled at the joint in the corner. OMG, it was so gross I thought I was going to be sick every time I looked at it. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of counterspace but I've been able to make due. My dream kitchen would be an open space with drawers for spices, an island, an attached great room/open floorplan, and probably a serving window that leads to the pergola in my beautiful backyard. As you see, that's not what I'm working with.
I really loved the combination of that original 1984 wallpaper with that dark trim. I'm sure that lots of fun and exciting meals were held in this space before I moved in!!! **note the sarcasm.
I really wanted to change the layout of the space and open the wall between the kitchen and dining room, but I was worried about taking on too much (both, financially and as a novice DIY-er/designer). I decided to go with the basic upgrade--flooring, paint, hardware, lighting and countertops--and keep my costs to a minimum.
I had a skim coat applied to the seams of the wallpaper and then primer and paint. I also had that little "bridge" taken down that went over the window and connected the two cabinets. The trim was painted a high gloss white to match the rest of the house (all the trim & windows were originally a pink-ish peach. Gross.), and I removed the doors between the entry hall and the dining room for a better flow. Just those small changes alone made a HUGE impact.
Drumroll, please . . .

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This was the way the eat-in looked when the basic makeover was completed. The chairs were purchased for $2.50 each at a thrift store and then I added a fresh coat of paint and recovered the bottoms. They fold up, too, which means I can store them to use as additional seating if/when I get new chairs. I ended up covering the chairs with a heavy, charcoal grey faux suede-ish material. It's soft, worked well, and only cost me about $5 for 5 yards. Lately I've been thinking of recovering them with a patterned fabric, but haven't found anything yet. That crooked light came from Ikea (the glass was actually uneven), and the one in the kitchen did as well. I've since changed the light in the eat-in, but am still searching for the right fixture for the kitchen. I did eventually paint over the discoloration left by the old fixture.

This . . .
has evolved into this . . .
Please excuse the miscellaneous items in the last 2 photos-- I just took them a few days ago when I realized that a few things have changed since the last photo session. Also, the bookcase you see in the corner is just in the kitchen for safekeeping until I get it sold. I would, however like to find something to go in that space, but I don't know what just yet.

So this was a very inexpensive update, factoring in only costs for paint, tiling, and plumbing (like less than $1500). I'm not including any other expenses because the floors run throughout the downstairs (so it wasn't a kitchen project, so to speak), and the cost of the appliances can vary depending on what you choose for your own needs. The most expensive thing for me ended up being the counter-depth refrigerator, which, in hindsight, was a waste. I could really use the extra room that would've come with a normal sized unit. Ah, we live and learn. This project was DIY, but in this case the D stood for "Design" and not "Do". In hindsight I'm kicking myself for not doing the painting myself, but I was impatient and felt like I didn't know enough to do a good job. I really wanted it to be done by move-in day, so I folded and went with a (horrible) contractor. Now I know better. If you have the time, patience, and don't mind stretching the project out, I encourage you to take it on yourself.

As you see, I painted the cabinets a high-gloss black, changed the hardware, installed granite (tile) countertops, subway tile backsplash, and purchased new appliances. I would have loved new cabinets and granite slab, but it would have taken my budget way beyond what I was prepared to spend. I really like the look of glossy black cabinets, and I feel like I did well considering what I spent. I'd still like to add moulding to the top of the cabinets (when someone teaches me how to cut it), under cabinet lighting (the battery operated ones will do), bamboo shades to the windows, and change the lighting over the kitchen area. I'm still not 100% sure about the wall next to the stove, but I'm hanging in there for now. I've also been contemplating removing the cabinet to the right of the sink and going with open shelving, but I'm afraid to take the plunge. I keep feeling like if it's the wrong move, I won't be able to go back. Maybe one day I'll be strong enough. :) It's been fun seeing this space come together in all of it's layers, and there's still work to do!

I've been nervous about posting photos of my own home, but decided to try it out, so hopefully you like what you see. Does anyone else have an inexpensive, but dramatic kitchen makeover? If so, direct me to your site because I'd love to see it. Layla's is really amazing as well. Check her out.
**also, a quick shout out to Lakeitha & Annette for helping me with my blog and answering my questions. Thanks, ladies!