Photos by Steve Smith, VisionFire Studios

It has been said that ‘time with friends is always well spent.’ That statement could not be more accurate – nail on head – when it comes to my friend Amy. Especially if it includes a DIY kitchen overhaul and baked goods.

By moving the placement of a few of her original cupboards, Amy was able to create a few more modern-looking nooks to break up the traditional style of her kitchen. She made her own floating shelves that opened up the space while still being functional and creating opportunity to display canisters and pretty dishes.

First and foremost, Amy makes whipping up homemade anything look like a breeze. This nearly always means coffee at her house includes delicious fluffy biscuits, fresh granola bar squares, or when she’s really inspired, carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Who’s hungry? I’d have to be hard pressed to pass on an invitation because good food in great company is the key to this tired Momma’s heart. But more than that, our kids are similar in age and will gleefully spend hours exchanging silly squeals and imaginative play while allowing mothers to catch up in the kitchen – and from time to time, get up to a little renovation mischief.
Without fail, when the two of us get together there is endless chatter and contagious laughter that always turns to dreaming, alternatively deemed ‘scheming’ by our other halves. Coffee and biscuits turn cold as they tag out to hammers and pry bars – Amy’s tool/weapon of choice. Our key recipe for renovation success is team work, each bringing different but complimentary skills to the figurative table. A simple conversation between two friends – one a compulsive planner with a knack for foresight and interiors, the other an impulsive, endlessly energetic motivator who happens to be excellent at wielding a pry bar – led to this beautiful kitchen transformation, where all that baking magic now happens.

Talk It Out

There are seemingly endless possibilities when it comes to refreshing a space but generally budget, personal styles and timelines have a tendency to scale those back significantly. It is key to pinpoint upfront the problem areas in every space and compile a list of must haves and wants to help guide the project. This helps to pre-establish a vision with solutions that are within scope in order to produce an on-point end result worth the investment.
For Amy, the kitchen felt dark and lacked personality that related to the rest of her home she had so carefully curated. There were problem areas that gathered junk which ultimately displayed a misuse of space which she wanted to maximize for her family’s benefit.

Think Outside the Box

A full overhaul project with all new everything is not always the answer, or an option, in every situation. Budget can force creative alternatives which have a tendency to work out to be a happy, beautiful outcome with the proper planning and forethought.

By re-imagining what was already there we injected the space with new personality by re-jigging the existing cabinetry. Which expensed absolutely nothing beyond our time, joined muscle, and creativity.
• Eliminating the problematic desk area altogether allowed for better traffic flow.
• Removing all the upper cabinetry, with the exception of the two flanking the new range hood, opened up the space to feel bigger, creating an opportunity for DIY open shelving that can be injected with a blend of functional and decorative elements exuding personal style.
• Splitting the full height pantry cabinets and relocating to either side of the refrigerator created visual balance. *And allowed for an upgrade that otherwise would not have fit.
• Repurposing the corner upper cabinets as an island base added needed closed storage, increased counter space, and allowed for subtle colour and textural variation creating interest in the overall space.
Colour Palette

The power of paint is a real thing.

By saying goodbye to the dark stain, this light creamy cabinet colour brings the bright warmth to this space Amy was originally after. A few gallons of paint and endless patience created this traditional yet fresh neutral backdrop that enhances each detail that has been layered in.

Down to the Details

Each decision along the way, big or small, affects the overall outcome and mood the space evokes. Reference the original vision list, keep the budget in check, and anticipate how each decision will play into the next.

For this project the details ranged in scope:
• Bulk head removal was a homeowner must, which allowed for a simple finish moulding to add interest.
• DIY white subway tile applied with large spacers filled with dark grout catches the eye.
• Incorporating a variation of wood elements, grey tones in the island, sink, and countertops, and glass in the lights and dishware relate to the rest of the house and customize the space.