One Year Later House Tour: Breakfast Nook and Dresser as Dining Buffet

It’s kitchen season over here. 3 years ago at this time, I was just getting started on transforming our old builder grade kitchen into my dream kitchen (painted cabinets, Silestone Marengo countertops, DIY Subway Tile backsplash). And as soon as we wrap up Thomas’s birthday, I’m doing the same at our new house. Well, I’m starting on cabinet prep this week. I think B and I would both like to replace the countertops and we’d really love to install a single basin sink like we did at our last house, but our granite counters here, while not my favorite material (I’m a Quartz over granite girl any day), are fine so we’re going to keep them for the foreseeable future. But before we get to the kitchen redo, let’s talk about the breakfast nook.

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Since we moved in, I’ve been on the hunt for an old dresser to use as a buffet and storage in the bay window of our breakfast nook. I’ve hunted Craigslist, thrift stores, antique stores and garage sales for a year with no luck. We’ve had an ektorp bookcase we used in the basement at our old house in the bay window for the last six months as a place holder (mostly because once we moved it out of our dining room, we didn’t have another place for it and the bay window was open). And then, just last weekend, I was out for a run with Thomas (on his bike) and I spotted a dresser in a garage sale two blocks from our house that I thought would be perfect for my vision. It wasn’t old, but it had drawers and doors like I’d hoped and I loved the bead board character of it. And it was chippy enough thanks to living in a house with 3 kids for several few years to pass as older. And I figure after it lives in my house with 3 kids for many, it will look even chippier. It had a broken leg, which I knew we could fix, so it was $15. Done and dusted. Thomas and I sprinted home and sent B with my car to load it in – he was questioning my vision for sure, but he will be the first to tell you that he’s learned over the years to just let me work with my visions because they usually work out, and when they don’t, I figure something out.

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My instinct was to paint the dresser a bright color, but since it was already chippy white, I decided to move it into the kitchen and see how I felt about the white. And I’m really liking it – it’s easy on the eye and allows other colors to pop off of it – like the happy birthday banner that’s currently living on it because it’s birthday season here at imperfect.

 

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The buffet is currently acting as my coffee station – I couldn’t stand having the Keurig taking up my precious counter space, so I moved it to the buffet and it’s working perfectly. I held out on the Keurig for so long due to the cost of the pods and the fact that they aren’t recyclable, but my parents gave me this ‘lil guy for Christmas last year, and with a reusable, refillable cup, it’s super convenient. My reusuable Keurig cup and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee lives in the top drawer so everything’s close at hand. And post Whole30, I enjoy my coffee black, so I grab it straight from the Keurig and head straight to the back patio in the mornings before the kids are up to breathe in the cool morning air and have some me-time.

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I love how the breakfast nook is coming together. The DIY painted industrial pendant plays nicely with the wood and metal tones on the table and chairs, and with the buffet being white, it doesn’t compete for attention. I like an element of surprise in every room – whether it’s an antique piece in an otherwise new furniture room, or a pop of color amongst my normal white and gray and wood tones, I think having something that’s us but not expected helps to inject our personalities into each room, and makes the difference, for our family at least, between a house and our home.

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A Pop of Fun: Painting a Warehouse Pendant

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So, when we last left off replacing light fixtures, we’d installed a classic school house light in our front entryway to replace a dated builder “boob light”. When I was buying that light, I also threw an industrial warehouse pendant in my cart – I wasn’t convinced that the finish was right for our home and was pretty sure I’d end up returning it, but I knew I liked the style so I figured I’d buy it with our “Just Moved” coupon and could always return it. Our coupon brought the pendant light to just about $25, and I brought it home where I decided the stainless steel finish just wouldn’t do in our space. It screamed industrial kitchen, and I’m far from a gourmet chef. And this room needed some personality.

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I put it in my car to return it, and thought about what I wanted for a couple days. I didn’t really want a traditional kitchen light fixture. I have my eye on the Eldridge chandelier at Ballard Designs or something similar for our dining room, and I didn’t want more of the same in the kitchen. I just couldn’t shake the idea of the industrial pendant, I wanted something funky and fun. But again, that stainless steel wasn’t cutting it for our space.

Painting the pendant my signature green definitely crossed my mind from the beginning, but I was scared – that I wouldn’t like it or that I’d ruin it as spray painting’s not usually my strong point.  And after it was painted, I certainly couldn’t return it. And finally, on Thursday I had a pep talk with myself, “Em, it’s $25. If painting it screws it up, life will go on. And if painting it makes it less timeless, so what? It was $25.” So, I pulled out a can of Rustoleum Fern spray paint  (my shade of green) and went to town.

This is what we started with:

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I didn’t prep this at all except to tape off the holes at the top because I didn’t want the inside to be green. I used a plastic tarp in the grass as my work station. Not a great call. I highly recommend you do this on cardboard on a hard surface, not the grass – I had issues with the plastic sticking to the light even though I taped the tarp down down – after I took this picture – which required me to sand. Don’t do that, just use cardboard.

After one coat, I was skeptical – of my color choice and the ability of this metallic lamp to look good glossy green.

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But three coats (and a little sanding plus a fourth coat because of my grass and plastic choice…again, use cardboard) later I had a perfectly glossy, fern green pendant light for above our kitchen table that I adored. I let it dry for a day, then it was install time.

Mr. B took down this late 90s faux finished beauty:

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And put up my green girl:

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And I’m smitten. Perfectly classic and timeless like my school house light? Not at all. But so much fun, and the perfect pop of color our breakfast nook was so desperately lacking. I love how it brings the green of the family room back to the kitchen:

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And mostly I love that it says we don’t take ourselves or our home too seriously. The stainless steel was too harsh for our space, and just wasn’t “us”. But the green? So very us, and a hit of whimsy that our house has been missing. I’m smitten. What about you?

And that concludes our lighting updates until I decide on a dining room fixture and bite the bullet on the price. Pretty sure whatever I choose will cost more than these last two switches combined. Hard to beat $70 for two new light fixtures.

Elements of a Dream Kitchen and a Giveaway

Two years ago, we turned our limited space kitchen into our dream kitchen for the existing footprint. From a functionality standpoint, I had different layout dreams, but from a finishes standpoint, I had my dream kitchen. Crisp white cabinets, dark gray counter tops, a classic subway tile backs plash and a deep single sink and dark oil rubbed bronze hardware. Leaving our kitchen behind – especially that sink! – was one of the hardest parts of moving this month. That and the memories. But I keep reminding myself that a kitchen and house are just that – a place to prepare food and shelter over our heads. It’s the memories and work we put into a kitchen or a whole house that make them feel like home. And so, I’m eagerly planning my “dream kitchen” for our new house. The layout of our new kitchen is almost exactly what I would have designed myself, save for our lack of pantry, and I cannot wait to explore our options and turn this kitchen into the heart of our home: the room our kids will likely remember most from their childhoods in the future. Click to read the rest of this post below and enter for a chance to win a $50 Williams-Sonoma gift card!

Wilsonart Dream Kitchen

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Cozy Modern Breakfast Nook

Oh, the breakfast nook. If you’ve read imperfect for 35 seconds you know the breakfast nook changes about as frequently as Taylor Swift changes boyfriends. Originally, it was just a round table and chairs. Then I bought a rug. Then I returned the rug. Then B and I embarked on a year long banquette-building project. Then I bought a new table and chairs. Then we finally finished the banquette. Then I hung an IKEA picture hanging wire to display artwork and cards which I never took a  picture of because it never looked right. Then I moved the banquette to the playroom. Then Mr. B went out of town to play golf with my dad and my brother, and Mama Caroline stepped in to take charge of her daughter’s indecision.

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I knew that while B was out of town, I wanted to get rid of the picture hanging thing. I love them when I see the in other people’s houses, but it never worked in this space. I was going to replace it with gallery ledges, but I wasn’t convinced. And finally Caroline said, “You are thinking about moving in the next year or two, and if you really think you’ll love the ledges, do it. But in my opinion, it’s just another personal thing you’ll need to take down to list the house. I’d do a mirror.” I knew I didn’t want another square mirror, so I set out to find the blog-famous quatrefoil mirror at Lowes. They didn’t sell it anymore, but I stumbled across a cheaper and identical one at Hobby Lobby and scooped it right up.

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Mr. B, my dad and brother left town, and Caroline and I embarked on house projects, starting with the kitchen. We moved the banquette back to the kitchen. It still houses toys, but that’s just the way it’s going to be for awhile. Thomas likes to crawl under the table to retrieve his bowling set, and it’s practical storage while also being practical seating. We hung the mirror and immediately loved the difference – I can see the front of our house from the breakfast nook now, it’s far more airy and open.

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We rehung my old chalkboard in a more reasonable location – it used to sit right next to the door as you walked into the garage, and I loved having a place to hang our keys but it always felt out of place and far to small for the long wall. On the small wall, it’s perfect. A place to hang my keys and not to small . Sometimes, you just need another pair of eyes to help you figure out how things should work.

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 So that’s the first project my mom and I tackled last month while the menfolk were out of town. What do you think? Tell me you have a room you flip flop on in your home. I need company.

Kitchen Chair Makeover {Overstock Tabouret Chairs Painted}

Last Fall, we brought home the Jackson dining table from World Market for our breakfast nook. I loved everything about it – the industrial metal base and the rustic wood top, and after pining after it for 6 months and cursing our budget for keeping me from impulse buys, it was mine. 

But the Tolix knock-off chairs – even on sale – added an additional $400+ to the purchase price. And Overstock sold very similar chairs in a set of 4 for $199. So I bought the Overstock chairs.

When they arrived, I was disenchanted with how the finish worked with the table. It was a very flat silver – more space age than vintage Tolix chair knock-off – and the silver stood out badly compared to the finish of the table base. When I ordered online, I thought they’d match perfectly because the World Market website shows a lighter finish on the chairs and table and the Overstock chairs look darker. Both were incorrect depictions of the products and the result was George Jetson inspired silver chairs with an industrial rustic table. I wanted to paint them immediately, but my mom convinced me to wait to see if the finish grew on me.  It didn’t. See how the bright silver just doesn’t jive?



So, I mentioned to my cousin Sarah (one of my favorite house-talk buddies) when she was over a few weeks ago that I wanted to paint them and she said, “Then let’s do it!” So I did. I bought four cans of Rustoleum’s Metallic Spray Paint in Black Night. I did a really light dusting of paint – two coats, allowing a little bit of the silver to show through for a more zinc oxidized/vintage finish – I was looking to soften the glaring space age finish and add dimension to the chairs – figuring I could always just coat them with more black if all else failed. 


I love the chairs immensely more now – they work so much better with the finish of the table and don’t look like I took the cheap route. Even though at $199 for the set of four chairs and $20 worth of spray paint, I totally did.

Here’s the view walking down the stairs now just so you can get the full effect:


You might also notice the banquette is gone – not gone gone, just moved for now. But that’s a story for another day. Maybe next week, I’m making progress over here. And I’ve decided that what this barren breakfast nook needs is wainscoting. Don’t hold your breath, though.

Thoughts? Definite improvement for the table the chairs are sitting at, right? 


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Breakfast Nook with Banquette Seating

If you’ve been reading imperfect from the start, you know that I’ve flip flopped over Banquette Seating for, ohhh…3 1/2 years now. Then, last February we bit the bullet and started construction. Yes, that was almost a year ago.  After much debate, I finally came across a real estate blog that recommended a one wall banquette over a corner banquette for resale (due to difficulty that getting in and out of a corner booth creates) – I’d link to that blog if I still could find it, but interestingly enough, 2 years later, I no longer have a record of it. But back to the banquette – my main concern with this project was always resale – and a vent underneath the window in the nook. Not to mention that one window is fairly low and wouldn’t be great to sit against. So the one wall approach helped to alleviate that venting issue that neither B nor I are handy enough to tackle ourselves, and also made me feel better about the long-term saleability of a banquette.  Still not convinced, though, I realized that we could have a built-in looking bench without actually building it in. Buh-bye resale hang-up, time to get started.  Here’s what we were dealing with:

Just an empty corner nook. The size of the nook prevents a rug from being very practical (vents and doors would open into the size we need), and there was no softness (a white curtain that didn’t photograph well). We needed fabric. We needed some color. We needed seating.

I consulted Ana-White.com’s plans to see if she had anything that would fit the bill for a banquette – she had a few bench ideas, but nothing that was what I had in mind. And then I realized that I could modify the plans for the storage bed to make a bench. I did some rough calculations, handed them over to my resident engineer for “approval” (we all know I don’t give two hoots about approval…I just needed my long division checked.) and we were off to Home Depot and Lowes for the parts.

6 months later…we had this.

Don’t be alarmed, the cushion isn’t staying long-term.

I don’t love the cushion. It’s temporary – I cheaped out and bought a thin piece of foam thinking that thickness didn’t matter. Then I made a sloppy cushion out of clearance fabric because I wasn’t sure what I should do for fabric. It will do for now while I’m saving my house money envelope to re-do it…which will cost more in the long-run. Don’t cheap out is the moral of the cushion story.

I made square throw pillows from fabric projects around the house – I love bringing the whole house together with fabric. The geometric green is from my DIY Ottoman/coffee table in the adjoining living room, and the floral is the fabric I used for the kitchen curtains. I stole the grass green ticking from Caroline’s fabric stash with some excuse like, “Your house is blue and yellow, this would look way better at my house”. I’m an excellent daughter.

I’m on the hunt for the perfect (reasonably priced) locker baskets for the six cubbies, so for now this is all the decor that’s happening. But when the baskets are here, I’ll use them for paper plates, smaller appliances that I use less frequently, table linens, and the far end one for Casco’s leash, harness and collar. But in the mean time, it’s a less frequently used cookbook hang-out:

With the banquette complete, and our kitchen recently updated with painted cabinets, new Silestone countertops and a subway tile backsplash, I decided the rest of the nook needed an overhaul, too.

I stumbled across the Jackson Dining Table at World Market last year and took bad phone pics for Mr. B. But we never pulled the trigger. Right before Thanksgiving they had a huge furniture and I snatched up the table, intending to buy the matching chairs for myself as a birthday present in January. But that lasted 12 hours before I ordered almost identical chairs on Overstock. Happy early birthday, I guess?

I’m madly in love with the table and chars. I adore the industrial table pedestal with the more rustic top.

And the metal tub chairs make me smile as I walk down the stairs every morning. B pulled them out of the box when they arrived and said “These are not chairs I ever would have seen and thought, ‘Em will love those.’” But I absolutely love the combination of more industrial with traditional – and I’ve been lusting after a Tolix chair knockoff for years. 

Should we do one more quick before and after?

Before:

And after. Well, after-ish. I still need to remove the too-small chalkboard and find a solution for the wall behind the banquette. And then I need to make that blank wall on the right of the photo above our Grand Central station for keys and bags to hang. I’ve got plans, just need to put them into play!

And, if you’re looking for a dose of reality, Thomas’s booster seat is attached to one of the chairs, and there’s usually a dirty dish or two and a toddler art project at any given time:

So that’s the breakfast nook redo with banquette seating. What do you think?

DIY White Subway Tile Backsplash

The backsplash is done-zo. Mr. B was totally dreading this portion of the kitchen remodel – he cut the first tile and it shattered. I cut the second tile and it didn’t. So he threw his hands up in the air and said, “I’ll take Thomas to the pool, you do this”.  It was a tedious job – we probably didn’t have the best tile saw and the outlet cuts just about did me in.  But, I perservered and made it through my first tile job.

I had originally planned on doing Carrara marble subway tile for the backsplash, but in comparing the cost and what we wanted to spend on this quick little kitchen project, we decided to hold off on the marble and spend a little extra on the counter tops and sink instead. And, with the number of mistakes I made while cutting, I’m so glad I went with Home Depot’s $0.28/tile white subway tile instead of the pricier marble. But, when we ditched the idea of Carrara Marble, I was drawn to the idea of some dimension somewhere. It’s a good thing, you guys all brought me back down to earth and reminded me that classic is better.  Thanks friends, I needed a reminder that I’m not trendy. Ask the skinny jeans I tried on last week.

I LOVE the pure white subway tile backsplash.  But, with the accent tile nixed, the next hiccup was that B and I disagreed on grout color – B (after seeing and really liking the mosaic option I brought home) wanted gray grout to differentiate the tiles while I preferred the look of white grout for our small kitchen. So we decided that we’d just start tiling, and if we thought the tiling job was perfect enough for gray grout, we would consider it carefully.

But the tiling job answered that question for us – it was our first tiling job, after all. Not that there are any glaring errors, but I wasn’t confident enough in my seams to use anything but bright white grout. And I’m glad that we ended up with white because it just makes the tile so sparkly and bright, and I was concerned that in our kitchen – which lacks much natural light – the gray grout lines would 1) be too busy and 2) not allow the light to bounce quite as much.  I had no reason to believe these things, I just did. Sometimes our minds are funny things.

This backsplash was the project that unearthed other projects – like window trim. Our house didn’t come with windowsills (thanks builder). It hadn’t really bothered me, except that I knew how great window trim and sills would look on the big windows in our house. But with tile going up, we didn’t want tile to trim the kitchen window, so our handy neighbor came over one Monday night and installed a windowsill. We’re not done with the top of the window (we’ll do a traditional craftsman window trim), but the windowsill is my most loved unexpected part of the reno. More on that when the window is done.

So that’s the kitchen. Crown Moulding is still in the plans for the tops of the cabinets, we’re just taking a little time off before we start that. What do you think?

Backsplash Choices

So we’re going with a white subway tile backsplash. I’d originally thought that Carrara marble was the route I wanted to go, but the price point of white can’t be beat, and it’s classic and timeless. Which is pretty much my schtick…just ask NameBerry.

But, while I was picking up the subway tile, I couldn’t get an accent tile out of my head. So I ordered a Carrara Marble accent tile just to see, planning to get it home, set it out with the subway tile and immediately return it because it wasn’t timeless enough. But now I’m torn. So I’m turning to you all. Ready?

Option 1, white subway tile. Classic & timeless.

Option 2: White Subway tile with a Carrara Marble Accent Row

What would you do? I am leaning one direction, but let’s see what you all think. Please comment.

Silestone Marengo Counter Tops

Is it possible to be madly in love with inanimate objects? I’m beginning to think so. Our counter tops are here and they are everything I hoped for and more. And the new sink and faucet? Ditto.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking – subway tile backsplash and crown moulding still to come.

Shall we quickly revisit what the kitchen looked like three weeks ago?

I can’t believe I didn’t do this years ago – I had convinced myself that wood kitchens were more appealing to the masses for resale. And now I don’t care about the masses. Let’s get back to the pretty.

The new faucet and sink rock my world. Simple as that.

Here’s a close-up of our counter tops. I mentioned to my sister (a high school Science teacher) before we started this project that I wanted my kitchen counters to look like the lab tables in her Chemistry classroom. We laughed about this because…how should I put this? I didn’t see eye to eye with any of my high school science teachers and science wasn’t my forte. Probably because I was admiring the finish of the lab tables instead of learning the periodic table. Oh well, I graduated.

We went with black hardware for contrast and to echo the dark counter tops. [To answer a previous question, we bought a hardware template at home depot to make sure that we installed each knob and pull in the same place. It worked great - you could also make your own template with cardboard]. And I’m so glad I went with the black hardware – with the white appliances, I think the contrast is important.

In other kitchen news, the banquette is done! I just have to make the cushion and then it will be ready for prime time.

Painted Kitchen Cabinets

The kitchen cabinets are painted and ready to go! Just in time – the Silestone counters are being installed tomorrow!

We used Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformations (in Pure White) kit after much debate. Actually, I went to Home Depot after deciding not to buy the Cabinet Transformations to get TSP and primer and the guy basically bullied me into buying the kit. My thoughts: It is easy to work with and looks great. But it is NOT brush stroke free. And it definitely took 5 coats of paint to cover well. It took two small kits worth of paint (our HD only sells small kits) and only 1/2 a kit worth of the other supplies. So I felt very wasteful. I think if you like the look of glazed cabinets – which this kit includes the steps for – it’s worth the cost of the kit. I personally don’t prefer the glazed cabinet look – I went pure white in order to get our white appliances to blend in – and opted out of that step, and think that some primer and cabinet enamel at my local hardware store would have done the job. Meredith and Kristal both have great recommendations.

One of these days I’ll get my shizz together and take pictures during daylight hours again.

But anyway – back to the cabinets themselves. I was loathing our kitchen. I know that’s silly – we had a kitchen. Was it my dream kitchen? No, but it was fully functional, everything was relatively new and working. But the red-brown cabinets were not our style, and with very little natural light streaming into the kitchen it felt dark and depressing.  And now? I seriously just feel like smiling when I walk into the room. Walking down the stairs I see a bright white kitchen. Laying on the couch I see a bright white kitchen. No more black hole on the North side of our house. It’s wonderful.

We’ll install hardware on the bottom drawers and cabinets once the countertops are installed. Then the backsplash. I can’t wait – more pictures when the counter tops are here!