Six ways to spruce up an old kitchen

New Kitchen
New Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Whether small or large, old or new, it is where family and friends gather to share dinners, celebrate special occasions and make lasting memories.

After three decades of cooking in the same kitchen in her Etobicoke bungalow, my mother decided the hub of her home needed a “refresh”. Without breaking the bank, she was able to update her dated kitchen in two weeks.

Kitchen Refresh
Kitchen Refresh

Here are six ways to spruce up your old kitchen:

  1. Replace your old and worn kitchen countertop with a new quartz one. Quartz countertops are durable and easy to keep spotless.
  2. Remove dated backsplash with a more contemporary mosaic or glass tile. Check out these tiles from Home Depot.
  3. Install a stainless steel undermount sink. Consider a double sink for multi-tasking.
  4. Choose a functional kitchen faucet, but keep style and finish in mind.
  5. A fresh coat of paint can change the look and feel of the kitchen.
  6. Lastly, accessorize with new tea towels, placemats, oven mitts and artwork from HomeSense.

How would you reinvent your kitchen space?

A room with a new view

This past February, I sat down to dinner in my kitchen with my husband and noticed a small, thin crack in one of the two windows.

The frigid temperatures that had swept across much of southern Ontario this winter had taken a toll on my old window. The tiny crack spread from the bottom window sill up to the top.

So, the decision was made and the window would be replaced. Since we were replacing the back window, we also decided to install a new back door. The old one was drafty.

You first heard about my unexpected home renovation back in early March. I’m happy to report that last week, the new window and door were both installed just in time for the beautiful weekend weather.

New Window & door
New Window & Door
New Window & Door
New Window & Door

My husband spent the better part of the weekend painting the trim and the door white to match. While I wasn’t planning on the added expense associated with replacing my old kitchen window and door, I’m happy with the new ones.

Now, the search is on for new window coverings.

Should I invest in shutters, shades or blinds?

Kitchen makeover underway, hooray!

In February, I shared with you 5 simple steps to choosing the right kitchen contractor. The tips in the post are from Jeff, a long-time friend and colleague, who has started a massive kitchen renovation in his 2-storey, Brampton home. The remodel which is underway includes replacing the floors, cabinets, ceiling and everything else in between.

The demolition has begun. Here are a few photos from what is left of his kitchen:

Kitchen Remodel, Photo by J. LeMoine
Kitchen Remodel, Photo by J. LeMoine
Kitchen Remodel, Photo by J. LeMoine
Kitchen Remodel, Photo by J. LeMoine

While Jeff works on his ‘dream’ kitchen, my mother is planning a kitchen refresh. Her traditional-style kitchen was last renovated in the 80s and is in need of a new countertop, backsplash and a fresh coat of paint. After a morning of tile shopping, a neutral travertine backsplash and matching quartz countertop have been chosen to update the look of the kitchen.

Back Splash
Backsplash

The pink beige walls will be replaced with CIL neutral Sandringham. If all goes according to plan, the kitchen refresh should take 3-5 days.

Have your home renovation projects been on time or have the projects gone over schedule?

What’s in your kitchen junk drawer?

This is my “junk drawer”.

Junk Drawer
Junk Drawer

I actually have four “junk” drawers in my kitchen. These are handy, catch-all drawers for odds and ends. In this one, I have a pack of gum, candle, shoe polish, black shoelaces, batteries, flash light, re-usable bag, tape measure, lint brush, screwdrivers, scissors and tape.

Personal organizing expert, Elizabeth Larkin, has five easy steps to de-clutter your top drawers. Larkin’s tips include:

1. Keep what you need and purge what you don’t.

2. Sort and group similar items together.

3. Determine your storage needs.

4. Arrange your items.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 on a regular basis.

Do you have a junk drawer? What’s in it? How often do you clean out your catch-all drawer?

The votes have been tallied!

Here’s how you voted in the design polls:

How would you describe your style?

Preview

16 % Coastal

16 % French Country

16 % Other

What would you add to your backyard if space was not an issue?

IMG_0174

20 % Deck

20 % Outdoor Fireplace

20 % All of the above

Which room in your home would you make bigger?

Three-way tie between Master Bedroom, Kitchen and Mudroom.

Did you vote in my latest poll? 

Change the look of your living room in an afternoon

The fireplace mantel in my living room was feeling a little bland. It was in need of a refresh. So, I now had a project for Saturday afternoon. I hit Moss on the Danforth in search of accent pieces.

I found these two stainless steel lanterns. They’re modern looking, but evoke the feeling you get during of a seaside vacation. Just what I was looking for. I added two white candles to finish the look.

Coastal Lanterns
Coastal Lanterns

I headed home. No need to spend any more money. I have a kitchen shelf full of vases. I pull out three similar glass vases. These will do just fine. Now, I’m on a mission for seashells and rocks to keep with the modern coastal design. I know I have both from a trip down south years ago.

Seashells
Seashells

I fill the vases and add them to the mantel. I stumble across more filler in the dining room credenza. (You just never know where you’ll find filler.) I head back to the kitchen where I keep my tea lights and candle holders. I grab two of each.

Tea Lights
Tea Lights

 

I add each of the items to the mantel, but something is still missing. I make my way up to my home office. A quick scan of the room and I spot a small, silver clock and a white, dove figurine. They’re the finishing touches I was looking for. I think I’m all set.

 

Small Clock
Small Clock

 

After rearranging the items a few times, I step back and exam the display. I call up my husband from the basement, where he was watching TV, to give me his opinion. And there you have it. I spent very little money and two hours on a Saturday afternoon to change the look of my fireplace mantel.

Fireplace Mantel Display
Fireplace Mantel Display

 

What do you think? Any other quick and inexpensive home projects you can do in one afternoon?

Six tricks to help de-clutter your bathroom

Is your bathroom small, cramped and disorganized? Well, you’re not alone. Better Homes and Gardens has the following storage solutions for tiny bathrooms:

Here are my space-saving ideas:

If possible, try to incorporate storage into the design of your bathroom. Add built-in shelves to your shower to hold your soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and razor. Check out Leslie Rocha’s clever use of an “L” shaped, shower shelf (photographed below) in her recently renovated bathroom.

Bathroom Storage, Photo by L.Rocha
Bathroom Storage, Photo by L.Rocha

Install floating shelves above the toilet for additional storage or to display decorative items. Use a tray to keep similar and small items together or display items in clear containers such as soaps, brushes or swabs.

Floating Shelf
Floating Shelf

Consider a mirrored medicine cabinet for make-up and other toiletries. IKEA has many different styles to choose from.

A vanity is a great way to hide cleaning supplies. Stack bins on the shelves or hang organizers on the cabinet doors to keep items neat and tidy. Check out the latest trends on bathroom vanities from Interior Designer Jane Lockhart.

Place pretty baskets or bins on the floor or on shelves to store extra rolls of toilet paper or clean towels.

For additional storage, add a stylish shelf above the bathroom door to help keep loose items out of sight.

There never seems to be enough space in my bathroom? How do you de-clutter your bathroom?

How would you describe your decorating style? Vote now!

Unexpected home renovations

Sometimes home renovations aren’t planned.

Two weeks ago, I sat down to dinner with my husband. I looked up and out the back window. And that’s when I first saw it.

A small, thin crack in one of the two kitchen windows.

The bitterly, cold temperatures that had gripped much of southern Ontario this winter had taken a toll on my old windows. Over the next few frigid days, the tiny crack spread like a snake from the bottom window sill up to the top.

Cracked Kitchen Window
Cracked Kitchen Window

And so it began. Phone calls were made to window installers. appointments booked and quotes received.

Then the question came up. Since we’re replacing the back window, should we also install a new back door and storm door? Our old ones are drafty.

Replacing the back window has now turned into a bigger project. A project that wasn’t on our “To Do” list. But it has to be done.

So, we’re biting the bullet and replacing both the kitchen window and door. Today, we met with the manufacturer. This is the same company that replaced my mother’s windows, two years ago, after one of her bedroom windows cracked.

We’ve decided on an energy-efficient, triple pane glass window for the kitchen and a simple white, back door with an internal grill. No need to replace the storm door because the new door comes with a built-in screen. But both have to be custom made. Now we wait until installation day.

It’s all part of owning a home.

 Have you been in a similar situation? Has a small, minor project turned into a bigger renovation job?

 

Read this before you redo your bathroom

Leslie Rocha and her husband are renovating their 1,500 square foot, semi-detached home north of Danforth Avenue. The couple’s first project was a one-month bathroom remodel.

“We started from scratch. It was a full gut job. The renovation included new plumbing, reconfiguring the layout, expanding the footprint and installing a new window,” said Leslie.

The house was built-in the 1920s and with older homes it has its share of challenges.

“The first challenge was the plumbing. We had to relocate pipes in the bathroom to make it work. Then the stack was in the way so, we had to design around it and decided to cover it. We also removed the low ceiling in the shower to allow for more natural light and to open up the space. The flow of the bathroom was cramped, so we decided to extend it by a foot into the third bedroom,” added Leslie.

After living in a construction zone for over a month, dealing with contractors and a messy house, the couple ended up with their “dream” bathroom.

The renovation was a learning experience for the newlyweds. In the months to come they will start to redesign the main floor of their home, but before they do they have these bathroom renovating tips to share:

1. Plan it out thoroughly. “We spent three months researching and planning out every single detail. We left extra money in the budget, so that we would have some wiggle room in case of unexpected surprises especially with such an old house.”

2. Pay attention to the small details. “Think about where you want to place the vents and outlets. Our contractor put an outlet above the sink and on the same wall as the mirror. Looking back now, it should have been placed on the opposite wall.”

New Vanity & Lights
New Vanity & Lights, Photo by L. Rocha

3. Look at your lifestyle and your needs. “I love the bathtub, but in the future it may be difficult to bathe our kids once we start a family.”

New Bathtub & Window
New Bathtub & Window, Photo by L. Rocha

4. Make it as functional as possible. “You want to have enough room to store your everyday essentials.” For more tips, consider these suggestions from the Style at Home experts.

Tell me are you thinking about updating the look of your bathroom? What’s the one must-have item?