Survivor Bungalow: Temporary Kitchen Makeover

Category: Restore & Repair

OK, here's the scoop.

Our budget will carry us through most of creating a "clean space" to live in on the second floor. We'll still have a lot of work up there...but this will finally be a clean space for us. No open walls, no open ceilings, no open floors. Whoo hoo!

But we need a survival plan for the kitchen.

(Kitchen before we purchased the house.)

We know that we will have to be living in the kitchen without any major changes in cabinetry or appliances or such for at least five to seven years (if not longer). So the kitchen has to be made more useful and safe (and attractive) without a lot of investment right now. Triage only.

So, I'm going to put a (somewhat) 180 degree view of our kitchen up here. It is not pretty. But I love you, our gentle readers, for not making fun of "interesting" kitchen space. Which will now be on the Internet. (sigh)

(Click on any photo to make it larger.)

I know. It's AUGH! in the round.

Checklist of things not useful/attractive about current kitchen:

  • Counterspace is in woefully short supply
  • Exhaust fan for cooking is not close to the stove. (It is across the room.)
  • Walls are dingy and difficult to clean of soot and (gross!) old food stains. Wallpaper in some areas is torn and peeling.
  • Floor is unprotected maple with patches of other wood where exterior wall and porch once were. The old finish is patchy and there is danger of water damage unless something is done. They've historically been finished with Tung Oil.
  • Huge nails have been sunk into the floor in many places. Nails with large flat heads.
  • Original hardware for cabinetry is gone, so cabinets do not latch and they swing open.
  • Not enough cabinetry for everything needed.
  • Window in kitchen was enlarged at one point to extend below counter height. Windows are glued into wall and do not open.
  • Tiny dishwasher. But is does work now! So at least we have one.
  • Old electric stove with unreliable oven. Burners take a long time to cool after stove is turned off.
  • Backsplash is unprotected.
  • Refridgerator is too large for the kitchen space. But it is new!
  • Original backdoor has wood where the glass should be.
  • They left three of the built-in's in place. (Hooray!) But they are heavily painted and the doors have particleboard where glass used to be.

    That just gets at some of the major issues. We'll tackle some of the details in future idea sessions...

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    Thanks for the panoramic kitchen view! I t made me want to jump up and get graph paper and work out possibilites, like we did with our kitchen. Yours will be more of a challenge, but you do have those great built-ins. I hope you can do something about all those traffic patterns--definitely move the stove away from the sink and doorway. Good luck! And give us your room dimensions so some of your readers can get out that graph paper! Good luck, and happy planning!

    I can see the potential in your kitchen already. One day it will be the kitchen of your dreams. I have to ask this, even though it may seem obvious: have you goone through all your pots, pans, etc. and gotten rid of everything you never use and never will use? I know it's hard to do, but with limited space it is essential. And I know, because I actually have about 1/4 of the cabinet space you do (I am serious - I have 3 very small cupboards, and my silverware is in a hutch drawer in my livingroom) and I manage quite well - I cook a lot, too. If you've already done that, I suggest doing what a friend of mine did with a small kitchen: keep a "pantry" in the basement (if that's possible). She had a big metal shelf in her basement (in a non-gross room) and kept all her non-essentials on it. Stuff she didn't need every day, but that she would eventually use. This freed up lots of space. Also, have you thought of putting a pot rack on the wall or hanging from the cieling? Not my fav. look, but it does save space in a pinch. Good luck!

    If I understand correctly, the kitchen is almost square, so there's space in the middle, but not enough for an island (just like my Kit.)

    Quick and dirty ideas:

    1. Put in new plywood countertops that DEEPEN the counters by 10-12 inches. These can be cheep~ stain-grade ply with a bazillion coats of Poly. The extra depth will simultaiously give you a little more room ( I know length would be nicer), and more storage, since you can store things (like boxes of pasta, cereal, blenders, mixers, etc) on the back of the counter and still have a full counter to work on. This effectively uses some of the middle of the room. Reaching across could be a ploblem if you're smaller people.

    2. Ditch the cabinet to the left of the frige and hang shelves and a shallow counter there. Again~ staingrade ply and Poly.

    3. Since you've got an elec. stove, it might be (comparatively) easy to run a little more cable and move the stove closer to the fan.

    4. I don't know where they lead to, but somehow you need to sacrifice one of those doors to the Liveablity Gods. You could gain a lot of CounterTop if you could run it right up to one of them, effectively blocking it.

    5. Clear out the room and put a couple coats of Kilz on the walls. If you wanna get schmancy, then a quick coat of something high-gloss that'll wipe clean easily. 5 years? You can't go without it painted for that long, so I'd get it over with now.

    6. Since the window's a loss anyway, you could run shelves across it. Glass shelves if you've the budget. Don't wall the shelves up with boxes, put all your bottles of oils, vinegars, awkward shaped things like blenders that'll let a lot of light around them. Or store your glassware there~ might almost be pretty!

    7. Sad to say, it might just be best to deck-paint the floor since it sounds like by the time you're done patching it, etc., it'll need some powersanding eventually anyway.

    8. How built in are the built-ins? Would it be possible to temporarily remove them and relocate (like in the basement) for a few years? The position seems awkward. Also, they might be easier to restore if removed.

    9. Put bulky things like the micro below a counter surface (any table that'll fit). I know it seems weird to stoop to use the micro, but I've been doing it for a year and it's not so bad. Def. worth the CT space I gain. Heck, that's HALF the CT I've got!

    10. Continuous CT space is MUCH more useful than the same S.F.age in segments. You've got some really nice looking tables, but perhaps they should go for now in favor of one long thing.

    Just ideas of the top of my head (and from staring in disbelief and horror at my own kitchen for a year). Don't worry~ you're still kicking mass quantities of butt.

    One day your kitchen will be both beautiful and functional, like it was meant to be. I really like how your built-ins go all the way to the ceilng.

    I too have an old bungalow kitchen, and I think it even used to be an eat-in. The previous owner removed a wall between it an the pantry and expanded the kitchen into it, which makes the flow a little difficult but I have more cupboard space than I'll probably ever need. One nice thing she did, because the room was square, but not big enough for an island in the middle, was run the counter out to center a bit for the sink (like a peninsula), so the sink is in the center of the room, and there's counter between the sink and wall to set things (like dirty dishes) and lots of cupboard below. The sink doesn't face the wall, it's turned 45 degrees and faces a patio door.

    Also, you have those great big windows, I think a couple of plate racks would look so good hanging on them. They both are functional and attractive.

    i dont see a good cheap easy solution. but if you give up on good or cheep or easy youll get it.

    we had a similar problem. so we had a single cabinet made to match the ones we have, bought one that didnt match and refaced it. then we covered it with 2x 3/4 cdx and tiled the old and the new. we spent under 500 on the whole kitchen and more than doubled the work space. now i can cook a turkey dinner in there.

    we had to resize a window though. just took it apart made the parts smaller installed new glass. then the cabinet fit under. in your case thats where i would put the sink. we had to add a little siding outside but the inside was just rocked taped and covered with cabinets.
    we also recklessly removed the walpaper and paneling and skimcoated with plaster. and painted clean.

    Oh, we KNOW that a final solution will not be cheap OR easy. :) But that solution is 5-10 years of savings away.

    Currently, we are looking for triage...ideas to make the kitchen liveable UNTIL we implement the "final solution". So, no new cabinets. That's out. And changing the windows right now? Out.

    That's the charm and challenge of living IN an old house that you are working ON. It's like a puzzle figuring out how you can work around things until you have the money to get them done correctly.

    That's a real pickle. Having clean floors would help you alot, I am wondering whether that maple can be salvaged. If it really IS going to be 5-7 years I would consider putting down a laminate wood floors over the top (one of the kind that "floats") or maybe even those retro linoleum squares. Remove that horrible vent fan thingie install open stainless steel shelving from ikea on that wall. In all liklihood, the old plaster will probably have to go- in the meantime cover it all up with beadboard ply on that same wall and the backsplash area by the sink. Paint everything (since you will have to strip those built ins anyway, one more coat won't kill ya). The last thing I'd do is get a used stove/range that actually WORKS (probably in white). Depending on room size all of that will run you 1000$ with your own labor. Also see if you can order one of those panel things to cover the front of your dishwasher so its not a black hole in there. And also you could tack some beaded ply on that armoire (in a 1X2" frame) that your liquor sits on and paint it white. Death to brown unless its fine woodwork!
    You are so brave!

    We all are pulling for ya- how is Coco?


    Great post! We've been maintaining our "Kitchen Dream Plan" in Visio for 3 years, surviving with our current digs as best we can. It really helped when we found, bought, and installed our "dream appliances" at the salvage yard for less than half the cost of new ones (nearly brand new Viking range and Sub-zero fridge -- it's a good story, how we got them and where they came from ...)

    Please, Nick, share that story! I (and I think others) would love to hear how that is done!

    Cheap and easy? You need to start thinking like a college kid! Remember renting ancient but cute student housing? You didn't have any money and the landlord didn't put any money into it (unless it was a cheap light fixture), you had to make it cute and presentable on an incredibly low budget.

    You should try and just scrape off excess paint, prime & re-paint all the walls, wood, cabinets and furniture 2 or 3 light & complimentary neutral colors, hightlighting the frames of the cabinets and drawers (I go for pastels, but I'm really tacky) - think of San Francisco's Painted Ladies or Southern pastel colored bungalows! It may not be historically correct and not even your style, but it can be fun & cheerful - not to mention somewhat uniform! And it is change - which is what you are craving.

    You could paint the floor, tape down a huge throw rug or even throw astro turf on the floor to protect it if you're feeling wild - you did mention a fun picket fence headboard you once had and also hanging stained glass windows - same approach!

    You could swap out the light fixture for an inexpensive vintage pendant milk glass one (flea market, thrift store or ebay under $20).

    I would put the microwave on top of the fridge (where we have ours) and while I love the little cabinet it sits on, you could put the cutting block there and move that into another room - it's so cute!
    You also could put the microwave on shelves that would replace the brown metal cabinet, again painting to match or leaving a light wood. When you fill those new shelves, put items like teas or ingredient stuff into pretty containers, like 50's flour-sugar jars, canning jars, cookie jars or something uniform with content labels like Ikea does. If you are going to keep the brown cabinet, take it outside and spray paint it a light color, it is so dark that it sucks the light out of the room.

    You could also stick a 50's formica kitchen table in place of the table under the window & the butcher block - easily acquired a flea market (the one at the Allstate Arena rocks) for $50 and that gives you a place to sip coffee in the morning, and a place to prepare food, while still looking retro. That would take away drawer space, but you could put the coffee maker, toaster and tins of tea, glass jars of silverware on the top as well - I keep an assortment of teas in charming tea cups on my counter - and my kitchen is half the size of yours!

    Replace the mini blinds with lightweight light colored fabric - if you cannot sew, then you can use this stuff called Stitch-Witchery, which you iron on and works great for curtains. A light fabric will let a little sun in but people won't be able to see you - also softens light.
    You could add those little latches from Home Depot where it's 2 pieces and it catches and snaps in place or even the magnet latches, all around $.50 each - I know it all adds up, but your sanity is important!

    Cleaning out the stuff you don't really NEED is a great idea! We do that once a year, as it is easy to accumulate. Stuff you don't use all the time can be stored in the basement in a marked plastic bin! I love those!

    There are things I would love to do to my house, but I am back in school and I have a low budget, so I have resorted to some of the tricks I did years ago, as they are easily undone when it is time to do it right. I also thrift, go to estate sales, flea markets and garage sales like a mad woman, so I don't pay much and also is better for the environment!

    I think you should pick a theme for your kitchen. Craftsman is out, you have too much stuff. You should go for a 30s or 40s look. In the 40s red, black and white were popular. I think yellow was a 30s color. Your built in cabinets are perfect. If you don't refinish them, you could do a subtle geometric stencil motif on them. Make a checkered floor cloth for the floor. Your library should have books about making floor cloths or you can do a keyword search about the subject. I have some old cook books with descriptions of ideal kitchens and some sketches or pictures. One is dated 1909 and the other is from the late 1930s. Want me to photograph the pages and email to you? If you don't get any ideas, you will at least get a good laugh!

    How big is your kitchen? Nearest I can tell, it's about 10.5' x 12' ??

    You list counter-space as the #1 item, and I can see your pain.

    How about turning that white free-standing cabinet (with the coffee maker) 90 degrees into the room, not blocking the window, and placing the butcher block at it's end? This would make a kind of a galley arrangment with the stove/sink on one side and your "counter" on the other. If budget allows, you could scrap the existing white cabinet and replace it with one of those nice free-standing butcher-block counters from IKEA.

    I read in a Sarah Suzanka book of someone wallpapering their floor and giving it a few coats of polyurethane for protection. It was cheap, and it lasted something like 5 years...

    Is that an old ironing board behind the microwave? I couldn't tell, but if it is, you might consider taking out the board, if it's still in there, and then putting shallow shelves in there. That's usually a good place for spices, etc.

    Now, I'm mostly just going to affirm what others have said: I understand what a drain living in a house that needs work can be not only on your wallet, but also on your energy, so if it were me and I were feeling particularly drained I would put a coat of Kilz on the walls and ceiling and then paint over that with some light color. Of course, I'd wait until it was warm enough to open the windows so that I didn't pass out from the smell. I think I have permanent brain damage from too much Kilz-applying during deep winter :) Then, I'd cull out utensils/kitchenware that I hadn't used in the last two months and put them somewhere else--even the grody basement, if needed. They can always be washed.

    Also, could you just put down polyurethane on the floor? If you decide to keep it, you'll need to sand it later, anyway, so the poly shouldn't hurt anything, and it might protect the wood.

    I feel so much better when there's practically nothing sitting out in my kitchen--there seems to be more space. And, that could be it for a while..some paint, some poly, and some culling. Pretty cheap, huh?

    Now, if I were feeling a little less drained, I'd also strip the wood work and then varnish it--that would look beautiful.

    Whatever you do, good luck!

    You have twice as much counterspace as we did for 10 years (i.e. none) - we've since moved and gained about twice as much as you currently have! Our current kitchen also has three doors and long windows. So I have some experience organizing/living with a small space and lots of kitchen gadgets.

    Couple of things come to mind - first, the floor. If the huge nail heads are not causing any problems at this point, leave them. You could either get an inexpensive 4' 6' area rug (with a rubber, non-skid back) to help protect the areas that are prone to water exposure. I picked one up at Target for about $40 - when it gets too crapped up, I can toss or use in the basement by the washer & dryer. Or, you can pick up a bunch of rag runners and run them around the room (this is something I saw in a Carl Larssen calendar and I think looks really cool!).

    Second, I like the idea of orienting the white cabinet perpendicular to the window. It will allow more light into the space (cafe curtains would also let in more light - especially critical in the winter). In front of the window, you could hang some three-tiered baskets (I got mine at a dollar store). You can store bags of dried goods, or onions & garlic in them. Another thing you could consider would be to hang a very narrow pot rack in front of the window (a one-inch copper pipe on swing-set chain?). Oh, and I keep my Kitchen Aid mixer on top of the fridge - if you don't use it much, it makes sense to put it in a less convenient spot because it is so huge. You'd still have room for the microwave on top of the fridge too. I'd put a 40's chair/step stool (again, I've seen repros at Target) in front of the window - a nice place to sit while preparing meals, with the advantage of being useful and handy to reach those REALLY HIGH shelves when tall people are not in attendance.

    Don't get rid of the ceiling fan - you need it to move the air from the stove to the exhaust fan. Investigate reversing the blades - the wicker collects dust and is difficult to clean. You could then paint the blades a lighter color, which would allow it to blend into the ceiling.

    I agree that one more coat of paint on the cabinets would be in order (hey, and it should make the Silent Paint remover work even better when/if you want to strip!). Slowly replace the latches with ones that will keep the doors closed (start with the most egregious offeders - as they can be expensive, I'd set up a timetable). I used rub-on transfers of fruit (available at craft stores) on my old cabinet doors and they lasted 10 years (even without sealing).

    The walls - remove the wallpaper, prime & paint. You might consider some paint-grade plywood (or mdf) as wainscotting on the walls, and finish off with boards for a board & batten look (like the kitchen in "Old School") and paint.

    Big brown cabinet - wow, it's pretty ugly. Paint or contac paper in a lighter color would help.


    Oops, I forgot I meant to address the backsplash issue. A small piece of backer board with some tile (Home Despot, or Menards) and a little bit of waterproof caulk should help.

    I'd also paint the sink cabinet the same color(s) as the builtin cabinets.

    Wow, I can see so much potential in your kitchen. The built-in cabinets are wonderful. I love the 360-degree view, too. Makes me wants to go take pictures of our kitchen from every angle.

    We are working on our kitchen right now. It's very '70s, ugly plywood cabinets, fake brick-print vinyl floor in 6-foot-wide strips. Horrible stuff.

    We've decided NOT to gut the whole place and replace with new stuff that may or may not go out of style in 5 years. Instead we're working with what's there.

    We're adding flat trim to the cabinet faces (sort of how your built-ins look) and painting everything. Adding beadboard and wallpaper to the walls. New light fixtures. New hardware. New sink, new faucet. Later, we're going to rip out the vinyl and the plywood underneath, and sand & paint the original wood floor.

    We also had to buy a dishwasher and a microwave, so our total renovation cost is going to be in the neighborhood of $2,000-$2,500.

    I don't think it's THAT bad!! I love your old cupboards. Even though my own kitchen reno is years away, I'm anxious for you to start researching appliances (only because you do such a thorough job)! Since my kitchen is only 9x10 including 2 windows and 2 doors, my options are extremely limited without an addition. I'm pining for a counter depth refrigerator-I've seen some europeon models that are tall and narrow. What will your dream appliances be-vintage or new? I'm curious about your room dimensions, also.

    I am no expert in these matters, but I do have a teeny kitchen with lots of doors and no closet space. I'm actually using an old desk as a kitchen cabinet, with the microwave on one side and cheap wood cutting boards from Ikea protecting the other side. As if that's not crowded enough, I've got my toaster and a spice rack on top of the microwave! Under the desk where a chair would go, I've got a big plastic storage box with cookie sheets and metal baking pans. Wine & liquor live on top of the fridge. I've got a pot rack hung over the stove (since I also have a porthole exhaust fan on the opposite side of the room, gah!). The former ironing board cupboard has been converted to a spice rack, which is awesome for me, because I have a little glass jar fetish. :)

    This isn't very helpful, is it? Oh, I know, the most space-saving thing I've done recently is replace my next-to-the-sink drainboard with a over-the-sink wire dishrack. It's a total pain in the butt for actually washing dishes, but if you've got a dishwasher and only need it for a few non-dishwasher-safe items, it takes up way less room and you can shove it under the sink when you're not using it. That would give you a little extra counter space next to the sink for veggie chopping or whatever.

    I feel your pain. I hate my 1980s-era kitchen, but at least it is mostly functional. (I'm so jealous of those original built-ins!) It's really hard to get the best function out of a kitchen without spending a lot of time or money.

    For functionality, I'd try to find a new home for the stove. It looks like someone crammed it into its current home, and that space could be better utilized as countertop because it extends the working space next to the sink (I'd move the butcher block there, if possible.)

    One possible location is the short wall between the two doors. It's also somewhat awkward, but I'm sure you aren't using the ironing-board cabinet. To make this work you'd have to move the white sideboard closer to the sink, but without the butcher block, that should be OK. It would also be closer to the exhaust fan.

    The brown cabinet next to the refrigerator looks totally out of character and too small. I'd ditch that for a more efficient arrangement of shelves -- something deep enough that you get some additional counter space where you could put the microwave. Two options spring to mind: the chrome wire shelving used in restaurants (the "real" stuff is expensive, but I found a unit for $70 at Sam's Club -- it also comes in white, which would look better with your current color scheme, but it's more expensive) or heavy-duty wall-mounted shelving (Elfa is the high-end brand, but Home Depot has a knockoff with the same dimensions). Bring the shelving up as high as possible, and invest in a safe, nice-looking, easy-to-use stepstool.

    The wire shelving is deep: 18 or 20 inches; enough for a microwave. Wall mounted shelving may or may not be deep enough. If not, you could do what I did and put a laminate countertop below it on legs that bring it up to near counter-top height.

    The wire might look out of place; perhaps the simple rough wood shelving for garages/utility areas would be better. This could be painted to match your decor, holds a lot of stuff, and can be purchased deep enough to hold a microwave. Ikea has a few versions.

    Whatever you do with this space, be sure to leave a place to store long things like brooms. I have no closet in my kitchen, or anywhere near it, to store brooms and mops. My temporary solution was to mount a rack on the wall to hold them -- next to the fridge, like your kitchen -- and put up a lightweight curtain to hide them from view. Having them hanging neatly makes it all look much better.

    The floors are tricky. With pets, I find it works best to avoid any sort of large floorcovering in the kitchen. Small rag rugs that can go in the laundry are fine. I know the pain of not being able to feel that the floor is clean, so I'd vote for doing a quick sand-and-poly job on the floor. Or paint.

    One more storage idea: run a long shelf above the two doors, wall to wall. This would be for lighter-weight things that you don't use too often, but could hold a lot of stuff. Or do what I had to do and move the majority of your food to a pantry; in my case, the pantry is utilitarian shelving in the basement. This works well if I keep it organized and accessible.

    And for making the place more pleasant in the "rehab years", I'd fix the cabinets so they all stay closed (magnetic catches sound like a good temporary solution), replace the wood with glass on the rear door, and ruthlessly prune all the clutter from what little surfaces you do have.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.


    well...that is a very challenging kitchen, and this is coming from a woman who knows challenging kitchens...ours is 10x10, with 4 doorways, 2 big windows, and a large, awkwardly placed radiator...but you have the additional moral challenge of very cool but ridiculously placed built-ins. yikes. i agree with nathan about eventually removing the built-ins and relocating them (and for me to EVER suggest changing original kitchen cabinetry, you know it has to be bad...) but you can worry about that in 5-7 years.

    for now, if you want to do triage just to make a liveable space for the next few years, then you've gotten a lot of good advice from other posters all ready. however, since i've lived with tiny, old house kitchens for the last 23 years, i'll throw in a few more pieces of advice.

    first, you really need to declutter---if you haven't used it in 6 months, and if it's not a family heirloom, then out it goes. then decide what amongst your kitchen items is attractive enough to be stored openly, and what isn't. use your limited cabinet space to store the ugly stuff, and let the attractive stuff sit out. a nice set of mixing bowls sitting on top of the fridge is a decorative element. a wad of plastic grocery bags is...clutter.

    get rid of that dish drainer. you have a dishwasher, so you don't need it. put a folded dishtowel by the sink if you must, so you have a place to set the two or three dishes you might wash by hand, then put them away asap. there---now you have a surface by the sink for washing vegetables, etc.

    as far as a backsplash...that is sooo not even a factor with all the other things you're dealing with. when you repaint, choose a scrubbable semi-gloss and just wipe off the wall behind the sink periodically. worry about a backsplash when you do the big remodel.

    paint the walls and trim a nice, light, happy color. since it's meant to be a short-term fix, i wouldn't get caught up in a quality prep job---wash everything down, strip the wallpaper where it's peeling and just paint over the rest. give the floor a good scrubbing, sink the nailheads if they present a hazard, and do the rag runner thing that marie suggested. velcro them to the floor if they slide too much. i wouldn't worry about water damage unless you are in the habit of spilling quarts of liquid on the floor and leaving it sit for long periods. you'll have to do some major reno to the floor eventually, whether it be refinishing or replacing, and normal wear and tear isn't going to make any difference at this point.

    get rid of the miniblinds and put up some nice, plain white muslin curtains that you can wash frequently. hang one over the wood "window" while you're at it.

    then i'd get rid of the tiled table thingy in front of the window, and i'd replace it with one long counter top that's just high enough to tuck your butcher block under. if the butcher block is on wheels, it can be pulled out to give you a surface to set pots and things on when you are using the stove, then rolled back under the counter when not in use. as far as the counter top, you can make one pretty inexpensively with plywood set on pre-fab table legs, or old bricks, or cement blocks, a la college apartment days, or whatever fits in your time and money budget. screw it together, paint it or cover it with a vintage tablecloth, and be done with it. maybe put a couple rolling wire drawers underneath to hold linens, paper supplies, etc.

    i like the funky little cabinet with the microwave on it, but it sticks out into the room too much. relocate it to another room if it's worth keeping, or kick it to the curb if it's not. as suggested by several others, get rid of that brownish maroon cabinet by the fridge, and put up some open shelving instead. metal brackets and plywood, a chrome or unpainted pine shelving unit---whatever is in your budget. just remember---we don't store ugly things out in the open. use it for your dishes, nice pots and pans, etc.

    get rid of all the items on your refrigerator door. if you want to display pictures and stuff, put a really big bulletin board on the wall, where it's not sticking out into the room screaming "look at me, i'm clutter!!" and put your bulletin board items on neatly---it doesn't take any more time than putting them on willynilly, and it truly makes a difference in your serenity level.

    as suggested, get some magnetic closures for your non-closing cabinet doors. then paint your sink cabinet the same color that you've painted your woodwork, your open shelves and your homemade counter top. you can match the existing color of your built-ins, or choose something that compliments them, or repaint the built-ins as well, if you want to spend the time (they don't look too bad in the picture). the point is to get some kind of unifying color going through the kitchen to tie it together.

    some other things that work for us:
    *relocating pet supplies and feeding stations to their own shelving unit in the basement (though scout has trouble with the stairs, so that might have to change soon)
    *putting shallow shelves along the basement stairway wall for things like paper towels, coke, mom also has a tiny old kitchen, and she has a high, shallow shelf running all the way around the perimeter of the room, above the doors and windows, where she keeps all kinds of things, both decorative and functional...
    *keeping seldom-used linens, china, and silverware in a different room, rather than taking up precious kitchen space.

    if you only choose to do one thing, do the de-cluttering and reorganization. even the limited space you have would work better if you stored the uglies and displayed the pretties. that can be done in an afternoon, and it might give your spirit a real lift!

    Great built-ins!

    I agree - move the stove, if possible to the exhaust, and put the microwave above the fridge. Ours is the same model and it's huge for our little kitchen too.

    De-clutter then remove the doors from the built ins and store them someplace (numbered) for future refinishing /new hardware/new glass, etc.

    Put the butcherblock where the stove used to be.

    Get rid of the thing alongside the fridge and put in open shelving, or buy a big rack unit.

    Clean, deal with wall paper as quickly as possible and then prime and paint walls a sunny color. Don't get rid of your plaster.

    A light sand and poly of the floor should get you through a few years.

    Good luck!

    I have some ideas! Some of which are repeats, but I decided to look at your kitchen and say to myself, what would I do if this was my kitchen? I've had to deal with two kitchen's on a shoestring in the past.

    - New inexpensive/used stove (its vitally important that you be able to cook meals without frustration.) Think about installing an inexpensive hood with a light above the stove even though you'll have to cut the shelf. This will give you light and some filter venting. (I did this stove/hood suggestion in my first house and it was a HUGE improving impact).
    - Use Zinnser (sic) primer on everything after washing with tsp. Paint all storage and ceiling creamy white and paint walls red or green.
    - I'd tile the backsplash with inexpensive field tile for easier clean up.
    - Floor: HD Armstong traffic master tiles in beige and brown in a checkerboard diamond pattern. Or, remove all the nails you can, sand and poly the floor, and strategicly place rugs.
    - Built-in - After painting, new cabinet latches from Hortons Brasses (online)? Or at least inside clips to hold the doors shut. Pull out the pressboard and put in any type of glass and something pretty behind at least one door.
    - Shelf above the windows and shelves above the refrigerator from built-in to door. (Think shelves and hanging storage rather than floor standing storage units.)
    - No counter dish rack, use a wire rack in the sink.
    - A trip to Ikea for Hanging holders/baskets to hold things on the walls rather than on counter/table surfaces. Ditch the knife block and use a magnet strip or put knives in with the utensils.
    - Get rid of anything you don't use or can't put on a shelf. Put the tall narrow table next to the refrigerator for much needed counterspace.
    - With the room cleared on both the back and window walls, Add a nice small table and chairs and put pretty curtains on the windows instead of blinds.

    I envision a bright clean cozy room with color on the walls and windows, and a table for meals. The table will be your extra work space and a place to rest, visit and plan.


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