The story of my kitchen is a lesson in stubbornness. We are renters and really had no intention of staying here for 5 years, but alas, the longer we live here, the more I approach the space as a challenge to see how rad I can make it. Don't tell me it can't be done, because I will set out to prove you wrong! Ha! Well, last week I revealed our kitchen makeover
and you guys were just as shocked as me to see the transformation. Our dreary little basement apartment kitchen went from 80s fabulous to timeless and refreshing with mostly small aesthetic changes and switching out some key components like our laminate countertops for beautiful Caesarstone.
All photography: Jane Merritt
Our 5-Year Kitchen Transformation
Let's start off with some basic facts. If you can only change one room in the house, I'd highly recommend tackling the kitchen first. It really sets the mood for the rest of the house as it's one of the most actively used rooms. It's a tricky combination of practicality and aesthetics. Additionally, because of the amount of tasks performed in the space, it is also one of the most expensive. I knew we wouldn't have the budget, or the need, to invest much into it as we don't own it. Thus, I wanted high impact for little cost. Maybe you can relate?
Here's the timeline of our kitchen transformation:
We move in. The kitchen looks like the top left photo below. It's clean and functional. It has laminate countertops, fluorescent lighting, metal mini blinds, laminate flooring, beige walls, aluminum sink, oak cabinets, no backsplash ( = food on the walls!)
Our landlords surprise us while we're away on vacation by painting our cupboards white. We were truly shocked when we came home! It lifted the room right up. Top right photo below
I couldn't handle the beige walls anymore so I painted the whole house white myself. I wasn't really paying close attention when I selected the white so I chose a bright white as opposed to the more yellow white of the cabinets. C'est la vie!
We install new laminate wood flooring
and it feels like a new space once again! Getting rid of the yellow laminate tiled flooring was key. bottom left photo
I wanted something that felt more "designed" than just plain white cabinets so we painted a two-toned color scheme. White up top and dark blue on the bottom (see the post here
). All of a sudden, it took a nice, clean kitchen and created a statement room. It felt intentional and refined. It still had a little ways to go to feel finished.
We added in a Caesarstone countertop
, tile backsplashes, removed mini blinds and added in wooden blinds, replaced the aluminum sink with a granite composite, new brass faucet, new brass hardware, new LED lighting.
Let's talk about the countertops, shall we?
As a former contributor to Interior Collective
, I’ve researched the pros and cons to each type of countertop: wood, laminate, marble, granite, concrete, you name it. Ultimately, I learned that quartz countertops from Caesarstone are an awesome choice for the following reasons: they’re stain and scratch resistant, maintenance free (no polishing or sealing required!), non-porous so bacteria can't get inside and make itself at home. SCORE! Plus, even though it's an engineered stone, it looks REALLY good.
I chose to go with their White Attica
, which features a clean white base with dense, dark grey interwoven veins. I chose it because it goes well with the whiteness of the cabinets and walls yet the veins add a nice interest to it. They have the option of a 2cm or 3cm thickness. I wanted a thicker look so I went with the 3. If you want something even thicker, you can put a couple of them together.
What We Used:
What to Know When Installing Countertops
I was a newbie to countertop installation, but let me tell you how the process worked for me so that it will alleviate some of the questions when it comes to doing it yourself.
A Few Tips:
- Caesarstone recommended an installer in my area who we went with after making a few calls around for price comparisons and Yelp reviews.
- After we selected the type of quartz we wanted, one of the installers came to do a "template" in our kitchen, which basically measures the space creating a plan for where the sink goes, etc.
- The slab was shipped directly to the installers. We also had the sink shipped directly there so they could cut it out. We didn't have any other holes cut out other than for the sink but other ones to consider would be one for hand soap, water dispenser, dish soap. I wish I would have thought about these things so I could have put them in, but it didn't even cross my mind and by the time I found out about it, I didn't have enough time to order some.
- It took about a half day for installation.
- Before we painted our cabinets we had asked the countertop installers if we should paint first or install the countertops first. They advised us to paint first. Looking back, I would have installed the countertops first because the new one is smaller than the previous laminate and because of it we can see traces of white from the cabinets that didn't get painted mostly at the top, just below the countertop.
- You have the option to put in a 4" backsplash of countertop. We chose not to do so because I wanted the tile to start at the bottom. Usually you put in a 4" backsplash when you don't put in tile, but you can do it if you prefer.
And how do I like it? I LOVE our countertops. They're beautiful and clean and almost
make me want to cook. Almost.
Can't speak more highly about it.
After writing about Caesarstone countertops for so many years, it feels so wonderful to have it at my fingertips. I couldn’t be more pleased about them. They’ve change the entire atmosphere of my home.
For more kitchen reveals: Daniella on Design | Song of Style