How would you define your style? I’d describe my style as relaxed and informal. I tend to use a neutral backdrop, and add colour and texture in artwork and accessories; things that can be easily and inexpensively changed. Function is always a priority, but I like to combine contemporary pieces, natural materials, and antiques to add interest and personality. I really believe that each room should have at least one unique piece – an antique, vintage find, original artwork, or family keepsake – which sets the room apart and injects your own individuality and style.
What is your Inspiration for your kitchen? When we bought this house, we knew it needed a lot of work to get it looking the way we’d like. We live on 2 ½ acres, and although the land is beautiful the house was dark and dated. Along with the timber kitchen, we had pine cathedral ceilings, exposed brick walls and black stone floors – very dark and depressing. I knew I wanted a fresh, clean look, with lots of white, and drew on my love of Hamptons-style homes and Scandinavian interiors for inspiration.
What is your favorite element of your kitchen? I love what a difference a simple coat of paint has made to the room – it’s now so light and airy, and it looks much bigger. But my favourite element came about by covering the brick island with beadboard, which totally changed the feel of the room. The dark brick screamed 80’s style, and by replacing it I think I’ve managed to inject some charm and style into a space that was sadly lacking both. The room was functional but very tired, and with just a little paint, some new cabinet hardware, and a bit of elbow grease it now has a fresh, contemporary feel.
What is the biggest challenge of your kitchen? There were a couple of challenges in this makeover. As we plan to renovate this room completely in the not-too-distant future, I really focused on aesthetics rather than structural changes. I’d originally planned to replace the backsplash with either beadboard panelling or subway tile, but when I removed the existing laminate I found it was attached directly onto the wall studs – there was no plasterboard behind it at all! So for now the laminate will stay. I’m also considering whether to change the cut-out wall, and build some open shelving instead. My dilemma is that it opens up the kitchen to the formal living room, which is great in practical terms, but really impacts on the look of the living room. Not quite sure which way I’ll go on that one yet!
What do friends say about your kitchen? Most of my friends thought I’d replaced the kitchen, or at least all of the doors – they didn’t believe they were the same ones, just painted white. And without exception, everyone loves the beadboard. But the funniest reaction came from my husband, who was away for work when I decided to start my little DIY project. I thought I’d surprise him, and I think I definitely achieved that! Luckily he loves the new look, and is quite used to me doing things like this; although, I think he’s always a little nervous when he travels!
What was is your proudest DIY? This room is definitely my proudest DIY, because I did everything myself. From spray painting the cabinet doors, to installing soft-close drawer runners, cutting the skirting and beadboard to size (with my latest obsession – the drop saw), this whole project was really enjoyable and so rewarding. And I’ve received so many emails from people saying they were too scared to paint over their wood cabinets, until they saw what a difference it made. I know some people think it’s terrible to paint over timber, but my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Paint is one of the cheapest, but most effective decorative tools you can use to update a room, and it can totally transform a space. This makeover cost less than $500, and most of that was spent on new cabinet hardware. To me, that’s a whole lot of bang for your buck, and much cheaper than a new kitchen.
What was the biggest indulgence with respect to your kitchen? I haven’t been indulgent at all so far, but I’m on the lookout for some new pendant lights for above the island bench, and some new stools for the breakfast bar. I think that’s one of the great benefits of DIY – with the money you save by doing the work yourself, you can indulge in some great accessories to really personalise the room, and put your own individual stamp on it. Lighting is one area that can make or break a room, and it can be expensive, so I love the fact that I can shop for some beautiful, unique lights without a trace of guilt!
What is the best advice you've given or received? Definitely that preparation is key to a good result, and although the prep work is my least favourite part of any DIY project, it really is so true. Oh, and the old adage of ‘measure twice, cut once’ is the one rule you should never break. But really, my advice is to give it a go – what have you got to lose?