Before and After: An “Extremely Dated” English Kitchen Gets a Cottagecore Update for $3,000

published Jan 17, 2024
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When dentists Luke and Hayley Blythe (@bricks.and.ivory) moved into their cottage-like home in Cambridgeshire, England, they knew they had a lot of work ahead of them to transform the space into their dream house. The original space checked most of their boxes — it had a lush garden, tall ceilings, and ample space for their family — but those amenities were enmeshed with an outdated aesthetic, fading wallpaper, and smoke stains.

One of the rooms that needed a facelift most was their kitchen, so Luke and Hayley started there. “It was an extremely dated and dark room with old appliances that did not work for our family,” Hayley said. Their stove was broken, the fridge was too small, and, like the rest of the house, years of smoking had damaged the walls and lights, too. 

It was the couple’s intention to have a light-filled, welcoming kitchen that had “rustic charm with curated, thrifted decor.” So, they decided to make their design dreams come true, set a budget of around $3,000, and got to work. 

New paint gives the kitchen a cottagecore color scheme.

Luke is quite the handyman and chose to do most of the projects — which included two paint projects. The walls got a bright coat of white (Wicke’s Pure Brilliant White), and Luke sanded and painted the cabinet doors in a warm beige (Frenchic’s Cool Beans Al Fresco). He also replaced the hardware on the cabinets to modernize them.

There are stylish storage-maximizing DIYs throughout.

Luke also replaced the lighting with contemporary (but still vintage-inspired!) fixtures, hung a curtain to conceal the fridge, installed a decorative hanging rail, and converted an old bookcase into dry goods storage. He mostly tackled the kitchen renovation (with the help of a plumber and an electrician) on weekends when he wasn’t working his nine-to-five job.

Perhaps the couple’s favorite DIY project in the space are the open shelves. “[The shelves are a] cheap and cheerful way to display decorative items or attractive storage glasses or jars,” Hayley says.

The new textures in the kitchen are a mix of budget finds — and (happy) accidental finds.

The new countertops in the space are much brighter than the brown before (they’re an easy-to-clean marble laminate) , and the white tile backsplash is a timeless classic — another upgrade from the dated floral tiles before.

Last but not least, the exposed brick wall in the kitchen “was a DIY disaster that ended up becoming a beautiful feature,” Hayley tells AT. Luke was installing one of the shelves on the wall when the plaster started crumbling away. (“It was all so old!” Hayley recalls.) Hayley had the idea to chip away the loose plaster until she reached solid brick. “I cleaned up the bricks and realized how beautiful they were… we agreed to keep the exposed brick creating an interesting focal point!” she says.

In total, the kitchen makeover took six months and cost about $3,000.

The project took six months to complete, but it was worth the wait. Now, the room achieved their goals: It’s bright, cozy, and full of smart touches. And the Blythes’ cozy kitchen isn’t the only tranquil renovation in their home. To see more, visit the full house tour on Apartment Therapy

This post originally appeared on The Kitchn. See it there: Before & After: An “Extremely Dated” Kitchen Gets a Sunny Update for Under $3,000