Our Kitchen Upcycle Project – Part 1: The ‘Before’

wood ikea kitchen black granite worktops

I’ve meaning to write a post about our kitchen upcycle project for aaaages, well, we’ve actually been meaning to start upcycling this kitchen of ours for ages, but pre-lockdown, our busy life with 3 young kids got in the way. When lockdown began a couple of months ago and both Adam and I were subsequently at home more (and also looking at this fugly kitchen more too, lolz), I began to put the wheels in motion for finally doing something about it. 

What can I say about our kitchen?

Well, for starters, it certainly isn’t our dream one, or the one that will be here forever. When we moved almost a year ago now, we came from what was a beautiful kitchen that was the result of our renovation work there, and in our home before that we’d also been lucky enough to move and do building work straight away on that property, so we’ve been rather spoilt in never having to live somewhere previously for very long with a kitchen that we didn’t love. The price we’ve paid for spending some cash on a bigger home in an expensive part of the country means that we’ve compromised size over style for a few years, and right now in the current circumstances I am never more grateful for the spacious home that we chose. We plan to do an extension when we can, and create a large kitchen/dining/living space with utility room, play room and downstairs shower room thrown in too. 

In the meantime, the current kitchen is an Ikea one (maybe about 10-15 years old?), rather tatty in parts due the previous owners’ dogs chowing down on parts of it, but overall, it’s not too bad. The plus points are that it’s actually a decent size, just with a terrible layout (you access the fridge by walking all the way around the island). There is plenty of storage which has been great, but the appliances don’t look great being on show, even the nice ones. The kitchen looks like it was created on a budget, yet the black granite worktops are actually great quality and must have cost a bit (hence why these will stay for now even though not our style). 

Some definite kitchen ‘ying and yang’ going on here! 

I decided a while ago that since we have to look at this kitchen every day for the next couple of years, that it would be worth our while giving it a bit of a makeover in its golden years. We  all love cooking and want to spend our time somewhere enjoyable. The criteria was that we didn’t want to spend more than a couple of hundred pounds on the kitchen upcycle project. 

So, once lockdown commenced I was lucky enough to be able to place an order on the Frenchic website (more on this in the next post), and choose some of their ‘Alfresco’ paint (apparently actually best for kitchens). It arrived after 3 weeks and since then we’ve got to work, but I thought I would talk you through the ‘before’ snaps of the kitchen and our kitchen makeover plans! 

As you can see here looking at one side of the kitchen where the main cooking magic happens, it’s all a bit…bland. I have no idea what possessed the previous owners to paint one side of the kitchen walls a grubby coffee colour, yet the other side of the kitchen a dirty cream colour (snaps of this to follow for contrast!). That wall colour, along with the wooden units makes the whole space so dark. The appliances will stay during this kitchen upcycle project as it’s not worth spending cash to replace some of them at this point, as will the cooker extractor fan, although we will paint the tiles splashback white to match the new walls (I think). 

Our plan is to rip the top cupboard units off here and replace with open shelving, probably white-painted scaffold boards to create a brighter sense of space. We have decided to go BOLD or go home for all of the remaining kitchen units here, and after much deliberating we decided to grow a pair and to order Frenchic ‘Victory Lane’, a deep green. We figure this is the one chance to go WILD in a kitchen upcycle project without making a crazy-expensive mistake! 

Whilst I’ve ordered ‘Victory Lane’ for all the remaining units in the kitchen, now we’ve started painting some of the units (which look awesome btw, eep!), I’m unsure whether to plough on and paint this island in the same colour OR wait for some Frenchic ‘Dusky Blush’ instead as an interesting contrast. I’m kicking myself for not ordering some when I could (the wait list for this paint is looooong). Impatient me says to crack on and paint this green like the rest of the kitchen, but I just have a hunch that it will be worth the wait for the Dusky Blush…

This side of the kitchen will get a lick of ‘Victory Lane’, and the walls painted white to again, brighten the space. 

I think these units are a bit ‘marmite’ and I that they’re quite old-fashioned in terms of display ones. Since we’re getting rid of the wall units on the other side of the kitchen, some of the stuff displayed in here will go on the shelving, and mugs etc will go in here instead. I’ve ordered some patterned window film to cover up the glass (I love this stuff!), and I think, along with the new paint on the units’ will make them feel a bit more modern. 

One thing I can’t wait to change is these handles- bleeeurgh! So late-nineties/early noughties! We are swapping them for long, gold handles as they’ll go well with the green. 

Another angle of the kitchen. Sadly our lovely mint green SMEG fridge will have to stay in the garage as our drinks fridge for a while longer as it doesn’t fit in the space here (we inherited this fridge for the main reason that it’s such an odd space). Also, check out the contrast between the kitchen floor (not too bad in itself) with the hall flooring (also not too bad in itself)… JUST WHY?! Looks totally ridiculous, but alas, again won’t go until we do the entire ground floor of the house when building work takes place etc. We are keeping the stools as we like these and they fit along the island just about. We’ll also change the ceiling light fittings as these should be relatively inexpensive but will have to wait until someone can fit them in a safe, distancing way.

Oh, and last but not least, our larder cupboards just off the main kitchen. I actually LOVE these (so much better actually than our previous pull-out larder cupboard things), and they’ll get a lick of either ‘Victory Lane’ or ‘Dusky Blush’, still can’t decide! 

So there you have it, our ‘before’ kitchen. We’ve actually been cracking on with the makeover but it’s been slow and steady progress (homeschooling 3 kids and trying to run a business/work will do that to a couple!), but we’re getting there and I can’t wait to show you some progress snaps and then the final results. I’ve got some ‘highlights’ in my Instagram stories too if anyone would like to follow progress on a semi-daily basis. 

See some more of our homes and interiors here. 

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