reader spaces : haley + brandon’s kitchen

The other day, when a sweet reader named Haley sent me an email with these photos, I knew I reheheaaally needed to share with all of you.

She and her husband own an adorable little bungalow in Birmingham Alabama {our hometown!} and they’ve been working on the place, room by room, space by space, creating a home for themselves one project at a time. I knew it was going to be good when I spied the dining room…

Inspired by Domino, this mural was painted on the walls!

Yes, those are the original french doors. And check out that peek of purple in the living room!

They were ready to tackle the kitchen, beginning with little direction and a vague budget in July of last year. Haley actually wrote me, asking for some kitchen inspiration, and after our post, she fell in love with the colors in Lizzie Carney’s kitchen design. That fun, eclectic feel with deep, dramatic colors captured her attention.

So, check out the before: It was a bit of a 60′s diner…

It took a lot of elbow grease to transform this space. According to Haley, they lived in a real construction zone for months, and with both of them working full time, expecting their first sweet baby, and doing everything themselves as money would allow, it was quite the feat and transformation. This amazing couple is a testament to really going after what you want, and making it work.

They transformed it, to this:

Um, I’ll go ahead and say it. I’m not usually one for dark and dramatic, but someone pass me the peacock and grey. Haley was gracious enough to give me a little q + a, and I loved hearing all about her project! So sit back with your cup-o-joe and stay a while! You’re going to want to hear this. ;}

Where did you start?

We started with pulling up the linoleum floor and then tearing out a closet. Then my husband smoothed the popcorn ceiling. Then we knocked out a wall and sealed a doorway (where the stove is now) with the help of two handymen.

Tell me about that dark cabinet?

I befriended this girl named Heather and found out that she had some experience making her own furniture. We hired her to make the really dark “furniture-looking” set of cabinets out of some reclaimed wood. The wood came from Southern Accents in Cullman, AL. I think it’s absolutely worth the drive. People come from all over and they have reclaimed architectural pieces from all over the country. She created it from scratch from a picture I found in a magazine. We think she did a wonderful job. We plan to put a slab of white Alabama marble as the countertop somewhere down the line.

We left the larger existing set of cabinets, painted them peacock blue and then removed the front and used a natural linen curtain in place of the doors. We bought one regular length panel, and got our friend who made the cabinets to cut it in half and re-hem and sew it so that we had two small curtains. We also bought, and had her sand and re-stain, our butcher block countertops for the blue cabinet, from Ikea in Atlanta. We got the sink there as well, and the faucet from Home Depot. We purchased all new stainless steel Frigidaire appliances through Direct Buy and found one of the chandeliers at an antique store in Birmingham and the other in Panama City. The floor is the original 1925 hardwoods that were too damaged to refinish, so they’re just painted white. In total, we spent just under $6,000 for the entire project Including the lighting and appliances, plus what we paid Heather and the handymen. We are really proud of how far we stretched our small budget and absolutely love our finished product!

What’s your favorite element in the space?

I think my favorite thing we did was to resist the temptation of adding upper cabinets. If we had had more money, I might have gotten all conventional and added the cabinets because that’s what people expect. We didn’t need the storage because the dark wood cabinet is huge and the drawers go all the way back, plus we have the butler’s pantry which is more storage than you can imagine. By just doing the open shelving, I can add so much color and paintings and other fun pieces and change things up all the time. If there had been cabinets, it would be so dark!

Where did you find that great hardware I see on those dark cabinets?

I found similar pulls several places and they were always in the $25-40 range. This is where I found them {the horizontal ones}

Do you remember the exact colors on your walls/cabinets?

Peacock Tail and Dark Granite.

What was the hardest part?

When you’re really inexperienced with DIY construction, a lot of things go wrong and a lot of things take way longer than you would ever think possible because part of of your inexperience is not realizing that there are always unexpected hiccups with every project. Especially when working with an 87 year old home. Also, when you aren’t a professional, you don’t have and can’t afford to buy all the right tools. That being said, the two hardest things we did were removing the old potbelly stove “chimney” and removing the linoleum and everything else that happened leading up to painting the floors.

The potbelly stove pipe was one inch thick, cast iron pipe and about as big around as a grapefruit and the way it was against the plaster wall (that had a brick chimney within that part of the wall), all Brandon had that would work was a handsaw. It took a couple of hours of sawing two or three times a day for three days. Yeah! I know! It would have been my undoing but Brandon has a tremendous amount of patience with things like this. I would have been crying and sawing and cussing and freaking out, but Brandon just quietly sawed, and sawed, and sawed, and sawed…. We joked about mounting it on the wall like some sort of prized, record-breaking, largemouth bass.

The second hardest thing was the floor. It was peel and stick linoleum tile that came up in one corner of the room to reveal the original hardwood floors like we have throughout the rest of the house. We thought the tile was gross, old and dirty, and that we’d pull it all up and refinish them like all the others. This was the only thing we planned to do to the kitchen at first. Because we had no experience and couldn’t afford to pay someone. We pulled up the linoleum that was not just “peel and stick”-ed, it was like crazy glued to PLYWOOD. Yep! Only the teeny tiny corner that was starting to lift up, where brandon looked to see what was under it, was directly on the hardwoods. The rest of the room was covered in plywood. So, for days, we basically hopscotched around the room on random tiles because the glue still on the plywood was so sticky it would pull your shoe off if you stepped on it. Once Brandon started on the plywood, we realized there was a nail every four or five inches! Hundreds, or probably more like over a thousand nails later, and with the use of a hammer and crow bar, we get all the plywood up. And these people apparently didn’t trust that 37 million nails would keep this plywood in place, so before they nailed it down, the spread a nice thick coat of tar on the hardwoods. Like, for real, TAR. Think Andy and the other inmates tarring the roof in Shawshank Redemption! The fumes from getting tar up are pretty hard core and I was pregnant so I went to stay at my parents’ house while Brandon spread mineral oil all over the tar to break it down. And then, once he had scraped all he could scrape, we realized the floors were unsalvageable as far as staining goes, so we just painted them with basic (unmixed) white porch and floor paint. I’m exhausted just remembering all this!

What was the most enjoyable?

The best part was the decorating! I think its really easy to second guess what you’re doing when you LOVE color but do a neutral kitchen. It probably doesn’t seem very neutral now but before the decorating, our appliances were gray (stainless steel), our walls were gray, our cabinets were dark wood or white and our counter tops were dark wood or white. The curtain on the cabinets is a natural colored linen and the floor, ceiling, and all the moulding was white. For me, it was painfully boring.

My favorite element of my inspiration kitchen was the vintage refrigerator and when I really thought about it, I realized that it was more the color than the style so I scrapped the idea of getting a $2500 refrigerator :/ and just decided to use a bold color: Peacock Blue. We painted the white cabinet and the back door and it created instant drama. And I LOVE some drama in my house :) Once I committed to that, it was easy to find other things around my house, that were similar in color or would accentuate that color, to put around the room. I was sure to use things with some yellow because I love yellow with gray and little bits of red because I love the red with the blue.

Wow. Thank so much for sharing, Haley! This room is a testament to the possibilities of a little elbow grease, creativity, inspiration and resourcefulness. With a big fat dash of determination. I absolutely love this room. And I loved listening to all the elements that helped it happen. Makes me want to put up my feet, and stay a while as I drool over their chandeliers. They’d probably have to ask me to leave. ;}

Hope you guys enjoyed the eye candy, and the great story behind it-I certainly did! Have a happy, inspired Friday and a wonderful weekend!


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13 Responses to reader spaces : haley + brandon’s kitchen

  1. Those are some great colors in the space. I love seeing how other people decorate their homes, especially when they are out of the box, compared to typical neutral style. Thanks for sharing this fun space.

  2. Samantha says:

    The black stuff is called mastic. I had a wonderful time getting it off. The best method out there is actually to use a steamer. It’s completely water soluble, not particularly solvable in chemicals. It most likely – due to the age of your home – had asbestos in it. But great you got it all cleaned up! I had the same problem and I was curious how do you like the painted floors in the kitchen? I’ve got tons of problems in my kitchen from the mastic (I had four layers of linoleum and an additional subfloor I removed by myself) and water damage and uneven floor from settling, which prevents me from refinishing mine, which I got cleaned up so nicely, it’s sad. Back to topic, how do you like the painted floors? Are they shiny or matte? Thanks!

  3. Paola says:

    Wow, they did a great job !! I’m a little concerned about the hazardous material they could have found in this old house. I’m talking about asbestos, in old house like this , you can find it in vinyl/linoleum floor,popcorn ceiling and pipe.
    I hope they tested everything before starting the renovation.

    Ps.sorry for my bad english…I’m Italian and I just moved to Usa…still learning…
    Paola.

  4. OOoohh! I am so inspired with the colors! Thanks for this post! Ashley, when we have enough money and get around to it, we might get you to take a look at our sad, builder’s grade kitchen. Ha!

  5. Kristin M says:

    What a fabulous kitchen makeover. The paint on the walls and door are just perfect! I love every detail. Excellent job to them!

    xoxo
    Kristin
    theocdlifestyle.blogspot.com

  6. Wow, Haley and Brandon, you guys are INCREDIBLY determined!! I’m so impressed with all your hard work and the amazing results! That dark wood cabinet is definitely my favorite; it’s simply gorgeous!! Well done, and thanks, Ashley, for sharing this with us!

  7. dirose says:

    Love what you did in your kitchen. Also, love the purple walls in your living room. You have “the Knack!”
    I have been wanting to redo my Master Bedroom and thanks to you I have my color palette…the grey and the peacock blue. Thanks!!!

  8. Bethany says:

    This is just beautiful! Their hard work paid off for sure!

  9. This is amazing! I love how different and bold it is. I find it very soothing and dramatic at the same time!!

  10. Very pretty! I love how the blue/white/grey all look together. Very peacocky :) Her home looks so cozy and a great place to chill out!

  11. Rebecca Hasey says:

    I think she mentioned a blue fridge, but I don’t see it in any pics. Am I missing something? :)

  12. Monique says:

    So nice to see a beautiful and Original kitchen design. The handmade cabinets are beautiful…the whole kitchen is gorgeous. Really great color choices. I had thought about doing open shelving around the oven but was a bit afraid because of the oven splatters. Wondered if this has been a problem for them and do they have an oven hood? Didn’t see a hood. I would love to get rid of the ugly hood I have in our small kitchen.