This Kitchen Needed 3 Simple Things

1. Plants

2. Paint

3. Rug

Plants, paint and a rug. Plants, paint and a rug. That could pretty well be my mantra for ANY room update, but for this kitchen in particular, those three things made a shell of a kitchen function as a pretty, family kitchen once again.  Welcome to our kitchen:

...but let's start this post back at the beginning, shall we?
Here are the first real estate photos I saw of the kitchen:

 The bones are fantastic, yes?  The brick fireplaces flanking the central open space are perfection in my book.  They are cozy, symmetrical and already painted a nice clean white.  Of course, when I "painted white", I mean in theory.  The brick was actually quite dirty after years and years of daily kitchen use, so it needed some touch ups.  Before we get to the paint though, let's discuss the plants.


Every room could use a few plants, in my opinion.  You do not have to be an intense gardener to add a little plant life to your rooms though.  In fact, some of my favorite ways to bring florals into a space requires very little gardening skill at all.  Here are the plant additions to the kitchen from the simplest to the more complex.

A. Cut Flowers from Bulbs:  I specify that these cut flowers are from BULBS because bulbs are easy.  Perennials with nice blooms (hello peonies!) aren't incredibly difficult either, but if you are a beginner, try bulbs.  The cut tulips marching along the fireplace mantel like continental soldiers cost 50 cents.  If you follow along on facebook and instagram, you will remember the fire sale on bulbs in January at my local WalMart.  I grabbed buckets of 50 cent paperwhite (narcissus) bulbs, tulips, hyacinth and others.  I had 20-25 bags of bulbs and there were plenty left for other shoppers.  Once home, it was simply a matter of sinking the bulbs into pots of soil (I had the pots, I bought the soil) and a few months later - voila!  Cut flowers!  Just plant them out once they wilt and cut your next round of flowers next spring.  The bulbs on the bottom of the fireplace are amaryllis from Longfield Gardens and more cheap WalMart tulips on the left.  The daffodils in the back hallway are from outside plantings.

B. Drying Herbs:  Remember when I sang the praises of lemon balm RIGHT HERE?  Well, here is reason #771 that you should be growing a few mint cousins, such as lemon balm.  They make beautiful little bundles drying from the ceiling. When we first saw this house, one of the major impacts it had on me came thanks to these thick, wide ceiling beams.  They span through the kitchen into a side bedroom and echo flooring elsewhere in the house.  They just cry out for hooks all laden down with drying herbs, don't you think?

no herbs yet....I am hungry to start hanging some though!
C. Cut Branches: If you do not have any flowers to cut in early spring, consider the branches.  There are plenty of flowering trees either currently in bloom or prime and ready to force.  Simply prune off wayward branches, add them to water and BOOM.  Give them a couple of weeks and they will enliven any room of the house.

D.  Herbs?  Most kitchens with a plant or two will include herbs.  Mine does not.  Why?  I need my growing plants to get more light than the kitchen offers, so actual growing plants will go out onto the window ledge. (behind those small paned windows in the back of the photo below)

...or they will go in the atrium if they cannot go outdoors yet.  If a plant can go outdoors, I like to let it out as soon as possible in spring.  The spring rains, warming temperatures and even those light breezes toughen up a plant and get it healthy again.  Think about it as a gym membership for your indoor plants.  Get rid of the bugs, the tired laziness of stretching stems and wake those plants up again!


I won't spend a long time on the paint, because we all know a gallon of white paint can transform a space!   What I WILL talk about are the things we DID NOT paint.  Namely, the cabinets.

White cabinets.  Green cabinets,  Blue cabinets.  Grey.  Everyone enjoys a nice painted cabinet now and again, but when you buy a house with nice cherry cabinets?  I say you leave them as is.  They are a beautiful color and after a brief flirtation with the idea of painting them, I moved on quickly.

I used 2 gallons of Martha Stewart 'Popcorn' for the walls and brick because it was the perfect color match to the formica backsplash and breakfast counter.  That white paint was worth it's $50 20 times over as it made quick work of the grape border (YES THE GRAPE BORDER...go back and look at the before - it is hideous!), freshened up all the dirty white brick and then moved on to the art room for a full takeover.  (UPDATE: See the Art Room at Stonecrest HERE!)


I partnered with RugsUSA for this portion of the post.  All opinions are my own.

When this home was run as a bed and breakfast, there were two beautiful red Turkish rugs in the kitchen.  They were stunning.  They were probably also quite expensive.  We have 4 children that have not fully mastered the hand to mouth motion without crumb spillage.  It is just a fact of life.  I could not justify spending thousands of dollars on an antique rug.  HOWEVER.

There is a thing called over-dying and I am madly in love with it.  Think of over-dyed rugs as jeans that have already been "worn in".  There are rough spots, bare spots and a little bit of age to them.  RugsUSA has this line of overdyed rugs that are incredibly cheap for large sizes and they look like they are wonderfully aged.

The best part?  They come in MODERN colors.  This was an immediate match for our house.  A little bit classic, a little bit aged, a little bit modern and DONE.

This 8x9 anchors the kitchen to perfection, the red picks up on the undertones of those (NON PAINTED) cabinets and I already have my eye on 2 or 3 more of these rugs for various spaces in the house.  The 'Grove' version of the rug I am showing you today comes in this red, as well as pink, orange, yellow, purple and more!  Check them out HERE!

The cabinets have more of an orange cast to them in these photos, but actually read more "red" in person!

A couple notes about the 8x10 that I chose.  It is more square than rectangular, fitting my space to perfection.  It is perfectly big for a basic dining room table, allowing folks to back chairs up without falling off the edge of the rug.  One small flaw in this rug is that the design seems "stretched", like when your printer gets stuck and the design falls a little bit off center?  For the price though, I can definitely deal with it!  Also note that this rug is fairly thin, not a big thick wool rug.  However, that thinness actually works quite well in a high traffic area like the kitchen and the rug lays nice and flat due to the size.  All in all, this rug is an A+ for the price and I would buy another one in a heartbeat!

So here is the challenge...

Do you have a room that is bugging you?  I dare you to use my formula of plant + paint + rug and see if the whole space doesn't just flip on its head for a couple hundred dollars.  You might NOT need that expensive renovation after all!

Kitchen Refresh Cost Breakdown:

Rug - $232.25
Paint - $50-60
Plants - < $10

TOTAL -- Around $300

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