Kitchen Makeover: Samantha Needs a Creative Space

My Kitchen Needs a Makeover!

Name: Samantha and Jacob
Location: Berkeley, California
Rent or own? Rent
What does your kitchen need? Oh good lord, what DOESN'T it need?! I'm a professional photographer, but I was thisclose to becoming a chef. Having a stylish, welcoming kitchen is just as important to my culinary creativity as the rest of my apartment is to my artistic creativity (since I work from home).

What does your kitchen need? (cont.) Plus, the kitchen is across the hall from my office, which means clients may see it, so it needs to look...clean, at least.

We haven't officially moved in yet, though we signed the lease, hence the absence of...everything.

The building is from the 1920s, and it has some good bones, but the colors of the kitchen are all over the place. The floor is red tile, the walls are off white, the cabinets are white-white, and the counter is brown and blue-gray. It's just all over the place.

Our landlord is a saint (he agreed to take down wood paneling in my office and replace with drywall), but I promised any changes we made would be completely temporary.

I'd love something clean, modern, and slightly eclectic, without it being kitschy. There is also room for a mini dining area or breakfast nook, with which we can at least have a little fun. I'm not afraid of color, but what we have now just isn't working.

My boyfriend and I are both very tall--I'm 5'10" and he's 6'3", so certain hanging light fixtures might not be the best idea. Budget is small-ish, but flexible.

What are your limitations? We can't paint ANYTHING. Temporary wallpaper and coverings were given the OK by the landlord as long as they were genuinely temporary.

Makeover Recipe

Samantha, we actually love the pattern on your kitchen counters. It adds a lot of interest, and while we can't tell exactly how blue the blue-gray color is, we love pale blue with red or aqua/turquoise with red, so that color combination might work (look at this post on one of our favorite beer labels, which has a similar color combo).

• We know your landlord said no paint, but he does seem flexible. Would he consent to a simple white paint job to freshen up the walls and make them match the cabinets? That would brighten the room without permanently altering the look.

• We'd also suggest some rugs. The floors are interesting, but the deep red can be a little dark and overwhelming. Something lighter and more modern (see our suggestion below) would add a lot. One for the kitchen, one for the dining nook? Or get a basic sisal for the dining area.

• We'd also hang some small prints or other artwork on the wall above the oven or in the space between the cabinets and the countertop (perhaps some of your own photography...). Or even a collection of vintage plates, if that's your style. We could see a row of blue and white plates hung horizontally. And get some nice vases or fruit bowls to put along the countertop in photo 3.

• As for the windows, we'd go for inexpensive bamboo roman shades (you can find them in all widths at Overstock.com) that would pick up the wood edges of the countertops and add a little contrast so everything isn't white white white. If you did go with a neutral rug in the dining area, you could get some patterned curtains (Anthropologie has tons).

• And the dining room! That's a great space; we'd spend the most money here. Get a nice pedestal table with chairs and a pendant light. You might also be able to fit a low, shallow cabinet along one wall for more storage (and set a pair of lamps on top).

Inspiration:
San Francisco Sleek Yet Vintage Re-Do. This is an example of red and aqua/blue working together. Again, you'd have to pick a shade of blue that doesn't clash with the countertops.
Erin and Melanie's Sunny White- a clean, white space with artistic accents. We also like the table and chairs, which we're pretty sure are from IKEA.
Allison's Peaceful Cottage. We also like these window shades. The fabric looks similar to ticking, which would also work, if you found some in white and a deep red.

Suggested Resources:
Dash and Albert indoor/outdoor rugs. We like the Diamond Denim/White and Diamond Slate/Light Blue.
Rustique Bamboo Roman Shade, $19.99 at Overstock. (This comes in many widths.)
Pressed Paisley Serving Bowl, $32 from Anthropologie. Other vases or vessels: White basics from IKEA or maybe a Marsupial Pot ($36) from Etsy seller Pigeon Toe Ceramics.
IKEA Docksta table, $149- an inexpensive Saarinen knockoff, but not bad looking. Maybe pair it with some vintage wood chairs to keep it from looking too sterile.
• Drum pendants from Galbraith & Paul for the dining nook.

Those are just a few suggestions to start your inspiration process. Please check back in and show us what you do with your kitchen makeover. Readers — what would you do with this kitchen?

(Images: Samantha Wolov. Visit her photography site.)