Shaker maple kitchen cabinets with seeded glass upper cabinets.

Steve and I bought our 1977 brick ranch home in 1990. It was a great neighborhood for our family, but it featured a dreadful dark kitchen. The cabinets over the peninsula were so low that we had to bend over to talk to the girls at the kitchen table. The photos below are from 25 years ago, after I painted the very dark cabinets white, and even painted the old faux butcher block countertops so we could temporarily stand to look at them.

With a busy family, a limited budget, and hubby and I working full-time, the kitchen languished until 2000.

My precious Mom had been diagnosed with an extremely aggressive cancer and we knew we would not have her for very long. During the hours that my siblings and I held her hand and talked, Mom let us know that she had saved some money her elder years, but would no longer need it. Her wish was that we would share it. She asked each of us to tell her specifically what our plans would be for our inheritance. Though we were all tearful and unwilling to talk about such things, Mom was adamant.

So I told my mother we would love to upgrade our kitchen. Make it something she would have liked and that we would enjoy for a long time. A few months after she went to heaven, Steve and I gutted the old kitchen and I designed the new one. I had no idea what I was doing. Truly.

In 2020 painted cabinets had not yet become a DIY trend. I chose solid maple shaker style with black Corian countertops that have a tiny spec of white.

We had the cabinets over the peninsula raised, and made them purely decorative with seeded glass on both sides. The perfect spot for pottery, baskets from my African travels, and special glassware.

It is amazing just how much counter space this ’70s kitchen has.

One decision we made had a big impact on how many people we could seat: we had the peninsula countertop extended 12 inches. That way we were able to add four counter stools that tuck almost all of the way underneath. I painted them to coordinate with the rug on top of the table.

Opposite the peninsula is a large counter that comes in handy when we have company with its added space for food and wine, and our always mismatched wine glasses. In 2000, tumbled marble backsplashes were all the rage, and I still love ours today for its variation and texture.

On this counter I added a small rug to soften it, demijohns, old pottery, and a cake stand and cloche for Steve’s fave blueberry muffins. I created the reverse-painted glass (or verre églamisé) piece for a Fusion Mineral Paint tutorial, using stencils by my Canadian friend Donna Williams of Funky Junk Interiors.

Call me crazy but I added a rug in the open area. It happened by mistake one day when I took it out of the living room to add a Moroccan one under the coffee table. It fit perfectly and is soft underfoot, so it stayed.

A couple of years ago I decided to search for a new kitchen table and chairs. We had a round glass table and dated chairs for four: the girls are now grown and bring guests so and update was in order. My interior designer friend Sandra Barron was part of my quest. She texted one day that this table and the chairs were on a super sale at World Market. Done! I bought six chairs and can add the extra one as needed.

Sandra and I were at World Market picking up the furniture and she suggested using this long floor runner on the table. Who knew! I would never have thought of it, and it is perfect for pulling together the colors from the living room.

Gracie Lee loves the cool kitchen tile and she can see into several rooms from this vantage point.

The kitties are probably unaware of their guardian angel hanging above. Who knows where I found it. It was years before I realized it is a tongue-in-cheek bird feeder. The hole is on the other side, and you lift up the tail to fill it. A treasure.

What is my one lesson from this kitchen? I have learned that natural maple warms, or yellows, some over the years. It used to bother me, but I have made peace with it.

I used to own a large decorative painting studio where I painted kitchen cabinets full-time for homeowners and builders. It’s how I earned a living during the recession. Am I planning to paint these cabinets? Nope. Natural wood cabinets are coming back!

So, what have you done with your kitchen? Have you done a remodel or, like us, loved what you have? I’d love to see!

6 thoughts on “Updates To Our 20 Year Old Kitchen Reno Add Big Style

  1. Great ideas. At the point of needing to redo the kitchen. Didn’t realize how much until the pandemic and I have to use it every day.

    1. Hi Robin, I think a lot of people have realized the same. Especially if you have been reading magazines, looking at Pinterest and Instagram and HGTV. I did lots of paint redos for years that were a great option to brighten it all up. Appliances are so expensive. Hate to think about these going all at one time. Thanks for reading!

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. Since seeing so many painted cabinets I was beginning to waiver, I even chose the colour but this has reminded me why we fell for our natural wood kitchen and dining furniture in 2020. It still looks great. We will get the last laugh when they were all stripping the paint off just as we did thirty years ago. Thank you so much.

  2. Good one Jenny! My hubby wanted natural wood, and now I am thankful he did. I have painted everything for decades, and now it is a great change to have some unpainted pieces. Thanks for reading!

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