My husband and I are renters, struggling to get into the mindset of owning our own home. Perhaps it's the result of so many years living in Los Angeles and New York, where home ownership isn't a priority for the masses, or maybe it's because we're never quite sure we want to settle down just yet. The flip side of our peripatetic existence is that we truly cherish each home we live in and generally work to make it the best it can be before we move on. Great for the landlords - not so great for us.
When we first saw our home in New Orleans, we knew by the second doorway that this was the house we wanted to rent. We also knew, the second we saw the kitchen, that it was the first room we would have to tackle. It had promise - new appliances, 14 foot ceilings, an airy spaciousness, light, and a long window that opened onto the outdoor gallery (a narrow porch). It's drawbacks - cheap looking cabinetry, hardwood floors that weren't in great shape, dull countertops, and a hunter green color that didn't fit our sensibilities. The paint was the easy part and our landlord graciously did the work for us. The cabinets were another story.
We desperately wanted to redo the kitchen without spending a fortune (because what renter in their right mind spends a fortune on something they'll be leaving behind). But it still needed to be a vast improvement and something that the next tenants would be able to appreciate. We finally settled on open shelving, but even that gets very expensive. The kitchen sat, neglected, and for the first six months, we barely spent a moment in there. Then things started coming together.
We have a LOT of glassware and dishes - and even with the cabinets, not much storage space. I pulled my bottle tree from my office, liberating it from all of its spools of ribbon, and put glasses on it. I thought it looked good on the counter, warmed up the space a little. Then I happened upon an industrial pan of some sort, for $20, and used it to corral all of our everyday dishes. My husband unpacked a vintage restaurant sign and propped it against the wall. Suddenly, it felt like we had a look - a place we could start from. I LOVE when that happens - a flash of inspiration from the smallest, unlikeliest find.
We got lucky on the shelving - Broder shelves from IKEA. They're inexpensive and meant to be used in the garage or other heavy duty, storage areas. This meant that they could handle heavy dishes and pots and be truly useful, not just decorative. My husband removed the upper cabinets himself, painted, and installed the shelving. Total cost for 2 walls of shelves - $160! There are still other things for us to do - like paint the lower cabinets and change out the hardware. But what a great start. It's changed the entire look and feel of our kitchen and we spend a plenty of time in there!
Stay tuned for other kitchen projects (those cabinets!) I'll post them as we complete them.