kitchen facelift

Kitchen Facelift | After

The ‘after’ photos of our kitchen are a whole lot less dramatic than the ones I posted of the powder room – which is why I’ve been describing this project as a “facelift”, rather than anything more ambitious! As I mentioned in my last post on the subject, there’s only so much you can do to a kitchen without painting/replacing the cabinets, or taking up the hated tiles on the floor, and although we will (hopefully) be tackling both of those projects at some point in the future, this one was really just about freshening things up a bit, without making too many big changes.

As I also mentioned in my last kitchen-related post, I stupidly managed to delete all of the “before” shots from the camera before I could use them, but this post provides a bit of background, a single dark ‘before’ shot, plus a lengthy explanation of all of the things we DIDN’T do to the kitchen. As for what we DID do, meanwhile… well, here’s the list:

apple bird feeders

kitchen storage: lemons and limes

London Tube poster


white worktops and deep sink

Our old worktops were a kind of blue-grey marbled effect, which, as well as being very dull and dreary to look at, didn’t strike us as particularly hygienic, because if anything spilled on them, it could be hard to see it amongst the swirling pattern. Us being us, we replaced it with basic white countertops, which are a better match for our style, and allow us to add those “pops of colour” people are always banging on about. While we were at it, we also…


smeg sink

I have no idea how this came about, because our house is only five years old, but these items were all in a pretty bad state. The sink and drainer was scratched to pieces, the plug was missing, and one of the taps fell off and had to be replaced with a temporary one, which didn’t fit properly. Like the floor, no matter how many times I cleaned the sink and drainer, it still looked dirty, so we switched them out for shiny new ones.


modern extractor fan

As with the sink, the gas hob was pretty beaten up looking for its age (HOW?!), and it was also a pain to keep clean. One of our aims for this house is to try to keep things as low-maintenance as possible, so we replaced it with a larger electric version (I know most people prefer gas, and will be just AGHAST at this, but we’ve always had electric hobs, and much prefer them, so… I hate that I’m trying to justify my choice of cooker. I’ll stop that.) The extractor fan, meanwhile, had also seen better days (NO idea what the previous owners did in this kitchen…), and it was ALSO a pain to clean, so it got replaced with a more streamlined version, which is more in keeping with our style.

electric hob


One of the things I learned during this project is that the standy-up thing around your kitchen counters is called an “upstand”. Can you tell I don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen? Our kitchen actually didn’t have any upstand, but it did have some beige tiles which weren’t part of our final vision for the space, so we removed them, and added the white glass upstand, which has LED lighting behind it. (Just in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re BIG fans of LED lights…) One thing we haven’t gotten around to yet is putting in a splashback (Which those of you in the US will know as a ‘backsplash’), but we’ll be doing that soon, probably in the same backlit white glass.

apple goodie bowl

(The green apple was a gift from my parents, and serves as our Goodie Bowl. It’s normally full of Haribo sweets…)


The kitchen layout we inherited had a stupid glass shelf at the window, then a couple of cabinets, the extractor fan, another cupboard, then the oven. This is the only photo I can I can find of it, and I must stress here that this was taken BEFORE we moved into the house, so the grease you can see on the old splashback and cabinets is not ours, and was removed within hours of us taking possession!

old kitchen

And here’s what the same space looks like now:

kitchen remodel

I’d always hated the glass shelf: as well as having to be constantly dusted (see: low maintenance, above), it was also pretty useless. It took up a space that could take another cabinet, and we did consider trying to find a matching one, to give us some extra storage. In the end, though, we settled for taking out the shelf and replacing it with the cabinet that was previously on the other side of the extractor fan. That doesn’t give us any additional storage, obviously, but it does give the area around the hob a more spacious feel: previously, it felt quite cramped in there, with the hood squeezed between the two cabinets on either side.


replacing the handles on kitchen cabinets

We may not be able to replace the doors themselves right now, but we did give them some shiny new handles. As with the sink, the old handles were absolutely wrecked: again, I don’t know how that even happens in a relatively new house, but they were really badly scratched and dented, and just looked BAD, basically. The new ones aren’t a huge departure, but they are at least in good condition! We also removed the trim (if that’s what it’s called) above and below the cabinets, just to give them a slightly more modern shape.


LED kickboards

Kickboards? Baseboards? Er, the things that go around the bottom of your kitchen cabinets? Whatever you call them, ours were the same dark wood as the cabinets themselves, so we replaced them with stainless steel ones, and… yes, you guessed it.., threw in some extra lighting for good measure.


It’s a small detail, but we’ve been gradually working our way around the house, replacing the standard lightswitches and plug sockets with nicer ones: it just makes the room feel a little more “finished”.

Speaking of being finished, this room obviously ISN’T. In fact, I’ve purposely shown you all of the small details before giving you the big picture, because when you look at the room as a whole, those dark wood cabinets really dominate it, and as they haven’t changed (much) the first impression is that nothing else has changed, either:

kitchen after

(The red and green apples in the foreground, by the way, are actually birdfeeders from the garden: we had to bring them inside because of this week’s very high winds, but I quite liked the way they looked, so I just left them in the photos!)

Once again, though, Terry has done a huge amount of work, and the room feels a whole lot lighter and brighter now, which is particularly welcome at this time of year, when it gets dark so early. Hopefully the little changes we’ve made now will also stand us in good stead when we finally get round to the bigger changes we have planned.  First, though, we’re taking a very long break from DIY…

books by Amber Eve
  • Hi Amber, wow it’s only a small change but it made a world of difference! I love how you done the fan, I haven’t seen that before. The kitchen doesn’t look so 1970ish (or is it just me that thought that?) now. I bet your really proud. 🙂

    December 12, 2014
  • Ruth


    It looks great, so clean!

    Terry is so handy, how does he know how to plumb in a toilet?!

    December 12, 2014
  • LydiaGrace


    Has anyone else come over all ‘heart eyed emoji’ at the pictures of this beautiful kitchen?! Seriously stunning Amber, and it must be such a relief to have it feeling more ‘you’ now.

    December 12, 2014
  • Suki


    WOW it looks great you worked so well with what you had, my kitchen cupboards are the same colour and I must say compared to the old white ones I used to have they look a lot newer and cleaner than the old ones did. You both did an amazing job!

    December 12, 2014
  • Liz


    Could you not just tile over the floor tiles in the short term? We spray- painted our cabinet doors as a stop gap and it made a world of difference.

    Anyway, you’ve done wonders !

    December 12, 2014
  • Looks much better, lighter. I like the LED lights under the cabinets, I have to speak with hubby about them (my own DIYer, like you, we don’t pay professionals to do this kind of things in the house :D). Well done!

    Anca @ ancaslifestyle | UK

    December 12, 2014
  • Leanne


    Your kitchen looks so much better. I agree, once you use a ceramic/induction cooktop you never go back…they’re so much easier to clean!

    December 12, 2014
  • Judy Stevens


    Excellent job! I love the changes! Love the lighting!

    December 13, 2014
  • Fran


    Well done you guys! It looks like you got the best you could out of the kitchen!

    December 14, 2014
  • It looks wonderful! Those small changes have made such a difference. You have quite the handy man, Google has taught him well. Great job, guys. 😉

    December 14, 2014
  • I love your updates. You chose just the right aspects to facelift, and I think it makes the cupboards look so much cleaner and classier. Lovely!

    December 14, 2014
  • Gai


    Really lovely changes! The cabinets don’t dominate the space anymore—the whole room has a much lighter feel. Amazing what some “simple” changes can do—and your husband has done a wonderful professional looking job! Congrats!

    December 14, 2014
  • Lucie


    Wow, I mean the powder room was nice but for me I’d say it’s harder to make all those changes in an old setting. Bravo Terry! I don’t know how he did all this without scratching any of the cabinets and other things that stayed. Wow again!

    December 16, 2014
  • You could definitely be an interior designer/decorator. Your taste is amazing. I’d love for my house to be so pretty and minimal. I would definitely hire your as a decorator if you were one, and of course if we lived in the same city/country. hehe These changes did a whole lot of a difference.

    December 27, 2014