the evolution of my house | part 4 | the kitchen

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Kitchen, My House16 Comments

And now, it’s time to walk through the evolution of my kitchen.  This is part four in a series where I’m showing how each room in my house has evolved over the nine years since we moved in.

I have always loved a good before and after, but the truth is that there are usually a lot of steps between those two pictures.  In the case of my house, each room has been years in the making…pieces bought and sold, projects completed and everything eventually brought together to make each room what it is today.  I’ve learned a lot as I worked on each space and I think my decorating style has become more focused and refined in the process.  It is my hope that this series encourages you, as you see that each “after” was a slow process, not an overnight change.

So, this is what the kitchen looks like today…



When we first looked at this home, it was the kitchen that sold me on the house.  Yes, I was charmed by the original 1940’s glass doorknobs and excited at the promise of refinished wood floors under old carpeting, but when I saw the kitchen, I knew it had more potential than any other room in the house.  Hidden under the beige, builder-grade exterior, a great kitchen was waiting to be discovered.  The layout, the cabinetry, the space was already there.  It was already a great kitchen.  It just needed some cosmetic changes to make it suit my tastes.



I was itching to paint over the pinkish-beige walls in the kitchen and family room when we first moved in.  I knew it was where we would spend most of our time, so I wanted to get to it right away  My mom, though, convinced me to paint the old part of the house first, because it needed it a lot more.  And, she was right.  The 1940’s part of the house had been pretty much untouched.  Other than carpeting that was put over the hardwood floors, it was still sporting all of the original fixtures and finishes from when the house was built and, I suspect, original coats of paint in some of the rooms.  The previous owners opted to put their renovation dollars and efforts into building on an addition that included the kitchen, family room and master suite.

So I reluctantly left the walls alone for about a year.  With a newborn baby, I didn’t have much time for painting, anyway.  It was during one visit from my in-laws that I finally had the opportunity to paint the walls.  My mother-in-law hung out with Marshall while I spent almost all day painting the kitchen and family room.

You know I’m a blue and white girl, but I didn’t think I could fit that color scheme with the green counters and beige floors, so I decided to stick with a warmer palette of yellow, green and red.  I painted the walls in a buttery yellow that I thought complimented the things in the room that I didn’t have the money to change.



Since we’re not big wine drinkers, I also removed the wine rack and used the recess to house cookbooks.  Otherwise, I left things alone.  I looked into making small changes, like the cabinet hardware, but with 53 cabinet doors, even a “small” project like that was still going to be out of my budget.  The kitchen would have to wait.

kitchen 5

It was my blog that finally made it possible to give my kitchen a makeover.  I was a part of the True Value DIY Blog Squad and, as a part of that, I received a generous gift card to True Value to buy supplies for projects I could write about on my blog.  The kitchen was first on my list.  I bought paint for the walls, ceiling and cabinets…

kitchen 7

Painting the cabinets was a huge project.  As I said earlier, I have 53 cabinet doors and something like 19 drawers, so even just removing the doors took hours.  Each surface was primed with an adhesion primer and then painted in two coats of oil-based Impervo paint by Benjamin Moore.  I used a sprayer for the primer and rolled and brushed the oil paint by hand.


Painting the cabinets made a huge difference in the look of the kitchen and it was worth all of the time I had to put into it.  The kitchen I envisioned when we first saw the house was coming to life.

I also used the gift card to replace the hardware on the doors and drawers.


I later painted an accent wall and the backsplash in chalkboard paint.


That project was for an tutorial and I wasn’t sure if I would leave it.  I thought I would hate having scribbles on my wall, but I have come to really love it.  Right now, my boys have their Saturday chores written up there in their crooked handwriting.  Jeff and I do actually use it for our shopping list.  We write what we need up there and whoever is going to the store will snap a picture of it with their phone.  It’s pretty handy, actually.


Once I painted the walls and the cabinets, I made peace with the green counters.  They looked more of a gray/green and I didn’t mind them as much.  I still wanted to replace them, but we had a lot of counter and, what we did have, was in perfect condition.  Replacing it seemed to be a bit over the top.  The floors, though, they were driving me nuts!

kitchen 9

Then, I got an e-mail from Home Depot.  They wanted to work with me to promote a line of Dal-Tile.  Hello, new kitchen floor!  Contrary to common sense that says you shouldn’t have a white kitchen floor, I selected a white tile that looks like marble.  I had a floor that hid dirt and spills very well and I hated it, so I wasn’t shy about picking a floor that I would love, but would require more cleaning.

kitchen 8

At this point, I’m thinking the kitchen is done.  There were still things I wanted to change, but again, they didn’t seem worth the money.  And then, I got another e-mail.  It was from my editor at  She asked me for tutorial ideas for updating a kitchen.  In that list, I put down all of the projects on my personal wish list for our kitchen.  They hired me to write a tutorial on building a custom range hood and making butcher block counters.  Now, I had to do those, because, “It’s my job.”  And, while it wasn’t one of the projects I was hired to do, if we wanted a backsplash, this was going to be the time to install it.


I had never done tiling before, but decided this was a good time to learn!  I chose a white marble in a herringbone pattern that I ordered off of Amazon and, one snowy day, my dad helped me install it.  He did the cutting and I applied it to the wall and did the grouting a couple of days later.

kitchen 10

Meanwhile, Jeff was working on making the butcher block counters in the basement.  We bought sections of cherry butcher block from Lumber Liquidators, but they were unfinished and some of the sections needed to be pieced together and cut to size.  He also had to cut a hole for the under-mount sink and the faucet.


kitchen 1

He routed a decorated Roman Ogee edge for a bit more detail as well.  I sanded them and applied Waterlox finish to make them durable and waterproof and then we installed them once they cured.  Most of the installation was easy, but the large L-shaped piece on the peninsula was a bit of a bear.  It was huge and heavy and awkward to maneuver.  It was a little hairy at times, but we got it installed without any casualties.

kitchen 2

We also replaced the trim around the window, so it matched the simple pine trim in the 1940’s part of the house.  Moen gave me the faucet and under-mount sink, another perk of the job.


I still love my wood counters.   I think if money wasn’t a factor, I would probably choose a natural stone over the wood, but the wood was so much cheaper and something we could DIY, so it was the best option for us.


As I said earlier, Jeff built the range hood as a tutorial project for  For me, this project made the kitchen look “gourmet” and much higher end than it actually is.  I always hated having the microwave over the stove.  It doesn’t vent well, it hangs low, it catches splatters…I know it’s a space-saving feature, but I never liked it.  I happily gave up a little counter space for a microwave, so I could have this custom range hood.




If you’ll notice, we never changed out the appliances.  I haven’t gotten that e-mail, yet!  I’m just kidding.  While I would love a beefy gas range one of these days, I just don’t think it’s worth upgrading the appliances in this house.  I also like how the white appliances just melt into the white cabinets and floor.

Also, some of you have noticed that I have replaced our blue barstools…

kitchen 11

My mom bought those for me several years ago.  We found two of them on clearance at Target while we were on a shopping trip and then chased down a third one at another local Target.  They have been great barstools, but we use them a lot and one of them finally broke.  After saving credit card points, some birthday money and profits from selling a few things, I bought these new barstools from Restoration Hardware.  I’ll write a post with more details about them soon.
















And that is the kitchen!  If you’d like a list of sources, links to the tutorials and a cost breakdown, you can find all of that information HERE.

Up next is the family room…

If you missed the other room tours, here they are…

Part 1 | Living Room

Part 2 | Dining Room

Part 3 | Home Office

Part 5 | Family Room

Part 6 | Master Bedroom

Part 7 | Bathrooms

the evolution of my house | part 4 | the kitchen

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16 Comments on “the evolution of my house | part 4 | the kitchen”

  1. Just love, love, love your kitchen Marian. The range hood really does add a significant character to it. Is your husband a tradey, or just a very handy man? And would you have a post where there are more details on the range hood construction? Thank you for sharing the evolutions! I really look forward to seeing them.
    Cheers, Liz (Australia).

  2. Love your kitchen. I recently had my oak cabinets painted white and added glass cabinets to the soffit space. Never looked back. I love a white kitchen. Loved reading about the evolution.

  3. It’s amazing what a little TLC can do for a room. I love your kitchen. It inspired me to use butcher block countertops in our house as well when we recently renovated our kitchen.

  4. Marian, I like the changes you made in your kitchen. You are fortunate to have sooooo much space. We just added on more space to our existing kitchen. We chose a beautiful granite over all other surfaces because of all its’ benefits and features. I have been married 43 years and we have moved 23 times so I’ve had just about every kind of kitchen counter material and floor material there is out there. I think practically so that’s why granite. My first choice was 3″ thick solid hardwood for our island, but nobody that we knew of would put together the size and shape we needed(our island is in the shape of the outline of a house like you drew when you were a child-very big too). No one would agree to putting together wood for that size. I had seen an island with a 3″ thick solid cherry top in a magazine and loved it. Oh my word, was it ever beautiful! I know you said that you would have chosen another surface if money weren’t an issue(and maybe you will get what you want in your next house), but, your countertops are gorgeous!!!!! Your husband did a great job on them! They are the “stand-out” item in that room in my opinion. Thanks for the pictures and the remarks.

  5. As I save and dream about a new kitchen, I enjoy looking at pictures of kitchens that speak to me – kitchens like yours! I love the look of your countertops and, since our remodel budget is tight, stone is not an option for us in this house. How are the wood countertops holding up for you? I am loving the look but worried about durability with three little ones.

  6. Your kitchen is lovely. I love seeing practical transformations by real people with a real budget. the backsplash is fabulous. But your countertops are stunning!! Makes me even more excited for my own. Do you find the water beads well without leaving marks? Wondering especially about areas around sink & front lip of it. Cuz we’re pretty messy & my kids do the rinsing of dishes for the dishwasher & there’s often water everywhere. Thanks so much for your detailed sharing!

  7. Your kitchen is beautiful, what a transformation wow. I have always envisioned and wanted a white kitchen with wood countertops forever, so seeing your kitchen I am in envy! That built in range is fabulous and I love how you left some cabinets without the doors to add interest. That’s pretty awesome at the perks you get from your work, such a big help! I am loving this series its nice to see the evolution of a home and know that its ok If its not perfect yet but It will get there with time. Especially trying to find your own style or if your a trend lover how much your house goes through before you find your perfect match. Gives me hope for my rental and my dreams for future homes 🙂

    Can’t wait for the next one!

    Lauren Baxter | LB Designs

  8. Hi Marian,
    I love your kitchen! I have followed you since 2008 almost on the date of 2008. Maybe even 2007 when I first re-did my kitchen cabinets. That chalkboard wall really looks elegant in your kitchen. Sometimes I love chalkboards and other times they aren’t my favorite. The fact that they actually look elegant and have a modern feel, despite being a farmhouse school type of look, they really look amazing in your space. A little bit of black always grounds a room.

    And the herringbone marble gets two thumbs up! That’s another iffy style for me, sometimes love and other times loathe. I just can’t make up my mind. Ha ha.

    Here’s the real kicker, I actually liked your before kitchen flooring too. I know you hated it and I totally understand how that goes. The white tile looks amazing too though. Two different looks and styles. I just want to say that I don’t think the flooring before looked all that bad. I never really noticed that it was dated.

    These are all compliments by the way. I promise. I hope I don’t sound like one of those people who would say, ” Oh that’s a nice floral blouse you’re wearing. My great-grandma used to have a sofa that looked like it.” I promise I’m not that person.

    Some time ago, I was listening to ya’lls design ramblings while I was working on some furniture, I was wondering if I sent you and Kriste some photos of my kitchen and weirdly angled, asymmetrical lines in my house if ya’ll could help with suggestions to detract from the angles? You would think I could figure out a solution after having gone through some architecture and design classes, but alas, no luck unless I find a money tree to pick from.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful home and the progress you have made. It truly is inspiring and fun to catch up on your shenanigans.


    P.S I know back in the day we had to leave our email to receive a response. I just began to blog again after having lost mine about four years ago. I’m on a hosted WP site this time. Just in case- my email is I’m not seeing a place to click to receive notifications.

  9. Marian,

    If you don’t get twice to three times the value of your original house…when you sell it….I will be very surprised. What you have done is nothing short of miraculous!!! You have taken a house that looked to me as tho it had no ‘bones’, or character…and created a beautiful home. And you and Jeff did 95% of it yourselves. Sit back, relax and enjoy it. So well deserved.


    PS Hope your mouth is healing….

  10. can I just say I have followed your blog for over 4 years at least…I used to live in Hershey Pa and I think that’s how I originally connected with your blog…the fact that we both endure crazy PA winters…but I just really love how real you are…I love how you mention “budget” and how you were raising a newborn.and all of that…all things I am/dealt with as I look around my home and sort of make a :/ face. now I live in Lancaster County…and I know you were looking for farm houses when you guys were gonna move…you should look this’s just gorgeous and so many farms and cute places….anyway just wanted to say I enjoy your blog and that we should be neighbors…lol

  11. Your kitchen looks nice, but it hurt my heart to see that you painted those natural hickory cabinets! I do love the cherry butcherblock and the backsplash though

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