Tile and paint: Extreme kitchen makeover on a budget

KittygreenkitchenSanta Monica decorator Kitty Bartholomew, with whom I wrote a decorating book a while back, has a gift for making big changes on a very small budget.

In the "before" version of this kitchen (pictured below), she was faced with several challenges: dark cabinets, dated gold tile and dated gold appliances. It would be easy to look at this kitchen and say "total gut and redo."

But what Kitty saw were solid, good-quality wood cabinets that really didn’t need to be torn out and replaced. Rather, it was the tile that had to go. And so Kitty replaced it with a cheery blend of green and tan tiles, with what I would call an aggressive grout line (not for everyone, but OK here).

KittygreenkitchenbeforeShe included a couple of specialty tiles just behind the faucet. And if you need just a couple of specialty tiles in a very prominent place, where you’ll enjoy them often, why not splurge a little?

At the same time she painted those cabinets, using one of her favorite products, Kilz, as a primer. A good primer is critical when going from a dark to a light color. The appliances were still in good condition, so she just replaced the front panels.

The window box could have been a problem as it has a sterile, aluminum-y look inconsistent with the warm cottage look Kitty likes. But when Kitty added a wooden birdhouse, clay pots and an herb garden, the space was transformed. I think her solution to the hanging lamp — replacing it with a modern can light — was brilliant.

The final touch was a frieze above the window from the amazing Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers company. I invite you to visit this company’s website and drool.

See more kitchens
Instructions for tiling a backsplash

(Top photo: Mark Lohman)