Editor’s note: A first home is rarely a “dream house,” but it is an exciting chapter in anybody’s life nonetheless, filled with memories and invaluable lessons. Steffy Degreff, mother and blogger behind the stylish Steffy’s Pros and Cons, has decided to share her first-home experience with us—the ups, the downs, and the delicious before + afters! Check out the first installment here.

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

Illustration by Tallulah Fontaine

Most people put an “updated” kitchen at the top of their home-buying checklist. I, on the other hand, put it on the bottom. I actually prefer an outdated, awful, disgusting, smelly kitchen, because then you can (A) rip it out, no regrets, and put in the kind of kitchen you’ve always dreamed of, or (B) DIY it and know that it couldn’t possibly get any worse.

When we first laid eyes on the kitchen in our home, my family of contractors begged us to rip it out. They said it was in the wrong spot of the house (which okay, it is. It should be leading into the dining room, but is instead at the back of our home where a laundry room should be), they said the cabinets were disgusting, they said it couldn’t be saved and for a minute I listened. We had lofty [expensive] plans of gutting the kitchen, relocating it, adding in an island and starting from scratch.

After a long pep talk from my brother, though, I felt inspired to attempt to make the kitchen better myself, just to see what I could make of it. I read some articles online on how to paint cabinets white and started to tackle the project on my own. It is no easy feat, and it took tons of hours of labor, but I would say it was a week of grueling work that was completely worth it.

The previous owner was an older woman who could not see very well, which was pretty apparent based on the amount of grease on the cabinets. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. I also found peeks of old wallpaper from the 1950’s which was adorable as I painted the walls white. For the cabinets, I degreased, sanded and painted with chalk paint. Then, I added stick on (yes I said STICK ON) backsplash and countertops and installed open shelving. It looks like a different kitchen. I am still stunned when I see the before pictures, and cannot believe that it’s the same space!

Because the space lacked countertops, we added two bar carts put together for extra storage and counter space. One of my favorite parts of the kitchen is the open shelving, which I love to update seasonally. It was filled with festive trinkets around the holidays and, because Spring is trickling in, I refreshed the shelves with some adorable Ceramic ribbed vases filled with chico choke stems, an adorable marble cake stand that I plan to fill with desserts during brunches, and some fun orange glazed mugs. I love bringing in the warm tones to the room! We’re excited to one day fully renovate our kitchen, but for now this is more than perfect for our little family.


BEFORE


west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving


MID-PROCESS


west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving


AFTER!


west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

west elm - Updating a 1950s Kitchen With White Paint and Open Shelving

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Barbra

March 16, 2018

Great job! We have a 1940’s kitchen and I have been trying to figure out ways to bring it up to date. This was encouraging! We’re not even close to renovating our kitchen, so it’s time for me to roll up my sleeves and get creative. Thanks for sharing!

Stephanie

March 16, 2018

Where did you find the stick on countertops??

Liz

March 16, 2018

Do you have the brand for the magnetic knife “holder” and the stick on countertop material? Thanks!

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