Featured Interior Design Kitchen

Design Dilemma: A Historic Kitchen, Part 2


Our ‘Design Dilemma’ series continues with advice from the pros. To recap, Micki blogs at Confessions of an ADD Housewife, and needed some ideas on how to update the kitchen in her well-loved historic home. From floor to ceiling, our designers covered every square inch with advice and recommendations! Check out our prior post with Micki’s before photos.

Andrea from Keeping It Cozy and Sara from Embrace My Space weighed in with advice for Micki.

Cabinet Upgrade

Sara: To give the kitchen a contemporary look, the pulls in the center of the cabinets should be replaced with a small knob.  Drawer pulls could be replaced with knobs as well, or updated with new pulls that compliment the new cabinet knobs. I’d suggest painting the cabinets a bright white to contrast with the grey countertops. Refreshing the cabinets and drawers with a fresh coat of paint will certainly work wonders for upgrading this kitchen.

Andrea: Spruce up cabinets with new paint and hardware.  Add inexpensive corbels underneath upper cabinets for a custom look. If you decide to paint, consider painting your cabinetry, especially lower cabinets, with a bold color.

young house love hardware
Young House Love Cabinet Hardware
Corbels from Love of Family and Home
Bold Cabinet Color from Southern Living
How To: In order to move the cabinet hardware, the holes from the existing hardware will need to be filled with wood filler and sanded smooth.  As a result, changing the cabinet hardware in this kitchen isn’t a simple fix.  The cabinets will need to be refinished to cover the holes from the existing hardware.
When painting kitchen cabinets and drawers, a hard-wearing finish should be applied since these surfaces are subject to a lot of wear and tear.  Use a latex paint topped with a coat of polycrylic to achieve a strong, wipeable surface. Alternatively, use an interior enamel paint that will dry to a hard finish without the need for a top coat.


Sara: Since the kitchen is arguably the most used space in a home, it’s smart to keep the foundation clean and simple.  Use accessories and decor that are easy to change to personalize the kitchen to your taste.
Andrea: Refinish wood floors or consider painting them.
Young House Love
Young House Love Area Rug
How To: One of the best ways to make your space current without making an expensive and more permanent commitment is using an area rug.  Plus, in a space filled with hard surfaces (wood floors, countertops, appliances), an area rug really softens a kitchen and provides comfort underfoot for the serious home cook!

Open Shelving and Storage

Sara: I love the look of open shelving, but clutter can quickly overcome this beautiful design element. Declutter by moving food items to lower cabinets or getting matching canisters to store pantry items like coffee, nuts, pasta, flax seed, etc. Organizing the dishes by size/color will also help keep the open shelving looking great.
Andrea: For additional space, add open shelving above windows, and also consider adding countertop space beside the refrigerator with shelving or cabinetry underneath, and across the window. Adding lower cabinetry and countertops beside the stove can also provide more storage.
Open Shelving – Mom 4 Real
Open Shelving and Storage – Keeping It Cozy
How To: Installing other organizational storage pieces into the open shelving will also help declutter and beautify the space.  For example, simple rows of hooks installed into the back of one of the cabinets will help corral coffee mugs.

Floorplan, Walls, and Ceiling

Sara: Turning this blank canvas into a chalkboard wall could be really fun. The board could be used to display a dinner menu, shopping/to-do lists, or even seasonally-inspired artwork!
Andrea: It might help to move refrigerator beside the window. Also, open up the overall look by removing ceiling tiles and wallpaper. Consider refinishing if possible, or use affordable pine tongue and groove planking.
chalk wall
Chalkboard Wall – The Lettered Cottage
plank ceiling
Plank Ceiling – Sawdust Girl


Sara: Because of the open shelving which has a lot of visual interest, I’d keep the backsplash clean and simple.  Perhaps white subway tile with a charcoal grout, which will tie into the countertops.
Andrea: I agree! Remove wallpaper and use subway tile as a backsplash.
7th House on the Left
Updated Backsplash and Wheaton Faucet – 7th House on the Left


Sara: Open shelving space can be a place where color is injected into the space. Painting the backs of the cabinets with a favorite color will help set off the contents of the shelves, and allows you to use a color that might be too bold for the entire kitchen.
Andrea: Another option would be to add reclaimed wood shelving as a way to bring in a contrast of color, especially with white walls or white cabinetry, and stay true to a historic aesthetic.
reclaimed wood


What ideas do you have to makeover Micki’s space?

The Designers
Andrea Bio Photo
Andrea and her husband live in a tiny southern town with two precious daughters, ages 5 and 2.  They love the simplicity of country living, so they sold their house in the city two years ago and bought an 80-year-old farmhouse full of character. A few of Andrea’s favorite hobbies include decorating and restoring her home, cooking, attempting to garden, learning how to sew, and dreaming up new projects.

You can follow Keeping It Cozy on Facebook and Pinterest

Sara Bates Photo
Sara is a recovering lawyer addicted to spray paint, shelter magazines and the color turquoise.  She started her blog, EmbraceMySpace, as a tribute to the home she had to sell when her family was relocated for her husband’s job.  Now she’s tackling design and DIY projects at her new home; loving every success and learning from every failure along the way!  Sara hopes that by sharing her design experiences she can help you to embrace your space.  For more details on the story behind Embrace My Space, visit Sara at http://embracemyspace.com/about/.

You can follow Embrace My Space on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Kitchen Contributor
Micki is a crafter, blogger, and DIYer. She has six children and is currently restoring her family’s 100+ year old American Foursquare (a craftsman without the cool built ins) with her husband on a cash budget. She also coupons, and is a contributing editor with LLL’s New Beginnings. 

You can follow Micki’s blog, Confessions of an ADD Housewife on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter

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  • Pure Home Designs
    September 27, 2013 at 6:52 am

    I love the look of the chalkboard wall! It’s a seriously cool feature to have and I’m now wondering if I can get one in my kitchen.

  • Amber E.
    September 30, 2013 at 7:30 am

    I’m very in love with the teal mantel repurposing! It adds so much character. 🙂

  • Jo @ Let's Face the Music
    September 30, 2013 at 8:07 am

    So many gorgeous kitchen ideas. I’m sure we’ll incorporate a few in our new kitchen. I’m commenting here for the giveaway. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

  • Chelle
    September 30, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Love the bold color cabinets & the use of chalkboard paint for accent walls, lovely!

  • Cindy
    September 30, 2013 at 9:38 am

    We are in the planning stages of our kitchen remodel. Our current kitchen is TINY, so we will tear out a wall between the kitchen and den to make both these spaces a NEW kitchen…can’t wait! So much inspiration here, thanks for sharing!

  • Lydia Covey
    September 30, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Beautiful kitchen! Love the pops of teal.

  • Stephanie F.
    September 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I didn’t know what a corbel was until I read this…and they look GREAT! Very fished look. I love the teal paint in the kitchen too.

  • Jen Y
    September 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    I love the plank ceiling. I’d love to do that in my kitchen.

  • Babette
    September 30, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I love the subway tile! Such clean lines, yet sophisticated!

  • Sarah K. V.
    October 1, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Open shelves in kitchens are one thing I will always love – it broadens the space and feels so homey. And I really love that chalkboard wall!

  • Jennifer Brewer
    October 1, 2013 at 9:12 am

    I love the reclaimed wood shelving above the stove! The color pop is awesome!

  • Kirsten
    October 2, 2013 at 9:02 am

    I love the pop of teal! So pretty!

  • Staci Mann Torgerson
    October 4, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I adore the reuse of the mantle around the stove. Brilliant and clever!!

  • Julie
    October 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Love the teal color in the kitchen!

  • Melody K
    October 4, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I love the chalkboard wall idea! It creates a surprisingly soft addition to the extremely crisp white room. I also like the clever use of the reclaimed wood shelving and adding a nice pop of color with it. Nifty!

  • Sara
    January 10, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Live the idea of corbels…we can’t raise our cabinets, but they would add some flair