My 90’s Kitchen Remodel

When we bought our house in 1996, a beautiful Southern Colonial…

we fell in love with the large trees and expansive yard.

What we didn’t fall in love with was the kitchen.

My husband hated the dark dated 80’s cabinets and blue and white windmill tile backsplash.

Being the frugal person that I am, I didn’t mind the tiles and wanted to live with it for awhile.

(2018 Kitchen Before Make Over)

Persuaded that the updates “had” to be done, we made over the kitchen in true 90’s fashion.

Victorian was the trend, so a nice tea cup border and complimentary wallpaper was installed.

To keep costs low, we decided to keep the original footprint and the 6″ x 6″ terra cotta tile floor.

I was young and inexperienced.

Because we didn’t have a lot of expendable money

we’ve spent the last few years doing minor changes.

The first to go was the tea cup border and terra cotta floors.

We had large 18″ x 18″ tiles installed to help the small kitchen look bigger.

Since I knew I wanted to eventually go with a lighter counter top,

a darker color was used on the floor.

Fast forward to 2018…

It was around this time last year when we started discussing a Kitchen Remodel.

We visited a Kitchen Showroom and talked to a designer on how we could refigure our kitchen.

We have a large peninsula in our small kitchen with cabinets overhead.  (a 80’s trend)

It gives us a lot of great counter space and storage.

The problem, it closes off the kitchen and doesn’t allow natural light to come in.

And…if you’re taller than 5′ 2” (which isn’t a problem for me) it’s hard to have a

conversation with anyone in the dining room.  It completely blocks their view.

We made arrangements for the designer to come and look at our kitchen. 

The first thing she said was “your kitchen has a good flow”.  (her first mistake)

She drew up 3 designs for our approval.  None of the designs really had what we wanted.

She didn’t come up with a solution for all the cabinets that I’d be giving up.  (mistake #2)

We’d also need to re-do the kitchen tile and patch the wood floor in the dining room.

Not to mention the fact that we’d spend $20K plus to have the work done.

We weren’t sure we had the energy for a complete remodel of this scale.

(I’m not young and inexperienced anymore.)

So after a lot of contemplation and discussion, we decided to try cleaning the cabinets.

We used Murphy Oil Multi-Use Wood Cleaner* to clean the cabinets and

Rejuvenate Cabinet & Furniture Restorer* to give them back their original shine.

It took several days of cleaning and polishing the cabinets. (2-3 coats for a good shine)

I was pleasantly surprised at how well the cabinets looked.

We had originally discussed painting the cabinets and decided to “try” cleaning and polishing

them first.   My husband had promised, that if I wasn’t happy we could try painting them.

I was happy with the results of the cleaning and polishing.

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Then for $220 we added new polish nickel hardware to replace the old brass ones.

We also installed new LED lighting under the peninsula.

Since I was saving so much money…I splurged by picking a beautiful quartz counter top.

It looks lovely with my red and white dishes.

Next, came the issue of the kitchen sink. 

I wanted a off-white “bisque” porcelain sink to complement the beautiful counter top.

We looked around at several of the big box Home Improvement Stores.

We finally found the sink I wanted, only to find out that because of a fire

in one of the main manufacturing locations the sink wouldn’t be available until June.

I’d waited this long what’s a little more. 

Then…I found out I couldn’t get the sink until July, then we were told they weren’t sure

when it would be available, then I was told November.  (Say What?)

I’ve had a “busy” looking kitchen for so long, what I wanted now was clean and simple.

Picking a tile should of been easy. 

I had it narrowed down to 2 or 3 tiles depending on how the sink dilemma went.

I was told to wait before choosing to see how everything went together.

Not wanting to wait until November, we decided to go with a in-stock white porcelain sink.

We paid to have the white sink installed and it didn’t look bad.

All I had to do was decide on the tile.

Within a few days of the sink installation, I noticed spots around the edges of the sink. 

It looked like rust.

The plumber came back out, re-caulked the sink and low and behold the spots came back.

My husband called the manufacturer of the sink, we had a couple options,

we could take the sink out and paint the bottom and see if that solved the problem

or they could send us a new sink.

During the conversation with the customer service guy,

my husband mentioned that we originally had wanted the “bisque” sink.

“I can send you the bisque sink if you want?”  

It was decided to send the bisque sink (which costs almost double than white).

In the meantime…the white sink had started to grow on us

and the tile selection had come down to which sink we decided to use.

Porcelain sinks are very heavy, so it wasn’t a “let’s just try it out” kind of decision.

With the plumber charging $400 to install, a final decision had to made in advance.

In the end, we decided to go with the bisque sink and off white subway tile. 

The tile was installed a week before Christmas.

And.. I am Happy!  (phew…what a process)

I love my “new kitchen” and the way the light reflects off the tile and counter.

It is bright and cheery with the clean and simple look I was going for.

Final tally…The cost of the make-over ended up being approximately 1/4 of what a total

kitchen remodel would have been.

On a curious side note… I just got an email last week from the kitchen designer following up on her designs.  (her third mistake)


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The Old Back Porch Make Over

Thanks to my brother’s awesome talents and my father’s save everything mentality…

We took what could have been an eyesore and made it into an asset.

My siblings and I have spent the better part of this year sorting, cleaning, pitching, restoring,

repairing and saving memories (aka lots and lots of stuff) from our childhood home.

The end goal was getting the house ready to be put on the market and sold.  (big sigh!)

We’ve been through every inch of the house, from the attic to the basement.

It’s been quite a job.

To fully appreciate the after, you really need to see the before.

My Dad grew up in the days of screened-in back porches.

He loved being outside and close to nature.  (He also was a saver.)

As I came home one hot summer day, I noticed when entering the

back porch the familiar smell of Grandma’s old porch.

A little surprised, he told me that he’d just replaced a board using one he’s saved

from her old porch.  Funny how smells can trigger memories.

Over the years, as my parents aged, the old porch had become utilitarian.

It was a great place to hold stuff, like all the extra folding chairs for when everyone was over.

As we’ve moved from top to bottom and out the back door…

I wasn’t sure we’d ever get to the back porch.  I wasn’t sure I had the energy.

But my brother saw potential.

When my brother decided to paint the outside of the porch, I didn’t see the point.

After a little discussion, I finally saw the vision and agreed to help him.

We emptied out the porch and removed all the windows so they could be thoroughly cleaned.

What a difference that made.

The old silver screen door was taken down and replaced by the newly repainted storm door

that had previously been on the door between the house and the porch.

We also removed the extra blocks under the porch placed to keep the critters out.

Next, we added lattice and mums around the porch.

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The inside of the porch was unfinished.

My brother reused and installed old paneling that he’d removed from his house 19 years ago.

My Dad had kept the old paneling in his garage all that time intending to use it on his porch.

Born during the depression, dad grew up saving things that still had use in them.

It’s sometimes a blessing and a curse.

We also repurposed old trim we found in the garage.

(And by “we”…I mean mainly my brother.)

The trim was painted a clean crisp white and the walls a creamy off white.

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The floor was painted a nice medium gray.     (not sponsored by Valspar)

Valspar Porch and Floor Latex Satin Enamel*

I talked my brother into adding a ledge under the kitchen window that looks onto the porch.

After adding a rug and a couple of chairs for reading, I realized just how cozy it was.

I’ve sat out here several times already just enjoying the fall foliage.

We’ve all commented on how much my parents would have enjoyed it.


Thanks to Dad’s thriftiness, the whole project including mums cost us around $100.

And yes, Steve, you were right.

We put the house on the market last week.                               (picture borrowed from listing)

The new listing calls the old back porch “a charming three season room”.

It turned out pretty good if I say so myself.

This current season in our lives as we let go of the house has been challenging.

But as my youngest sister said, “I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else but you.”

If you liked this post you might like to read “making a place for Dad’s coffee”.


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