After moving into her new home in 2013, Tanya Watson wanted to make-over its drab kitchen. But work commitments and financial obstacles always seemed to get in the way. So, realizing that it could take many years to achieve the kitchen she dreamed of, she opted instead for a temporary fix. Strangely, though, Tanya turned to her retro cookware for inspiration.
Tanya, a home-decorating and lifestyle blogger from Canada, is not shy of getting stuck into DIY projects. After all, her “Dans le Lakehouse” blog features all the projects that she and her husband – “Handy Hubby” – have undertaken. And, suffice to say, that is a lot of projects. Indeed, they’ve worked on makeovers together since they first met as teenagers and have received plenty of attention for their endeavours.
It was probably a given, then, that the first house they owned would need renovating. In fact, the pair spent years decorating and refurbishing their dated townhouse in Ottowa, Canada. Whatever the job, no matter how large or small, they always managed to overcome that most troublesome of obstacles – money.
In 2013, though, Tanya’s husband spotted a house for sale on Lake Superior. Relocating was something the couple had discussed but hadn’t planned on putting to action until the following year. After all, Tanya was in no rush to make a move; she was a Ph.D. student in the midst of writing her dissertation.
But seeing that the house would be perfect for them – and knowing that they may not find another like it – Tanya suggested going for it. Still, negotiations with their bank were tinged with doubts. Could they pay off two mortgages while Tanya finished her studies? Could they stomach endless noodle dinners while they did so?
As it happened, the bank did approve a new mortgage. Then, within three weeks of finding the house, Tanya and her husband were proud owners of their dream home by the lake. And with her natural flair for interiors, Tanya was already planning projects before they’d even set foot in the house.
Tanya described the house on her blog as having “a dreamy open layout with spacious living area and sunny kitchen. It is a bit dated even though it’s only 13 years old, but it has SO much potential… Imagine it with all white walls and trim, bright artwork, painted kitchen cabinets, updated tile and counters…”
Yes, they had grand plans for their new “forever” home. However, Tanya knew that it would take time to save up enough money to pay for their big wish list. So instead she opted for lower budget, cosmetic work to modernize the house until such time as they could afford major upgrades. The first room to get an overhaul was the kitchen.
There was nothing really wrong with the kitchen. In fact, it was perfectly functional. But it just wasn’t very inspiring, and Tanya had been dreaming of a turquoise kitchen for years. Although she had toyed with the notion in the Ottowa townhouse, it now seemed like a good time to run with the idea in their new home.
After all, Tanya already had a vision of the kitchen’s new, frugal design. So when a road trip with her husband took them to a roadside antiques store, she felt compelled to venture inside. There, she purchased vintage Pyrex cookware that would become the signature of her new kitchen.
Yes, Tanya had realized that the kitchen’s existing overhead cabinets offered little in the way of storage space. At first, she wanted to remove the doors, but then she noticed that the insides were not up to standard. Additionally, the cabinets were all awkwardly sized and strangely located, so she decided a more drastic approach was necessary.
So, to make best use of the space and maximize storage, Tanya and her husband ripped out all of the overhead cabinets. After retouching the underlying walls, they then installed counter-to-ceiling backsplash panelling, which Tanya painted white. Then, they attached open shelving on which to display the retro Pyrex.
To complement the turquoise Pyrex, Tanya painted the surviving cupboards a matching shade of blue. The simple change completely transformed a tired and dated space into, as Tanya wrote on her blog, the “happiest room in the lakehouse!” Of course, she wasn’t completely satisfied just yet.
To counteract the issues with storage space, the two DIYers took some plywood and constructed an open pantry. The pair then gave the four laminated-wood shelves a semi-gloss coat of paint to ensure that they matched the walls. Plus, Tanya felt that lining up the floating shelves with those in the new pantry made the design seem more “intentional.”
But even after all this work, the kitchen was far from finished. Next, Tanya’s husband built and installed solid wood work surfaces. Using dried maple planks, “Handy Hubby” – for he still prefers to remain anonymous – went through a process of carefully measuring, planing, sawing, gluing and bolting to create the counter tops.
And with some whitewash and varnish, the bespoke, made-to-fit counter tops gave the kitchen a luxurious feel on a small budget. With a few finishing touches – a new floor grate, a brushed silver faucet and matching cabinet door knobs – it seemed the mammoth undertaking was at an end. Yes, the pair had finally finished the makeover.
Tanya wrote, “It’s a bold look, to be sure. But when I’m in it, it looks so beautiful and I can’t help but smile.” And the DIYers achieved the open, cool and airy look on a surprisingly small budget. Indeed, they spent a total of CAD $1,492 on the renovation work – that’s around USD $1,100.
Tanya announced on her blog, “What better day to show off the turquoise kitchen I’ve been dreaming about since last summer than on my 30th birthday? I wish I had added ‘awesome turquoise kitchen’ to my 30 before 30 list because a whole bunch of things didn’t get done while I was making magic happen in here.”
In fact, while refreshing the kitchen, Tanya also found time to make-over the fireplace and bathroom. Yes, she transformed the fireplace from a dated, stone and pine affair into a luxurious dark grey for under $100. The bathroom was given a lick of paint and a spruce using repurposed possessions. All so that she can save for the big renovation.
Tanya wrote, “Down the road we’d like to gut the kitchen and do all new cabinetry, flooring, counters, tile – the works. But it might take us years to save up the cash so we decided it would be wise to spend a little bit now to make it look and function better for us.” Until then, Tanya said that she was “smitten” with her frugal, DIY kitchen.