Monday, November 16, 2020

Magical Kitchen Makeover: Final Reveal!

I've kept you in suspense long enough - to the point that you've probably forgotten all about this project - so let's finally take a look at the mostly finished, Harry Potter-inspired, magical kitchen makeover!

(Btw, in this context "magical" = "super low cost," ha.)

(Also if you missed Part One of this kitchen re-do, go see it here!)

First let me remind you of the "Before:"

The kitchen was a glaring white box with harsh fluorescent lighting, bare walls, and roughly painted cabinetry. Completely at odds with the rest of the house, which our friend Dana has decorated like Hogwarts: heavy carved furniture, rugs, tapestries, and candles everywhere.

Our goal was to reduce the overall lighting but add more in the work areas, then add texture, age, and a little cottage-witch character by decorating with things Dana already owned.

Enough suspense, here's the "after"!


(Sorry I only have nighttime phone pics; try to imagine this brighter and sharper, k?)

You can see it's much cozier now; the lighting alone made a huge difference in warming up the space.

The old lighting was cold and gave everything a sickly blue/green tint:

And those bare white walls weren't helping.

John glazed the walls to give them an aged plaster look, and we added faux brick vinyl to the bulkhead up top to make it more interesting:

Hard to see here, but John also built a wall shelf over the fridge to fill that awkward space.

The kitchen also includes a small dining area, here's the "before":

We needed to work with that existing paint color, since it extends into the living room. We also had to keep the water cooler and a table that's slightly too large for the space.

Aaand the "After":

The glazed plaster wall again softens the transition without being too dark, and our Butterbeer barrel turns an eye sore into a fun feature. We took away one of the dining chairs (which Dana is using in another room) and turned the table lengthwise to better fit the space. 

You know I'm cheap and enjoy a challenge, so the only things we purchased were the brick & cabinet vinyl, new hinges for the cabinet doors, some LED cabinet lights, and a $5 chandelier off FB Marketplace. Other than that we worked with what Dana already had, and it was fun searching his closets & cupboards for things to decorate with.

Let's talk about the most expensive part, which also made the biggest difference: the cabinet vinyl. It's basically contact paper printed to look like wood, and after buying 5 different brands to compare, we all agreed Yifely Dark Coffee was the winner. (The others looked more fake and/or dated to me: too much high-contrast woodgrain.)

Of course choosing the prettiest vinyl cost us more: Yifely's is about $14/roll, where most of the other vinyls are as little as $8 or $9, sob. We used 5 rolls, so including all the new cabinet hinges, the cabinetry makeover cost just under $100. If we'd chosen a cheaper vinyl, though, it would have been closer to $60.

The cabinet doors had about 4 layers of paint on them, here's how they looked after a few hours of belt-sanding:

And here's an unedited photo of the drawer front after we added the vinyl:

See what I mean? This stuff looks dreamalicious, y'all. SO so pretty, with a tiny bit of wood grain texture that catches the light.

It's hard to capture in low light, but this is a pretty accurate to how it looks in person:

 It also feels amazing: so silky smooth, I couldn't stop petting the doors, ha.

BUT. Here comes a huge caveat, friends: I can't in good conscience recommend this vinyl. Or possibly any vinyl on cabinets or high-use surfaces. I'm afraid it's just too easy to scratch up. 

See the white line across the left? Dana says that was from a light brush with a fingernail while closing the door - and it's permanent. Arrrrg. (You can also see the vertical seam in the vinyl here, but that's less noticeable IRL.)

Dana lives alone and is extremely careful with his things, but after a month's use his cabinets already have 3 or 4 scratches and one outright gouge on the sink front. So as pretty as this looks now, I don't think this vinyl will last a year before it's covered in scuffs and scratches. I hope I'm wrong; maybe now that Dana knows to be extra careful there won't be any more damage? But had to tell y'all like it is.

I'm really bummed the vinyl is so fragile, because it is SO pretty, and relatively easy to apply with 2 people. (Time-consuming, but not hard.) If you decide to put this on your cabinetry anyway, make sure you buy extra rolls to replace any scratched up sections in the future. (That is one nice thing: this seams well, so you could just peel off the strip with the scratch and replace it.)

We knew the vinyl was a gamble going in, and told Dana as much, which is why John and I paid for it. Our Plan B is to remove the vinyl and repaint the cabinetry, which we can still do later. Since we've already sanded off all the old paint, that will actually be much easier in the future. So for now we just wait and see how this continues to wear.

K, back to fun stuff!

Here's some no-cost wall decor we added beside the fridge:

This is craft foam board covered in chalkboard vinyl, fitted into a frame John cut from a scrap of pink insulation foam. The whole thing only weighs a few ounces. We cut the wording and designs on our Cricut in white vinyl, and then I painted the foam frame with black craft paint and added tan edges to look like distressed wood. Boom shakalaka. And so cute, right?

I really love how the dining area turned out - and for almost no cost! Even the curtains are ones Dana had in another room.

 We also re-used the original cabinet knobs; a little Rub N' Buff made them good as new:

Rub N' Buff is a metallic wax, so it will wear off over time - but it's cheap and easy to re-apply when it does.

I decorated the counters with things Dana already had, except for Trevor the toad. Trevor was my one contribution, a little kitchen-warming gift:

Every witchy kitchen needs a resident toad, right? Ideally I'd put Trevor in a big vintage bird cage - but again, we're working with what we have here, Jen. Working with what we have. And don't you love Pickett in the veggie bowl?

You can just see Dana's toaster there on the right; I forgot to add it earlier. I was thinking we could use the Cricut to cut "Incedio" out of vinyl for the front of it, wouldn't that be cute?

Dana has a whole house full of family heirlooms, including a cabinet of vintage silver platters that I make liberal use of. They're gorgeous and reflect the light like mirrors, so I put a few above the fridge to brighten up that dark space:

If you're ever strapped for kitchen decor, grab a few $1 easels from Walmart or the dollar store, then raid the cupboards for pretty plates, bowls, and platters to display. Easy peasy, and also functional!

I ran out of easels, so you can *just* see that I plopped a dab of poster putty in front of the middle bowl to hold it in place. This is a great trick for high shelves where you'll never see the putty, and saves you the cost of an easel.

More countertop pretties:

I love decorating with things that have a meaning and a story - in this case, literally. Ahehehehe. (That plate is gorgeous, right?)

I kept fiddling with the counter display. Meh. Dana will fix it later.

I'd love to set up a coffee station tray here - or alternatively, hide the whole thing behind a fake book titled, "Espresso Patronum."  Eh? EH?? Every kitchen needs more puns, Dana. I'm just sayin'.

Last thing: let's check out that high ledge:

Happily Dana had plenty of old books and bottles to display. I especially love the cast iron teapot on the left, next to the mini cauldron.

We all agreed our favorite is the twisty book spiral, though, with the candle on top:

It's just so Diagon Alley, right?

All the candles are on timers, so the ambiance with these and the colored LEDs at night is absolutely magical - keep scrolling, I'll show you at the end.

Major props to Dana for helping stagger out the brick around the corner; this helps the vinyl look so much more realistic:

We used this brick vinyl from Amazon; it's about $15 per roll, and we used 2 rolls. To make it a little more convincing we folded the final brick under the ledge, see it under there? We had to add wallpaper paste to that edge, though, since it didn't want to stick upside down.

If you peek through the kitchen pass-through you'll get a glimpse of the rest of the house:

Now the kitchen finally fits with the rest of Dana's decor!

And finally, as your reward for making it all the way to the end of this post, let's turn out the lights [WINK] and make some magic:

Awww yeeeeeah, there 'tis. I couldn't stop playing with the remote, so it looked like a rave in here.

We used this LED set from Amazon: it's $20 and comes with 6 LED puck lights and 2 remotes. I like that the lights are also push-activated, so you don't need the remote for workspaces, plus you can dim them waaaay down to just a colorful glow for ambiance.

They do take a ton of batteries (3 AAs each), but Dana already buys those in bulk for all his floating candles around the house, so s'all good.

One last look at my favorite spot:
Ahhh. So cozy.

We're helping Dana craft something special for that left wall, it's just not finished yet. We decided to name his new space "The Broken Wand," in honor of Dana's wand making shop. It's going to be a small pub sign with one of Dana's custom wands snapped in half and wired with fiber optic strands at the break. I AM EXCITED. Stay tuned for that goodness, I'll update you when we get it in place!

Welp, mages and muggles, I hope our little kitchen transfiguration made you smile. I also hope it reminds you to decorate your space YOUR way. Do something strange, do something special! The world doesn't need another boring Pinterest room, it needs more people being weird. So go be your best weird self, you beautiful weirdo, you.  ::mwah::


All of the Amazon links in today's post use our affiliate link, which gives a tiny bit back to help support me and John. Be sure to also bookmark the Epbot Amazon shop, where I keep all my lists of favorite supplies, toys, clothes, etc. The "Funny Things I Link On Cake Wrecks" list is especially great to browse for gift ideas, like the Elvira Boob Shakers. Omigosh. Hysterical.

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  1. I love this.....although my favorite part was Espresso Patronum :)

  2. What a fabulous change!
    And it isn't just kitchens that need more puns, it's life in general!

  3. This is amazeballs. Such a happy kitchen space!

  4. Those turned out so well! Love the brick vinyl, it really gives it some character.

  5. Eeeee!! It looks amazing! I'm so impressed what you're able to accomplish with odds and ends.

  6. The space looks great! Very cozy & I love all the little details. Thank you for being honest about that vinyl on the drawers. I once bought an engineered wood floor for my living/dining room that got scratched and dented so easily with basic use. I was really upset that Lumber Liquidators would not properly address the problems with it.

  7. Bummer about the vinyl, but it all looks fantastic! The toaster definitely needs something with Incendio (that's how my toast turns out too), and the book cover for the coffee machine would be fun too :-D

  8. I think if the vinyl gets scratched up it will just give it a more lived in feel. Like the burrow, very cozy.

  9. If I can make one tiny suggestion, only because my books are my babies...find a cute little stand to get those books up off the counter? First spill will be devastating. Otherwise beautiful gorgeous amazeballs and thrifty to boot <3

    1. Not to worry; those books didn't stay on the counter. I should have said, but I only put them there for the photos!

  10. I spotted that twisty piles of books right away- I just love it! Everything looks so amazing...

  11. "The world doesn't need another boring Pinterest room, it needs more people being weird" -- exactly! This really hit home. I redecorated my house today and I realise it looks like a kinda-sorta-organized goblin's cave, with what somebody might call "too many things and too little space" - but I realized I... like it that way. It's easy to be a "minimalist" when you have a big house with tons of storage space. My place gives me comfort and that's what matters, damnit:)

    1. I love "comfort clutter" -- just enough stuff sitting around so visitors don't feel like they are in a museum.

  12. You both did an amazing job on this remodel! That's too bad about the vinyl scratching easily, because it is really gorgeous.

  13. Get a brown crayon, or look in the hardware store for the crayons sticks you use to fill the nail holes in wood trim, and maybe just lightly color over the scratch, and see if you can blend it in, or rub it off with a soft cloth and maybe color in that scratch a little. Try it on a piece of scrap first.

  14. I did a little remodeling in my sister's room several years ago, laying down vinyl plank flooring in a light oak finish. To match the floor, I put light oak vinyl over her dark brown file cabinet (one of those particle-board kind that comes in a box that you put together). It made it several years before she hit the bottom front with her motorized wheelchair, causing a few gouges. I think I still have some of the vinyl somewhere, so I may try patching it.

    I like how you gussied up the existing cabinet knobs. Hardware can really make all the difference and is an affordable upgrade that many people don't think about. My sister went with white wood furniture in her room, so I bought unfinished wood knobs and pulls, and stained them to match the floor. A little satin finish sealer keeps them in good shape.

  15. Idea for the cabinet vinyl: why not try a thin coat of shellac (maybe even spray shellac) over it? Like clearcoat. That would be thin enough to keep the grain, but might be just enough protection to keep the vinyl from getting scratched up.


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