Kitchen countertops: they're SO crucial to the way a kitchen functions, but they're also a huge part of the design. No pressure to pick the right material or anything, ha! With hundreds of kitchen...
Help! I Wrecked My House Season 1 Episode 2
Jess & Rich
When Jess and Rich bought this place, they thought it would be their dream home – all they had to do were some projects to spruce it up. Their big plans to fix up what they thought would be their “forever home” quickly deteriorated when mold was discovered in the walls of their bedroom and bathroom. Those spaces were completely impacted by the mold, and they had to redo their whole bathroom and remediate the mold with their own money. Not only was this a major bummer on the budget for Jess and Rich, but the mold took a toll on their health as well. With all their money spent on fixing the unforeseen mold issue, the homeowners had to put their big plans aside and try to make DIY updates to their house sporadically as issues came up. But they quickly became fed up. By the time I got there, the garbage disposal resembled a gross volcano, the kitchen was maxed out on space and poorly laid out, and the house just didn’t work for them at all. Oh, and one more thing: they were 4 weeks away from the due date of their baby.
I was on the CLOCK for this project – we had to get everything done before this baby was born in just 4 short weeks. My goal was to rethink the layout of the kitchen to make it functional and beautiful (and fix that wacky garbage disposal), help them finish their nursery, and update the main areas of the house. When I asked the homeowners about their style, Jess said, “coastal boho relaxing hippie chic,” so I wanted to take those themes and run with them. More than anything, I wanted to help Jess and Rich love this home again.
This kitchen was a hot mess when I got my hands on it. Rich had tried to fix the garbage disposal that was backing up like a volcano, but to no avail. The light fixture in the hood was broken, so Jess put a potato up into it to try to fix it – yes, you read that right: a potato. The kitchen space was so tight and cramped with one point of entry, and with hardly any storage, the countertop space was maxed out. They had a wooden cutting board they’d move around and set over the sink to create more prep space (and yes, this even almost caught on fire a few times).
We dedicated half of the budget towards the kitchen so we could make a major impact on this space. We kept the sink where it was, but then we completely reconfigured the cabinet layout to have it run in an L shape and create two points of entry for the space. The peninsula and its upper cabinets were removed, opening up the room and creating the perfect place for a large island with awesome storage. All these moving puzzle pieces involved moving the range and moving the fridge to make this kitchen flow well.
When we reconfigured the kitchen’s layout, we knocked out the pantry that was there before, so I knew I needed to add that storage back in somewhere. I had my contractor Scott recess some storage niches into the space between the studs in the wall of the kitchen. One of them I left open so it could be used for decor, cookbooks, cute appliances – you name it. The other two were covered with white cabinet doors so they’d keep clutter out of sight while blending into the wall seamlessly. Doing this only borrowed 6 inches from the living room on the other side of the wall – a huge win for secret storage!
Backsplash & Countertop
I love the look of marble, but real marble is no fun from a maintenance point of view (trust me, I know from personal experience). For Jess and Rich’s kitchen, I chose quartz countertops that look like marble so they get all the beauty without the upkeep. White subway tile completes the look to make this kitchen bright, clean and coastal.
Cabinets & Hardware
For the perimeter cabinets I went with a classic white shaker cabinet and painted the kitchen island a blue-green color to bring in that coastal, relaxing vibe. Modern, matte black cabinet hardware adds the perfect hint of contrast to the airy room.
Lighting, Furniture & Accessories
I wanted to add that “boho hippie chic” part of the homeowners’ style to the kitchen through fun features like the lighting, furniture and accessories. A large rattan light fixture, woven barstools and decor with organic textures add those touches into the design.
Since you know I’m the #queenofstorage, and knowing Jess and Rich had a baby on the way, I worked with my carpenter Brian to make a custom kitchen island that would optimize storing baby stuff. One side of the island features slide-out drawers that keep everything in reach and organized.
During the reveal, Jess even said (through tears), “I didn’t know storage could make me so happy.” Girl, same!
Special Project | Secret Island Storage
Another super custom touch I had Brian add to this island was a secret side panel to store baby bottles and gear. This badass baby cabinet built into what looks like just the side of the island actually has a ton of space to stow away baby bottles – something that can so easily get out of hand in a normal cabinet.
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The Dining Room
We initially set out to just make some cool cosmetic changes to the dining room, but we discovered that the wall opening’s casing between the dining space and kitchen was sagging. Turns out, it was very unstable and definitely unsafe for potential earthquakes here in California. To remedy this and stay in budget, I ended up adding a wall to the dining area to add stability to the casing and use a smaller support beam for the rest of the opening. Sometimes you just need to add a wall and not knock one down!
Now, the new wall defines the area as a true dining space. I’m not usually in favor of adding walls, but in this case it made the most sense on a safety level, and ended up really amplifying the room at the same time. Adding the wall also gave us the opportunity to do a built-in banquette bench and use the recessed part of the existing dining room wall to our advantage.
Special Project | Custom Banquette with Hidden Storage
Adding a banquette to the dining space gives it the feeling of a real entertaining space while optimizing the layout we were working with. My carpenter Joshua created a banquette bench using maple with a walnut stain to tie in with the home’s existing darker wood floors. The same wood on the floating shelves above makes the whole dining area feel cohesive. If you peek behind the pillows on the bench, you’ll see a hidden storage area I added to the wall. Storage is always cool, but hidden, secret storage is even cooler!
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The Family Room
All the family room needed were some cosmetic changes to make it lighter, brighter and a bit beachier to tie in with the coastal feel the homeowners wanted.
Heavy, dark furniture, carpet and a dreary paint color weren’t doing this room any favors. Some fresh paint in a lighter color, more streamlined furniture, and accessories in lighter tones really breathe new life into the room and brighten it up. Blue tones and rich textures bring in that coastal boho hippie chic feel.
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Before, this nursery was anything but ready for a baby to come in just 4 short weeks. The electrical sockets in the room stuck out and were not secured to the wall, there was no clear design theme, and the room was just a wreck in general. Jess and Rich were overwhelmed, and they had no idea where to start – and time was running out before the due date.
I made it my goal to finish up the space and make it safe for baby, while adding some cool design elements on a budget. It was a good room that just needed a little love and a little electrical work. I wanted it to be a place that Jess and Rich enjoyed, and a room that was calming and beautiful, while maybe even lowering their stress levels a bit.
One of the ways I was able to maximize functional space while adding a design element to this nursery was to designate the closet space as a recessed changing area. In the closet we installed wallpaper with a fun, modern take on a beachy pattern – making it feel more like an intentional recessed nook and not a closet.
Wallpaper can be expensive if you use it on a lot of wall space, but it’s totally within budget if you use it to make a small alcove like this feel special. Now an everyday task like changing a diaper is a little more interesting!
To make the nursery ready for Jess and Rich’s baby, I fixed up all the electrical problems and designed the room to be a place where they can relax and have peace of mind. I brought in some warm neutrals and lots of cozy textures to make the nursery feel welcoming.
Special Project | Hand Drawn Wall Design
I wanted to add a unique wall feature to the nursery without breaking the bank. So we painted the wall white and I bought a gold marker pack for $8, grabbed a ruler, and got to work. I measured 10-inch spaces up the wall and connected them horizontally with a geometric diamond pattern. The end result: a really cool feature wall that looks just like wallpaper!