vintage home chic ~~ small changes with big rewards

A couple of months ago the Mistress of Bliss (moi!) got all grumpy and dissatisfied with her kitchen/dining room surroundings.  A change was needed or I was sure to go mad.  Perhaps I exaggerate a tad but, nonetheless, the darkness shrouding me in the kitchen was getting on my nerves.  And, of course, the days getting shorter at that particular time did not help the situation at all.  After some brooding, I decided to broach the subject with the Master of Bliss (hubs).  Together we decided some changes were needed to “update” the kitchen/dining area a bit.  As usual, there was a budget to adhere to–a small one at that.  But Hubs agreed to:

new paint job

back splash

window treatments


either/or new counter top laminate and metal edging around the counter (for ultimate vintage/retro look).

Woo hoo!  Let’s get crackin’ (which reads: I shop, get the ideas and Hubs does the work).

New paint was the hardest decision to make.  I really wanted to lighten up the dark, mustard-y, flat painted walls.  And I didn’t want to paint trim–I hate painting trim (or, er, I hate watching Hubs paint trim.  Just kidding!! I would’ve helped when my guilt kicked in).  So it made sense to stay in the “yellow” family.  And that’s what we did.  With the help of Sherwin Williams’ paint chip app, I found the lovely “Jonquil”.


(via Sherwin Williams–go have some fun!)

We also brought home some samples of back splash.  One was a stainless steel block look.  The other was a multi-colored glass and metal tile one.  We chose the latter over the former because it was really cool.  More on that in a minute.

stainlessbacksplash      OR     homedepotbacksplash

via                                                                                             via

When painting commenced, I took down the bamboo blinds and  curtain panels we had on the dining room windows.  I couldn’t believe how much lighter the room was without them on even though we had them opened most of time.  Interesting.  The key seems to be in keeping the upper half of the window free and clear of…anything and everything.  This helped me decide that the new window treatments would be a more of a café tiered curtain look (from half-way down only)….very Parisian cafe…which would then work with my vintage Paris scene tablecloth that I will never part with.  So I started shopping (online) for those.  More on that in a minute too.

Here’s what you have to understand.  I love vintage kitchens (shocker, I know).  During this whole process I was using  Pinterest to find vintage kitchen inspiration.  Interestingly, I saw this look on a few of the true retro photos I found:



(and by the way, my Grandma had those exact cabinets in her kitchen–above)


(the above photo really makes me want the metal edging!)

Ummmm…I kind of have that already. My laminate on the counters extends up the wall for a back splash.  After thinking more on it, I nixed the new back splash idea (much to the relief of my dedicated DIYer).  I said I would work with what I have for now.  Plus, most of the looks I REALLY like would involve painting my cabinets and installing either butcher block counter tops or maybe stainless, like so:



We have painted a butt-load of kitchen cabinets before (in my previous home’s kitchen, which I adored) and I didn’t want to tackle that again.  Not because of the work but because I am not sure I want to paint the wood of these cabinets.  They are really pretty.  And how long will the white/cream/distressed/cottage look really be around (I hope a long time)?  Would painting what we have devalue the kitchen for resell later?  Too many things to consider so I opted with “working with what I have”.

Once Hubs got the painting done, things already looked so much better…fresher.  I did a run to Goodwill to find some tier curtains to hang for privacy until I found exactly what I wanted for my curtains (this is a hard job for an anti-curtain person).  I found a pair of creamy white linen panels for $4.99 plus 20% off.  Perfect.  They would do the job nicely.  I got home, laundered and ironed them, placed one panel on each window and VOILA!  Privacy and light.  After a couple of days of living with them, I started really liking the minimalist look they provided.  I asked Hubs what he thought about just leaving them there–he agreed.  We both like the simple look of them.  Perhaps a little unconventional but they work for us.

The un-fussy look of the curtains got me thinking about other things in my kitchen.  I had a lot of stuff sitting on the top of my upper cabinets, filling in that voided space between them and the ceiling.  And I had to ask my myself, why?  They are just hard-to-reach-dust-collectors.  You could snugly wrap the earth–twice!– with the amount of dust webs I have cleaned up there.  I decided to keep that area clear of knick-knacks.  I kept just one sign up there.  The rest was gifted or donated.

And then I realized I was content in my kitchen again.  It was brighter, cheerier, there was less clutter and I was happier being in it.  So our ultimate plan got whittled away to basically just new paint, Goodwill curtains and clearing out some crap.  I have even decided about holding off on the metal edging around the counters.  I may still pursue it…and/or change the pulls and handles…but since I am undecided I am giving my creative genius a break.  And, thereby, Hubs gets a break.

So while “my” kitchen doesn’t fit into some sort of decorating niche…it’s fitting into mine.  It’s “vintage french eclectic” (I think).  It has touches of Paris (tablecloth, bistro curtain, photos from Paris) in the dining area and more vintage/retro things in the kitchen (Pyrex bowls, aluminum canisters and bread box, repurposed kitchen island, etc).

You’ve patiently waded through my drivel.  Now for the reveal.  Brace yourself to NOT be shocked.  The small changes are bigger in person, trust me:


I kind of forgot about the before photos until after we started working. I wasn’t thinking in “blog”.   But I found this really old photo to share:

New addition 001



Did you notice the lovely new tulips?


As before, I purchased this lovely arrangement from OfficeScapes.  Previously, I had bought my peonies from them too which are in my living room. I find that silk flowers work well for me.

So…as I said, we ended up doing only “small” things.  In a couple of years we will have to replace the flooring in the kitchen area.  When we do that, I may push for some other changes too.  Until then, it’s all good.

Have you ever started into a big project but then realized only a few changes were really needed to perk things up?



23 thoughts on “vintage home chic ~~ small changes with big rewards

  1. 🙂 I really like your color scheme. The whole kitchen looks nice and cozy and I get the impression I could sit there for hours and listen and talk and watch (with a big cup of coffee or tea).
    Great selection and a perfect job done by an excellent team! 🙂 xo


  2. Changing the curtains really did make a huge difference in terms of the amount of light and I like the more “minimalistic” look. Very cozy and pretty.


  3. I’ve looked at these photos (which are larger than the ones you sent me) pretty carefully. I know I said to paint the cabinets, but I agree with you now – the wood is too nice to paint. Actually I think your kitchen/dining room is beautiful and if your small changes made you feel better, they were worth it. But overall it’s a lovely space and I too would love to spend time here. Sometimes just moving some things around makes all the difference. But now, of course, I want to re-do MY kitchen. And naturally that green-cabinet kitchen picture you posted is what I want! : )


    • If I knew we were going to stay here another 10/20 years, I might be inclined to paint or do something more drastic. But for now, I am OK with these cabinets. They really are pretty and have been complimented by visitors. In our previous home, the cabinets were not cute, not great quality so by trimming them out and painting it added so much more to that kitchen. I am happy we got some great results relatively inexpensively. : )


  4. Pingback: chic ~~ pre-spring splurge | chez bliss

  5. Pingback: vintage ~~ kitchen desk | chez bliss

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