Cottage Kitchen – Pick My Presto

Hello, and welcome to another installment of Pick My Presto!

I randomly selected an email from a gal by the name of Kelli the other day. It read:

Hi Layla,

I am in desperate need of help. We have been working on our kitchen for months now and it is still in the same state that it was when we started. We are currently pulling down wallpaper and holy moly that stuff should be outlawed! The room is super dark because we have a covered porch that connects to it. No direct sunlight for us! I would love to paint the cabinets white because I know that would really help to brighten it up, but I’m not sure that I can convince my husband.

Another dilemma I have is that the sink is not centered on the window. I had thought about getting a bigger sink, but the lazy susan is in the way. I don’t have a lot of cabinet space and really can’t afford to lose any of it.

Countertops- YUCK! I am not sure what the prior owners were going for but this ain’t it for us.

We would love to go with all stainless steel appliances, but we’re kind of in that “replace them as they break” cycle.

In reference to my design likes and dislikes- I like a good mix of cottage & comfy with a hint of modern. I love fresh & clean, with a hint of fun. Some of my favorite kitchens in blogland are yours, House of Smiths, Cape 27, Tatertots and Jello…oh how I could go on forever!

Thanks so much! I hope to see my new purdy kitchen on your wonderful blog! 


Here’s the kitchen photo Kelli sent me to presto change-o…

…and here are photos of the kitchens she mentioned in her email…

(Ours, House of SmithsTatertots & Jello, Cape 27)

From the second I saw Kelli’s photo, I couldn’t wait to get in there and dream up some ideas for her! There are so many different directions they could go in, and this challenge made for a very fun time in Photoshop for me. (Thank you, Kelli!)

Move your cursor on and off of the photo below to see the first presto change-o I put together in before-and-after action. (PS- Google Readers will have to click over to our blog to see it switch back and forth.)

(Note: My presto change-o pic is for inspirational purposes only, and the ideas shown in it are just that. Spontaneous, totally flexible, just-for-fun, ideas that may or may not actually work in the room. Boom.)

Here’s a still image in case you weren’t able to view the interactive one above…

Kelli: all of the drawings in this post are about working with what ya got for now, and adding layers that you love, over time. Do not feel pressured to do it all at once. For now, a fresh coat of paint on the cabinets, walls, and trim would be a great place to start. I’ve been really inspired by the light wall/darker trim combo lately and thought that might be a fun treatment to try in your kitchen. Here’s an inspiration pic I found on Pinterest today…when I was done with your drawings (love it when that happens!):


Here are some more simple things you could do now, to help spiff up the space and move you in that “modern cottage” direction:

– A shelf on the window above the sink, like this one…


– A light fixture that really pops, like this green one from Barn Light Electric:

(Note: I popped a green, flush mount one in my presto change-o, but obviously it wouldn’t have to be green- the sky’s the limit with color choices on those suckers!)

– Faux wood beams. This idea may or may not work in this space, but I thought they looked pretty cool in the drawing, so in they went!

My friend Traci (Beneath My Heart) blogged about the faux wood beams they installed in her bathroom yesterday…

Here’s a link to her post: Installing Faux Wood Beams. They’re super light-weight, easy to install, and I can’t wait to work with them someday, too!

On down the line, you might replace a few of the upper cabinet doors with “airier” ones, install an eye-catching tile backsplash, bring in a “statement” back door and stainless steel appliances, and replace the current countertop and floor with ones you guys love. But remember, those are all switches that could be done little by little, and as your budget allows.

(Note #2: I skooched your sink faucet over in the drawing, but I don’t know of a way to make that work in real life. Maybe a contractor does? I’d look into that if it really bugs ya. Definitely worth lookin’ into!)

I created this second drawing to give you an idea of what painting the base cabinets would look like:

I also popped a herringbone patterned wood floor in that one, just to show what that would look like. Kinda modern cottage-y, huh?

This third drawing shows the walls and soffit clad in bead board, or bead board wallpaper…

The folks at Older and Wisor used bead board in their kitchen re-do, and it really helped to inexpensively snazz their soffit right up…

Here’s a link to their post about it: Kitchen Soffit

My fourth drawing was inspired by our big ol’ chunk’a chalkboard, and this photo from Cottage Living magazine:

Since you can custom mix chalkboard paint in any color, I was inspired to incorporate a green one into this drawing to tie in to the backsplash tile

I also felt compelled to include a cute little girl drawing the letter “L”. #FunWithPhotoshop

To read about mixing your own custom-color chalkboard paint, click here: Custom Chalkboard Paint.

And last but not least, I know Kelli said she thought wallpaper should be outlawed, but I have always loved the stuff, and there are so many pretty patterns out there right now! I couldn’t help but put together one last presto with this paper I found while surfing around the web…


I sort of want to marry it and I think it’s safe to say that I will be papering a wall or two with something similar very soon. (Kelli, close your eyes for this next one!)

Of course it doesn’t have to be that exact paper, but like I said, there are so many fun patterns these days- I just had to throw that idea out there. (Sorry Kelli!)

What about you? Are you a wallpaper person?

Would you like to submit a photo for our Pick My Presto series?

Send an email to PickMyPresto [at] aol [dot] com titled, Living Room. (Replace the words Living Room with whatever type of room you’re actually submitting.) In the body of the email, include your name, your blog name (if you have one) your design likes & dislikes, and one photo of the space in question. (No links please.) It should be as crystal clear as possible, and measure at least 400 pixels high x 600 pixels wide. (In other words: at least 4″high x 6″ wide) The bigger the better though! Make sure it’s a photo you’re comfortable with me showing and writing about on our blog. Oh, and since I love surprises, I probably won’t email you to let you know I’ve “picked your presto” unless I have a specific question for you about your space.

PS- From time to time someone will send me an email asking how much I would charge to do a presto change-o of their space(s). Since they take several days to put together, I just randomly select ones to do (for free) whenever I feel like playing around in Photoshop. Thank you so much for asking though! I truly appreciate the kind comments about them!

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  1. Kim says

    LOVE the changes! My kitchen could use the exact same changes as Kelli’s, so I think I’ll pin this post for sure! I really like the white uppers and colored lower cabinets. Wonder if my hubby would be willing to consider that, as well….hmmm… and the colored light fixture, too cool!

  2. Shauna says

    Whoa Nelly (…Layla.) This is your best pick-my-presto yet!! So many layers, and this one seems so totally do-able.

  3. says

    Gorgeous, as always! I love how the brown cabinets on the bottom still look great with the white cabinets on top! I would have never thought of that. And I love when you painted the bottom cabinets a different color too. Both look great!
    Thanks for including the link to my beams. :)
    Love ya!

  4. says

    You are SO MUCH radness, EL! I love it. LOVE it! Just one peek and I was already asking cory if we could take our galvanized Lowes sconce over the sink down and paint it green. :) This is what you do to me. Oh, and I’m a wallpaper person. Ish. :D

  5. Marianne in Mo. says

    I’m a fan of wallpaper! Used to work in a wallpaper store and learned ALOT about it! Love your ideas for Kelli! I think since she mentioned the lack of light, maybe her flooring could be a light color? Just a thought!

  6. Lorrie says

    I love the patterns out now also. I recently brought home some wallpaper books from Sherwin Williams. I would like to do just the one wall behind our bed, for an accent wall. Wallpaper is expensive!

  7. says

    You could totally replace that sink with a sink with a European drying board off to the right side, and it would make it look like it was centered on the window without actually having to change the plumbing.

  8. Courtney says

    It looks wonderful!! You did a great job of making the kitchen look like a cottage fit for a magazine with such simple changes!! Love seeing your prestos because you have a gift for bringing out the potential in rooms!!

  9. says

    I LOVE the colors of the cabinets you choose. do you happen to know the name of the colors??? This is a great pick my presto!! One of your best! and I can see myself using these tips in my kitchen {when we close in a few months, if we get it. Its a short sale.} Thanks for posting this!!!

  10. Carla says

    I too was wondering what the paint color was . I love this. You did a fantastic job just like you do on everything you do. ;)

  11. Karen says

    I too really love that beautiful blue green. Is it enamel or just high gloss? Please let us in on the color. You have the most beautiful taste. Everything you do I love and I can’t say that about anyone! Thanks for sharing!

  12. says

    We are getting ready to redo our kitchen – so exciting – but I had no idea how many decisions I’d have to make! We haven’t even started the demolition yet and I”m exhausted!

  13. Amie says

    Love it!
    We just painted our dark kitchen antique white. It took a lot to get hubby on board. He loves it now and almost
    Dailey will comment on how clean and bright it is now.
    Wallpaper is a pain, but can work . Just a pain to change.

  14. Karen says

    Love this! You always pick such great colors! I really love the two-toned cabinets, but I may be biased because I’m in the middle of doing that to my own kitchen!
    For Kelli’s sink dilemma, I wanted to mention that she could also get one of the ikea sinks with the built in strainers that would extend over the other cabinet but make it look more centered under the window:
    But, that would require buying and not just working with what she has, and your solution looked great!

    • Layla says

      Hi Jessie! I just noticed your copyright got cut off on your pretty pic! :-O I’ll fix that stat!

  15. MimiG says

    Love the backsplash. Will be on the hunt for that!
    I have to agree with Kelli about wallpaper, unless it’s put on correctly, should be outlawed. It’s a real b$#&h to get off if it’s just been slapped on a non-pretreated wall.
    Great Presto Layla.

  16. Tina K says

    Absolutely beautiful! Have fun, Kelli…you have a great space to work with. :)

    I am anti-wallpaper. I had a traumatic experience with it once. We rented a 50 year old house that had four layers of ugly wallpaper in the bathroom. Nooks and crannies were everywhere. We had to rent a steamer. Then we scraped. And scraped some more. Sheetrock came out in clumps. I swore right then and there I would never be a part of wallpaper.

  17. says

    I can’t choose which is my favorite, they are all so adorable. I’d definitely go with chalk wall though, that is a ‘must’ in my kitchen now!

  18. says

    I’m not a fan of wallpaper but I know that it does have it’s uses. Back in 1980 we moved into a house where the previous occupant had painted a “mural” (I use that word loosely) of a sunset on two of the walls, using black, deep red, orange and bright yellow. UGH. I painted it 4-5 times and could NOT cover it up. Even regular wallpaper wouldn’t do the job (over the 4-5 coats of paint); we had to go with a heavily embossed paper to adequately cover the mess. I was fortunate to find fabric that coordinated well with the paper (silvery gray background with a tiny pastel floral print) to make curtains for the room. In the end it turned out to be my favorite room in the house — and not even a hint of the “mural” remained :)

  19. Rachel says

    I vote for painting the bottom cabinets! I don’t know WHY people get so *wigged* out over painting cabinets….it’s just PAINT. The kitchen design should be left to the one who uses the kitchen the most…USUALLY THE WIFE!!!! Love the beadboard soffet, really makes a nice *statement* doesn’t it?

  20. Maggie says

    I think I just might steal ALL of these ideas! How about I send you the “after” shot when it comes to life. :)

  21. Cyndi W. says

    I want to say “Ditto!” to all the raves about this kitchen! Great ideas! One comment I’ll throw out there for those who hate removing wallpaper or have problems they need to cover up… I’ve had great success in covering up both wallpaper and tile with joint compound and texturing. You can just “slap” it on and then paint over it. :D

  22. Shawnda says

    Love the new ideas…all of them. As for the sink, maybe using something like or would visually trick you into thinking it’s centered. Looks like these are made to put the faucet in an offset position like Layla illustrated.

    As for wallpaper, I LOVE rooms with wallpapered walls in inspiration drawings, but I get tired of the decor in my house so often that I’d have trouble committing to a particular pattern. Wallpaper is so much more expensive than a gallon of paint that I’d feel guilty if I got tired of it and then there’s the effort required to remove it…ugh. I get tired just thinking about it.

  23. CeeJay says

    The off-center sink seems to bug the owner. How about looking for a stainless steel drainer to put along the right side of the sink? If you’ll notice, the House of Smiths sink is also off-center and it seems to look fine.
    And if you can’t fit a new dishwasher in the budget just now, check and see if your current dishwasher can take a stainless steel panel in the door – many are interchangeable and it makes for an easy and inexpensive update.

  24. Robyn says

    Love this! I know ss appliances are the rage, but consider all white, instead.
    They look fresh & clean & “cottage-y” , especially with the white or green cabinets, and don’t break up a small space. A big plus for me : they don’t show fingerprints! We have a covered enclosed porch attached to our kitchen too – white brings light. Is that a doggie looking in from the porch in the original photo? Guess you’ll have to put a ” Le Dog” window in the dutch door…. :-) Enjoyed all the versions… I’d opt for the chalkboard paint over the wall paper, any day – very cute idea!

  25. Julie says

    Love it! you never disappoint…but I have to know, what backsplash tile sample did you use – love it!

    Just to make you feel extra special, your blog was the first one I ever found, via a Washington Post article a few years ago – you’re still my favorite!

    • Layla says

      Hi Julie! Thank you for your sweet comment! To answer your questions, I found it on Pinterest. Click on the words “backsplash tile” in this post to see the original picture it’s in! :-) #ILoveThatTile

  26. says

    I LOVE what you came up with here. I really want to use those green lights in our next kitchen redo, whenever that happens :) And I am so in love with that back door!!!!! I want it! I’m not so much a wallpaper person. I just get tired of pattern so quickly and want a change and wallpaper is so difficult to switch out. But there are some pretty options here.

  27. Lisa says

    I too sent my 1964 split level home’s living room “cubby closet,” which my husband put one singel shelf straight across. So, I too, like many are waiting for your wonderful creative ideas. Hope you pick mine soon!

    Love all your ideas and website!~

  28. Lisa W. says

    WElllll first of all as ALWAYS you did a magnificiant job with PRESTO chang o….I love the white cabinets, And it seems as she does not have a very big kitchen so the white brightens up so much!!!

    On the wallpaper…I giggled outloud when Kelli’s comment was “That stuff ought to be out-lawed!!!” I gotta say I have down some ripping down myself and I HATE that job. You can do SO so so much with paint:)

    Awesome job…awesome blog:)

    Lisa W.

  29. says

    oh! i love this redo! can you please tell me any more about the little latch on the dutch door!?!? i am building one for my little barn and LOVE the little swing-looking latch! great site ~ and love that you are from sweet home alabama!

    {got the chance to say hey to you guys @ brookwood mall during PW’s book signing… you guys are super sweet and totally inspiring! thanks for being so kind to my little girl ~ she was in heaven meeting you guys! i was totally cool that night in her eyes! tks!}

    • Layla says

      I’m not sure about that latch Natalie…I just grabbed that door off an image on Google! :-D SO nice meeting y’all at PW’s signing! What a fun night that was!

  30. Laura says

    SHUT THE DUTCH DOOR! I love the idea of that door, but it would just let in the hordes of mosquitoes living in our world! The whole presto makes me want to start painting my lower cabs a fun color. And rip off the wallpaper I put up when we redid the kitchen in 1997! Maybe after the 2 week bath remodel that starts next week?

    • Layla says

      Ooh, good call on the skeeters, Laura! I guess it would make more sense to use a dutch door between two interior rooms! :-D

  31. Sue says

    Love all your ideas. Can you tell me the name of the paint color on the bottom cabinets (the kind of seafoam green one)? I’m ready to remove wallpaper from our guest bath and would love that color. I like wallpaper well enough but it’s been up for a while and starting to peel so I’m ready for a change.

    Sue in Fl.

    • Layla says

      Thanks, Sue! Since I grab my colors from a screen in Photoshop it’s not actually a paint color. Just a computer-generated one! :-D

  32. says

    So cute! But, I have had to strip wallpaper …UGH. I would not recommend papering walls at ALL. If you have to have it, though, PRIME PRIME PRIME and prep the surface properly so that when you tire of it, it can be removed with a minimum of fuss. Although know that fuss will be involved, LOL.

    • Layla says

      Great tip, Susan! I am DEFINITELY looking forward to papering some soon, so I’ll keep that in mind! :-)

  33. says

    WOW … it would be difficult to choose which one to go with! So many great ideas. I love wallpaper …. but … I like to change things so much, I’m not sure it’s a great idea. Besides that …. I’ve taken so much wallpaper down in previous homes and found it to be a nightmare.

  34. Melinda says

    All the choices are so cute! I love that you gave her options as well as ways to start small and work her way into a full on re-do. The idea of painting the top cabinets white and the bottom wood could be a good compromise for a one likes paint/one likes wood couple. Layla – you rock!

  35. Kelli says

    Oh My Goshhhhhh…. Layla, I love it! I love all of it! I am so super excited right now! I gasped when I opened your blog and saw my name and my co-workers seriously thought something was wrong. I cannot wait to show hubby the transformation that “could be” our kitchen. Thank you so so much!

    And ps- It’s not that I don’t care for wallpaper when it is pretty and in place properly but I LOATHE taking it down. :)


  36. says

    Super cute! I loved how she described her style as a mix of cottage and comfy with a hint of modern. I’d have to say that 100% describes my style too. We’re in the process of trying to purchase a VERY ugly lakeside cabin. The great ideas you share are really one of the reasons I decided to go forward with it. I feel like you give me a vision. :)

    • Kelli says

      I never know how to describe my style….that is the only thing that I could think of ;). I guess if I had to describe it in one word (or two words), I would say Pottery Barn! :)

  37. says

    p.s. i am totally NOT a wallpaper kind of girl. unless it is used in small doses when someone redoes a piece of furniture (like bookcase or china closet). just hate how wallpaper wears at the seams and also i go crazy if the images / patterns don’t line up. strange for me since i am completely NOT an ocd kind of girl.

  38. says

    Love all of them! Colors are perfect and I love a cheery kitchen. I like small doses of wallpaper. With glas cabinet doors you could line the back of those cabinets with paper put up double stick tape for a little splash. If you get tired of it just take it down or change to a different wallpaper. Great job Layla!

  39. says

    Love the suggestions for the changes to her kitchen! The dutch door and the painted upper cabinets alone makes a huge difference to me! Like the wood beams, not so sure about the bead board soffit. I like bead board but with everything eles it’s too much for me personally, but you’ve certainly given her a ton of options to pick from! I think my favorite take is the first with the wood lower cabinets and the painted white uppers, but there’s a charm to the bottoms matching the door, too… Hmm…

  40. says

    Wow! I love all your ideas! I, myself, have beams on the brain and my hat is off to you and your photoshop skills! We are in the process of trying to visualize what our ceilings would look like with white planks and wood beams and are having major issues with the planks in photoshop. This is one of those projects that I really want to get right the first time! I cannot imagine anything worse than my hubby and I not being able to feel our arms from working a weekend straight and not loving the planks or the beams. Talk about a nightmare…the fact that it is not really something that would be super easy to change like paint on the wall scares me. Do you have any tips for being able to photoshop in the planks? Every time I try it, my picture looks terrible! Should I take that as a sign to just stick to the beams which I was able to photoshop in the picture!?! Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I have a whole slew of inspiration pics, but I’m not sure if it would look right in my house?

  41. says

    Thank you SO much for putting me on to faux wood beams – I had no idea there were such things!

    We already have several solid fir beams in our kitchen and will be doing a major reno starting next month. Now we have another option for the ceiling!

  42. says

    Layla. You truly are the interiors Photshop master!!!!! awesome Presto-chango! Love how you lightened the space up, but kept the dark to ground the space, and the beams to tie it all together. GORG.
    – {darlene} @

  43. says

    I’m really loving the idea of the shelf over the kitchen sink. I love old colored glass bottles and can totally imagine putting some there with some small flowers. Thanks for the great ideas!

  44. Chrissy says

    I love this! I am dying to know where you found the glass window hanging that you have on the top of the kitchen window? It is beautiful and i want one just like it!

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