Kitchen Redo #2


Well, Spring has definitely sprung around these parts, and we just couldn’t resist clipping a few Bradford Pear branches to use in the photos we took for our post today…

Aren’t they beautiful?

I wish I could say that they smell as beautiful as they look, but they do not.

They actually smell the exact opposite of beautiful.

As a matter of fact, they weren’t even allowed to spend the night inside our house last night because of how un-beautiful they smell. No joke.

We got them off a tree at one of our favorite local parks just after the sun went down last night.
Yeah, yeah- I know, I know. Saturday night, stealing branches from a park for a blog post sounds pretty lame compared to what most people our age that don’t have kids yet were probably doing. But in our defense, I can assure you, sneaking around in the dark with a humongous pair of clippers, while one person keeps watch and the other struggles with branches that are a just a little stronger than the blades of your clippers is in.tense.

(Insert Mission Impossible music here)

“Whoa! What’s the smell?”
(Kevin, gagging)

“I think it’s that puddle right there. The geese hang out in it. I think it’s their poop.”

“Ack! It’s horrible! Let’s hurry. Which branch should I cut?”

“Breathe through your mouth. Here. Get this one. It’s pretty.”

Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop.
(Kevin, struggling to sever the branch because it’s too thick.)

“Baby, no! The branches have to be long. I’m gonna put ’em in a big, tall vase. You have to cut it back further.”

“I can’t even cut it here, how am I gonna cut it there?”

“Just make sure the branch is all the way down into the clippers. Don’t cut it with the tips of the clippers. Hurry though. I think somebody’s coming.”

“Really? Where?”

“Right th….oh wait. Nevermind. It’s just a goose. We should still hurry though.”


After four intense minutes of chopping and watching, we managed to snag three great-looking branches. We threw them on the back seat, and high-tailed it outta there.

Unfortunately, the “mud” puddle smell was still with us as we pulled back into our driveway. And as I arranged the branches in a tall, glass vase in the kitchen, the smell seemed even stronger.

“Honey! Come here! It’s the branches that smell!”

“Is it? Let’s see…(sniff, sniff)…Whoa! It is! Gross! You’re gonna have to put those outside tonight.”

And so I did.
I put my pretty, putrid branches in a gorgeous glass vase, and they spent the night on our back porch.


But enough about the branches!

The real reason I’m blogging today is to share our kitchen re-do number two! (Considering how this post started, maybe “number two” was the wrong choice of words there.) Anywho, if you follow us on Twitter you’ve probably already seen a sneak peek of our “new” kitchen. (Hint, hint- follow us on Twitter if you like sneak peeks!) But before you scroll down to see photos of our “new” kitchen, (Yeah right, you scrolled down before you read the goose poop stuff, didn’t you? It’s okay. I would’ve scrolled down first too.) here’s a video we shot to document the process…

(forgive the poor quality, the terrible lighting, and the occasional herky-jerkiness)

(Sorry about all the outtakes- I like to keep those so that if we ever adopt a child, they can watch them and see how happy their Dad made me.)


Okay, for those of you who haven’t scrolled down and looked at the following photos yet- Welcome!

For the folks with ants in your pants-

Welcome Back!

Here’s the “new” kitchen…

(Move your mouse back and forth over the photo below to see what the kitchen looked like when we bought the place, and what it looks like now.)

It’s still far from finished.

We still need to get a window treatment, hang something on the beadboard-clad wall on the right, add more cabinetry above and to the right of the fridge, add crown molding, replace the counter tops, purchase stainless steel appliances, replace the light fixtures, replace the floor with salvaged brick, etc. etc. etc.

No rush though.

As for the cabinetry, the paint color on the base cabinets is called “Mourning Dove” (8085). It’s a Martha Stewart color and we had it mixed at Sherwin Williams. (FYI- They don’t carry Martha’s line anymore, but if you ask them to mix it, they will.)
The paint color on the upper cabinets is called “Alabaster” and it’s a Sherwin Williams color. We primed the base cabinets with gray-tinted primer from Home Depot (they helped us choose a primer specifically engineered for kitchen cabinetry) and we primed the upper cabinets with white primer. We did not sand the cabinets, but we did lightly sand the doors and drawer fronts. We sprayed everything with a light coat of Deft Clear Wood Finish. The aerosol version of this stuff…

It’s non-yellowing and will help protect our new paint job.
(You can find it at Lowes.)

The wall color is called “Rice Grain”, (it’s also a Sherwin Williams color) but we had them lighten it by 50%. We used Rice Grain in the dining room, and love it, but since the kitchen is a little darker (only one tiny window), we thought we better lighten it up a bit.

We kept the same hardware on the doors and drawer fronts:

We got them on eBay a while back. If I remember correctly, the knobs were .87 cents a piece, and the pulls were around $3.00 a piece.

Unfortunately, for some reason, whoever originally designed this kitchen positioned everything on the left (North) side of the room…

But luckily, Kevin and I had a serendipitous moment when we ripped the cabinetry out of the guest bathroom and set it in the kitchen to get it out of the way while we worked in there.

We’ve already painted it all “Mourning Dove”, now we just need to get some more drawer pulls and door knobs and replace the existing counter top with an eight foot butcher block countertop from Ikea.

As for the wall above the “new” cabinetry- I’ve got thirteen and a half ideas about what to do with it.
(If you have one you’d like to share with us, by all means, send us an inspiration pic or leave us a comment on this post!)


My Mom’s coming to visit us this weekend. She hasn’t seen the place in quite a while. I wonder what she’ll think of all the changes we’ve made…

(Move your mouse back and forth over the photo below)

(FYI- We blogged about opening up the doorway between the living and dining room HERE)

Knowing my Mom and I, come Saturday night, we’ll be sitting at that dining table, (which still needs chairs by the way!) drinking something fizzy, playing Upwords and laughing uncontrollably about something that isn’t even all that funny.

Hope you get to laugh a lot this week too!


Check out my e-book!

Ikea Butcher Block Counter Top Swap
Mantel Mania: Part Two

Have posts from The Lettered Cottage sent right to your INBOX!


  1. Daniella says

    Would you come do my kitchen?:) I have these same cabinets! What a fantastic job – love what you’ve done with the place!!

  2. Ana says

    I LOVE YOUR KITCHEN!!! I have been wanting to try open shelving in our kitchen and we have just basic oak builder grade cabinets. My husband is a little afraid to try this, but we do have some very nice white dishes, glasses, etc. and I’ve been “downsizing” for some time. Love your look and am going to do SOMETHING to that kitchen this weekend!
    Thanks for your great inspiration!

  3. Sharyn says

    Just found your blog, and I’m unbelievably impressed! You two are the cutest couple ever! Thank you for sharing all of your talent and your labor of love!

  4. Pam says

    I surf a LOT of websites and blogs, yours is my FAVOURITE ever. You are an inspiring fun couple! Kudos for beginning the adoption process, I myself was adopted at 6 weeks old and had a wonderful Mum and Dad and family! My Dad was awesome, he died in 2008 and I still miss him everyday. He was a great DIY man and did all the work at all of our various homes we grew up in. He even built 2 stone fireplaces at one home, then took them apart and rebuilt them in our next home! I wish I was as DIY inclined!!!!

  5. Shawna says

    I love, love, LOVE your decorating ideas! Can you tell me what color you painted the trim…I’m looking for a perfect white.
    Thank you!

  6. Ana Mafalda Faria says

    SOOOoooooo… inspired by your blog! Keep up the good work! Thank you!

  7. Amy says

    I absolutely love your kitchen. I have the same oak style cabinets and was wanting to know if you sanded the cabinet or just straight applied a primer before color. Thanks for your help!!

  8. says

    so beautiful. i want to do open shelving in my kitchen so badly. heck, i just want to PAINT my cupboards so badly. but if you read my recent post on my blog, you’ll see why i’m totally panicking about the entire process (REALLY bad experience with bathroom cabinets).

  9. Tracy Chadwick says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your kitchen makeover (and everything else)! I have been searching for the perfect gray for my base cabinets, and I think I’ve found it. Hard to tell from the photos, is it a green gray, purple gray, or…

  10. says

    I searched very thoroughly for Martha Stewart Mourning. Dove 8085. I was unable to locate it but did find the following in the Martha collection at Home Depot… Mourning Dove number MSL 210 but thought it was a bit dark. I mixed Love in a Mist MSL 142 and the darker Mourning Dove. it looks just like the color on The Lettered Cottage kitchen. I am remodeling a 1940 kitchen here in Phoenix and incorporating many of your ideas. I will post photos once I begin the remodel.

    • Layla says

      Hi Barb!
      Martha Stewart’s “Mourning Dove – 8085” is only available at Sherwin Williams. It’s a discontinued color, but they can still pull it up in the computer and mix it. I look forward to seeing your remodel! 😀

    • Kristin says

      Can you tell me how you mixed the darker Mourning Dove with Love in a Mist? Did you have them mix it at the store or did you mix it yourself. I am partial to Benjamin Moore paint and trying to achieve the same cabinet color. Thanks!

  11. Tracy says

    I love the pear tree branches – we have one in our yard. We always know Spring has sprung by its blooms and the smell of dead fish!! Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. Arleen says

    What a great job in the kitchen. love all the things you have done. thanks for the information and inspiration !

  13. Ely says

    I really love you kitchen!. I actually got a lot of inspiration to do some thing in my house :) … Hugs from Mexico.

  14. Melisa says

    I love this! I am in the process of doing something similar and am having a hard time choosing the whites. I was actually thinking of using Alabaster but what do you have on your trim and bead board? thanks!

  15. says

    Thank you so much for the inspiration. We are building a VERY small cottage in which to retire. The walls inside are rough sawn lumber, no painted bright white. We are about to install the kitchen cabinets. To save money we are buying unfinished oak cabinets that were going to be stained dark oak. Now…..they will be light gray! 😉

    Check out our build diary at
    Tim and Leslie

  16. says

    I’m doing SERIOUS RESEARCH on cabinet painting. This is the second blog today that hasn’t done much sanding to the cabinets before painting…but as you mention, the people at the hardware store helped you out in deciding what to use where and when…I think I’ll have to take one of the doors to my local Lowe’s or Home Depot and ask for advice from the experts…but I am feeling EMPOWERED and ENTHUSIASTIC about going ahead with it…Now I just wish I could hypnotize my husband into feeling the same way and get his OK and support (emotional, physical, monetary…) I really admire couples who work together on their homes, or for that matter, on any project (I think the most we’ve worked on together is making the children, wink,wink!)
    Thank you…

  17. Lauren says

    Hello! Just curious what color/type of counter tops you would eventually put in? Counter tops are so hard for me to pick and I really like your color choices.

  18. danielle says

    Hi ! I painted my cabinets black a few years back as well. And like you I”m now craving a lighter look. Besides they could use a fresh coat after the use and abuse of 2 boys. Would you be able to tell me the type of primer you used ? Was one coat of the primer enough to cover the black paint? Thanks so much for any help – love your blog !

  19. Lisa Blake says

    Love your ideas !! Can you please tell me how you applied the paint on the cabinets in the kitchen? I would think if you use a brush it won’t be flat and will leave streaks- did you use a sprayer? It’s going to be our first project and I don’t want to ruin the cabinets! :) thank you!!!

  20. kate says

    I am in the process of updating a 1960s kitchen in a 100+ year old house in a very similar style. Big question I am strugging with is paint color of the beadboard backsplash. Did you do yours the same color as the upper cabinets? Picking 4 colors is a lot for me!

  21. Jeanne says

    Are you for hire??? LOVE what you have done to your home. I recently purchased a condo in Naples, FL, and couldn’t decide if I wanted dark or light wood cabinetry…until now! Love the grey – and will be anxious to see what you do for countertops. I am wondering, as some others are, about painting with a paintbrush and streaks. Also, did you just use one coat of the wood finish to protect the paint coat? Again, I want to say how much I
    love this look!

  22. Vanessa says

    Hi I was wondering what kind of paint finish you used on your cabinets? Did you brush or spray your cabinets? I’m redoing our kitchen cabinets after 7 yrs, which are black. We had someone do them and they used latex paint and it peeled horribly!

    • Layla says

      Hi Vanessa! We used semi-gloss if I remember right. You used a high-adhesion primer first though, and the top coat stuck like glue! :-)

  23. melissa rogers says

    I LOVE your blog…I’m constantly looking through to find colors and ideas. I have painted my kitchen cabinets super dark and want to change to light like you did. I thought yours were black at one point before the white/grayish colors….did you have to sand all that black off or just paint over with white? I am itching to do it!
    Thanks so much. I love your e-book too!!!

    • melissa rogers says

      ok sorry – I just noticed you said no sanding but priming was necessary.. I’m hoping this works over black 😉 thanks so much!