The Less Than $50 Kitchen Redo


What do you do when you have a 1934 very small kitchen that you want to update somehow, but you don't have the bucks to get much done? 

Well, first I rolled around on my garden scooter and painted all these lower cabinets that you're seeing. 

But no. That didn't do it for me. I painted them for nothing, because another idea popped into my head.


What do I turn to when I'm at a loss? I get out the Mod Podge. And then I just improvised as I went along and went to town, as they say.


I realize that this concept isn't everyone's cup of tea. But I didn't want it to be ordinary. I used the window curtains I made when I first moved in as my creative inspiration. 

I started going through my boxes of printed graphics that I've kept over the years. You know. Those that "speak" to you, but you don't know what to do with them. So they get stuffed away and rarely seen.

Not anymore. Favorite poems, quotes, vintage photos, etc. Things that "strike my fancy."


Yes, many are a bit crooked. But remember, I'm rolling around on this garden cart and bending over and trying to judge distances. 

I've already torn one big graphic off, and it left quite a mess and I had to somehow cover it. So the rest shall stay crooked and no one will mention it. Okay?


My refrigerator. And like many of you, I have important magnetic cards up there should I need the plumber or whoever. 

To the far right is a black bookcase where I store food. I don't have a pantry and few cabinets. This had to suffice.


To the far left here is the table I did the Frog Tape project on last week. Just decorated the top with a few stripes. 

The pan lid is one I picked up somewhere or other. I'm using it as a kitchen towel holder.


Now I have all but folded myself up into a pretzel to take these photos in this very narrow galley type kitchen. So you may not see every single thing. 

To the far left is a plastic tub with a blue top. It houses my dogs' expensive prescription food they must eat. If you recall, they have very delicate tummies and have spent time in the animal ER and hospital. Which came with a huge bill. So expensive prescription food it is. 


Above is my coffee bar. I stenciled a cup of coffee on each door. Two came out okay. 

The bottom ones (remember I'm on a rolling cart and trying to gauge from above), didn't come out quite as well.  But, moving right along. No one is perfect.


A few days ago, these upper cabinets had doors. The shelves are kind of useless, in that you had to get a step ladder to retrieve anything. 

At 4 a.m., it came to me. I'd take off the doors and put pretties inside that I didn't need to retrieve on a step ladder. They'd just be there for looks. I was giddy with excitement. 

I got up the next morning and took off those doors. And saw the ugly electrical wires inside. Not only that, I don't think the inside had been painted in 30 years. 


So I whipped out the paint again and had to put four coats in there. But it is done and the doors are in the garage. You can see the electrical wires hanging down from the ceiling, but oh well. This is a real kitchen. And it is far from perfect.


The black and white checkered paper you see is cut up scrapbook paper. The red and white Elaine from Sunny Simple Life sent me awhile back. I think teachers use them in class rooms. 

Well, now they're used in my kitchen. And they were stiff and hard to decoupage, unlike bendable scrapbook paper. But I persevered and now they're glued down and flat.



If this is where I'm going to "hang my apron", then I'm going to have fun seeing my favorite quotes and poems and all the graphics that had been hidden inside boxes for years. Now I can view them every single day.

Someone might walk in and go blind from the frenzy of color. I suggest you walk in with sun glasses if this is overwhelming. 


There are no rules about decorating. You can do as you wish. 


Have fun with your house! And you can do it with less than $50 if you use what you have and only buy what you can't find in the garage.

Now I'm headed to this very colorful kitchen to have my coffee. And I shall be resting this week.

79 comments

  1. Brenda! This is adorable! It reminds me of Mary Englebriet <so?
    I know that's a lot of work but it's darling. Deep in my heart I would love to decorate like this but Mr. Precious wouldn't let me! :)
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

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  2. You left bread on your toaster ? As if....people really EAT and COOK in their kitchens? : )

    This is so darn cute I can't stand it. Love it! Shelia's comment about Mary Englebriet is so true! OR it could come right out of Vintage Style magazine which is a magazine that I could not resist buying the other day.

    The stenciled coffee cups...so much detail everywhere in what you did here. Just adorable.

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  3. Brenda, I love it! The more color and pattern the better as far as I'm concerned. It stimulates my brain in a happy way! I have to admit though, I would worry about resale.. I'm just practical that way. But it's so pretty now and the vignette over the stove looks perfect! Enjoy and keep creating! Cindy @ sunsetcoasting.blogspot.com

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  4. Love what you did to your kitchen Brenda! All the pops of red and those shelves? GENIUS!

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  5. Such a fun, cheery kitchen, Brenda! I think my favorite nook is the coffee bar. There are so many fun touches you did to personalize the space. Love the lid as a towel holder. I had to chuckle at the baked potatoes every night. Baked potatoes are a staple in our house as well. We have them at least once a week, if not more. They're easy and filling and if you top it with some broccoli, I feel like it's somewhat nutritious. Thanks for sharing your fun kitchen! Have a great day!
    Blessings,
    Nici

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  6. Very cute! Your quite innovative and I like it!

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  7. Brenda, this is amazing! I love what you've done! So colorful! Funny about being able to stage it! I'm glad you can see all your pretty graphics, now!!

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  8. Brenda, I like all the work you did on your kitchen. You are not afraid of color, that's for sure. It does look a bit Mary Engelbriet-ish like Shelia said. You know we love her. I think red is your true color. Blessings to you Brenda. xoxo,Susie

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  9. Absolutely LOVE it!!! Lots of color will make for a happy winter when you might not get out as much! And what a cool idea to use the graphics you had stored and couldn't see! Much like using the china that you save for a special occasion, why not enjoy it everyday!! Love, love, love all your unique and personal touches!!!

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  10. You have a very artistic eye for design. I love how it all falls together...yes, even the tiny imperfections which I love. No matter how hard I tried, I could never come up with something as creative as this. I'm sure anyone visiting would feel instantly at home! Too cozy!

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  11. You have a very artistic eye for design. I love how it all falls together...yes, even the tiny imperfections which I love. No matter how hard I tried, I could never come up with something as creative as this. I'm sure anyone visiting would feel instantly at home! Too cozy!

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  12. Soooooo awesome to use the cabinets as a spot to display your treasure of favorite graphics . I love it. And I really really loved what you did with the upper cabinets!!!

    Dana

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  13. This kitchen absolutely screams BRENDA!!! It is so totally you, so charming, so delightful - I would faint from happiness if I walked in there. I would just melt from the charm of it. I keep saying charm but that's what it is: charm! Delightful! Fun. Colorful. Interesting.

    Perfect!

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  14. I forgot, I LOVE, LOVE your kitchen. So charming and cheery.

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  15. I love this, Brenda! How could you not be cheerful walking into a kitchen like this in the morning? I just know it took a lot of work, painting the inside of the cabinets would have done me in (and 4 coats?!!). I agree with the other ladies, very Mary E. and sooo cute! And I just can't get over the pot lid as a towel holder, brilliant!

    Yes, you need to get some rest. Pull up a comfy chair in that kitchen and admire your work! :)

    XO,
    Jane

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  16. You are to hard on yourself. Your kitchen is amazeballs! Everything is so sweet, homey, comfy and cozy. I love red. I have a red kitchen too. Alot of cherries. I made window valences out of real cherry crate labels...yes, the old paper ones. I would be rolling around on your kitchen floor for hours admiring all your original work!

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  17. I have done similarly in my kitchen - cos I can't afford a whole re-do. But mine is more pastel tones - largely Cath Kidston notepaper which was £5 & post cards of retro kitchen products. But you have made me think I should do more and not just the wee bits I have done!
    Everyone who comes into my kitchen says wow (except the Estate Agent ) who said it would need to be re-done if I ever wanted to sell - spoilsport!!
    A pot lid for a towel holder - fab idea!!
    I took the doors off a cupboard to match another where the door fell off! A kind friend offered to mend both but I politely declined as I like the look!
    Lynn.x.

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  18. Hi Brenda,

    I know all that decoupaging took a lot of work! It came out great and I bet it gives you a lot of joy just being in your kitchen (which I don't remember ever seeing before).

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  19. I applaude your efforts. The kitchen turned out very cute and unique. I know you will enjoy it.

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  20. You never have to worry about being ordinary, Brenda

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  21. Brenda I think it works in your small kitchen! Love all the color and pattern and quotes. Very YOU and that is the most important. My kitchen is Dulls-ville, but I've not been here long enough to really get some decorating done I must admit. I think you did a great job and I love the open cabinet over the stove.

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  22. FUN . . . FUN . . . FUN

    I love the idea of using the pan lid to hang the towel. I have an enamel lid in the garage that I was saving for no reason, but now I have a use for it.

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  23. Bright-Fun-Unique. I love it!! This was a huge task and you did a great job. Very Mary E. I don't know if you had her in mind but she would love it too, and you should send her some photos of your work...

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  24. I think this re-do is SO you! Who cares what anyone else thinks? It's cheery and vivid and has all the colors and things you love. And imperfections? Even with you pointing them out, I can't see them! I think you did a great job.

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  25. Brenda, a beautiful job, and yes it does have a wonderfully lyrical Mary Englebriet feeling to it, and that's part of it's charm. It's very you, and expressive, I can imagine no one is going to be gloomy in that kitchen, and that's what kitchens are for.

    Good for you, and if you didn't point out the slight imperfections, we would have never noticed them. I really like what you have done.

    Jen

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  26. Brenda, I would loved to have seen you sliding around on your garden cart. It's a good thing you had it. It really paid for it's self.
    I really think pictures of your kitchen should be in a magazine. It is so creative and colorful. You've used every "nook and cranny" for something.
    Like someone else said, you'll enjoy it this winter when it cold outside. It would be such a cozy place to have a meal.

    Your house may be old but it has a great amount of counter space and I'm still loving the window over your sink.

    Keep those creative "juices" flowing.. You've come up with very fascinating décor and for very few $$$$$.
    Charlotte in Virginia

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  27. If they only could have seen you rolling around on your gardening stool OR standing on top of your countertops doing over the fridge! I should have taken pictures! LOL looks just like you - very unique and so Brenda.

    Judy

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  28. Absolutely adorable. Tht kitchen would start and end anyone's day on a cheery note.

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  29. Cute as a button Brenda! Enjoy your cheery kitchen!
    Blessings,
    Cindy

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  30. Hi Brenda, your kitchen is lovely...I too have a tiny Kitchen that I wrote about a while ago so I understand....I say if I take a fork out, I've made a mess. I read somewhere a long time ago not sure if it is true but that in Victorian-Era or the Victorians when they created something like embroidery they would purposely make one mistake to remind themselves that they are not perfect....thought you would like to know. Here is a tip that I used to do when we lived in our Brooklyn apartment, my microwave doubled as a breadbox as well as a microwave! Loved all the colors, enjoy it!!!

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  31. Hi. As I looked at the photo of the open shelving over the microwave oven, my husband walked past, looked over my shoulder at the photo and said, "Huh. That's cute." So, there you go -- it gets a real He-Man stamp of approval. I love it all too. The main thing is, YOU love it. My favorite part is the fork, knife and spoon decoupaged onto the wall. I never would have thought of doing that. I love how you turned the fork the other way, to make it really interesting. I, too, thought of Mary Engelbreit when I saw the photos, but, really, it is Brenda-Bright!

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  32. I agree with the others, it does look very Mary Englebrietish, so colorful! You definitely won't see another kitchen quite like it. Imperfections just add to the charm.

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  33. whimsical, cheerful and totally unique.. looks like something right out of a storybook and so it is, storybook of all your favorite graphics.
    good job~!

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  34. Brenda- That is so YOU! I love all the color and that you have used papers that were hidden away that you love. I am so glad that you were able to do this. I can hear your daughter groaning- LOL- Oh, well! Did you ever watch the movie Pacific Heights? Now THERE is a nightmare of a renter that took over the house! You really should watch that! xo Diana

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  35. Charming! I know I'm repeating the others but yes, I thought of our dear Mary Englebreit also. I miss that magazine so much. I can just imagine this kitchen on a dreary rainy day or when there is snow piled up outside and you can't get out. But who cares, when you have that kitchen to go into for your coffee and your baked potato. And so much to inspire you there.

    You deserve a rest but as my uncles used to say in their little Walhalla, SC town when I was a child, "You done good!"

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  36. It is really cute but I would worry about the cabinetry. I think like that sometimes, OK, lots of times! I always loved how you arrange things so artfully on your shelves. And get so much on there. Spacing is everything, I guess. And you have quite the eye! xo

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  37. Okay Miss Benda Englebreit what were you thinking standing on the counter . You be careful girlie.
    Well, I just love it. Like having all your favorite things to see right where you can whenever you want.
    I love the pot lid for the towel holder. I also like the stenciling. Seriously you should write a book using your photos inside and outside. How many times have I said that to you. Anyone know a publisher?

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  38. Absolutely adorable, Brenda!

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  39. Me again....Brenda could you please tell me what you feed your dogs. My Yorkie just keeps getting sick. It comes and goes. Just about the time I think I am taking her to the vet she is okay a few days. I need to try something that is proven to help. Thanks.

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  40. All of the above!!!!! Everyone already said it so well. I am soooo impressed.
    Sandy

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  41. Brenda, I am cracking up. How many gallons of Modpodge did you have to use? It is such a clever idea and fits right in with your style.

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  42. It's pretty and fun! And you're going to smile every time you walk in the room! I love all of your open cabinets with everything arranged so nicely! Love all of the tiny black and white checks with the red and white! And it really is nice to have the pretty images and quotes you've saved out where you can see them! Love the coffee cup stencils! You've had fun with it and that's what life is all about! KUDOS to you my friend!

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  43. It is refreshing to read a blog written by someone who does what makes them happy and not what "interior decorators" dictate. Your kitchen is cheery and welcoming....love it. The red Keurig is great. Have never seen one that colour here in Canada.

    I have always thought that people should decorate how they want to and not by a series of "rules" made up by uptight rich people. Thanks for being genuine.

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  44. I love this! You do what you want and what makes you happy. Just stay there forever and no one has to worry about resale! I have always wanted a place that could be ME.

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  45. I really love this redo Brenda! it is so you! colorful yet not too overbearing..cheerful and cozy just like your cozy little house is all over from kitchen to bedroom and all in between!! no one but you deserves to live in this charming little kitchen so done up just for you! I LOVE it!!! Carol

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  46. Your daughter would never have a problem selling. She could list it as the cutest house in the neighborhood! I love what you did to your kitchen. So cutesy and so happy! Love it!

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  47. Brenda, everything looks so fun and colorful! I think that was a wonderful and creative way to put your mark on the space. It really looks like you and has the perfect cottage flair.

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  48. Brenda-
    It definitely NOT ORDINARY...and though, it may not be everyone's cup of tea...it suits me fine!
    Remember...I glued brown paper to my vinyl bathroom floor; for a faux wood treatment.
    I love your style-- so cute!
    I also love that 'fork, knife and spoon' on the wall. You should give us a close up of that one... I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing all types of things glued to the walls of our homes!
    You're a trend setter.
    This little project --done a wonderful price, I might say...is adorable.
    pat yourself on the back...and take a break.
    -- Pat

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  49. It looks perfect to me Brenda! I love all your personal touches and all the fun colors you use. Anyone can do ordinary, it takes imagination and a real vision to do what you did to your kitchen. Love it!

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  50. Brenda I love it! It's quirky, fun, colorful and full of personality! I loved this post so....much that I read it twice!! You go girl! It's a wonderful collage of all the things that have meaning for you.

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  52. Amazing! It looks terrific! Hard work, I'm sure but what a great job you did! Keep up the wonderful, quirky decorating!!! Love it!!

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  53. I love what you have done. It shows your personality, warm, loving and full of fun

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  54. I love what you did and to think it did not cost you hardly anything at all. Thanks.

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  55. I love how your cabinets turned out and yes, it does remind me of Mary Engelbreit.

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  56. Oh this is GREAT ! What a wonderful change from all the sterile, boring, white, white ,white, that you see everywhere. I was so surprised when I saw your pot lid because I have an old blue granite one on my cabinet door that I use for a towel holder.

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  57. It's fun, it's pretty, and oh so YOU!

    Out of necessity, comes the mother of invention. Life would be so boring if everything was easy and we didn't challenge ourselves to come up with things that are a bit different from time to time.

    Very creative use of space and items too! Well done!!

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  58. So very kitschy and so very you. I love what you have done. xo Laura

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  59. OMG -- I love it love it love it! I wouldn't change a thing. I wish I could find some photos of some of the things I have done a long time ago, because you of all people would love it. Necessity is the mother of invention as one of the other bloggers said, and I think some of the most creative stuff we do comes from that place within in us that has nothing to do with money or worrying about how it will be perceived by others. I think this is just fabulous!

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  60. I LOVE all the different colors. As mentioned before it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it makes you happy. It makes me happy, and I buy it. :) Smiling every time I walk in the kitchen would be automatic for me. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

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  61. I totally agree that we should do as we want to our homes. Everyone likes something different and we should choose what pleases us.
    I love your very colorful kitchen...just so cute.

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  62. Love it, Brenda! So colorful, and just homey.

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  63. I love how you have made the kitchen yours! So much inspiration! You are a very clever girl!

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  64. Brenda, you have definitely "Engelbreited" your kitchen and we all LOVE IT!!
    What more can I say? I have always loved Mary Engelbreit's style and you have captured it.
    Now, on to the living room, the bedrooms, etc.!! :)

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  65. I LOVE WHAT YOU DID TO YOUR KITCHEN!!! I WANT IT!

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  66. Love yout cozy kitchen and that you do whatever your heart delights when it comes to decorating! I for one am tires of so many "right" and "perfect" interiors I see on blogs and in American magazines. Sometimes people are so uptight about decorating rules ;) Oh and I spotted your fork, knife, and spoon on the wall - cute!

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  67. This kitchen is EXACTLY what I want to do to mine!!! Ahhh! I finally found my inspiration! I have always loved red and you nailed this. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderful photos because now Im going to get everything I need and copy yours. (Is that ok?) :) Im telling you...this is the blog that caught my eye and now Im a follower!!

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  68. Brenda, I love your style and your can-do attitude. Your home is charming and warm and inviting and you didn't spend a bundle to make it look like that. Your creativity is inspiring to me. Imagine, a pan lid for a towel hanger! Thank you for letting us see all this!!

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  69. I never tire of this post. I love your sense of humor, and of course I adore your kitchen!

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  70. Replies
    1. She is an illustrator that uses black and white check in her images often. She used to have a Magazine that shared how you could make your home look like hers. Google her to see more.

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    2. I love your kitchen! It's so cozy and cute!

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  71. I'm new to your blog and just going through some of your older posts, and had to let you know how much I am enjoying reading your blog, and how much I love your bright and happy kitchen! This is a place where I would be happy to cook and spend time every day.

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  72. Fun and colorful!! I love it Brenda. I also immediately thought of Mary Englebreit's designs. The wonderful thing is that you did it using what you had.
    Like Athena, I am new to your blog and am so enjoying going through your older posts. Such a happy home you have. Tell your daughter not to worry. At least you haven't painted each wall a different color...yet!😄

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  73. I am looking at a house that needs the kitchen redone but I do not want to buy all new cabinets...I like your ideas. I am gonna take the old one ( don't care what size), remove the doors, paint and set them all against the ceiling (even turn tall ones sideways). then put various size used cabinets under them along with open shelves...paint and wash every thing...maybe not even all the same color.

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  74. I just got through reading how you did your kitchen.. I love your humor.I too am in an old kitchen. I have collected red and white kitchenware for over 30years. I stopped adding years ago.. because I need a lot of real estate space for it and my kitchen ( I thought ) didn't have any more to give. I am rethinking my cubboards as being short there are ones I never use.What a great way to display. I have my grandmothers cookbooks and recipes am thinking of all the ways to use them as well. oh boy.. this summer when it is hot here in the south .. I will be redoing my kitchen in the air conditioning.

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  75. It looks great and I'd love to see you what you've done with the rest of your house

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