My Cooking Station Is Now Complete




I thought you'd like to revisit my apartment kitchen a month later, and see how the contact paper counter tops and back splash have held up. And what changes I've made. 

This week was quite a serendipitous week. One long time reader, Charlotte, sent me the yellow egg maker on top of the new toaster/convection oven. It boils, poaches and even makes an omelette. 




And within days I had a very generous eGift card from reader Martha to Williams Sonoma. (My first time shopping there.) "Just because," the eCard said. I had been eyeing this highly-rated toaster/convection oven for some time. 

Martha's gift helped me to get it. Thanks Martha and Charlotte! 

This thing will bake pretty much whatever you want. It is the Breville Smart Oven. I researched toaster/convection ovens for months before buying this one.




I have not added a lot since you saw this just over a month ago. I put a table cloth over the washer/dryer, and now keep some things on there now when not in use. When in use, I simply pick up the tray and relocate it until I'm done with the laundry.

I know you're wondering how the contact paper is holding up. Beautifully. I swipe the counter tops down several times a day. A great investment for under $10. It changed the entire look of the kitchen. 

For those of you who haven't seen it, here's a before photo:






I had them come take the stove to make room for my washer/dryer. I know most of you thought I'd lost my mind.




But now I love this kitchen. It has everything I need. I don't use a dishwasher, so I covered it with contact paper. I painted every surface, including the refrigerator. 

Now this kitchen works beautifully for me. Do not be afraid to change things up so that it better suits your needs.



I moved the refrigerator not once, but twice, before I got it where I thought it looked best and worked for all my needs.


What did I spend to resurrect this 1960s apartment? A few prints, contact paper, the butcher block island I found at the antique mall for $45, the print above the washer of the woman in the kitchen, the washer/dryer, of course, since there was no plumbing for one here.

I purchased the wood applique for just under the sink: $19.99. Paint, new hardware for the drawers.

The washer/dryer was the biggest expense at $1300. But with my ankle, I can't drag laundry out with a steel boot in the ice and snow in winter. It both washes and dries in the same machine. 

It takes longer to dry, so I take heavy towels out after a bit and hang them over chairs to finish drying. 




My purpose was twofold in this kitchen. Get everything I needed, and make it energy efficient to keep utility bills down.




When you start a venture like this, you have to ask yourself: How much am I willing to spend that I would have to leave with the apartment should I move? And what things can I purchase that I can take with me down the line? 

In that light, I purchased very little that would have to stay with the apartment. Probably under $50. Mostly for paint. Everything else, including the decals and drawer and door hardware, can be taken off. 




Like I always say, love it while you rent it. Don't put off your dreams until you have "another place to live." Life can be short. Live them now. Wherever you are.




You don't have to spend a lot of money to have a very functional and beautiful space, if you design it for the way you need it, instead of the way it is when you move in. Even with the limitations of landlords in apartments, I promise you there still is a lot you can do.

Moving the stove out and the refrigerator to a different location was no big deal. The washer/dryer works where the refrigerator once was because it's close to the sink, where I have to hook it up to a water source.




With my microwave, my electric skillet, my egg maker and my toaster/convection oven, I am set. And if I choose to move, all goes with me. 


Paint is your best friend. Many landlords will allow you to paint as long as you paint it back as it was when you leave. Contact paper comes off. I wanted to try removable wallpaper, but found it a bit pricey for my needs.

I may use it at some point, for just a small area.

There is a way to take any sized generic apartment and make it beautiful.

I call this "the little kitchen that could."







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109 comments

  1. wonderful love how you really changed the look

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    1. Before I did all this, the kitchen was my most hated room in this apartment. I just could not envision anything that would fix it at the time. But over time, ideas kicked in. I love this kitchen.

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  2. Now you're cookin'! You have everything you need in a small space where you can easily work! The egg cooker is the best! And how great is that oven! We use our toaster oven more than anything else in the kitchen....well, and the coffee maker! And what sweet friends! Wish I could give each one a HUG! Have a beautiful Sunday! Hugs, Diane

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    1. The woman at William Sonoma said she gave away her microwave once she got this, because this is really all she needs. She occasionally uses her big oven, but she says this is far and away what she cooks in, as it doesn't heat up the whole house.

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  3. You've really done a wonderful job transforming your kitchen into a colorful, functional space for very little cost,
    Brenda. Enjoy your kitchen and your new egg cooker and convection oven, too!

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  4. love how you have made the kitchen work for you and a charming place to be in also. I just don't have the talent or vision for decorating I've decided. I'm still hoping to make my living room more me but it takes me such a long time as I don't really have the eye for it all. Love your gifts from your faithful readers, such generous friends here in blog land!
    hugs, Linda

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    1. I'm always here to help you via email.

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    2. You know, I think it would be fun to see some pictures of reader's problem areas, like Linda's living room on the blog (if she were willing to share), and you could give tips for decorating. Then blog readers could offer suggestions too. You have such a knack for decorating, and doing it frugally, that I for one would love to see what you might suggest!

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  5. So glad it's all working out like you wanted. You have put a lot of work in to it all, and it looks like it will meet your needs well.

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    1. I would never have been satisfied with the way it was when I moved in. It was depressing to me to walk into that kitchen. Now I smile every time I do!

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  6. Brenda, you took a boring, generic kitchen and in your usual style, made it cozy, functional and beautiful. Kudos to you for meeting the challenge! By the way, I used to have heavy towels that took forever to dry, what I did was I ditched them (donated) and bought some inexpensive bath towels at either Walmart or Target, I forget. They do the same job but are smaller and not as thick, so they dry much quicker, just a thought.

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    1. These towels are ones I brought with me from TX. He HAD to have heavy expensive towels. I don't care for them. May just ditch them. But hate the idea of waste...

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    2. Think of it this way, it's not wasteful if they don't take as long to wash or dry, and take up less room in your closets. Besides, these towels are no longer for you if he liked them. Time to unload the negative Karma and get new ones. They are not that expensive in Target/Walmart. Get some pretty new colors!

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    3. Or cut up the old ones and use them as rags!

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    4. I agree. I have to plug a laundromat and when I buy new towels, I make sure that they are not too thick or large or heavy. I do not like them personally, and they take FOREVER to dry. I also have found that I can buy wonderfully nice towels at the Goodwill or Savers for just a couple of dollars.

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  7. This is the most inspiring little kitchen I have ever seen. Perfectly charming in every way and it is so YOU! I love it. One of my very favorite details is that sweet red frame with the vintage dress potholders inside. I'm sending you a big big {{{hug}}} for bringing me so much sunny happiness with this post!

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

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    1. Well, I think no matter where I go, I will begin with the kitchen. It is so much fun to redecorate! Or to transform.

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  8. Brenda- I'm so glad you love your kitchen now! If the kitchen is the heart of the home... well, your kitchen has HEART written all over it. :) I'm glad you used the table cloth and tray idea on your washer/dryer. I've done that for as long as I can remember-- and the finish stays nice and pretty. :)
    I personally like the red check that you used. I'm still in love with that chicken decal... and am seriously, thinking of getting one for my deep freeze, that resides in my kitchen next to the refrigerator.
    You make small house living...much BIGGER than I ever imagined it could be. :) Pat

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    1. I rarely buy magazines, but bought one last week about small living by Country Almanac I think it was. It gave the impression and basically said that small house living is sweeping across this country. People in 3000 square foot homes are scaling down to 300. Can you imagine? I guess it is a trend.

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    2. yes it is very popular where I live I currently live in 300 square feet. I really like it and when I visit someone with a large home I feel like its so excessive and wasteful.

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  9. I could live in your kitchen.. It's so cozy and cozy is what you've aimed for.. Just think how warm and friendly it will be this winter when the snow is blowing..
    You're 'something else" Brenda.. I believe that you've fixed your new "Home Sweet Home" like a doll house. Just the way you want it with what you had to work with..
    It's wonderful that you got your toaster/oven.
    As I said once before, "you're eggstraspecial".. Enjoy !
    Charlotte

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    1. Thank you so much for the egg boiler/poacher/omelette maker!

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  10. probably the cutest little kitchen on the planet : ) What great gifts! :)

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    1. I always say I have the world's best readers.

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  11. I think it's just amazing what you have done to personalize your space and make it work for you. Everything looks so adorable and reflect your unique style. Such a great job and so inspiring!

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    1. I just want people who think they "have" to live in a dumpy little apartment with white walls to realize that is a choice. Because they sure don't have to!

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  12. Talk about wow factor! Your kitchen is lovely and totally has your style every where you look. Such ingenious ideas to make the space your own. Fabulous, wonderful, amazing....not enough adjectives or time to adequately describe your cute kitchen! Jane

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    1. It took me awhile to get started on this project. It just seemed an unwinnable battle. But once I moved the fridge the second time, it all fell into place.

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  13. Really adorable, and perfect-sized for your needs. I agree with you on the stove. I have a lovely one, but use my electric skillet (sometimes two at a time) to cook most things. This cracks my mother up to no end. Loved viewing the way you make it function for you and how lovely you've made it to look at.

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    1. I think we get caught up on "what we're supposed to have." And lose sight on what we really want and need.

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  14. I remember how frustrated you were getting while trying to figure out what to do with that kitchen..I also had faith that you would figure it all out and do wonderful things with it..and so you did..color is a happy thing and you know how to use it so well..Congrats on pulling it all together Brenda!

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    1. I was determined, but doubting myself, for at least a month.

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  15. I love what you've done, Brenda. It's you and that equals fabulous!

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  16. Hi Brenda! It all looks so cute! You are so creative to think of all of these great things to do. Now, I may have missed it, but is the mama chicken and her chicks on your cabinet door - is that a stencil? It's sooooooooooo cute! You have such an eye for things. Love the little checks on the dishwasher door too!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  17. Brenda, I love your kitchen , it may be small, but has everything to fix a meal and clean up. Your own decorating touches makes it special. Blessings, xoxo,Susie

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  18. Hi Brenda, I love your kitchen. You are so talented in both your decorating and your writing. You have given me so many great ideas! thank you, have a nice day. debbie

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    1. That's my aim. To show how to decorate your home with ideas for a small budget.

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  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  20. How beautiful you have made your kitchen. Would you tell me the color of yellow you used on the cabinets with the red handles? Oh, so pretty. Rita

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    1. I used Valspar. Started out with one of those little paint samples. Went back for more. The color is Golden Chime.

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  21. Brenda - you really hit it spot on. The kitchen is incredibly darling. I love it!!!! - Dori -

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  22. Amen, Brenda! It took my awhile to get into "nesting mode" in our rental home, but I'm with you that it doesn't take lots of money to create a personal space that's true to your style. I love your happy kitchen!

    Jeanette

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  23. I love it! Your last kitchen was charming, too, but I like this one even better...even if it is smaller. Enjoy!

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    1. I think I do too, actually. This one was a lot more work.

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  24. It looks wonderful, of course. I have a toaster/convection oven. I love it. You have such wonderful generous readers, my friend. xo Laura

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    1. I do. You're right. I have always said I have the greatest readers. Not only are they loyal, but they're generous as well. I call them all friends.

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  25. such a cute kitchen...thanks for sharing it!

    Cheryl @ The Creative Me and My McG

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    1. That room was my nemesis. Now it is my favorite room.

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  26. Brenda, you can purchase towels at JCPenney called "Quick-Dri" and they do exactly as described, dry very quickly. When they are on sale they are under $10 and they are very absorbent and wash like a dream. We've had ours for well over 7 years and they still look brand new. Your kitchen it so cute, no wonder it makes you smile when you walk in, it makes me smile just looking at it.

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    1. Thanks for the tip. I really don't even like thick towels. Hard on my arthritic hands.

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    2. Thanks for the tip about towels. I find large thick towels cumbersome. Hand towels are large enough and easier to wash and dry.
      Brenda, thanks for sharing your life and talents. I look forward to reading your post each morning while sipping coffee.

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    3. Thanks to Diana for the tip on the towels. I live in 300 square feet and do not have room to hang towels to dry.

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  27. Did the set of canisters with the red tops come in that wooden holder? Those are the cutest - heck, everything is the cutest! Love it.

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    1. Yes it did. Came from an antique mall in Tyler, TX. The same person that made those also made my red hutch in the dining room, and the red bench in the living room. I kept going to the booth and they would have stuff marked down. And bingo! That's when I buy.

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    2. Thanks, but I guess that leaves me out. They surely are adorable though.

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  28. This is downright inspirational , especially in this time of down-sizing, living small , and being practical with a small income. I love your blog and what you've done with your apartment. Plus, I did not know there was such a machine as a washer & dryer in one , thank-you !

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    1. I didn't know there was a washer and dryer in one either until I started researching. It's on a 110 instead of a 220. It is ventless. And after your clothing washes, you just click it to dry.

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  29. What a nice convection oven you were able to get with your gift card. Love the sweet egg maker too. You're inspiring me to make some improvements to my small kitchen as well. Your kitchen really reflects your style now, very colorful and charming!

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    1. I think every room should reflect it's owner's style. I believe it makes us happier to live in the confines of our home.

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  30. I think you should introduce Deputy Rusty to your adorable egg cooker. I think it would be true love. I'm in love with that egg cooker, anyway. We also like small appliances. We have a rice cooker, slow cooker, toaster oven and microwave oven that we use all of the time. We rarely use the big oven. If we had a hot plate to replace the stove burners, I guess we could get rid of our oven too. You may start a trend, Brenda!

    I like the pops of green you are adding, such as the bowl of apples. I like that color as the background for the blog, too. So refreshing!

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    1. I like the pops of green too. Such a natural color, as in nature.

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  31. Your kitchen is so inviting and adorable. I know that you had a lot of self doubt but I never doubted that you would do what you do so well. :-)

    You're right we do get caught up in what we think we're suppose to have. I have shared with you that my home is dying a very slow death. Can you say boring and awful. I'm not kidding. :-)

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    1. Well, we only need what we use. And many times that can be altered to fit our own unique needs.

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  32. I love your cooking station and the rest of your charming kitchen! I have lived without a stove (long story) for almost two years and don't miss it a bit. I use my crock pot, microwave, and a toaster oven and it all turns out wonderfully--plus I don't have to heat up the whole house!

    You are so inspirational to me. Thank you!

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    1. I'll probably get a crockpot for winter.

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  33. That is adorable! You just inspired me! My son lives in a tiny apt. And he has very little money to spend. I can't wait to show him this! This is my first visit to your blog via Helen Phillips. Thank you both!!

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    1. Tell him he doesn't have to spend much money to have a home he loves to come home t.

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  34. Your kitchen is so cute and completely functional. You used such great use of small space keeping cost down. Love your cooking station!! The colors make it so cheerful too.
    Magazine worthy for sure.
    Enjoy!!

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    1. Well, I've had a coffee station for a long time. Now a cooking station. Wonder what will be next?

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  35. Beautiful! You are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing with us.

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    1. Everyone gets their inspiration from somewhere. I get mine from Pinterest, blogs, magazines. No one reinvents the wheel.

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  36. You've done a geat job! This is the first time I've read your very interesting blog.

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  37. I could just sit and start at your kitchen pic's for hours!!! Such an amazing transformation. I would love to have a kitchen just like yours one day!! You have such an eye for beauty and I am so happy you choose to share it with us.

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    1. Well if you lived close, I'd help you and you would one just like it.

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  38. Ok, you have inspired me. The backsplash in my kitchen is old, old red linoleum. I covered it at one point with wall paper, but it didn't wash well and peeled above the sink. I removed the paper when we moved back to ranch 3 years ago. The backsplash is ugly. So, because of your kitchen, I found some contact paper in a pretty pale green and blue paisley print. I have a pale green, yellow and blue table cloth that goes with both the contact paper and my yellow gingham curtains. I am waiting for a cooler day to put up the paper. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful photos. By the way, I have covered my washer with red gingham tablecoths for years now, it keeps the finish scratch free and clean.

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    1. Overlap the contact paper just about half an inch, so water can't get underneath.

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  39. Love your kitchen. Suggest moving egg cooker to one side and perhaps adding something else. It reads FAT instead of EAT on the picture now.

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    1. I did move it after I took the pic. I just had it there so I could take a photo of all my cooking things all at one time. FAT. That's funny.

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  40. This is yet another kitchen of yours that is going to make it into a magazine! Just amazing!! However...in the first picture, the EAT sign looks like it says FAT!!! In my never ending quest to lose weight, I notice things like that! Ha!

    Jane xx

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    1. The egg maker was moved after I took the pic. I just wanted a pic of all my cooking things together.

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  41. Thanks for the tip on overlapping the contact paper. The people who make the stuff should send you a big thank you, I bet their sales are way up, because of your great kitchen.

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    1. I remember readers said that after I first showed my "galvanized garden!"

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  42. I love what you've done with your kitchen, Brenda! You've incorporated art everywhere....it's almost hard to believe work happens there. ;-) Would you please share more about your electric skillet....the one that can bake a cake? Many thanks!

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    1. Haven't even had a chance to use it yet. But as I use everything, I will post about it.

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  43. You've truly revamped your adorable living space to make it a star! The kitchen is just too cute. You've shared some great ideas on how to function in a small kitchen, and better yet w/out the big old stove and oven! How nice of the ladies to gift you with the adorable egg cooker, and I agree Mr. Rusty will love this one! And that convection oven is fantastic.

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    1. My readers, you included Annette, are the best. Who needs a stove anyway? What is that phrase: Slaving over a stove? We don't want to be slaving over a stove, do we? That puts women back at least 50 years in the feminist movement!

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  44. It looks FANTASTIC! I know you must be so proud!

    For future reference, my grandma used to use fabric as wall paper...she used starch to make it stick. Easy peasy!

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    1. I did consider that. But decided on the contact paper.

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  45. Brenda ~ Wow! That shows just how creative and talented you are! I doubt very seriously if many of us would think to change your kitchen the way you did with that success. Your experience and eye with decorating really shone through with that project.

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  46. I love your cute cottage style kitchen! You've done a wonderful job with it and it looks nothing like it started out. That is a tribute to you and what you can do with a space. I like the vivid colors you used. I can see how organized you are too.

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  47. Cute as button! , and chuck full of efficient style.

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  48. Hey, Brenda, I see you still have the touch! Glad to see things are shaping up beautifully. xo

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  49. I love your kitchen. It just shows what you can do with a little imagination and a little paint. It is so much cozier now.

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  50. Your kitchen is adorable. What a happy place to be. I love it all. You did an amazing job of reworking it to fit you. Perfect. Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me.

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  51. Your kitchen is beautiful! It really paid off to think outside the box. You did good!!

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  52. Glad you are happy with your cooking station, and you won't heat up your whole kitchen in the Summer to cook for yourself! Do you mind if I ask what kind of jar candle is that on your island! I just love it!

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  53. It's super cute Brenda! I like that you made it work for your needs and how you use a kitchen.

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  54. Looking forward to post on all the fabulous recipes you will cook in the new convection oven!

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  55. This looks incredible! Pinned. I'm always impressed with your creations. Please join us tonight at 7 pm. I can't wait to see what you have been working on! http://loulougirls.blogspot.com/
    Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

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  56. What a charming little kitchen and a great use of space! Happy to feature you at our party this morning. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  57. Wow, what a transformation. From cold and sterile to cozy and homey. I move to my condo in two weeks and you have inspired me to transform that 80's kitchen into a bright comfy place to work. So happy I found your blog. Debbie

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I always enjoy reading your comments and having you join the conversation here at Cozy Little House. It is like having a gathering of friends sitting in my cozy apartment. Enjoying coffee and dessert, chatting and having a good time. I appreciate each and every one of you! However, if you are a no-reply commenter, I cannot reply via email to your questions or comments.

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