what to do

Whisk & Hammer

I want to do something a little different today.
There will be no recipe in this post. No mouthwatering food photos.

I recently made a little change to my logo, maybe you noticed? (up top ^^^)
Anyway, it got me to thinking about what my humble little logo is meant to represent. Brace yourself. I’m about to start rambling.

When I started Brooklyn Homemaker I knew that I wanted to talk about food, like, a lot, because I love food and I’ve always spent a lot of my time cooking food and eating food and thinking about food and talking about food.

Food isn’t my only love though. I also love good interior (and exterior) design, home decor, home restoration projects, and DIY. I spend more hours than I’d like to admit reading home improvement blogs and building my dream home on Pinterest. I’ve put a significant investment in time and money fixing up our current space, and I’ve spent even more time dreaming about what more I could do. Nothing would make me happier than eventually buying and fixing up my own home somewhere, but that’s likely a long way off.

Brooklyn Homemaker ugly kitchen tour

When I was just getting started with this blog, I wanted my interest in design and DIY to play a part in the subject matter here right along with the recipes and food porn. Way back when, I did publish a handful of posts talking about our apartment and our garden, but for the most part, the bulk of my time and energy has gone into the food aspect of this “lifestyle” blog.

I’m incredibly self critical, and when I first started doing this whole blogging thing my photography had an amateurish quality that I just couldn’t deal with, even though I knew that I was in fact an amateur and just needed time to learn the ropes. With self improvement in mind, I focused most of my energy on food photography and teaching myself about my camera settings, white balance, photo editing, lighting, food styling, prop collecting, blah blah blah. While I know I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go, I’m finally pretty happy with the way things have been looking around here.

While food will likely always be the main focus of Brooklyn Homemaker, I think I might be ready to bring just a little bit more hammer into the experience.

Brooklyn Homemaker ugly kitchen tour

I’ve said this before, but the bulk of the work needed in our apartment was done in the first few weeks after (and even before) we moved in, back before I called myself a blogger. We painted every surface in the joint back then, because just before we moved in the landlord found the least expensive, most incapable numbskulls he could, to do the worst paint job I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m actually pretty certain that they didn’t even use actual paint, but only primer, to slap up a patchy uneven coat without bothering to first remove any thumbtacks or patch any nail holes. We arranged the lease so that we could get our keys two weeks before moving in, just to give ourselves time to scrape the primer splatters off the hardwood floors, patch the swiss cheese drywall, and put some actual paint on the walls and ceilings.

Even with all the work we’ve already done, one space that I’ve never really been happy with is our kitchen. Over a year ago I repainted the backsplash with chalkboard paint in an attempt to make the space feel a little more chic and modern, and for a while I was happy with the change, but it wasn’t enough and I still kind of hate that room.

Brooklyn Homemaker ugly kitchen tour

As tiny as it is, space isn’t really the issue. I actually kind of like a tight kitchen because everything is within reach. The real issue in there (for me) is cosmetic. I hate the cabinets. The finish on them is super yellow, and they take up so much of the wall surface that they tend to cast a yellow tint on everything else. The countertops are also horrible, made of a cheap faux granite laminate that has swelled and warped at the seams near the sink where water has gotten underneath them. I’d also love to have a real tile backsplash instead of the chalkboard painted surface that looks okay but as an actual backsplash isn’t really all that functional or easily cleaned.

Brooklyn Homemaker ugly kitchen tour

Our landlord truly doesn’t give half a crap what we do in here as long as we pay rent every month, so I’m fortunate enough to be able to realistically dream about doing more. Whatever I do in there will be done to a much higher standard than he would do himself anyway, because I care much more about the quality and longevity of our living space than he does or ever will. The only thing that’s stopped me so far is the thought of putting time and equity into someone else’s property.

We’ve lived here for about four years, and since our apartment is rent stabilized, we’re realistically not going anywhere for a good long time. In the name of comfort and standard of living, I think I’ve finally accepted that putting a few more bucks into our apartment is worth it to me to make us feel more at home.

While my plans are still unclear and I’m not actually tackling any projects just yet, I wanted to discuss my thoughts with all of you today.

Brooklyn Homemaker ugly kitchen tour

The first thing, and probably the cheapest and easiest, I’d like to do is replace the cheap Ikea shelves we installed when we moved in with something more solid. The current metal rod shelves have an uneven surface that’s resulted in more than a few broken jars. There’s also plenty of room to the right for them to extend at least another foot.

I’m also thinking about trying to find an actual base cabinet to put in instead of the small rolling cart under the shelves. I’m hoping I might be able to find something sturdy and cheap on craigslist or something, but Home Depot has unfinished options that I consider to be in my price range too so I may just go that route.

Brooklyn Homemaker ugly kitchen tour

I’d also really like to paint our kitchen cabinets. It’d be a a lot of work because I’d want to do it right and wash, strip, sand, prime, and paint them with an oil based lacquer that would wear well, clean easily, and be water and stain resistant. I cannot decide if I’d want to paint them all white or if I might go two tone with grey cabinets on the bottom and white uppers. I think all white could look more classic and potentially less “trendy”, but I think grey base cabinets look very stylish and would probably be easier to keep looking clean. I think some decent under cabinet lighting would probably be a good idea at some point too.

I also think I would like to tile my backsplash and cover up the chalkboard paint. White subway tiles are timeless and classic, easy to install, and can be bought for a song. My only worry is that they’d look out of place butted up against our horrible countertops.

Oh the countertops. This is where I’m totally freaking clueless. What I’d like to do, vs. what I actually feel comfortable spending on someone else’s property are two entirely different things. Even the tiny amount of counter space we have works out to several hundreds of dollars to replace if we went with solid surface stone, so I think that’s definitely out. But what should I do? Just deal with them as is? Replacing them with wood is more affordable than stone, but I worry about how it’d hold up around the sink. I’ve thought about doing some kind of DIY stainless steel or copper countertops, but I don’t have the right tools and they’d be just as significant an investment as the countertop materials themselves. I’ve also seen some great DIY concrete skim-coated countertop tutorials that look easy enough but I question their durability. These countertops are definitely the biggest mental stumbling block I run into when I try to reimagine our kitchen as it’s best possible self.

Brooklyn Homemaker ugly kitchen tour

What do you think about all this?

Should I quit worrying about the hammer and stick with the whisk? Would you like to see more DIY and decor projects, or do you think they’d muddy your idea of what Brooklyn Homemaker is supposed to be?

Should I just stop whining and live with the ugly kitchen as is? Or do you also think the kitchen would look nicer with painted cabinets? Should I go all white or two toned? Do you have any ideas on how best to deal with my horrible and past-their-prime countertops? Do you think new crisp white subway tiles would look chic, or would they be out of place and ridiculous sitting against the ugly laminate? Am I just rambling on like a crazy person who should just leave well enough alone? I desperately need your help!