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keeping it real (help!)

i'll be honest, like any other design-loving person, when i show photos of my home online i carefully clear away the all the detritus of real life (stacks of magazines, dirty socks, cat toys, ac's beer cans). i've rarely shown photos of the parts of our home that still have a long way to go. but today i'm going to keep it real. our kitchen needs a lot of work. a lot. i've been stimied by the hideous grey tile and countertops in the kitchen for 2 years now and it's rendered me helpless in trying to find a way to bring it all together. what color makes icky grey tile look good? so, in the interest of moving forward i've tried to focus on small projects to keep me busy. this week it's about finding a good fabric for our bench cushion and windows. i have an offi bench box in there and wanted to make a little cushion to bring some color and pattern into the room. but i figured, while i'm asking you guys about the fabric for the cushion (and something that would match for the windows), i'd invite any other ideas you might have. feel free to bring it on. here are some details that i thought might answer any questions that come up:
  • i love my lime green le creuset pot. i'd love to keep the main colors black, white and lime green
  • the wall above the stove isn't strong enough to hold a pot rack or anything heavier than plates or a picture
  • i'd love to put some shelves in for my cookbooks, but where?
  • i'd love to do something pretty behind the sink but can't come up with anything. the ricky dink mirror is a nice way to open the space but it's not made for that space
  • the main walls need to stay white because they share a long wall with the living room and no molding to break up colors. but i'm open to squares of color...or maybe chalk paint?
  • i've thought about a wall of colored plates but i don't know...

[fabrics, fabrics, anyone? dots from repro and hancock, beige and yellow linen from purl, and of course, kelly wearstler's signature trellis print]

[if this picture isn't keeping it real, i don't know what is. this is what you see when you walk in the kitchen. help! how do i hide the cords and make this pretty?]

[more fabrics. clearly i'm obsessed with something dotty or bold...]

[the space above the oven. can't handle anything heavy but could use something pretty. maybe a nice window treatment and an arrangement of colored plates?]

[barf. barf barf barf. this space needs help. chalkboard paint? shelves for my cookbooks?]

[maybe this would warm things up?]

[a love hate relationship. love ms. jackson, hate those damn grey tiles.]



Anonymous Mary T said...

Heh on the "barf" wall. What you need there is some height to fill some of that space and balance out the fridget to the left. Some colorful shelves perhaps? Maybe Cubits from DWR?

I know the gray can be ugh (I've had experience with that kind of tile) but on the plus side, it's a neutral, and in my book gray is better than beige or brown. Red accents or orange usually looks great with it. (sorry, I know you said black, white, and lime!)

Behind the sink, how about making that a mini art gallery?

Okay, that's my four cents! My kitchen has its own woes.

1:00 PM  
Blogger JustAnotherDay said...

I would love to see a wall of shelves on the right side of the fridge. Just think of how much space you would have then! Also, tall shelving will completely hide all the cords!

You could also whiten the grout on the floor tile to freshen things up a bit. And if you want to be extreme, you can completely paint the floor tiles white.

I also love the top right dot pattern for your windows. They have a great pattern!

Well, I could go on forever! so I hope at least I gave you a few things to think about. I am sure the suggestions will flood in soon!

1:03 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

thanks guys!

how do i whiten grout. sorry, i'm a novice when it comes to anything tile-related. with white paint? bleach?


1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you could paint that wall next to the fridge a dark color (maybe a charcoal / dark gray) and then put up white shelving. then use a colorful pattern for the bench. i'd be careful on artwork above the stove, as grease, etc.. can easily ruin art and dirty up glass frames quickly.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about tiling the backsplash with a funky retro tile to draw attention away from the blah floors? If you can't tile, perhaps have a piece of plexi or glass cut to fit the space and put colorful paper or fabric up behind it? Just thinking aloud here....

1:13 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

sadly i can't paint that wall bc it's the same wall that runs the length of our living room. there's no molding so i'm not sure how to break it up. i have a thing about just ending paint on a wall with on molding or anything to break it up.


1:16 PM  
Blogger Jeannie said...

I painted a wall in my kitchen with chalkboard paint and i love it. it serves as a grocery list, message board, and doodle wall. the dark gray of a chalkboard wall would look great behind a bright red cushion (if you were thinking of making one out of that last fabric for that bench.) if you do paint it, you can use light molding held up with wood nails to serve as a picture frame around the board. i would match up the frame height to the top of the refrigerator.
drapes on the window might be dangerous (near the fire) but maybe a bamboo shade that you could keep rolled at half mast would be nice. p.s. i also have that lime green le creuset - and i love it.

1:16 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

I like the idea of tall shelves next to the fridge. Would be a great place to keep your cookbooks. If you love the look of chalkboard paint (I do!) you could always get a unit that has simple cabinet doors and paint the fronts, creating a "message center." Something like this might work:

For above the stove - I don't remember where I saw it, but someone posted a pic of assorted fabrics displayed in embroidery hoops of different sizes, then hung on the wall. The fabrics would get dirty above the cooktop, but if they're in hoops it's super easy to change. Or you could display a collection of vintage patterned vinyl (tablecloths, not records).

1:18 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

hey grace

i could help you have melamine plates made out of fabrics that you like.
email me if you are interested.


1:20 PM  
Blogger Jeannie said...

oh i forgot. if you can't attach shelves try kitchen metro shelving. that way you can put everything fromthe counter onto those shelves and display all those cute little vases you have.
i also just spraypainted a radiator of mine silver which made it much more appealing.
can you also paint the wall with the window a soft color to draw your eye back? like light blue or soft lime green?
ok, whew. i'm done. :P good luck!

1:22 PM  
Anonymous karen said...

you can hang some of your utensils above the stove to make way for counter space. domino magazine featured the julia cook wall where she hung all her pots and pans.
the hot colour right now is yellow, you can stick to a citrus colour accent with the white and black theme that you want. and the yellow looks great with grey. and i agree that grey is a much better neutral than beige.
i also have a wall painted in magnetic chalkboard paint in the kitchen. i love it and use it to post things, use it as a storyboard, menus, etc. and best of all my daughter likes to do her chalk drawings on it - instant artwork.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous d said...

why don't you just ask for some asisstance from one of your designer friends.....best way to go!

1:27 PM  
Blogger Another Shade of Grey said...

I know you want to go green and black, but my personal thought is that these will only bring out the floor all the more, thus making you hate it all, but I could be wrong...I would personally splash some Anthropologie red around in there with some of the golden rod yellow they as well. Check out their great pillows with the gold and grey combos and the red gold and grey would look fab, IMO. :)

1:27 PM  
Blogger Porcelain said...

What about painting a big rectangle within the lines of some shelving along the wall by the refrigerator? Something like this:

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you know you got a shout-out in the latest issue of House Beautiful magazine, as a favorite blog?

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's your wall, and i'm sure you've tested thoroughly, but i have never, ever met a wall that couldn't support whatever needed to be hung on it, provided the appropriate anchor was used. anything made of zinc or flexible plastic, anything butterflying or toggling, will fail you unless you're hanging something extremely lightweight. but the anchors made of rigid plastic whose ends are threaded like a screw will sustain hundreds of pounds on either drywall or plaster.

also, if you're totally convinced the wall sucks but still would like a pot rack or similar, why not hang it from the ceiling above the stove to activate the wall behind?

1:33 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...


no i didn't, thanks for the tip :)

as for the wall, it's basically a hollow sheet of paper. well, not really but i have a feeling i could rip it down with my bare hands.


1:35 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

love that AT link, thanks! that might be a great solution to bringing some color to the room...


1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regrouting is really easy and one of my favorit DIY projects. It is so satisfying. You will need to buy a tool to scrape all the existing grout, then go to a tile store and buy some sanded grout in a color you want. Mix it according to directions, then spread it diagonally into the grout lines with a float. Sponge it off a few times and it looks like brand new tile. But if you go too light with the new grout it will get dirty again very quickly, esp. in high-traffic areas like a kitchen.

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Carla said...

hey-i think we're 2 different anons. so i'll use my name :) I couldn't find a link on housebeautiful's website, but the article is in the "technophobia" section and it's basically blogging 101. It's written by Lockhart Steele and you are listed as one of his 6 favorite design blogs. yay! :)

1:43 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

ah, lockhart ;) thanks.


1:45 PM  
Anonymous elizabeth said...

Have you checked out any of the fabrics by Galbraith & Paul? They have some great prints with wonderful color options. Maybe something will catch your eye. I love their designs. They have some lime greens. Can't wait to see your Sneak Peek photos when you are finished!

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you like that book shelf there is a much better one on display at this clothing store on grand in williamsburg. i am sorry, i forget the name of the shop, but it is on the north side of the street between wythe and berry. it has a flag for a sign. one of the girl's boyfriends made her a shelf like that and it is deadly beautiful. it is a display piece... but he made it, so maybe he would be into making another one. that way you can customize it to fit your space.

2:02 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

sounds like erin's sodafine shop?


2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your blog everyday (sometimes twice a day) and you have wonderful taste and an adorable writing style (I can use "adorable" because I'm older than your mother. But I think what your kitchen lacks is "soul." You lead such an interesting life you must have great photos, drawings, or a painting that would look great framed on the wall above your stove. I agree with the shelf people & how about a lovely lime green chalkboard dot on that wall as well? A row of tomatoes (pears, onions) on the window shelf would be pretty too. I love the color of the nectarines - maybe a little orange a fabric would be nice for the cushion.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous e said...

hi: your grey tiles are much better than the horribly old linoleum that was originally on the kitchen floor of my rental apartment. i covered it with Flor's House Pet tiles in black and it was a remarkable improvement. While it's not a high-end design solution, it's not terribly expensive, is remarkably durable, is easy to install and has many color options...

2:18 PM  
Anonymous AngieMontreal said...

I feel like lime green goes great with a poppy red. Especially when the poppy red is just a "pop" (heh heh) of colour in a printed textile (pillow, tea towel, oven mitt, etc)

You can have it all!

2:25 PM  
Anonymous tangospeak said...

What goes well with that shade of grey would be cream. It inspired me to think in shades of marble. But I also love the idea of black, white and green. i have that exact same pot but in bright yellow.
That space next to the fridge, why not buy/build a wall cabinet - it doesn't have to be deep but it would be a great way to put away all those things and items, etc to leave your kitchen uncluttered. the bench thing you have now- it's nice but it also gives the look of clutter. imagine if that bench would four times as tall and has doors? perhaps the doors of the cabinet could sport some fun graphics?
You say you can't use the wall behind the oven for anything heavy but can you hang anything from the ceiling instead? like some hanging rack dangling from the ceiling instead of being anchored to the wall?

2:25 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Nifer said...

The wall above your stove should be a Julia Childs wall...she put up peg board and made outlines of where each thing should be...Domino this month has a fantastic take on this. that way you aren't hanging anything on the wall, you are covering it up and making it snazzy to the ceiling!

Oh and you need Flor tiles to cover that tile....oxyclean will whiten the grout if you get down there with a toothbrush!

2:29 PM  
Anonymous elisabeth said...

I had our local hardware store cut some 12 x 12 mirror tiles to fit 5 across 2 down above our sink and stove and extending a few inches behind the fridge. They'll adhere easily with heavy duty tape so long as your wall doesn't have lumps and bumps in it.
It can look quite glamourous and will really change the space, and assuming you have something nice to look at on the opposite wall you'll have a great view while doing the dishes or cooking dinner.
I think it cost about $30 total.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Erika Tysse said...

Hi there! I think your kitchen looks charming but you're right, might just need a little extra somethin'. I am a mixed media collage artist living in Norway and have been making "art to fit" for a few years. What this means is that you could have a long piece of art to perfectly fit the area behind your sink or stove. This long piece of artwork is created on canvas and then can be covered by a thick piece of glass to protect it. Send me a note if you are interested in seeing some examples! Cheers, Erika PS. I am in to dots too, there is something about them that is irresistable!

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for keepin it real. it can be so belittling looking at homes of the design inclined!

1. paint the wall any color - or hop on that WALLPAPER TRAIN!
2. install two lightweight and thin shelves at differing heights
3. place little objects like wee salt + pepper shakers or those tiny potted plants that are currently in the window...kinda mantle like...or tiny lightweight vases/ bud vases with just a few stems to give height without weight

1. hang a horizontal spice rack (seems like they would be lightweight enough?)
2. put drawings on paper up - instead of bulky painting - using simple push pins or thumb tacks and drive home that diy style!

use the ceiling to hold weight of hanging plant or tiered produce baskets to fill the space

*Can you use the bench to hold your cookbooks - even though they would be sweet + low down?

*I agree with choosing more bold colors to contrast and draw attention away from the blah grey tiles. grey is def better than beige so you lucky! (I ADORE THE KELLY WEARSTLER YELLOW TRELLIS OR SOMETHING OF THE LIKE)

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cords can be almost completely hidden by unobtrusive white plastic tubing that you can find at home depot or a hardware store. I had ugly cords behind my refrigerator also, but the tubing has an adhesive on the back so you can stick them to walls and the cords aren't just dangling there.

I noticed you had a glass shelf in your window (with pots on it). How did you do that? I would love to have more space in my window for plants!

2:33 PM  
Blogger esoule said...

Water with bleach, a good scrub brush and a massage scheduled after the scrubbing (you'll need it). Like the fabric choices.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Needlethump said...

instead of spending alot of time painting or re-grouting the tile, maybe you could get one of the large chilewich striped shag rugs which are indoor outdoor and clean up well (although your cat may like to scratch them)

2:43 PM  
Blogger greengelato said...

it's not a kitchen...but here's some inspiration:


2:55 PM  
Anonymous Tina said...

I have very little cabinet space in my kitchen. I bought an Ikea shelving unit-it's metal and looks industrial. I think that would look great next to the fridge. I have various tin boxes to store cake decorating stuff and baskets to hide ugly things like cleaning products. It also houses my crock pot, cuisinart, and many cook books. I also hang the bags I use at the market off of the poles, a good way to hide those cords!


2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the last Anon comments, you need some soul in there. Don't fret so much about the grey, it's neutral and won't be that noticable once you have some other things going on. Don't paint the tiles for goodness sake and re-grouting the tiles won't really be worth the effort. I would recomend the wall of plates on the wall next to the fridge and how about clearing out the bench below and using that for your cookbooks (you could paint it with the chalkboard paint), then you can put some small shelves for your little things up in nooks and crannies. As for color, grey looks good with yellow, orange, pink, lime green, red, purple, all those brights work. Have fun and bring your fabulous style into that room. We all have those rooms in our homes that somehow we can't get past but don't let your own hang up stop you from doin your thing!

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try Softscrub with bleach and a toothbrush and a bucket of water for rinsing. The scrub comes out like watered-down toothpaste, so you have control over where it goes. It is very satisfying when all is said and done.

Could you pick up on the wonderful cabinet knobs somehow. Add a bit of glitz to the grey? Maybe that's inviting trouble though--nobody needs a chandelier over their oven...

3:06 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

I agree with other people about the square of paint, but pottery barn is having a sale on their kitchen shelving, and as soon as I know where i'm living i'm going to partake: http://www.potterybarn.com/products/p8384/index.cfm?pkey=caccdecshv
They also have stainless steel backsplashes, so there's an idea right there - I like the idea of yellow and grey together - the yellows you've posted are nice and would match a block of color nicely, I think. Maybe some sort of decoupaged (or just framed in such a way as to be safe from splatters) artwork behind the stove could work? Or one of those stainless steel backsplashes, which you could then use magnetic clips, hooks, etc. on, to store spices and utensils.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Julieta said...

I also like the AT shelving idea with the square of wall color behind, but if you have a textured wall it can be difficult to achieve a meticulous, clean line. If it's in close quarters you have to be ok w/ people seeing bleeds.

You may also want to insert color by doing something similar to this with some of your favorite fabrics. The embroidery hoops won't work, but maybe you can stretch the across canvas frames. The beauty of this application is that if you are fickle (like I am) you can swap out fabrics and colors on a whim. Also, since it is a kitchen, you can take them apart and wash them (depending on how you attach the fabric). http://www.purlbee.com/display/ShowJournal?moduleId=515416¤tPage=3&categoryId=40527

Don't put anything about or surrounding the stove that you can't easily clean easily with the same cleanser you use to clean your counter tops.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments to go red or orange. The gray tile isnt really THAT bad, you could have worse to deal with! But, I dont think lime will work as well as a pumpkin orange. You could surely find a fun way to break that large wall up.. let's say you paint it orange, then you could add a thin (5" or so) charcoal gray stripe to end the room.
Perhaps you feature a grouping of something on the stripe: plates, interesting hooks with cute tea towels, etc.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous bernie said...

chalkboard paint all the way- i've had it in my last two places and I love it- your bright bold patterns would pop against the black!



3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i made the previous comment about the shelving unit. it was the sodafine shop. that is it exactly. i would love to have that shelving unit made. there is a similar one at crate and barrel but all of the ones at the shops look so weak. and the materials are bad. the one at sodafine is beautiful.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous missy said...

I vote chalkboard paint too. Great for grocery lists and to do's. I like the red fabric you picked out to go on the bench and if you store cookbooks down there, it could become a mini-lounge place to sit and flip through for cooking ideas.

What about a super cool clock above your oven. Something with bigger numbers.

Add more of the fresh flowers on the window. That looks awesome with the tiny ones you have. Also, I love the PB backsplash someone mentioned.

Personally, I wouldn't want the effort to paint the tiles, but is the grout already white (just dirty white?). The Clorox bleach pens are awesome at cleaning up grout and making it look new.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Jeannie said...

I read through your post and had a couple of thoughts- one came from an artist friend who is building a very small house. He said that he may reverse-paint a panel of nice bevelled glass and bolt it to the wall as a kitchen backsplash- not expensive and could even be changed out periodically. Also from a practical standpoint anything you hang over the stove is going to get greasy so use something you can wipe clean. I really like your idea of pulling in the green from the pot. It will definitely cheer the lace up and take your mind off the dismal grey.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous becoming-home said...

I have to say I LOVE your cabinets though.. great color and fantastic pulls.

Can you not do a tile backsplash behind the stove?

3:58 PM  
Blogger Andy Mathis said...

I don't think you'll hate the tile so much when you get color and items on the wall. Ms. jackson, seems to like the tile.

4:11 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

ms. jackson likes anything near her food bowl ;)


4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super fun! Here's what I could see...

1. Definitely need a warm color in there to warm it up. Red is a good choice but another color that looks fantastic with gray is pink. A little "crazy" I know but it could be really cool too.

2. On the windows, I would avoid an opaque fabric depending on how much light comes in from other sources/rooms. I made the mistake of getting cute fabric for curtains and I never get to see the pattern b/c I have to keep them pulled to allow for any light! That being said--the red fabric at the end would be very lovely.

3. Paint the wall behind the stove red and hang 2-3 pictures/artwork in lightweight plastic frames that incorporate the colors (red, green, gray--maybe one of each??)

4. If there is anywhere else you can move the bench consider taking it out of the kitchen. It seems like you are having to work around that instead of it working for you in there.

5. If you remove the bench then I would put tall vertical shelves next to fridge to hide the cords. If the shelves you get are second hand and/or solid I'd also suggest painting the inside of the shelves the red used on the wall behind the stove. And you could also paint the side of the shelves facing towards the door of the kitchen chalkboard?

6. Finally, create or have someone create a long, vertical piece of artwork with a simple modern design that uses some and/or all of the colors and hang on the other side of the shelves. It could be as simple as a framed canvas painted lime green with a thin red and gray lines drawn vertically down one side asymetrically (super easy to do yourself).

Can't wait to see what you do--good luck! And thanks for showing us that even great design folks like yourself have struggles. Makes me feel soooo much better. :)

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I can't tell you how refreshing this post is. It's inspiring looking at design sponge day to day, but in a way it's also intimidating. I love this real view of your home. I know you will figure out what you want to do soon. When one loves so many different styles, it is difficult coming up with look that is simply one you love.

4:24 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

thanks- i'll have to admit i'm still reeling from seeing that shot of the fridge from the side. eesh. it's like that dream where you show up to school and you're in your underwear. but i'm trying to keep it real and well, i definitely needed the help. these ideas are great, thanks everyone.

though it looks like that amy butler fabric might not be as "red" as it looks on repro depot.com. if anyone's seen it in person can you let me know if it's pinker and less red? that's how it looks on amy's site...


4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a professional design consultant, I think you may be approaching your kitchen design issues backwards. I would recommend starting with a 'to scale' sketch floor plan and elevations. It's not hard to do and really works to help you visualize the space. Make a wish list of what you want to add/accomplish/store and tackle the larger issues first. Pro advice"
Leave the fabric selection 'til later.
Do not paint the floor tile -- it will peel in the high traffic areas.
Do not bleach the grout -- it will get dirty again.
Blackboard paint is over rated. If you do add shelving as someon suggested have homasote cut for one long side of your shelving unit and paint it one of your color choices.
Get a slab of marble from the leftover bin at the local stoneyard and put it on the counter for some color/texture.
Change out the lighting.
Invest in a really good paint job.
You can stop the paint along a wall. Just use some trim.
Your black, green, white and grey color palette is perfect. Fresh and understated.
Tile the backsplash -- you can find inexpensive closeouts and even the most expensive tile outlets.
A place for everything and everything in it's place is key in a small kitchen.
Yes to the Chilewich runner. I use them in almost every kitchen I design -- including my own!

4:34 PM  
Anonymous diana said...

The corner by the stove/window looks just like my last apartment. I found a half-round stainless pot rack with a built in grid shelf on eBay. Because it was heavier than the wall would have supported on its own I bolted two boards to the studs across where support was needed (top bracket anchor, shelf level) and painted them to match the wall (wallpapering over the entire area where the rack will be mounted including the boards would also look good and would have made an even better fake architectural detail, probably). I made the boards a bit wider than the actual area covered by the rack so that it would look centered over the stove. The rack covered the bolt holes and was very secure.

The boards did create two 3/4 inch sheves, which looked nice with postcards peeking out from between the pots. The cards were "balanced" using plasti-tak along the ledges.

Okay, now I'm reading your responses and I see that you may not even have studs in that wall, but soens't the photo show cupboards mounted on the wall to the left? The cupboard is probably mounted on horizontal boards bolted to studs too..... my cupboards had no back wall so I could see that's what they did and it gave me the idea.

Come to think of it, I still have the rack and I don't need it anymore. Maybe you need it. Wish I had a picture to send.... or a web page so that I didn't have to publish my email address....

Love this blog!

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So nice to see so many design/decorating experts.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Gretchen Wagoner said...

My stove area looks a lot like yours. When I moved into my place I had the same issue with where to put a pot rack. I already had one and All Clad pots that I loved but it wouldn't fit above my stove. I ended up putting it in front of the window! Admittedly I thought it would look strange but it really works! The light still comes through the pans and they look all shiny and beautiful.

Good luck!

5:15 PM  
Blogger deerseason87 said...

oh, please use the lime green dot pattern! since you can't paint the wall, i think using little splashes of green around the room would be really nice. and you could pair it with some warm grays, which would bring the countertop in. and maybe some orange here or there? i like the idea of hanging plates over the sink. in my kitchen, i have some vintage colanders that i've hung on the wall, and it looks really cute. can't wait to see what you end up with!

5:20 PM  
Anonymous ann said...

YELLOW. yellow and gray are born to live together. Bright sunny, warm yellow. it's one of my favorite color combos in the whole world!

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you haven't seen a picture of the kitchen in this year's sf designer showcase house, take a look. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2007/04/28/HOGDNPFCVV1.DTL&o=0 designer tish key transformed it with high gloss black paint on the cabinets and your same color scheme. you could pull this off. definitely add height next to the fridge with some tall bookcases (maybe white with lime green painted in the back or black with white in the back to make them look built in).

5:38 PM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

WOAH- love love love the yellow ceilings. thanks!


5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about using a wall sticker/ detail to spice up the wall behind the stove?
As for your color scheme, I would suggest using a darker green, maybe a dark emerald, with the lime pot as an accent. The lime by itself would make the whole kitchen feel too cool and would bring out the tile rather than hide it. For fabric, maybe one with green from Hable Construction?
The plastic tube to hide the refrigerator cords seemed like a good idea.
Expect anything above the stove to get splashed with something eventually. That makes it a bad place for art because it could get ruined - but also stainless steel, tile or glass because you would always be washing it (and it would still never look clean.)
I would keep the bench in the kitchen, because no matter what, the its always the most popular room in the house. You could hide the clutter by putting cabinet doors on the front or replacing it with a chest that opens from the top. That way it could still be a functional storage space but you wont have to look at it.
Lastly, you could put your cookbooks on top of the fridge with cute bookends to hold them in place.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what we did to transform our kitchen which may look great in yours...

we put faux-tin tiles on the ceiling. the floors are a similar gray situation, so we painted the walls a really nice pumpkin orange. not too bright but not too rusty either. it looks great with the tile and all our kitchen accents are lime green and lemon yellow.

most people wouldn't think about an orange kitchen but we get so many compliments on it....

just a thought.

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seriously, I give you props for keepin it real. I could riddle you with advice, but I bet you know it all already.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Amanda Conley said...

I agree with an orange (backsplash wall perhaps?) I was going to say a more persimmon shade though. Orange tends to make grey look very modern. Red is over-done. By next year you would be sick of it. You've got a great sense of style- I'm sure you'll figure out the right thing that says "you".

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like you could use more storage to clean it up and help make it feel better. Maybe build something to cover up the storage in the bench and add on with more cubes on top and put a chalkboard cover on that that hides everything.

7:12 PM  
Anonymous anne harwell said...

How about some magnetic paint? That entire wall above the cubbies could be an area where you can stick memos, photos, art, etc.. Prettier than chalkboard paint, 'cause you can paint over it with ANY color.

7:19 PM  
Blogger cait said...

i love reading everyone's comments - so inspiring!

If you do go with chalkboard paint, consider using magnetic paint under it first, so you can throw some cute (and color-scheme-matching) magnets or magnet clips up on the wall besides just writing.

Also remember that chalk will probably leave chalk dust.. maybe put a tray of some sort to catch it otherwise it will get all over the bench / floor?

Last thing - for over the oven what about a couple of iron trivets (although probably too heavy), but something to that effect to tie in the black?

You can find trivets on eBay: http://cgi.ebay.com/Two-WILTON-cast-iron-TRIVETS_W0QQitemZ150132280302QQihZ005QQcategoryZ11656QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

7:50 PM  
Blogger Marissa said...

the amy butler fabric is definitely red, i have a piece of it in front of me. i'd call it a candy apple red. it looks really good with lime green.

i love the idea of chalkboard paint, it seems like a great contrast with your lime green pan.

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Samantha said...

Pink goes great with gray! But I love pink with anything so could be biased. And Kelly Wearstler fabric is always a good choice. They have this white paint that works like a dry-erase board that you use erasable markers with. You could paint the wall above the seating area with it and put some shelves and a cool border around the area. Whatever you decide, good luck with all the changes.

Your kitty looks like my kitty! I'll be a dork and send you an email with pictures.

8:13 PM  
Blogger wayne said...

Over the stove I would fill that space with a simple framed print or painting, etc.

The barf wall I would put a tall standing bookshelf
next to the fridge with the backside of the book shelf butted up against that exposed side of the fridge. You get a place for your books and you are able to cover up those cords! I think it would look nice to walk in the kitchen and see the books and other pieces of eye candy when you walk in!

For the countertop I would go with a classic surface. Marble or butcher block. Both would work with the grey tiles. The tiles would be neutralized.

9:35 PM  
Blogger julie said...


Are you allowed to paint your cabinets? That's a classic technique for freshening a kitchen and would be a way to add color without painting the walls. A step further might be to replace just the doors - keeping those lovely Anthro pulls, of course. ;)

Speaking of the walls though - you mentioned that you couldn't paint them because they run into the living room, and there's no molding. Could you add that strip of molding? Or would that look funny....? No doubt this has already occurred to you...


9:43 PM  
Anonymous Kris said...

I haven't read all of these, but as long as red doesn't clash that will usually distract people from a color you don't like. And red doesn't usually clash with grey. Good luck!

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love pale grey silk and wool with translucent jade beads......you could use a similar color scheme. lime foam is a color name, but can't remember the manufacturer. also, create a tile backsplash behind the sink with small,pale orange GLASS tiles OR frame them in a tray that can be hung.....TILE GUARD is a product that can be applied to clean grout lines; just clean off excess immediately. clean the "notes" off the fridge and see if IKEA has something that will fit/fill up the space by the fridge. i think i saw where someone combined kitchen cabinet pieces to create a storage unit.......i'll find it......apt therapy?

9:47 PM  
Blogger sfgirlbybay said...

what about a cool black & white graphic wall behind the stove, like amber in norfolk's on flickr:


or I like the idea of chalkboard paint - maybe with a white shelves on top. you could write in chalk what goes where (i.e. cookbooks, cups, etc.) and then the bench fabric could pick up the pot color with the green polka-dots (or I quite like the black polka dots).

as for the cords, what about a hanging wall treatment, or graphic panel - maybe to match or contrast the cushion? almost like a shower curtain between the fridge and the bench.

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your kitchen seems to be dark so I would only put
either a shade rolled half way up on the window or a half curtain( top only ) to put a spot of color but still lets you get natural light.
Putting something above the stove is nice but if you cook it will get greasy so choose something either washable or something that you replace every year like a calendar.
Put a wire metro shelf next to you refriderator. It will give you extra storage and because it is wire it will not be too heavy looking in a small space. Good for you cook books and anything you want to display.
Tile the splash.
Chilewich rug, definately.
Paint the inside of your cabinets. A great way to get some color.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the other comments about the pegboard wall its a genius idea. Go for the Kelly Wearstler black and white trellis print, and a chilewich runner...though i don't think the gray tiles are bad at all(you should see the faux brown granite i have in mine...UGH) but if you really hate it, I would put a butcher block down on your exposed counter space. Ikea does one thats longer than the small blocks used for cooking.

12:01 AM  
Blogger JenniferPriest said...

Lovin the black, white and limne color scheme you mentioned....but that red patterned fabric is pretty darn fun and bold.

No realy help here but I love your blog!

12:21 AM  
Blogger Bacchus said...

Above the stove you could put a rail system like the ones from Rosle and then hang utensils that you use while cooking, it would also get them off the counter. I love being able to look up and see all my tools neat and ready to go.

I love the red fabric at the bottom. It would make a great cushion for that bench/shelf. I agree with the suggestion of a gray wall. I would create an angled line of color instead a straight vertical line. It would make the gray tiles seem less dingy and more of a shade variation. It would also make the red in the fabric pop. I like the black and white dots. The greens just didn't seem to have the same excitement as your inspiration piece.

Thanks for showing us the real kitchen!

1:28 AM  
Blogger Heather Moore said...

Yikes, I'm comment #71 already! I don't have any helpful advice, but I just want to tell you I think you're such a sweetie to trust your design freak readers enough to show them pics of a corner of your home you don't like. Good luck!

1:38 AM  
Blogger design*sponge said...

wow- thanks for all the help guys.

didn't think my nasty kitchen would elicit such great ideas!

i'll let you know what i end up doing, thank you!!


7:14 AM  
Blogger ewilliams said...

You may want to relocate that electrical outlet. When there is an existing outlet, its not too $$$ to have an electrition move it down to the base board level.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Carrie (not 1:18 Carrie) said...

Thanks for keeping it real; we all have parts of our homes like this. Wanted to agree with Marissa on the red Amy Butler fabric – perhaps slightly less “hot” than in this photo, but it’s a true red. I’ve been helping my sister find fabric to reupholster a chair and we like this site (and you can search by color within each category): http://www.lsfabrics.com
The prices are really good, too.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

Hi - I have a blah kitchen too (my whole apartment is blah really...) and I have relied most heavily on color to fix that (paint is very cheap!!)

I would TOTALLY recommend chalkboard paint.... its fun and beautiful. Check out my chalkboard wall here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/megmcg/tags/kitchen/


9:13 AM  
Blogger emmckim said...

ack, reminds me of some of my kitchen problems. red rather than gray is my issue though. i'd suggest a butcher block for the "barf, barf, barf" spot, for books & supplies, should cover up some of the cords too! Taget has some affordable/nice ones. pop up one of thoose floor tiles & see what's underneath. i just pulled up some of the crappy vinyl flooring in my kitchen and discovered pine flooring! i swear i was expecting particle board. at least your cabinets are nice!
please to make fun, http://dsineanddsaster.blogspot.com/2007/06/i-hate-my-kitchen.html

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm joining the party late but i just wanted to add a couple of things.

Love the idea of a books shelf against the fride. Something light that wouldn't be obtrusive and allow you to store things and display items. Give you something nice to look at when you walk in.

Maybe something like this:

I like the chalkboard idea above the bench. Wallies has some peel and stick ones now that I think would look pretty cool. I just ordered some for my kitchen.

I'm not a big fan of chalk dust though so I'm going to get this for my kitchen. I like the bright colors and am hoping they work okay on the wallies.

Love the green dot fabric. A cushion in that would look great.

I would continue the shelf from the window over the stove (you could put it up the same way. Put some stuff above on the shelf and maybe some easily cleanable item below.

Maybe something like this?

11:05 AM  
Anonymous rachel said...

i love the chalkboard paint idea, although i agree that it's weird to just switch paint colors halfway along a wall. have you thought about transitioning between the chalkboard paint and the white wall by ending the chalkboard paint with some kind of design rather than a straight line? i'm thinking of either something simple like the pattern you did in your bathroom, or some tord boontje-ish silhouettes on the edge of the blackboard paint, if that makes any sense. that way it would be more "work of art" and less "i painted half of my wall black".

11:07 AM  
Blogger Dahlia said...

Why not try wallpaper. Maybe a black and white patten wallpaper then accesorize with bright green and melow yellow pots, knobs, light fixures, and curtains. You have really high ceilings and it could be fun to decorate them. A cheap and fun diy project would to decoupage your walls with newspaper. The small pattern of newspapers would look really cool from far and also would be really fun to see upclose. I think it would give your kitchen alot of character.
My brother tried something similar and tapped colorful postcards on his wall. It was wall to wall postcards, looked like wallpaer and it was awesome. He got so many compliments and it really added charecter to his small dinky NYC hallway/kitchen.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Monkey said...

you've prob. gotten enough comments...but I'm all about this so I figured I'd put my two cents in also. I agree with the flor tiles to cover up the grey if you hate it that much...but if you are going to clean the grout---a clorox pen works REALLY great because you can get it right on there and you just let it sit for a little while and brush it up with a toothbrush. My kitchen is grape green and looks a little lime-ish! I love the color. We have orange accents to match-an orange vase, an orange owl print from sugarloop with black furniture. I still want to paint the cabinets black and do something with the nasty countertops...it's always a work in progress right. hmm..you've inspired me to post my kitchen--check it out if you like. I'm gonna go do that now!

3:20 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

i'm slightly obsessed with lime green myself. i think if you want to make the grey tiles less offensive, you have to make them disappear- use bold color in the cool ranges... work some blues in with your greens. it's surprising how many things you can find in those colors if you keep an eye out. believe me, i know...

12:35 AM  
Blogger Dionne said...

Hi D - love your blog.

Above the stove: how about hanging a grease-resistant fabric stretched canvas that picks up color from your favorite green pot. Something vertical that fills the space. The nice glass shelf in the window could hold some other simple pottery pieces with simple, graphic plant life (like succulents) or vases...just three or so not too many just enough to complement other spots of color.

By the fridge: if you have room (hard to tell from photos) clean lined, narrow depth vertical storage cubbies perhaps with color "backsplashes" to house cookbooks. put cleaning supplies and other kitchen necessities in galvanized or other bins to keep clutter out of sight. Almost like taking that existing bench/cubby and turning it vertical, mounting it on the wall about 2 feet off the floor. xtra pots or more bins could sit (neatly) on the top of shelving...

I like the (lower left) green/yellow dot fabric best.

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you hang a colorful pendant light above the stove? As far as your bench is concerned, how about thinking of that space as more of a mud room? You could put a cute cushion on it then hang hooks above it. I've even seen a shelf with hooks under it-you could put your cookbooks up there. Also, there are those mirrors with hooks on them that might help to brighten up the space! Good luck!

P.S. I saw a show yesterday where they hung green glass as a backsplash. It was very clean and shimmery!

7:03 AM  
Anonymous casapinka said...

Oh, and never forget wallpaper under plexi for a backsplash.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Karina said...

I saw a cool chalkboard idea in a magazine (can't remember which). Paint a large square of chalkboard paint and edge it with decorative frame tape (Do Frame from retromodern.com). Could help with the problem of breaking up the long white wall.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Tyrick said...

I saw that someone suggested Cubits from DWR. Smart Furniture, based out of Chattanooga, TN, is now selling the same shelving under a different name. Maybe this helps?

3:05 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

Before I continue reading everything, I'm going to stop and suggest the following, as I hear it's a big source of pain! I, too, have an apartment in NYC with very dated tiles, only mine are white with brown grout. Which one is worse?? There was sheet linoleum on top of the tile.

Long story short, I HAD to get a new floor (only because I hated it so), so we got the wheat color vinyl floor. It's gorgeous and super durable. They have this stuff that can be brushed on the grout to raise up the grout so the floor is all one level to receive the Chilewich material as we didn't want to remove the tile. It was so easy to cut and put into place, we did it ourselves and it looks great. The flooring changes everything about the kitchen.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

About the backsplash, I'd keep it very simple and bring in at least one oil painting (small) to put behind the sink and maybe others into the room. It doesn't have to be a valuable one, but I am a strong believer of being surrounded by "living room" artwork in the kitchen. It enhances one's quality of life especially in a tiny NYC kitchen. The kitchen, even a super tiny one, doesn't have to read totally utilitarian.

Re my previous comment, if you won't install that Chilewich wall to wall, you could just get a rug of it. We put it in the kitchen and into the foyer, all one seamless piece.

2:16 AM  
Anonymous susan said...

I still haven't read all the comments (great feedback from what I read!) but the heart of the matter, aside from my two initial comments above is that in order to have some style in this room, the clutter must die! I think I would ditch the bench and seriously look at Room and Board's linear Custom Series 5 pieces, which have a shallow depth but will hide the clutter well and give a light look with the legs and light finishes. Of course, watching to work around that light switch. the black legs would be very nice on a piece.

I'd bring in the green in fresh, small, modern paintings found on Etsy and a few accessories in green, not too many. You could put wood shelves across, above the stove that are only 4" deep that will hold some useful things and the first shelf may be the same height as your wall cabinet bottom.

I'd definitely do the floor in the chilewich material and the backsplash, maybe painted white, again, with the artwork going across. Maybe a light textured white technique there. Less is more! This would allow a wonderful print to be used at the window which would not conflict with too many other colors or patterns. Too much time on my hands, recuperating, but I love this stuff!

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Christina said...

Why not a fabric covered bulletin board that is taller rather than wider, like cool framed art? Funny-I did this with that Amy Butler Lotus fabric in cherry that you posted here!!! I have been planning to send pix to you as this has been a huge DIY project in general (we painted our cabinets too). Then I would add some cool anthropologie hooks. I bought these great mini bowls on ebay that are brown transferware. As for above your stove what about a close-together cluster of plates/platters/shallow bowls that is a large circle, in green and white? You could do one black in white one in the center. If you do black in there you must incorporate some sort of monogram unless you hate that :)

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

behind the oven I would put different lavender shade tiles. I would rather avoid fabric and 3D things, with the steam they will be all dirty and you will have to clean all the time.
lavender and lime green is beautiful and fresh, perfect for a kitchen.

7:44 AM  

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