A Modern, Coastal Kitchen Remodel (On a Budget)

See how a lackluster kitchen gets a new, coastal-inspired look thanks to clever repurposing, use of color and punchy patterns.

By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Cosmetic Makeover

Just five weeks after purchasing her 2,000-square-foot, two-story traditional house, homeowner Melissa Layton and her daughter, Natalie, decided to update their kitchen without undergoing a major, expensive renovation. Melissa decided to keep the existing cabinets and countertops to save money, and just update the space with color, coastal flair and clever repurposing.


When the family moved in, the kitchen was clean and usable, but totally void of personality and color.

Fun and Functional

Who wouldn't want to cook in this vibrant kitchen? The atmosphere is utterly charming and there's plenty of space to spread out and work.

Learn how to make those pendant lights from repurposed bushel baskets

Classic Tile Backsplash

In order to keep costs down and stay clear of any trends which might date the kitchen, classic white subway tiles under $3 per square foot were used for the backsplash. To add architectural impact, the tile was carried up from countertops to the ceiling. The tile's glossy finish and crisp white tone reflect light, making the kitchen bright and merry.

Window Sink

Positioned along the exterior wall which looks directly out to daughter Natalie’s play set, Melissa had the same small-scale subway tile installed directly over the existing drywall. To continue the pink accents, a custom Roman shade with a graphic fuchsia and white pattern was installed outside-mount style to the kitchen’s sole window.

Tropical-Colored Island

For extra serving and prep space, Melissa had a custom island made from an old console table which was updated with a spray-coat of bubble-gum pink lacquer. It was then outfitted with hooks for kitchen supplies and topped with a Carrara marble remnant. Since the kitchen has an overall traditional style, the stone was polished, then finished with a beveled edge rather than a more modern, squared edge.

Cabinet Facelift

Rather than replacing the kitchen’s existing cabinets and accruing high costs, the cabinet doors were updated with trim to give them a raised-panel look. The trim is nailed on with a nail gun then caulk is added to all seams. The doors are then sanded and primed before each one is refinished with high-gloss, steel-blue lacquer.

Cabinet Interiors

For an element of surprise, the same wallpaper is used on the ceiling and on the backs of the cabinet interiors. This is very time-consuming since each section of the interior slightly differs in height and width, making the proper measuring, cutting and hanging a daunting task. It’s best to estimate approximately 30 to 45 minutes to properly prepare, measure, cut and install each section of wallpapered cabinetry backing.

Nautical Knobs

For nautical flair, polished-nickel knobs were added to the cabinet doors. Since the existing cabinets were reused, the holes from the original hardware were filled with wood filler, then sanded before new holes were made to accommodate the new hardware.

Vintage-Style Drawer Pulls

Cup-style drawer pulls in the same polished-nickel finish as the nautical knobs were added to the kitchen’s drawers as well as the lower cabinet doors.

Pantry Before

Prior to the design update, Melissa’s pantry was colorless and covered with a simple, basic, contractor-grade door.

Pantry Door After

To give the space a touch of island flair, white louvered doors replace the plain old hollow-core doors.

Dainty Pantry Hardware

Instead of running to the local home improvement store, Melissa searched local boutiques for one-of-a-kind door pulls made by artisans. The colorful appeal of the ceramic and iron construction works well with the kitchen’s updated look, plus its dainty style is something Natalie appreciates equally.

Pantry Interior

The pantry gets its fair share of use whether Melissa is baking for family and friends or Natalie is reaching in several times a day for a healthy snack. To add energy, color and an element of surprise, the hexagonal wallpaper was installed along the pantry interior, and the shelves were painted high-gloss pink.

Ceiling Before

The bare ceiling offered an opportunity to play with both color and pattern. Rather than undergoing a major renovation of adding beams or coffers, Melissa instead opted for classic wallpaper which could be installed in a single day with minimal mess and disruption.

Ceiling After

The original lackluster ceiling offered no decorative or architectural interest whatsoever. To turn the neglected 8x10 surface into one of the kitchen’s standout features, it was covered with 1970s geometric wallpaper, then outfitted with custom, coastal-inspired pendant lights. Before hanging the paper, Melissa’s existing junction boxes were relocated, the drywall was patched and sanded, and the entire ceiling was primed using wall-covering primer.

Basket Pendant Lights

To add a do-it-yourself touch to the kitchen’s design, custom pendants were made from white wooden baskets, galvanized metal conduit, 1/4” acrylic sheets, lamp parts, a pendant light ceiling canopy, rope and stainless steel finishing screws.

Download the instructions on how to make these pendant lights

Pendant Detail

Rope was wrapped around the metal conduit and pendant canopy.

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