Fresh Flower Tips and Tricks

If I lived near a Trader Joe’s, our home would never be without a vase of fresh flowers. We always make a stop when we visit Ben’s sister in Des Moines, and I always bring home a fresh bouquet (and a few bags of Orange chicken… and some Cookie Butter… and a box of wine). Their flowers are affordable and they have the best seasonal arrangements. I’ve slowly killed gotten rid of all of the plants in our home, but the minimal commitment and care required for fresh flowers is something I can get on board with, black thumb and all.

Sometimes I see women post pictures of a vase of flowers with the caption, “I hope I can keep these things alive!”. This usually makes me, the serial plant killer, laugh because a bouquet can survive with almost no care, and can last longer than you might expect with a few easy steps.

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Here are a some tips from Law and Michael Gaffney, founders of the New York School of Flower Design, that will keep your grocery store flowers lookin’ fresh. You probably already have everything you need!

Step 1: Add 1 quart warm water to a clean vase.

Step 2: Pour 2 Tbsp sugar into the water. The sugar will help nourish the flowers and promote opening of the blooms.

Step 3: Add 2 Tbsp white vinegar and stir well. The vinegar helps inhibit the growth of bacteria and keeps your flowers fresher longer. If you don’t have vinegar and/or sugar, lemon-lime soda mixed with the water will do the same thing.

Step 4: Remove all lower leaves from flowers so there won’t be any in the water.

Step 5: Cut 1 to 2 inches off the stems at an angle while they are under water.

Step 6: Arrange your flowers in the vase.

Step 7: Display your bouquet in a cool, draft-free area. Avoid direct sunlight, which causes the flowers to die more quickly.

Step 8: Change the water every other day and re-cut the stems each time.

Step 9: Enjoy your long-lasting flowers!

These steps are super easy and will extend the life of your blooms. If you’re not up for the extra work, just be sure to snip the ends and get the flowers in water as soon as you can. Hardy blooms like carnations and chrysanthemums can last three to four weeks when they’re tended to, and are often the cheapest option at the grocery store. Next time you make a grocery run, treat yo’ self to a small bouquet and try these tips for yourself!

A reader recently commented on my bouquet of tulips and suggested putting a penny in the bottom of the vase to keep them from flopping over! Tulips still grow while they’re in the vase, so they require more trimming, but I’m excited to see if the penny helps them stay strong! Do you have any tips for prolonging the life of a bouquet? Share in the comments below if you do! 

With love,


My Best Kept Budget Decorating Secret

People ask me all the time about how to decorate on a budget. I love helping people create cozy and beautiful spaces without spending a lot of money. If you have a lot of wall space, it can seem overwhelming and impossible to fill without looking cluttered or costing a fortune. I think that Ben and I have found the “best kept secret” of affordable and beautiful wall art. After discovering this decorating loophole, we have filled our home with this unexpected item and you wouldn’t even know it until I let you in on our secret. Here are a few photos of rooms in our home (and my client’s homes) that all contain our favorite kind of art. See if you can figure it out!


My friend, Stephanie’s kitchen.


Our guest room.


Our front porch.


Our master bedroom.


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Our dining room.

Did you figure it out? Our favorite thing to use as wall art is wrapping paper! These pieces of wrapping paper don’t look like what you would find under your Christmas tree. And if you’re ever in a shop that sells this brand, you might think it’s silly to pay $4-5 for a single sheet of wrapping paper. But if you look at it with resourceful eyes, $5 for a large scale piece of wall art isn’t bad! We purchased a few large frames from Ikea (for $15 a piece). You can also attach small slats of wood or round dowels to the top and bottom, and hang them like vintage school charts. If you don’t want to DIY the charts, you can purchase a kit from Cavallini on Amazon.

horizontal chartvertical chart kit

Horizontal Chart Kit + Vertical Chart Kit

These sheets of wrapping paper (Excluding the very last photo of the dining room) are all from Cavallini & Co. You can find their products in various small paper boutiques (like Paper Source). If you are lucky and live near a store that carries their products, you won’t have to pay for shipping. But, some of their wrapping paper sheets are available on Amazon Prime for $8-10 (which is about what you would pay for the product plus shipping anyways). Rifle Paper Co. also sells wrapping paper sheets.

Here are a few of my favorites that can be found on Amazon.


Vintage Penmanship Chart


Cacti and Succulents


Vintage Botany Chart




Celestial Chart


World Map (pictured above in my friend Stephanie’s kitchen!)


Hemispheres (Pictured above in our guest room. This one is my favorite! I love the colors)



This last one is my favorite, and was my first wrapping paper purchase! I bought it while Ben and I were dating in college and hung it in my dorm room. Now it hangs in our bedroom! I love the vintage birds and their french labels.

The links I included above are affiliate links, which means that I receive a small commission if you purchase any of the items through my link. No one is paying me to advertise these products- I only promote products that I recommend or use myself! I don’t like telling people to spend money, and try to avoid telling people to go buy things in order to decorate their homes. My approach to decorating is to first “shop your house” and freshen up a space using things that are already in your home. Instead of going shopping every time you’re wanting something different and fresh, look at your own home with resourceful eyes and repurpose things you already have! After that, if you’re still looking to spruce things up, look for creative ways to make affordable and sustainable purchases. These wrapping paper sheets are very affordable, and create a large scale visual impact! If you don’t want to pay for multiple frames, you can just purchase one and rotate the wrapping paper that you display inside.

My secret is out! I love finding affordable ways to decorate, and this is one of my favorite tricks. Do you have any decorating tricks for saving money without sacrificing style? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Thanks for reading!


Istanbul Apartment Makeover

Last month, Ben and I had the incredible opportunity to visit his parents in Istanbul, Turkey. Ben’s dad, Robert, works for the international division of a construction company based in Colorado Springs. He manages projects overseas on behalf of American contractors. Most of his projects are in Europe and the Middle East, so Robert and Sondra recently moved to Istanbul. We stayed with them in their apartment overlooking the Bosphorus, which is a body of water that separates the Asian and European sides of Istanbul. The city is spread out across both continents, and his parents live on the Asian side. This is the view from their 14th floor apartment and their building is only a few blocks from the coast. Istanbul is an incredibly dense city, so being next to the water was refreshing.


Their apartment was pre-furnished by their landlord. Ben’s mom, Sondra, made the incredibly smart decision to ask for neutral furnishings. This gave us a blank canvas to work with, which made decorating less of a challenge and more of an adventure! We sourced items from IKEA, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and their own home. Their living room was our main focus. It receives tons of natural light from the wall of windows that overlook the sea. Here are some “before” shots.

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Since we had a great neutral palette as our background, I knew we needed to introduce color and texture. Turkey is known for their kilim rugs and pillows. “Kilim” is a term that refers to flatweave, no-pile rugs. Kilim rugs are typically woven exclusively with wool, but some kilims can be woven with wool+cotton blends, or wool+silk blends. The fibers used to weave kilims can be dyed with natural vegetable dyes or chemical dyes. The natural dyes are more durable, and less prone to fade over time. Their colors are more muted and earthy, and usually cost more because of the skill and materials required to make them.

We went to The Grand Bazaar to shop for kilim pillows. The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is a place unlike anything I’ve ever seen. After entering through a small gate and going through security, you are instantly surrounded by crowds of people and shops of every kind. Turkish shopkeepers sell carpets, pillows, scarves, spices, ceramics, and clothing. The tiny storefronts line a maze of hallways that are easy to get lost in even if you know where you’re going. Everywhere you turn, there are sights and sounds and smells that draw you in.



(Photo credit: Pinterest)

Ben’s mom, Sondra, picked out four beautiful kilim pillow covers. Kilim pillows are made from old kilim rugs. Kilim merchants may have a few pillows that came from the same rug, but each cover is one of a kind. We bought the pillow inserts during our trip to IKEA, where we also found some furniture and art. Before, there was a floor lamp next to the gray wingback chair. We replaced it with an end table and table lamp from IKEA to provide more table space.


Here is a reminder of what this space looked like before, and what it looks like now!



What previously felt like a hotel room now feels like a cozy Turkish-inspired home. When sourcing our decorative pieces, we focused on adding color and layering textures. This helped to give the totally gray space some warmth, coziness, and layers of visual interest. The woven wicker end table brings in a contrasting texture between the two shades of gray velvet. The wicker texture is echoed by the jute placemat on the coffee table. If you look closely, the coffee table and TV stand are the exact same piece of furniture! These were provided by the landlord, but also came from IKEA. We put the placemat, a few books, and a fake plant on the table to set it apart from the TV stand and break up the all-white surface. Sondra and Robert travel for extended periods of time, so adding real plants to this space would not have been a wise move. We added two small fake plants that still bring warmth and an organic quality to the space (and will never die even when they leave!)


The wicker table, gold lamp, and peachy tones of the pillow bring warmth to the gray chair and white walls. Because the room itself contained primarily cooler colors, I introduced warmer colors in the decorative pieces to bring balance.


Robert and Sondra already owned the books that I used in this room. The tiny floral book is a wedding photo album from me and Ben!



After adding the main pieces that we sourced from IKEA and the Grand Bazaar, I walked around their home looking for other ordinary pieces that could be used decoratively. Their many language books made a great base for this plant. Sondra bought the navy cream pitcher on a trip to Romania. We filled it with pink flowers from a flower stand down the street from their house.




Sondra chose kilim covers that look beautiful on their own, but look even better together!


The large blank wall over the couch needed a large scale piece of art. Putting a tiny canvas on that large wall would have looked odd. Robert and Sondra chose the wall art from IKEA. It is a large canvas with a photo of Amsterdam, which they have visited many times! Most people put photos of foreign cities in their homes because they like the way they look. But Ben’s parents have photos of foreign cities in their home because they have travelled to all of those places! Instead of looking at the photo and saying “Wow, that place looks neat!”, Ben’s parents can look at this photo and say, “Remember when we went there on our honeymoon and were robbed?!?” Sondra said that they “have always loved water and the canals of Amsterdam. Bicycles and The Netherlands go together so having the bicycle be the one point of color seems perfect. We were robbed in Amsterdam but obviously that hasn’t left us with bad memories of it!”

The small series of turquoise maps under the clock echo the turquoise pots for the plants. Instead of being “matchy matchy”, tying similar colors and textures across one room provides a sense of unity. Robert had the great idea to add two more identical clocks to this corner and set each time to the different time zones they live in (Istanbul, Des Moines, and Colorado Springs).

We also added the round mirror above the TV. They had a lot of wall space, and using a mirror was a great way to fill the blank space without being overwhelming.


(Ben’s cute parents!)


What previously felt like a hotel room now feels like a cozy Turkish-inspired home. We also brought in some new pieces for the connected dining room. Sondra picked out simple and minimal white dishes. We added more jute placemats and a minimal gray tablecloth.


The trivet under the flower vase and the bowl full of candy are both Turkish ceramics from The Grand Bazaar! When decorating a space, I love to source the client’s own home and surrounding areas. Decorating is an opportunity to reflect the family that lives in the home and the environment in which they live. Instead of just looking to what is trendy, I love to look for what is personal and unique to the family. For Robert and Sondra’s Istanbul apartment, this meant Turkish textiles and unique pieces from their adventures around the world.

Nothing beats shopping the Grand Bazaar, but if you would like to introduce some Cozy Turkish Mod to your home, here is a round-up of kilim pillows you can purchase without buying a plane ticket first.

cozy turkish mod

1. $52 + 2. $30

3. $40  + 4. $40 + 5. $20

6. $18 +  7. $46 + 8. $44

Thanks for reading! This is my favorite design I’ve ever helped with, and I’ve loved including Turkish textiles in my own home! Thank you, Robert and Sondra, for allowing me to help you make your Turkish home a little more homey! I’ll include more photos from our trip at the very end of this post.

If you would like help styling a room in your home, I would love to assist you! You can send me a message through this contact form. We can decide which design package would best fit your needs. (I offer e-styling packages if a home visit isn’t feasible!) Thank you for reading and supporting Holland Avenue Home. Until next time, Güle Güle! (Goodbye!)

With love, 

cozy turkish mod ad



Here is a slideshow of more pictures from our trip!

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Our Controversial Kitchen Rug

T*This post contains affiliate links*

When I finally pressed “publish” on the post about our DIY kitchen update, I didn’t expect the overwhelming response I would receive. I put many hours into designing, sourcing, painting, and loving that room from top to bottom. Since I published the post a little over two months ago, it has been viewed thousands of times and been featured on Apartment Therapy, Buzzfeed, and various foreign home decorating and news websites.

Most of the response was very positive and encouraging. My favorite comments were from the people that were inspired to do similar projects in their own homes. The one kind of response that surprised me, and was much more present than I expected, was the rug-haters.

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$200 Kitchen Update: Sources and Process

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A few weeks ago, I posted the full reveal of our DIY kitchen update. (If you missed it, check it out here!) With $200 and about a week of hard work, our kitchen was transformed from this…


into this!


There were three major changes made in the kitchen, but everything else came from small (and free!) adjustments.

First, paint. I painted all of our cupboards with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint from The Purple Painted Lady. I also painted the backsplash, soffit, window frame, wall trim, and all of the walls with bright white paint that we already had. The second major change was the colorful 9×12 area rug from Wayfair. (We bought it when it was on a really big sale. I check pretty regularly because people keep asking me about it, but the rug has been a lot more expensive recently.) The third change was the new gold hardware from Amazon. I searched for this specific style of hardware for months until finding a solution that was in my price range. (More on that later)

A few people have asked me, “Why chalk paint?”. I had an answer before I actually did the painting, but now that I have seen the results, I have an excited “way more information that you could ever want to know” response! I knew that I wanted to update our kitchen, but a full remodel was never an option (and I didn’t want it to be!). I started looking for creative, affordable solutions to DIY my way to the kitchen in my dreams. I think that painting the cupboards is the cheapest and most dramatic way to completely change the look and feel of your kitchen. The best part is, with a little time and a lot of hard work, you can do it all yourself!

I decided to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint after my mom used it to paint a giant china cabinet. I thought this would be a similar process to painting my cupboards. The traditional method of painting kitchen cabinets requires taking off all of the doors and hardware, sanding the wood, priming, and painting before replacing the doors and hardware. When you use chalk paint, the doors can stay on the hinges, you don’t have to sand or prime, and the process goes much faster! Chalk Paint also requires a sealer wax to protect the paint. I used clear wax for a modern look, but you can use black or white wax for a rustic or distressed vibe. You apply the wax in 2-3 thin coats with a wax brush, and it dries clear and hard. This entire process took about a week of working every day. My husband helped me whenever he could, and we had a few late nights painting just for fun!

I picked out Annie Sloan Pure White for the uppers and Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue for the lowers. The Purple Painted Lady is an excellent online stockist if you don’t live near someone that sells Annie Sloan. They delivered my paint and brushes quickly and safely, and included a ton of informational resources about using the paint.

The chalk paint is more expensive per ounce, but it is more economical because of the coverage it offers. I bought one quart of AS Duck Egg Blue for the lowers ($34.95), and one quart of AS Pure White for the uppers ($34.95). It may seem expensive to pay $35 for a tiny can of paint, but one quart of blue was enough to do two coats of paint on all of my lower cabinets and my hoosier cabinet, with a good amount of paint left over for another project! The quart of white paint was enough for three coats on the uppers (with not much left to spare). I couldn’t believe how far this paint went, and loved how smooth it was to apply. My mom recommended using Purdy brushes to apply the Chalk Paint. I found a pack of three brushes at Lowes for $20. I used the 1 inch and 1.5 inch brushes the most.

I used AS Clear Wax and a Wax Brush from The Purple Painted Lady. The “Ultimate Waxing Brush” is definitely an investment at $25, but it made a huge difference in the waxing process. The wax has an interesting texture that reminded me of Crisco. The large, round wax brush with thick bristles made the application easier. I won’t go into great detail about the waxing process, but you can find great tutorials from The Purple Painted Lady! I keep linking to her site because the information I found there made this project painless and stress-free!

Here is my cost breakdown for the paint and painting supplies:

48 Ultimate Waxing Brush – WHITE HAIR
$25.00 x 1
43 Annie Sloan Clear Wax
$24.95 x 1
21 Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint® Quart
$34.95 x 1
40 Pure White Chalk Paint® Quart
$34.95 x 1

Subtotal: $119.85
Discount: $0.00
Shipping: $15.00
Sales Tax: $0.00
Total: $134.85

My total from The Purple Painted Lady was $134.85, and the Purdy brushes were $20.

Grand Total for Paint and Painting Supplies: $154.85!

The second big update was the hardware. I fell in love with the Kohler Purist 3″ handles, but could NOT believe their price! These handles were $25 a PIECE.

I needed 17 handles for my cupboards and hoosier cabinet. That would have been $175 for these handles, not including buying knobs! That’s more than I spent on the entire project! I searched for months for a similar hardware style, and couldn’t find something similar enough and cheap enough. I found these handles that were a similar style, but still too expensive at $4.20 a piece, and were not available in gold!

I finally found these (that honestly look EXACTLY the same as the Kohler handles) for $1.50 a piece on Amazon! My matching knobs were $1.15 a piece.


Handles + Knobs

I ordered the pack of 20 knobs, and the pack of 20 handles for a total of $53. I had an Amazon gift card from our wedding for $50, so I only paid $3 for all of the hardware!

The handles I had before were 3 inch handles, so the new 3 inch handles didn’t require any drilling! (Measure the distance between the handle holes on your cabinets if you want to replace your handles! The distance might not be 3 inches. These handles come in a few different lengths.)

The cabinets used to have knobs in the middle of the doors. I filled these holes with wood filler BEFORE painting my cabinets. I applied the wood filler, waited for it to dry completely, and then sanded the area smooth. I gave the rest of the doors a good sanding by hand to remove some of the varnish on the wood. Have your vacuum handy for this step! After the painting and waxing were complete, my husband Ben drilled new holes in the corner of each door for the knobs. We needed to buy new screws from the hardware store because the screws that came with the handles were not deep enough for our thick cabinets.

$154 for paint and painting supplies, plus $53 for hardware puts this project at $207. 

(Though it was only $157 for us because of the Amazon gift card!) I used half a gallon of white paint that we already had in the house for the window frame, the backsplash, soffit, trim, and walls. The church gave us a $1,000 budget, but I wanted to keep the cost as low as possible. We considered replacing the linoleum floors, but that would have been about $350. The floors are in fine condition, so replacing them would have just been a cosmetic update. I was so grateful for the church’s support of this project, and wanted to be as frugal as possible! We decided to spend our own money on the giant rug. This acts as a temporary flooring solution in our kitchen, and is something we can take with us wherever we live in the future. Instead of sinking $350 of the church’s money into floors that didn’t need to be replaced, we spent about $250 of our own money on a rug that we will have forever! I was reluctant to spend that much money, but Ben made the valid point that this rug is acting as a flooring solution AND a decorative element. It was cheaper than replacing the flooring, and is ours to take with us wherever we live in the future.

Now that all of the sources are covered, I will make a list of the exact process we used for anyone that is interested.

  • Bought paint and wax from The Purple Painted Lady
  • Filled knob holes with wood filler. Wait to let dry. Sand well. Give the cabinets a good sanding if they have a shiny varnish. This will help the paint adhere to the surface better.
  • Degreased cabinets with Dawn degreasing soap. This step is very important. If there are any grease spots on your cabinets, they will show through the paint- no matter how many coats you apply! I used a new sponge to apply the soap and scrub the cabinets. We also had to use a razor to scrape black gunk out of some crevices in the cabinets next to the stove. This was grease buildup from years and years of stovetop cooking. I cannot emphasize enough how important the cabinet cleaning is! Chalk paint does not require much surface prep, so make sure to do this one step very, very thoroughly! We scrubbed, rinsed, sanded, and vacuumed our cabinets three times. This took quite a while, but was worth the time and effort! If you do not properly prepare the surface, the quality of your painting won’t matter and they will turn out poorly. Some people recommend using a mineral spirit solution to prepare the cabinets, but the Dawn soap worked well for us.
  • Applied first thin coat of paint. It does not take a lot of paint to cover the surface, and I was amazed at how little paint was necessary to get a good first coat. Apply in thin coats and allow to dry thoroughly between coats. The Purple Painted Lady has great resources for these steps. I should probably note that I only painted the outsides of our cabinets, except for the cabinets with the exposed shelving. I took the doors off of those two cabinets a few months ago because I love the look of exposed shelving.
  • Applied second (and, where necessary, third) coats of paint. I applied two coats of blue, but the white paint needed three coats for good coverage.
  • Applied wax in two to three thin coats. I only did two coats on the frames of the cabinets, but did three coats on the doors and drawer faces because they will receive the most use.
  • Drilled new holes for cabinet handles in the corner of each door.
  • Painted backsplash, soffit, window frame, trim, and walls with bright white paint.
  • We also removed the window screens, which brightened the kitchen quite a bit. We will put them back in the spring when the windows can be opened! The screens popped right out, and will easily pop back in when we need them.




our kitchen rug




That was a lot of information, but I found a few longer posts really helpful throughout the process! If you are about to embark on a DIY adventure of your own, just go for it! It will be a lot of hard work, but painting provides immediate results in the most affordable way! I would be happy to answer any questions you still have about the process. 

Thanks for reading!


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Before & After: A Bright, Affordable DIY Kitchen Update

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*Update* I recently wrote a post about how this project looks two years later! You can read all about it and find answers to frequently asked questions in the post below. I’ve also installed subway tile since this original post.

Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets Two Years Later

If you’re finding me for the first time through this post, welcome to my home on the internet! I’m Avery and I live in a charming 1910 Craftsman style parsonage in rural Iowa with my husband, Ben. You can learn more about me here, and see some of my previous design work in my Basement Family Game Room, High Style, Low Budget Sunroom from the Spring 2019 One Room Challenge, and Creating a Cozy Home Library. My design style is warm, whimsical, and collected. I love sharing real-life home inspiration for people like me who want big style with a tiny budget. You can follow along with my homemaking adventures and thrifting trips & tips on the Holland Avenue Home Instagram.

I am thrilled to finally share about our DIY kitchen remodel! My husband and I live in a 1910 craftsman style parsonage in small town Iowa. Ben is the pastor at our church, and we have been incredibly blessed to live in this home! Our church owns and maintains the house, so we only make small changes and updates. We are fortunate that the church and previous ministers have maintained this house very well, so we have only made minor decor changes to suit our preferences. (painting the walls and updating a few light fixtures).

This house is full of beautiful, original wood trim, built-ins, and doors from 1910. But, the kitchen was expanded and remodeled sometime in the 1980’s. The dark wood cupboards had normal wear and tear, and the off-white linoleum floors had seen better days. The church gave us a small budget to “redo” the kitchen, and I wanted to keep the cost as low as possible. We don’t need new appliances or fixtures or flooring, so I found creative ways to brighten and update the room without spending much money. I read every article out there about painting kitchen cupboards, and decided to go for it!

Here are some before photos of our kitchen. There is only one window above the sink, which didn’t provide much natural light. The dark cupboards sucked any brightness out of the room, and the white floors gave off a hospital vibe that I did not love. The walls used to be a warm terra cotta color, so the newer white paint still had some orange undertones.


img_8005    img_8008 img_8011



I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for the cupboards, and would stand behind that decision over and over. A lot of companies are starting to produce “chalk paint”, but Annie Sloan invented it! I used one quart of Pure White to do two coats on the upper cabinets, and one quart of Duck Egg Blue to do two coats on the lowers. Chalk paint is unique because it requires minimal surface prep. The traditional method of painting cabinets requires taking off the hardware and doors, sanding all surfaces, priming, and painting multiple coats. With chalk paint, you remove the hardware, leave the doors on, and don’t need to use primer!

You do need to degrease the cabinets really, really well with a degreasing soap. (I used Dawn). This step is SO important. Please please please do not skip this step or rush through it. If there are any grease spots on your cabinets, the grease will show through the paint no matter how many coats you apply! After scrubbing our cabinets multiple times, I still had a few small spots show through on the uppers. This brings me to my number one tip for a DIY kitchen remodel.

Approach your DIY remodel with realistic expectations.

I did not have perfect, new cabinets before they were painted. They had stains and scratches and wear and tear. While I was painting, I was disappointed that my cabinets didn’t magically look brand new and blemish free. How silly of me! If you start with an old kitchen, you will still have an old kitchen! But don’t let this discourage you from putting in the hard work to give it an update. When you get really, really close and examine the cabinets, they have some imperfections. But do you ever really meticulously examine your cabinets? I know I don’t! Being in our kitchen is so much more pleasant now. It is bright and colorful and full of light. If I could go back, I would still definitely decide to paint the cabinets! So if you’re considering it, but are afraid of the results, just do it! It is the most affordable way to dramatically change the look and feel of your kitchen.

Now that I’ve exhausted the topic of cabinet painting, here is the finished product!


In the “before” photos, every light in the kitchen was on and it still felt like a cave. The “after” photos were taken around the same time of day with NO lights turned on! It is kind of unbelievable what a difference some paint can make in a room. In addition to painting the cupboards, I painted the window frame above the sink, the trim, the backsplash, the soffit, and all of the walls. It felt silly to paint white over white, but the fresh, bright new paint made a huge difference in the brightness of the room.

We considered replacing the floors with a wood-like vinyl, but the $350 price tag was too steep for a cosmetic change. Our floors are in fine condition, so we opted for a giant, colorful rug instead. It adds major coziness to the kitchen.


(A peek at the beautiful wood trim on the outside of the kitchen. I didn’t paint any original wood. Everything in the kitchen was from the 1980’s remodel.)


(I was tempted to take everything off the sides and top of the fridge so that it looked cleaner and more magazine-esque. But I didn’t, because my house has stuff in it. I have stuff on my fridge, and I’m okay with that. I wish more Pinterest posts showed real kitchens with real stuff in them! So there is our stuff. Magnetic poetry, photos, and a card from my grandma.)

The other major update we made was the cupboard hardware. The doors used to have large handles in the very middle of the panel. They reminded me of door knockers. The previous family must have taken them off (good call) because there were only holes in each door, and one handle on the laundry chute. The drawers had old handles that weren’t in great condition. I removed all of the hardware and filled the holes on the doors with wood filler before painting.  The hardware I wanted would have cost a small fortune (about $10 a handle… not joking). After months of searching, I found almost exactly the same style on Amazon for about $1 a piece. I used a $50 Amazon gift card from our wedding, so the total for 20 knobs and 20 handles came out to $3.53. I was so happy about that!


When making design decisions for the kitchen, I initially leaned towards a minimal, modern vibe with all neutral elements. I was thinking of white uppers and black lowers, with modern accents and not much color. But as I browsed Pinterest for inspiration, I undoubtedly gravitated towards bright kitchens with a lot of color- specifically that perfect shade of blue green. I can’t deny it, it is and will always be my favorite color. I decided to be true to my own style instead of what is currently trendy, and I am so glad that I did.

I wholeheartedly believe that nothing you truly love will ever go out of style.

So when you are designing a new space, keep in mind your personal preferences and tastes instead of relying on Pinterest to tell you what’s trendy. Look to the rest of your home, and even your wardrobe for inspiration. Some people say that hardware is the jewelry of the kitchen, which makes sense to me because all of my jewelry is simple and gold! It would make sense that I’m drawn to simple gold hardware!



(I’m jumping forward now from 2016 to 2020 through the power of technology. Welcome to the future. I still adore my kitchen. Here are a few updated photos of the kitchen after installing subway tile, refining my personal style 😉 , and switching out the 9×12 behemoth of a rug for something smaller. But not because we spilled anything on it- don’t worry- the rug is better than ever. I just wanted something antique with a little more soul.)

I repurposed this Antique Table as a Kitchen Island, and it adds so much warmth and charm to my kitchen. (I also seriously upped my photography skills, which is fun for me to see!)

I gave our sad pantry a Low Budget Pantry Makeover with Leftover Paint and $20 of Organization Supplies.

Want more details about the cost breakdown, material sources, and the process I used to paint the cabinets? Check out my $200 Kitchen Update: Sources and Process post. And DON’T FORGET to check out my Chalk Painted Kitchen Cabinets Two Years Later update. I answer your most frequently asked questions since this original post was published four years ago, and share all of my best tips and tricks for tackling a kitchen project of your own!

Be sure to follow Holland Avenue Home on Instagram for daily snapshots of life and encouragement towards thoughtful homemaking. Want to join the Holland Avenue Home community? Sign up for my Newsletter, then hop over to Facebook and join the Thoughtful Homemakers group for project inspiration, an encouraging community, and behind the scenes of Holland Avenue!

With love,

avery- signature

Don’t forget to save this post on Pinterest!

Want to see some more affordable transformations?

Check out my Basement Family Game RoomOne Room Challenge High Style, Low Budget Sunroom , and Creating a Cozy Home Library for more inspiration!


Hardware. from Amazon


Rug. from Wayfair

our kitchen rug

Duck Egg Blue Chalk Paint from The Purple Painted Lady

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Pure White Chalk Paint from The Purple Painted Lady

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Annie Sloan Clear Wax from The Purple Painted Lady

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Ultimate Waxing Brush from The Purple Painted Lady

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