Liberty House Kitchen: The Vision

If you’ve kept at least one eye on this website over the last year, you’ll know that the project I talk most about but have (deliberately) made absolutely no progress on, is this green-granite and pine clad beast:


The kitchen.

And yes, I’ve refrained from tearing the floor out or painting the wood paneling, but not without a serious expenditure of willpower. And maybe because, if you’ll recall, before I moved into the Liberty House there were two very dark years where I lived in a garage and unfinished house without a proper kitchen. When you’re cooking tater-tots outside on a grill while standing in a foot of snow in the middle of January, some shit ain’t right, people.

So, it’s understandable that I’ve been hesitant to tear into the one functional and most often used space in this house.


And just when I was settling into a nice routine of squinting through my eyelashes whenever I made dinner to avoid the urge to go grab my hammer and start demolishing things, my friends over at Wilsonart (makers of laminate countertops) were like “Hey, we want to sponsor a post about  how you’d redecorate your kitchen!” And I was like, “You know if I do this, I’m not going to be able to resist tearing the ugly pink marble backsplash off the walls, right? In effect you’re condemning me to living the next six months in a torn up kitchen.”

Ha. Ha ha.

(Pretty sure they thought I was joking, but you know when I really dive into my vision for this room I won’t be able to resist getting started. )

But I’ve also been mentally writing this post ever since half the internet got up in arms when I said I was going to paint all this beautiful (and by “beautiful” I mean “old and yellowing”) wood paneling, so now seemed as good a time as any.

The Inspiration

Before we talk about my house though, here are some kitchens that have been inspiring me lately:

You know I’ve tried to bring an element of fun into my house– from bright colors to smartass door mats– and this kitchen is perfect for that. The wood floors with white and lime green cabinets, and a black counter? I love all of it.

Of course, there’s something  like this fits too, and also explains why my fingers itch to grab a paintbrush whenever I look at the wood paneling:

And this kitchen is making me consider something absolutely crazy…

White counters.

Seriously. They’ve been making the rounds recently and I actually really liked every kitchen I’ve seen them in, so it’s not outside of the realm of possibility for the liberty house.

The Plan

If there’s one thing my first winter heating 3000 square feet of old-ass house with fuel oil taught me, it’s that I need to be a little more conservative with my renovation budget. And that means I can’t tear the kitchen down to the studs and spend $20k on new walls, flooring, cabinets, and counters.

Since I’m working on a budget my plan is to:

1.) Paint all of the cabinets instead of replacing them.

2.) Replace the counters.

3.) Remove the backsplash and replace with wood or tile.

4.) Paint the paneling

5.) Replace the floors.

Since I’m saving a ton of money by keeping the existing cabinets, how much I spend on the rest of the kitchen will largely be determined by the materials I choose for the floor and counters. And how badly I want that drill press. And mini-lathe. And tractor.

The Look

I’m really contemplating two different looks for the kitchen (at the moment, but you know that’s subject to change right up until I buy the paint.)

The first is this:


  • Walls: Benjamin Moore Moonlight White (25%)
  • Cabinets: White uppers Benjamin Moore Moonlight White (50%), black lowers
  • Counters: White (like this)
  • Floors: Oak to match the rest of the house


My second option is this:


  • Walls: Benjamin Moore Moonlight White (25%)
  • Cabinets: Benjamin Moore Moonlight White (50%)
  • Counters: Neutral (like this)
  • Floors: Reclaimed brick veneer

I’m not sure which way I’m going to go yet, but you know how I do it: paint first, ask questions later. Now if you’ll excuse me… I need to go find my damn paintbrush.

Disclaimer (because there are no power tools in jail, probably): Wilsonart totally sponsored this post because they think it’s funny to goad me into starting my kitchen reno three months before I’m ready for it. And also because they make some pretty cool stuff that won’t cost you six months worth of fuel oil.



44 Responses

  1. I’ve been a follower for six months, and this line is one of your best, “When you’re cooking tater-tots outside on a grill while standing in a foot of snow in the middle of January, some shit ain’t right, people.”

    I just moved into a big project farmhouse myself, and I can totally relate. My abject disgust over the pink formica kitchen counter top pales in comparison to my relief and joy over the fact that I can cook on the circa 1965 stove top. The kitchen project can wait…

  2. #1, all the way. Those reclaimed brick bits are cool, but I’m willing to bet it would be a major PITA to clean. And they’re COLD, unless you’re planning on putting radiant heat under there. Oak floors are warm underfoot!

    Plus, I’m not a big fan of the neutral countertop. I like some contrast in my kitchen. If you’re going to have white cabinets, have dark counters!

    Of course, your #1 is pretty close to my own vision for my OWN kitchen… so I may be biased.

  3. Nothing wrong with painting all that pine paneling at all. I don’t think the brick flooring would be any colder than the tile flooring you have now….can’t wait to see how it turns out..

  4. Another vote for #1. I do not like the Neutral countertop color. Seems dirty to me.

  5. First option. And, for the love of Pete, PAINT THAT PANELING! People don’t understand – yellowish orangish wood is dated and depressing. It ain’t sexy. It looks tobacco stained!

  6. I think painting the wood paneling white would look amazing!! I sort of wish I had wood paneling in my kitchen just so I could paint it.:)

    I would forwarn you on white countertops though. I just redid my kitchen (repainted the cabinets, new countertops, new sink, faucet, and new lighting) and my countertops are corian glaciar white. I’ve been living with them for 2 months now. While I love them visually and they look amazing, they bug me the hell out because every time I walk in the kitchen I spot some type of spot or patch or cat hair or whatever even though I haven’t cooked anything since the last time I cleaned them. It gets on my last nerve, so just a warning- be prepared to get crazy cleany OCD if you go for white countertops.

    Here is my finished kitchen. I wish it was as big as yours. Yours has seriours potential especially with how talented you are.

  7. Yay! I am so glad you are doing the kitchen! I vote# 1. But the brick floors would be fabulous.

  8. I vote #1, mostly. I’ve currently got white-ish countertops, and our last house had a neutral granite similar to the one you’re looking at. I MISS the neutral granite! White shows everything in the kitchen. It looks absolutely stunning, but, if you are like me and have a tendency to leave toast crumbs and random shit on the counters, the neutral is much more forgiving. And it looks amazing with white/black/oak to tie the whole color scheme together…just my 2 cents. I’ve gotta be a PITA.

  9. I am usually squarely in the anti-painted woodwork camp, but that’s when lovely old historic woodwork is involved. But what you have – 80s-chic wood overkill – just has to go. Also, I’d steer clear of the brick. It does look cool, but it’s a very hard surface to stand on. Not making an age-related observation, but a lifestyle one: with all the physical labour you do, at the end of a long day your joints and feet might appreciate a more forgiving flooring choice.

  10. Option #1! Love the clean white countertops. But love the hardware in #2. You should totally paint the ceiling. This coming from someone who bought a house with orange-y oak paneling EVERYWHERE (tore that out right away – way too much work to refinish, sorry!) and hunter green carpeting, linoleum, and countertops. I feel your pain!

  11. If you go with the two tone paint treatment of option 1, do you know how you’ll handle the oven/pantry part? I think my vote is for option 2 with the wood floor from option 1. The contrast of the floor and those handles with the white cabinets will be amazing, IMO.

  12. I am kind of leaning towards #1 too. I just can’t get into that tan countertop. And I am also concerned with how cold the brick floors may be. But I know whatever you choose will rock, because your decorating has been awesome so far!

  13. The look in number 2 with the floors from number 2. The oak will be a consistent theme with the rest of the house, while the bricks (despite having an impressive look) will be cold and hard underfoot, and very impractical for cleaning.

    Oh, and funniest one-liner ever!

    Cheers, Col

  14. You will be amazed how much brighter the room will be when you paint the wood.

    I hope you plan to get samples of the counter material before you make the final decision on paint for both the walls and the cabinets. Moonlight White may work fine with the neutral counter but the undertones may clash with the white counter.

    I like most all your ideas. Only the bin pulls and brick floor would not make the cut with me. Bin pulls make me crazy because you have to come at them from underneath and floors with no give hurt my knees and hips.

    It will be interesting to see what you end up with!

  15. Finally caught up with how many years of your blog?

    Do what your design sense tells you. You haven’t missed yet. Well, you took a roundabout-how-the-hell-do-I-fix-this way to get there on more than one occasion, but you rock!

    Now I have to go find another badass funnier’n hell DIY blogger to read because you started something and I need a regular fix.

    1. Thanks David. It’s always interesting following the comments when someone is reading from the very beginning. Glad you’re caught up on what is going on at the farm! I’m going to be posting links to some of my favorite DIY/Farm blogs soon.

  16. Another vote for #1. The high contrast of black and white is dramatic and fun. For the other, I’m not crazy about white cabinets and beige counters, although it would depend heavily on the shade of beige. Good luck!

  17. I would shy away from black for the bases. A dark painted cabinet shows ever nick, ding, and scratch – not to mention fingerprints, goo, and will burnish to make “shiny” spots. I would also shy away from using latex on cabinets. That annoying “snick” sound when the doors stick in humid weather is unattractive at best.

    Oil based paint will yellow from UV. Not attractive either. Catalyzed lacquer is best. Of course, you’d have to spray it. Go HVLP sprayer (and you get to buy a new tool, to boot!)!

    After having Corian, granite, formica, tile, and quartz, I’d opt for the quartz. No maintenance, doesn’t scratch (unless you work at it), most have a sanitizer in the material to kill bacteria (granite does not), doesn’t require sealing (more maintenance), and can imitate the look of granite / natural stone or be a solid. We have a quartz that looks like Carrara marble. We have the look without the risk of stains from balsamic, olive oil, or wine. My wife is a “Captain Destructo” and has yet to destroy it.

    Backsplash? I wouldn’t use wood. Food splatter gets stuck in the grooves. Tile is best. You could try for subway, as it’s classic, but you also don’t want to become a cliche’.

    I second the wood floor. Or is it third, fourth, fifth… Tile floors are hard on feet and joints. We have pads from Williams Sonoma in front of our sink and stove for that reason.

    And think carefully about your appliances. Cheap stainless is a maintenance nightmare. Even expensive stainless is. My daughter has Viking and it’s fingerprint heaven. I spend a few hours polishing it every time I visit because she’s too busy and I can’t stand looking at tarnished splattered up stainless. We have the new “ice” look (white glass faces) and it cleans with a bottle of windex and a paper towel. Takes all of about two seconds.

    Lastly, it saddens me to paint wood. It’s a resource that’s slowly vanishing (especially if it’s quality wood). Trends come and go – but paint on wood is a permanent change.

    Good luck!

    1. You underestimate me… I already have two paint sprayers. 😉 Heard those white ice appliances are fantastic, they are definitely the new thing, but they wouldn’t be right for the Liberty house– and I already have 2 of 3 new appliances in, yes, stainless. If there are fingerprints they don’t even make a blip on my radar. I suppose if they did I’d be more inclined to clean, ah, ever.

  18. I was kind of waiting to see what was coming next but with this post, and remembering that thoughts of winter can take a backseat until it is finally in one’s face, please leave time to winterize the nugget’s house…last year they were cozy inside with you and you may have them inside again or already have a plan? Your posts had me looking at other coops and reading about raising chickens though I have no plans to do that and I read somewhere about insulating the coop and other ideas for winterizing of their house. I am sure you have this all planned but having lived on about the same parallel in OR, I know the summer season can be shorter than we like. That kitchen is amazing and will be more so when you are finished!

  19. While I like your choices, EVERYONE is doing white cabinets and counter tops. Unoriginal and boring! And that just doesn’t seem like you. If you must do white cabinets, do something fun and paint the lowers lime green like the first choice. As for the floor, I love the look of the brick, but I am also not sure how difficult it would be to clean. Do NOT have all open shelving, though. Especially in a farmhouse and with a cat (and possibly many more animals in the future) running around. Everything gets dusty on the shelves in a matter of days. And you have enough on your plate to have to worry about cleaning your kitchen from top to bottom every day.

    1. You’re making the very big assumption that I ever clean the floors, and would therefore factor in the ease of such a task! 😉 A better question for me is, “How well will they hide the spots of crap I drop on them that I don’t ever intend to clean off, except maybe twice a year?” I’m kind of just waiting for dirt floors to be en vogue again.

  20. I would paint all that pine too! I’d probably try my hand at whitewashing it first, and if it turned out like crap (likely), I’d go full coverage.

  21. #2, the bricks look great and they will clean up fine. Bonus points that they won’t show dirt much anyway. I think they have more interesting farmhouse character and you have wood floors throughout the rest of the house that you can enjoy and not have to try to match in the kitchen.

  22. PLEASE paint that ugly oak panelling.

    also, i like the brick floors, that’s an awesome look, and would totally go with the farmhouse vibe.

  23. I love the brick floors. Seriously – LOVE. And I love the idea of two toned with a fun color. But I love the brick floors. Like, really, love them.

  24. Hi Kit, we lived in a rental house in Santa Fe for a year which had brick floors throughout. They were a bit uneven (but then so are saltillo tiles), but I liked them – dog and two-year-old did no discernible damage, easy to mop – but no so much in the kitchen. First of all, dropping anything breakable, wow, it was like you hit it with a shotgun, a dropped dish or glass would explode into teeny pieces that flew everywhere. Second, food bits really got stuck on the edges of brick and then would require a hand-scrub after mopping to get completely off. So, I would caution against the brick flooring in the kitchen for those real-life reasons.

  25. Love the first picture from your inspiration pics..has got me thinking up some ideas of my own! I agree with Deb’s comment…the brick flooring idea is beautiful.

  26. I’ve been following you since your pergola/per-memorial house days. And in all of that time the only 2 comments I’ve made involved cooing over miniature donkeys.


    The donkeys will love you for it.

  27. I love the inspiration pictures, especially love the lime green cabinets, makes me want to work on my kitchen, which I’ve been avoiding too. And I have to agree I love the brick flooring!

  28. The nerd in me can’t help it. The brick flooring would not really be any colder than the wood. Brick maybe less of an insulator than wood, so it transfers heat more easily than wood thus making it feel colder. But the brick and wood will still both be room temperature. Wood can feel cold if the room is cold. I like the look of the brick, but my concern would be that as I always go bare foot I can see the potential of stubbed toes and ripped off calluses, though I don’t know if that would stop me.

  29. What a great project!!! Go with option one!
    White kitchens are really trending right now, and if you can incorporate the white in with a dramatic pop of color? Why not! I say if your cabinets appliances, floor and countertops are a combination of white, dark, and color, you’re all set!

  30. I love the white board walls, black cabinets, pops of green throughout. Look forward to seeing it.

  31. Go Kit! Another one hand— Vote for option number 1. Actually, I like the old one, so much of a wood because I like antique-looking kitchen BUT I really love the modern style though. It really depends on you because you’ll be the one working in it, visitors will always say YOU’RE KITCHEN IS AWESOME and bla bla bla… The only secret there is just make it look and smells clean. Only those who are insecure will say it’s a bad kitchen even if it is not!

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