Hunkering Down

Hi Everyone!  I know my posts are few and far between these days but I wanted to let you all know I’m here and I’m working hard and there are a lot of changes happening at Urban Orchard Interiors.  I’ve been working on a lot of exciting new client projects and also fine tuning and growing the business side.  I look forward to sharing all these changes with you soon.

In the meantime check out these bold statement dining rooms:

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Thanks for stopping by and check back soon for more updates.  Also, be sure to check me out on Instagram for our recent vacation to Yosemite.  So fun and beautiful!

Client Living Room, Before and After

Hi All!  Just a quick share of a project that wrapped up not too long ago and I was finally able to get over and take some photos.  This was a living room of an adorable family here in the East Bay.  They bought their house last summer and were anxious to get this multi-purpose room pretty and functional as soon as possible for their young family.  This room serves as the living room, dining room, homework area, play area, etc and needed some attention.

Right after they bought it, it still had the stagers blue paint and the custom roman shades.  They were nice but already a little dated and not really the style the couple was going for.  Here’s a before of the dining area:

photo 6 copy 2 e1391295330422 768x1024 Client Living Room, Before and After

You can see there was also an awkwardly placed light fixture.  We rearranged some things and added some pieces with character:

RiderLR8edt 682x1024 Client Living Room, Before and AfterWe found this 1800s farmhouse table while out antique hunting together and paired it with some metal tolix style chairs.  They’re so durable for kids and their spills.  They husband and wife are a great mix of styles–farmhouse and contemporary–so we paired the table with a contemporary light fixture to match their eclectic style.  Also, her family is German and he is originally from Turkey so we added some Turkish inspired accents as well.

Here’s another view of the DR:

RiderLR2edt 1024x682 Client Living Room, Before and AfterThe table works at an angle like this because of the new placement of the light fixture and the natural pathway created by the doorways from the kitchen to the outside.  There is also a company board extension at the end of the table for added seating.  A bench on the backside of the table is perfect for the kids to crawl onto without taking up a lot of room.  All the art was already owned by the client or purchased by them during the project.

photo 6 e1391296566457 768x1024 Client Living Room, Before and AfterSadly, this is the only other before pic I can find.  I’ve gotten much better at taking before pictures these days.  Anyway, you can kind of see how the room had a lot of space but it was not well defined.  Now each area feels more purposeful and the room feels bigger:

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Below is an image I pulled off the real estate listing:

Screenshot 2014 02 01 15.30.34 Client Living Room, Before and AfterYou can see the odd pendant fixture in the back right corner.  There is actually a lot of room there and it was the perfect place for built ins since my clients are big readers and she has a gorgeous collection of blue and gray German pottery:

riderLR1edt 1024x682 Client Living Room, Before and AfterWe were able to keep the client’s sofa and update it by changing almost everything around it.  The green ET center was a vintage buffet that we had painted.  The shelf peeking out of the right side of the photo was custom made to create an entry way and houses shoes, etc in baskets below.  It’s made of vintage scaffolding stamped with the company’s name:

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Thanks for stopping by!

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Client Kitchen Reveal

Picking up from where I left off last week, here are some more photos of my client’s renovation in her 1915 Georgian Beaux Arts style home.  This week it’s–the kitchen!

Bit by bit, my client has been bringing this lovely old home back to its original grandeur.   Her kitchen had more rustic and utilitarian finishes compared to the rest of the home and felt closed off and separated–typical of homes of this era especially when kitchens were reserved more for servants than homeowners and guests.  The refrigerator was located in a pass through area that connected to the basement which at one point had been the servants quarters.  We didn’t knock down any walls and it was important to both me and the client to maintain the original integrity and authenticity of the home itself.  Neither of us wanted  to create an open concept kitchen in a Georgian inspired home.

Here is a before picture:

photo 31 Client Kitchen Reveal

So much charm to begin with!  Here is the after:

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 Another before:

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As you can see this kitchen has fantastic bones and already charming touches.  I love the antique table and chairs in the center of the room and the stove niche is a wonderful architectural feature.  The stove itself is an amazing vintage Wolf commercial stove and just needed some serious TLC.  Even the tile wainscoting is classic and charming too.

Here’s the same view after:

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You can see we closed up a doorway and actually just moved it to a sun porch off the kitchen. This gave us room to move the fridge into the kitchen and the room that previously housed the fridge now has a tall pantry.  We were then able to simply update the cabinets to standard sizes (So many early homes have 22″ deep cabinets which is really hard to prep on, much less store things!) without changing too much of the general footprint.  We also raised the height of the stove niche as much as we could while still allowing the hood to vent properly.  After restoring the beautiful stove and removing a metal backsplash we created a focal point with the handmade tiles (based on a pattern from medieval abbeys!).

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Hahn kitchen 4 wtrmrk 682x1024 Client Kitchen RevealAnother big change was the floors.  We were ecstatic to pull up the linoleum to find doug fir which we refinished in a medium brown.  It blends nicely with the oak in the rest of the house but still has that rustic warmth to it.  In the view below you can see the sun porch on the opposite side of the room where we added the new entrance.

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Here’s a view of the door we closed up to make room for updated cabinetry and the fridge.

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And here’s after:

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I was so happy to find a client who was as opposed to recessed lights as I am!  She was more than happy to replace the standard can lights with wall mounts and the way they are positioned makes lighting for food prep even better.  Not to mention they light the cabinetry much more gently.

Then we had this problem wall that you can see on the left side of the photo below:photo 21 Client Kitchen Reveal

It is a long wall that runs between two doorways with the dining room on the other side.  We couldn’t remove it but it did need something:

Hahn kitchen 2 wtrmrk 1024x682 Client Kitchen RevealWe had a custom plate rail built which anchors two more of those articulating sconces.  Her Lenox china and transferware was the color inspiration for the stove tile and the soapstone combined with the creamy cabinetry and brass accents.

The table in the center is a vintage oak one topped with marble intended to mimic bread tables in old kitchens.  It will give her some much need prep space.

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And here’s a detail of the unlacquered brass faucet with the soapstone.  I love this piece of soapstone–it’s got a lot of blue in it.

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And here’s another of the wall mount faucet:

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And here’s a final one of the plate rail and sconces:

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Thanks for stopping by!

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Client Master Bath, Before and After

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that for the last few months I have been working on a major renovation for a client  in Berkeley who has an already beautiful home but just needed to bring portions of it in line with the rest of her gorgeous style.  The home is a 1915 Beaux Arts with a lot of French and Georgian elements incorporated.  It is a grand elegant home from a beautiful era and I was honored to be a part of the renovation.

The areas she tackled were the master suite including a bathroom, closet, and sun porch; the kitchen which also included a porch off of that, and basement living quarters.  The parts I was most involved in were the kitchen, master bath, dressing room/closet, and consulting a bit on other areas.   Today I’m showing the before and afters of the master bath as we are still waiting for a couple of pieces in the kitchen.  Also, these were taken with my phone as I was chasing the light at the end of install day so please keep that in mind!

Here is a before:photo 9 1024x768 Client Master Bath, Before and After

So many great things to start with in this space: Beautiful windows, plenty of light and a blank canvas!  This room is off the master bedroom and the client had been using it as a master closet–a beautiful one at that.  She had some wonderful and functional shelving installed but we realized after our first meeting that the master bath which was a bit smaller and had much less light, would probably function better as the closet and this gorgeous room would be a wonderful en suite master bath.

Here is another before:photo 8 1024x768 Client Master Bath, Before and After

You can see at this point I’m taping out the proposed footprint of the new space.  Although the light and the windows are beautiful, this room had three windows and two doors meaning there wasn’t a lot of wall space for plumbing, etc.

Another before:

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Here are the afters:

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photo 3 1024x1024 Client Master Bath, Before and After(beautiful art is photography by my client–she is very talented!)


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The lines on the floor in the above photo were for the shower.  We closed up the door to make room for all the plumbing:

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The tile was inspired by the existing tile from the original master bath which was a crackled subway.  We elevated it with a wainscoting detail that outlines the niche and the polished nickel fixtures.  We also kept it a walk-in to mimic turn of the century spas that were found around the Bay Area at the time:  sort of functionality and utility (pony walls, free standing plumbing on the clawfoot tub, white subway tile) meets elegance (vanity, sconces, marble,m etc).

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And don’t worry, my poor client has shades in here now!  They are woven grass top-down/bottom-up to maintain the view and privacy at the same time.  They just didn’t go up until it was dark outside so they didn’t make it in my pics.

I look forward to some more reveals of this project over the coming days.  Thanks so much to my client who has been incredibly patient as this project ran over by a couple of weeks.  It can be so hard to live with a major renovation and she has been so understanding and accommodating, not to mention excited and supportive of the overall vision–a wonderful client to have!

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  Hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful winter break right now.

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Client Project Before and After: Updated Craftsman

Hi!  I hope everyone is having a good fall.  Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving?  I wanted to pop in to share some pics of a recent client project that’s now completed.  I just ran over to the project site yesterday and snapped these photos so keep in mind, they aren’t staged or styled, but I was too eager to share them to wait.

First a little background:  This house is in my neighborhood and is over 100 years old.  It’s a brown shingle craftsman very typical of homes in this area and the owners are bringing it back to life little by little.  They have done a lot of work on the upstairs and have big plans for other parts in the future.  They are both wonderful cooks (she’s French so of course!) and spend a lot of time in their well-used kitchen.  We think it was updated sometime in the 80s and was ready for a serious facelift.  We couldn’t play too much with the footprint as the guest room and bathroom are on one side and some beautiful original built-ins back up to it on the other, but we did change things around a little.

Here is the before.

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Notice that the kitchen is really a pass-through here.  When you opened the front door of the house, you saw straight through the kitchen to the back guest room. The only access to the guest room was through the kitchen as well.  We shifted the doorway a bit and changed a closet and hallway layout so you now see the stove and backsplash.  And here is the after:

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Here is the before of the sink area:

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And here is the after:

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rees kitchen after 7 wtrmrk 682x1024 Client Project Before and After:  Updated CraftsmanThis was such a fun and rewarding project for me and the clients were fantastic to work with.  And I learned SO much.  I loved figuring out how to combine French (the cement Moroccan tiles reminded her of Paris cafes) and Craftsman (cabinetry, architectural details, color scheme).  I don’t know if my favorite part is the tile, the soapstone counters, or the lower cabs in white oak.

Please be sure to sign up to follow me in Instagram if you aren’t already.  I have been so slammed lately that Instagram has become my quick and easy way to share project updates.  I’ll try to post some Instagram photos soon to update everyone on some other projects.

Thanks for checking in!

Guest Room–Transformed To Kid’s Room

Over the summer we finally made a big shift and decided to get rid of our guest room to let Duncan and Hart have their own rooms.  We only used the guest room a couple of times a year and even though the boys had a large and pretty cool room, we finally got the message that they wanted their own space.  I think Duncan had felt for a while that he was just a guest in Hart’s room and even though his new room is half the size, he’s really happy with the shift.  Because his room was so much smaller, I wanted to make sure it was cool and what he wanted.


As a reminder, here’s what the guest room looked like when we moved in:

Screen shot 2013 09 27 at 3.35.14 PM Guest Room  Transformed To Kids Room

And here it was after being transformed into the guest room:

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And now its third incarnation, Duncan requested a “forest cave”:

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I didn’t style the next photo but wanted to show his shelves and play space under the loft bed.  It’s a mess but I guess that means he actually uses it:

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I also have to give credit, he chose the art for the space including the brass bird sculpture on his shelf below:

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Hope you enjoyed Duncan’s room tour!  Have a great weekend and don’t forget about the Novica drawing ending on Monday.

A Nice Mention on Houzz and a Giveaway from Novica

I know my posts are few and far between these days but it’s only because I’m busy with so many exciting projects.  I’m hoping I’ll have them to share before too long.  If you’re interested in sneak peeks be sure to follow me on instagram.  There you’ll see progress on the mid-century modern Eichler inspired remodel, the Craftsman period kitchen, the midcentury updated ranch, and the boho inspired craftsman bedroom, not to mention a crazy amount of updates around our house.  Here’s an instagram pic of the wallpaper that’s now up in Becky’s room:

Screen shot 2013 09 23 at 9.41.22 PM A Nice Mention on Houzz and a Giveaway from Novica

A week or so ago I received an email saying my bachelor living room remodel was being used in a feature on  It was perfect because it was focusing on projects that use two of my favorite things:  saturated blues and brass.  Be sure to check out the article for some great ideas on how to combine the two.

Also, today I have a giveaway from  Novica is an online global marketplace sponsored by National Geographic that allows artisans from around the world to sell their products.  You can find beautiful handmade clothes, jewelry, art and more.  I picked up this gorgeous handpainted tray from their wonderful selection of serving platters:

 Novica tray 3 1024x765 A Nice Mention on Houzz and a Giveaway from Novica

Be sure to also check out their unique selection of table lamps and I’m in love with the idea of chilling out in one of these hammocks one weekend afternoon.  Just leave a comment in my comments section before midnight next Monday, 9/30 stating which item from Novica you’d like to buy and you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift certificate.  I’ll hold the drawing and post a winner.


Thanks for stopping by!



His and Hers

I finally got the other wingback chair done and it looks great with her partner. You’ll notice in the photo below that the chairs aren’t perfect matches–but I actually love that.  The one on the left is a little more feminine with more detail and piping, a slightly wider stripe, and a little shorter overall so I think of it as the “hers.” The one on the right is the original and even though I sit in it the most, I think of it as “his.” In any case they’re finally together:

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Those turquoise pillows are an experiment and I think I’ve decided to return them.  I picked them up at the Crate and Barrel outlet the other day but they’re too bold for what I’m going for here.

The chairs were done by Mignonne, a great local furniture and design shop here in Berkeley.  Johnelle and her team did a great job and are so nice to work with.  Be sure to check out their new fabric room with an awesome collection of vintage fabrics.

I must be in a turquoise phase because we have a lot of it being added to our house these days.  Follow me on instagram to see a sneak-peek of the turquoise update in Becky’s room (it’s her favorite color).  Duncan’s room is almost finished too (it’s our interpretation of a “forest cave”–his request for his new room) and I have so many new projects to share I’m bursting!  Thanks for your patience…I hope I won’t keep you waiting long.

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Kitchen Updates: Addendum

Thanks for all your interest in my last post about my kitchen update. I had originally intended it to be just about the brass faucet but then went on rather off-handedly to talk about the rest and the info I gave about painted cabinets seemed to spark a lot of interest so I thought I would give a little more.

First, let me say my cabinets don’t look that bad. If you weren’t looking for it, you probably wouldn’t notice the chipping and peeling under the sink and on the dishwasher panels but since I know it’s there, I see it and it bothers me. Plus, it’s only a year and a half out so what’s it going to look like in 5 years? That worries me.

Here’s what they look like just facing front on:

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And here are detail shots of the chips on top of the doors and drawers around the sink:

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I am the first to admit we are hard on this kitchen: I cook 6 nights a week, the kids running in and washing hands, Becky “helping” me do dishes, not wiping everything down after we use the sink (which is so many times a day–do people really do this?). And some of the chips are on the painted panels of the drawer dishwasher fronts which I don’t know how you avoid moisture there. I will also say though that I have seen this on other people’s homes with painted cabs under the sink as well–people who seemed to have high end renovations (wolf appliances, shaws sink, etc) and after 8-10 years, the paint is looking really worn. And I have since heard from other people (cab makers and serious renovators) that painted cabinets are pretty high maintenance.

The cabinets that aren’t exposed to moisture are actually holding up pretty well. There are some scuffs and chips but considering the amount of abuse they get with stools being pulled up to them all day by little hands and feet trying to reach things, help cook, or the occasional toy being slammed into them, I am happy with them. If I were more on top of it, I could do 5 mins of touch ups here and there and they would be good as new. Same goes for the uppers: some chips and wear but not terrible. Still, not what I was hoping for after 1.5 years.

There was also some interest in foil wrapped cabs so I thought I would explain a little more. Thermafoil used to be seen as a cheap alternative to solid wood doors (think melamine-esque) and, depending on the quality you are getting, is can still be true. If you are wanting a natural wood grain door, I agree that foil-wrapped however can look completely seamless and give a durable illusion of a painted door.  Foil wrapped in any quality is a cheaper faux version of the real thing. You can see the foil-wrapped faux wood grain cabinets at places like Ikea. They actually look pretty good but again they aren’t real wood–they are usually MDF wrapped in a heat treated surface. If you want natural wood grain I recommend going solid wood if budget allows.

If you are wanting a painted or modern looking surface, however, high-quality foil-wrapped seems like a great option. It will look just like sprayed cabinets and has much more durability. There is a lot of info out there maligning thermafoil cabinets but these are usually referring to cheaper (generally made in China) versions that will peel and chip. It really does matter what the quality of the thermafoil is as there are many high-end projects in the design world that use thermafoil for durability and thermafoil and foil-wrapped have been used with great popularity for years in Europe. Only work with a company that guarantees the surface, generally 15-20+ years. I don’t think thermafoil can be painted or re-wrapped but if you want a painted-like surface and aren’t going to change your mind icon wink Kitchen Updates: Addendum then that seems fine. Especially since painting a solid wood door near a wet surface doesn’t seem to hold up more than 1-2 years anyway with heavy use. Maybe 3-5 if you don’t have 3 kids…;)

And as I said before, I don’t recommend the faux wood foil wrapped unless budget makes this a necessary option. The Ikea options look so good now though and even high-end designers use them all the time and I think they are guaranteed for 15 years so I might be changing my tune on this! I am working with a client now who decided to do wood grain Ikea foil-wrapped cabs after much debating with me and I finally gave in after researching them and going to look at them in person. They really look great. Plus, the money we saved on cabinets meant we can do more in other parts of the house. And finally, the project is mid-century modern so I think it’s more material appropriate.

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I’m also doing a craftsman kitchen right now and we are using solid wood stained cabinets for the lowers and white foil-wrapped uppers. I’ll let everyone know more as I see them installed.

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I read a lot about thermafoil being sensitive to heat and needing heat deflectors around stoves. I can’t comment on this yet as I don’t have direct long term experience with them but I have been advised that the decomposition factor is really related to “old school” lower grade thermafoil. At this point, if you want a painted or really modern looking surface that is not natural wood I would love suggestions from others as to what the best choice is for durability. Another alternative is laminate and again, the look and durability depends on the quality. Low pressure laminate has issues too and most people cringe when they hear the word laminate with a kitchen reno. There doesn’t seem to be a perfect answer yet but based on my own experience and advice from professionals, I can’t recommend painted cabs near moisture or in heavy use areas.

Also, a reader was wondering if my experience with painted cabinets may be reflected in the quality of the cabinets–a great question. Actually, my kitchen is a great little experiment in this since we replaced some of the cheap cabinetry with high end and left about half of the cheap stuff in place. We had both versions prepped, primed, and sprayed by professionals and actually the high end cabinetry is holding up worse than the cheap stuff because it is what is exposed to moisture. It really does seem to be moisture that is key.

Also, another reader asked about factory finishes and if they are stronger. The short answer to that is yes. Instead of just being painted on, factory painted cabinets usually have their paint baked on I believe and that does add to durability. Still, with moisture, I have heard they will start to peel and chip too. Does anyone have direct experience with these?

Hope this extra info helps! I would love more input if others have advice out there!

Update:  I have to say I have seen the difference first hand now between thermafoil and foil-wrapped and I can’t recommend thermafoil.  Even if it’s a high-quality thermafoil material that mimics a painted surface, it will be near impossible to hide all those laminate-like seams.  The foil-wrapped though looks great!

Kitchen Updates

I mentioned recently that I got a new rug for the kitchen and wanted to show some better shots of it.  Here’s a reminder of the old rug:

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Not bad.  This was the one I made from stitching together 6 ikea rugs.  It had been through about 45 washings though and was starting to look a little worse for the wear.

Here’s a close up of the new kilim:


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Definitely warms up all the white and relates well to the brass.  Also, the rest of our house has really orange toned floors so this works well with them.

And, a few weeks ago I had a reader ask about how the unlacquered brass was holding up.  Here’s an update:

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I’m really happy with it so far.  I haven’t done anything to it except clean it with non abrasive cleansers every couple of weeks or so and if anything, it’s aging slower than I thought it would.  If you remember, the neck is copper plate and the rest is solid brass and the solid brass components are really heavy and durable.  I will have to replace the neck someday with a solid brass one but for now it’s fine and looks the same as the solid brass.  It’s aging at the same rate and you only know it’s not solid brass when you handle it.  So, 1.5 years later I still would totally recommend unlacquered brass and give it a strong thumbs up!

I also am pleased with the marble.  It has etching and some spots as I knew it would but again, that’s what I wanted so if you are up for a patinaed surface, I recommend the marble.  If you think that might bother you, definitely take a more durable route.  I’m doing soapstone for a kitchen client right now and I can’t wait to see it installed.  For durability, I love a honed black granite with a smooth or leather finish.  And of course, I LOVE concrete counters in traditional and contemporary settings.  Did anyone see the post about DIY concrete counters from The Little Green Notebook?  Dying over them…

The painted floors are holding up pretty well although we had a fridge leak recently and there are some water issues.  Not bad–a little staining and tiny bit of peeling and I guess we would have water stains if they weren’t painted too but still–a little frustrating.  Luckily, I can just spot paint the damaged areas myself–someday…;)

The painted cabs are another area I would rethink.  I don’t now recommend painted cabinets for clients on the lowers after realizing how much the heavy use takes a toll on them.  Especially at the sink.  They are peeling in places and have some chips–Not bad or really noticeable but for lowers now I always recommend stained wood or foil wrapped if possible.  I do have cabinet paint for touch ups and I guess before a real photo shoot or something I will touch them up but for now I’m just letting it go. icon smile Kitchen Updates

Anyone else have words of wisdom for kitchen renos?

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