Well this was unexpected. I had no intention on touching our kitchen. I bought a few navy towels when we moved in because, ya know, “I wanted a navy color scheme” lol and called it a day. I was so happy to have a kitchen that wasn’t dark brown, doing anything else to it almost felt redundant. So here’s a little backstory…Our first apartment had white everything and not white like “oh, la, la” white but white like this was the cheapest of everything the builder could find. When we moved into our house, the white was gone but now we were on the opposite side of the spectrum. Welcome, espresso mahogany lol. You know the color I’m talking about. It’s the color big box retailers offer their furniture in for the people who don’t want black, because black would just be TOO dark… I rolled with it and even had the nerve to DIY a black backsplash! Yes, dark brown cabinets with a black tile backsplash. GOOD-NESS.

I was proud of my first big project which was actually what catapulted me into home DIYing in the first place. It was cool and original, but man did I want a lighter kitchen. We talked about reno projects but ended up selling our house before any real plans developed which was an amazing move for us, but just when the sun was coming out, the clouds rolled in, in the form of a new apartment with – you guessed it – ESPRESSO MAHOGANY cabinets! Who was making these things!?! Who kept picking this color!? I needed names!

I did absolutely nothing with this “new” kitchen. Mainly because of the funky room layout and awkwardly high bar counter that blocked all the light from coming in. To say it was dark is an understatement so when we toured our current spot for the first time I was in love. Gray cabinets and a white subway tile backsplash?! What planet was this? I was blown away with the kitchen alone.We saw all the natural light beaming in and unanimously said “yup, this is the one”. I remember walking in and hearing angels sing (no joke! lol).

This was what my kitchen apartment dreams had been made of. Oh the things I would do, cook and style – the possibilities. Fast forward to our first eleven months in here and I’d done nothing! LOL. It was all TOO GOOD. I was so happy to have a lighter, brighter kitchen that was contemporary and well laid out, that I really didn’t even want to do anything to it. I was fine with it just the way it was. But something wasn’t right. It was almost TOO clean. The kitchen on its own is a lot of gray and nickel, like, a lot. It felt very cold and a little too contemporary like what they always make homes look like in movies set in the year 2191. It needed a little warmth. I quickly added in a few warm wood tones, like our bar stools from Hobby Lobby and a few cutting boards but that was about it. There were no new changes to the kitchen until a few days ago.

You know how you see something in a store and every time you go back to the store and see it again, it begins to imprint on your brain? You don’t know where you’ll put it but you know you like it. Cue the Target runner that’s “so out of my comfort zone”. So when this “new – old rug” trend came back, all I could think was that I used to have a rug like this in my bedroom when I was thirteen, what’s all the hype about now? My parents had one in their bedroom and the living room and I had a runner style in my room. They were ornate and elaborate and being a teenager at the time – I was not impressed, but I couldn’t get this rusted blue goody out of my head. I tend to go with very linear, clean, crisp but interesting elements when I style. Ornate is definitely not something I gravitate towards but I couldn’t let this runner go. The color combination had all of my favorite colors; deep rust coral, mint, blue and ivory, so for weeks on end I’d peep around the rug aisle just to see if it was still there. I finally decided to take it home Friday while also snagging these simple but beautiful Hearth and Hand mint cups. I knew they’d play well with the runner’s colors without being to matchy.

Once home, I added in a few pieces I already had to tie it all together (and have a reason to buy more paydays, because what’s a candy jar with no candy in it?) and called it a day. I liked the new warmer look and the runner made the space feel different. It felt cool and unique but something was still missing. I’d had a basil plant in the kitchen before, what about adding a whole herb situation? What if was on the wall? Do I have the wood to do it now so I don’t have to leave the apartment and spend money? YES to it all. Within thirty minutes I’d made a super easy wall planter using only wood and glue! I added basil, creeping jenny, cilantro and oregano and couldn’t love it more! It feels like a cool little shop in downtown Atlanta (my hometown). I know that’s a reference most won’t get but it makes me smile. I love how the planter makes the kitchen look now and I love having herbs at my fingertips, not just in my cabinet.

This was easily the quickest and least expensive redo ever (which you wouldn’t know from how long this post has been lol). The planter was from wood I already had, the rug was about $30, set of four cups were $12 and the plants totaled to about $15. Everything else I used was already in the apartment. I’m actually shocked at how little had to go into this, but how major the change feels. Our little apartment is only 800 sqft and our kitchen doesn’t even take up half of that, but these tiny additions have completely changed how I look at this space and how I feel when I walk in. Whether I’m grabbing a cup of water or making my famous basil fettuccine, I know I’ll love ever minute in here that much more and can’t walk away without a second glance.

take away: use warm tones and ornate patterns to create an interesting juxtaposition of styles in a sterile space. If you feel like a room is too one-sided, whether by construction or styling, try using an opposite on the design spectrum to help balance it out.



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