When Ruthie Jackson first set out to renovate the dated kitchen in her family’s 1935 colonial revival home, she had one goal in mind. “I wanted to create a functional and charming space we could enjoy as a family,” she says.
Since the bulk of her budget was devoted to updating the plumbing and appliances, she relied on simple yet impactful switch ups—such as painting the walls and cabinets in warm hues and replacing the retro shag carpeting with geometric floor tiles—to revamp the kitchen without spending a fortune. “I popped off the trim on the cabinets to give them a fresh look, and installed new fixtures and countertops to modernize the space,” she explains.
The end result is a cozy kitchen teeming with gradient tones and touchable textures that never stray from a neutral palette. Curious how to score a similar look in your own home? Ruthie shares her ideas ahead.
Think Outside the White Box
Along with instantly warming up the space, Ruthie says employing a light, cinnamon-y shade of brown, Dirty Chai, instead of classic white paint made it easier to cover up some of the eyesores in the room. “I painted the walls, ceiling and cabinets all the same color to disguise the large bulk heads and other imperfections,” she says. “It worked so well, I was inspired to use a similar palette in the dining room.”
Soften Things Up with Gradient Hues
To create subtle moments of contrast that wouldn’t disrupt the earth-toned scheme, Ruthie applied gradient shades of neutral paint—including beigey gray Flatiron and bold Blackish—to the trims and moldings. “Previously, the kitchen was high contrast, with dark everything and white trim,” she explains. “I used Flatiron on the trims and doors, and Blackish on the window panes and frames for a softer look with a classic feel.”
The More Metals, the Merrier
Instead of sticking to just one metallic finish, Ruthie took care to incorporate an array of different metals in the space to score an eclectic, layered look. “The fixtures are all warm brass,” she says. “However, I added a mix of stainless steel and copper pieces throughout to create a more collected, homey feel.”
Carve Out a Comfy Nook
No cozy kitchen would be complete without a comfy spot to cuddle up with a book, which is why Ruthie turned a cramped kitchen corner into a bonafide breakfast nook. “We used leftover wood from our butcher block countertops to make benches mounted to hair pin legs, and hung bench cushions on the wall to create a soft place to lean on,” she says. “The breakfast nook is the perfect spot to read the paper, have coffee or share a meal for two after the kiddos go to bed.”
Maximize Every Square Inch
A kitchen can go from snug to stuffy when overloaded with items, so Ruthie took strategic steps to streamline the space with small-space-friendly storage solutions. “I installed a peg board on an awkward wall that allows me to keep all of my cookware at arm’s reach,” she says. “We also created a two-sided peninsula—with a stainless steel top that holds up to hot pans and the kids’ art projects—so that our family of four can have casual meals together.”