Common Cents: Update Your Kitchen Without Breaking the Bank

Everyone has a room in their house that needs an update and there is no better place to start than in the kitchen. Kitchens are the heart of the home where everyone gathers. It’s important that they be functional and inviting as well as durable for daily wear. We have tackled full remodels but, if the bones of the kitchen are good, often we can give a kitchen a strategic facelift. In this post we will discuss a recent Dallas kitchen re-design and our budget minded designer tips to revamp your own kitchen.

Bright modern traditional kitchen by S.B Long Interiors
Bright modern Kitchen after S B Long Interiors strategic re-design


GET ORGANIZED: Details and decisions can become overwhelming once construction begins. The first step is to make a mood board that will be your style guide as you move through the renovation. Putting images of key renovation elements together on paper helps define the look and ensures visual continuity.  It helps to keep from over designing and ensures the right balance of color and materials. Remember, it’s easy to pick all your favorite fixtures and materials, but they may not all look good in one kitchen.

S.B Long kitchen mood board
Mood board for our Preston Hollow Texas kitchen renovation


For this project, our client wanted a fresh, modern look with classic clean lines and plenty of countertop space. The cabinetry and appliances were in good shape, but we wanted to make the surfaces and details more engaging to coordinate with the home’s new modern interiors. We turned to a personal favorite, Britain’s Plain English cupboards for inspiration. We’ve always loved their richly painted cabinets and Shaker simplicity. They were a great inspiration for this kitchen.

Dark wood cabinetry, dated granite countertops and drab tan walls dominated the original kitchen. It lacked interest and contrast.

Before image of kitchen island
Preston hollow Contemporary Craftsman kitchen before


Before Image of kitchen
Preston hollow Contemporary Craftsman kitchen before


PAINT: One of the best tools to quickly transform a space is a fresh coat of paint. To start, we painting all the walls crisp Simply White by Benjamin Moore.  We didn’t want to do a traditional blue cabinet color, but did want a shade to complement the orange tones in the surrounding woodwork. We chose to paint the cabinets Inchrya Blue from Farrow & Ball. This blue was inspired by a bespoke color made for Lord & Lady Inchyra at the beautiful classic Georgian Inchyra House in Scotland.

We love using Farrow & Ball colors because they very carefully design their formulas to have depth and balance. This aged blue changes throughout the day – having specifically been developed to work with changing daylight.  This complex color gives a more dimensional look and adds interest to the space.

Kitchen cabinets being painted blue.
Kitchen cabinet painting in progress


COUNTERS: Next up was replacing the old granite countertops with an updated surface. We chose durable Ceasarstone. This material is great because it mimics blue limestone, but unlike soft limestone, it’s durable, hard quartz.  The honed warm gray shade, coordinates calmly with the stainless steel faced appliances. Small but impactful details like adding a crisp square edge and continuing the Ceasarstone up the wall for a seamless clean backsplash gives the space a new contemporary feel.

FIXTURES: We updated the plumbing with a sleek new stainless faucet with a pullout sprayer and an under-mount square cornered sink for a clean, spacious look. The existing appliances were still in good condition but we gave the stainless steel faces a professional polish to remove any wear and have them look newly installed.

We swapped out the simple decorative lights for bolder, modern bronze and milk glass pendants, to tie with the existing bronze cabinet pulls, which we decided to keep because we loved the patina.  The new light fixtures’ size was carefully chosen to increase impact but take advantage of the existing ceiling junction box outlets to prevent additional electrical work.

Modern traditional kitchen with blue cabinetry
Crips white walls, light fixtures and tableware contrasts the blue cabinets.


STYLING & DETAILS: Even with this new clean look, we were able to interject some key details. The Texas kitchen gets a lot of light with south facing windows and doors. We’ve always admired Hartman & Forbes natural window shades and decided to spec them for the south wall.  The organic woven roller shades fit cleanly inside the door and window frames adding textural interest to this new sleek space.

The glass front cupboard is the ‘go to’ for daily meals, but we needed it to be visually impactful and pretty. We refined and edited the client’s tableware collections and pulled all of the white pieces out to display behind glass and to pop against the new blue paint.  For visual consistency we stacked the pieces centered on each shelf.  The piles, though imperfect, remain pretty with one consistent crisp tone.

Always a defining Kitchen detail – we chose the counter stools carefully.  We replaced the simple wood stools with modern Walnut and rope wrapped swivel back counter stools. After minimizing most of the wood tone by painting the cabinetry, the rich Walnut and rope material pops against the cool blue paint.

Modern Traditional kitchen with blue island and pendant lights
The vibrant end result of our Kitchen remodel


The design elements were chosen carefully – paint, counters, barstools and light fixtures to add the right modern traditional mix to this existing kitchen space.  By using the existing appliances and cabinets and not changing plumbing or electrical locations, we were able to achieve a dramatic makeover without a full gut renovation. Check out the rest of our Preston Hollow Contemporary Craftsman project revamp on our website and look for more Before & After posts for this project on our Blog.


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For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by design and the subtle impact of our surroundings. Some of my earliest influences still resonate – I think of the dark woods and textured lodens of my father’s shooting club, the smell of fresh paint on a new canvas, and the bold symmetry of the Philip Johnson Glass house just down the street. For me, it was a natural path to become an Interior Designer. I love what I do. I’ve created this Blog to share my thoughts, finds and design inspirations. I hope you enjoy it!