Dana Siomkos and Zane Latta had outgrown their tiny Brooklyn apartment. They needed more space for their daughter Georgia, now 4. Another daughter, Clio, now almost 2, was on the way. “We wanted a backyard and public schools,” says Siomkos. They found a three-story colonial with a full basement in Maplewood. “I fell in love with the third-floor space for a home office,” she says. “Zane fell in love with the man cave.”
What they didn’t love was the kitchen.
“It was wood on wood on wood,” says Siomkos. Figuring it would be an expensive renovation, the couple decided to live with the kitchen for a while. “I thought it was a $50,000 project.”
Then they met Amy Hughes, owner of Salvage Style, a Maplewood design shop filled with vintage furniture, accessories, art and rugs. Hughes was making a delivery when she got a look at the Siomkos/Latta kitchen. She immediately suggested a renovation project, assuring the couple she could revamp the entire space for about $7,000, new furnishings included. The first step would be deciding what to keep, what to replace, where to splurge and where to save.
All of the appliances were in working condition. They stayed. The stained-wood cabinets were of good quality, but needed updating. They were painted. The milky-white countertop stayed, as did the honey-oak flooring. For a fresh look, Hughes suggested an inky, grey-blue color on the bottom cabinets and bright white on the top. “The white upper cabinets disappear into the wall now,” she observes.
All new lighting can make a big difference. Hughes found a mid-century Baccarat light fixture at auction for $10; it now hangs in the center of the kitchen. The breakfast room fixture from IKEA cost about $60. Flush-mounted LED lights were installed without having to cut walls or move wiring.
For the backsplash, Hughes found inexpensive subway-like tile at Home Depot, but set it in a herringbone pattern. The breakfast-room furniture came from estate sales and flea markets, including a glass-top table on a Lucite base—vintage pieces totaling less than $500. The acrylic counter stools were $45 each at a thrift shop. “All these pieces are beautiful and chic, but barely there,” says Hughes. “They’re see-through, so it opened up the space.”
“I always splurge on a professional painter,” says Hughes, citing the need for proper surface preparation—especially for cabinets. “The painter took off the cabinet doors and hand-brushed them,” she says. “New, sleek hardware updates the cabinets.”
The custom, rustic shelving only looks expensive. It’s actually reclaimed wood from a local lumberyard. “We bought a plank with lots of variations and defects so it looks reclaimed,” says Hughes. She had it sanded and coated with clear polyurethane. “The open shelves are my favorite feature,” says Siomkos. Another cost-cutting tip: Hughes framed Georgia and Clio’s pictures instead of splurging on costly art. “It’s original artwork,” she jokes, “and it personalizes the space.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
The project—including labor and new furnishings—totaled about $7,300. “It’s maximum impact with minimal budget,” Hughes says. “They now have a super-swanky kitchen that will get them through the next 10 years.”