The Classic Kid-Friendly Kitchen

Executive Editor Jessica Thuston transforms her family's lackluster kitchen into a crisp, new space that's big on ideas and easy on the budget.


I'm Jessica Thuston, executive editor at Southern Living, and this is my kitchen. When we first moved in, the kitchen was actually not very different than it is now in layout, but it had very dated linoleum floors, yellow laminate countertops. Really old, cabinetry on the upper cabinets and lower cabinets. It was a kitchen that had been loved and lived in for a very long time, but not updated since probably the late 70s. When we first walked into this house I knew, okay I can make this work because the costs were not going to go up by relocating plumbing and, you know, electrical and all that. It really came with a solid layout. The cabinetry was old, it was dated. There was not the right configuration of doors and drawers that we wanted, so really, we got it and all of that came out. A lot of people feel like you have to have upper cabinets. But I love getting rid of upper cabinets because they're bulky, they kinda take up a lot of wall space. I really wanted to free up the walls and take out the cabinets just to give it kind of more of a light and airy feeling. We really kept costs down by using stock cabinets and then put some different bells and whistles in it by using pull out drawers and auto soft close drawers and those really, kind of, make it feel a lot higher end than the actual cost is. We chose a really cool subway style tile that's Calcutta marble. It's a five by eight tile, so it's a little bit bigger than the standard subway tile size. And I used like a really kind of pale gray grout just so that it's a little graphic and sets it off just a little bit. This whole kitchen was sort of a give and take of splurge, save, splurge, save, so we splurged on the awesome tile, but then saved on those open shelving on either side of the windows, it's just totally straight from IKEA. Each shelf is about 7 bucks each. [MUSIC] We chose a really classic and simple apron front sink. It's under mounted under the counter tops, kind of a classic, farmhouse look, but feels kind of modern and fresh with the limestone countertops. I got new windows which made a huge, huge difference. Casement windows that open out and really just a really large picture window that, sort of, is really typical of the style of house. So I had cafe curtains made for the center window and sort of a fun ecot pattern that just, sort of, you know, really kind of more of a decorative trick. And then Roman shades for the two casement windows. [MUSIC] I added some striped fabric on the bias to the bottom as about a three inch span just to kind of define the bottom a little bit. There was originally a breakfast room in the kitchen that probably, maybe in the 70s, they combined into one large space. So what we did was, we sort of created a cased opening that was about probably three feet jutting out from the wall next to the stove. We really kind of restored the room to its original purpose which was a breakfast room eating area. I really wanted something on the floor that had a lot of interest and pattern and added a little bit of color to the floor but was in place of doing basically a standard rug. So I came up with this idea of sort of taping off and stenciling this pattern onto the floor. We taped off our pattern and then we took the primer, painted the pattern down and just put two coats of paint and then finished it off with a coat of polyurethane and we're finished. The whole kitchen, from start to finish, took about two months in renovation. And one of the best things you need to do is set up a mini-kitchen somewhere else in your house. So we had a little dorm-sized refrigerator that we plugged in for just milk and juice and, you know, things like that. [MUSIC] We had a toaster and, you know, we just lived off of that for a couple of weeks. It's such a cliche to say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, but if you design a kitchen really well, then it really becomes true. And it is in our case. We spend all our time here. This is where we entertain, where we cook, where we watch television, and just really, have enjoyed it and loved it. [MUSIC]
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