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Kitchen Challenge Part 5: Working While You Wait--A Back Porch Makeover

The waiting game is almost over and I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival of the cabinets. After moving walls, putting in ceilings, measuring and re-measuring, selecting and re-selecting, we finally placed our cabinet order about a month ago. For the past four weeks, we've been eating a lot of take-out, mastering meals in the InstantPot (here's my recipe for an old favorite (Insta-Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic) and learning the art of patience. The cabinets should be arriving in another week or two and then we're off to the races with tile, appliances and fixtures all ready to go!

While we wait, I've been working on a small side project, transforming a drab back porch into a functional and beautiful "butler's pantry" style extension of the new kitchen.

The back porch was already functional with tons of cabinet space. But the cabinets were old and boring, the countertop was a white, plastic laminate with several stains and the whole space was painted what my husband likes to call "mental institution yellow." There wasn't much of a budget left for this space so the fixes had to be cheap and easy enough to do myself.

Step 1: New Paint!

Behr's "Tsunami" paint color is one of my favorites and has transformed at least one room in every place I've lived for the past few years. I used it in the office in this house (and the office in my last house) and knew it would be perfect for the porch.

The true color is quite a bit darker and bluer than this swatch. Because the color is so rich, it works really well in small spaces and can be great for rooms without much natural light (like the office) but it is especially beautiful in light-filled rooms. Buy the highest quality paint and primer in one that you can. With a color this rich, two coats thoroughly obliterated the "mental institution yellow."

Step 2: New Cabinets (sort of)!

The cabinets on the porch were good quality and in great shape but so boring. Because they were covered in a plastic laminate, they couldn't be painted and there was not room in the budget for new cabinets or cabinet doors. I settled on a simple but effective fix--new knobs. I knew I wanted to bring a little bling into the space and decided a chunky gold knob would do the trick. I wanted something reminiscent of a disco ball and found 1 1/4 inch spherical brass knobs from Ballard Hardware.

Unfortunately, the were $8 each and I needed 24 of them! I was not going to spend $200 on cabinet fixtures for so I turned to Ebay and found a set of 8 used knobs. They had great patina and took care of 1/3 of my cabinets for $20 total! I continued to search Ebay and over the next two weeks found two more sets of the same knobs eventually accumulating all that I needed (plus some extras) for about $60! I gave the cabinets a good wash and, with the new knobs, they were totally transformed!

I removed the set of bottom middle cabinets to make room for a Jenn Air Wine Cooler that had been given to me about a year ago when I was in the early phases of planning the kitchen renovation.

With this new addition, the new "butler's pantry" was almost complete!

Step 3: New Countertop

Originally, I wanted to match the back porch countertop to the rest of the kitchen counters but, in a fit of impatience, I opted to go with a simple butcher block from Ikea in order to speed things along.

Made of solid oak overlaid ply-wood, the Ikea Mollekulla Oak Countertop came in at $199 and was easy to trim to size at home. It can be cleaned and treated like a regular butcher block and made for a practical, inexpensive and easy to care for surface for this functional workspace.

Since the Wine Cooler was a freebie, the whole renovation was completed for around $300!

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