“It was totally quarantine induced,” says Olivia Perez, the journalist and podcast host, about her lockdown renovation project. Don’t get us wrong: We love a full-blown countertops-to-appliances-to-backsplash makeover, but there’s truly nothing like the magic of a tiny tweak that leaves a not-so-tiny impact. Cue Olivia’s reno project: adding a bright coat of paint and switching up the hardware of her already existing kitchen cabinets. Equipped with YouTube-fueled knowledge, the support of her partner (and roommate), as well as her friend Maude Etkin, who just so happens to be an interior designer, Olivia and her “accountability buddies” were ready to go.
After being fed endless Instagram posts featuring savvy home renos, Olivia gathered up the courage to take the DIY plunge. “I have no design style at all,” she jokes. “I’m not great with it but I love the idea of being able to do things yourself.” And with so many quarantine projects, time was on Olivia’s side when it came to embarking on this renovation. “I’m a big believer about living in a space for a while before you do anything. Try it, buy it, you can always return it. So we definitely took our time with it.”
Before: After living with the original cabinetry for almost two years, Olivia and her partner decided it was time for an upgrade.
Location: Los Angeles
The before: Yellow-toned cabinets with silver surrounded the black countertops, which gave off a dated look.
The inspiration: “I love barn-style kitchens, so I put together a few mood boards and watched a bunch of different YouTube videos. I’ve always loved white kitchens, even though I recently read an article saying that they’re ‘over,’ but I don’t care,” Olivia quips. “I grew up with an airy kitchen where I spent 90% of my time. So many memories are made in the kitchen, so having a bright space was really important to me.”
After: It’s always shocking to see what a fresh coat of Painter’s White paint and updated hardware can do for a space. Olivia’s DIY project brought a breath of fresh air into her space.
The hardest part: The sanding. “There was totally a moment where my boyfriend was like, ‘Um, should someone come help us?’ It was right before we had to start sanding the walls of the kitchen and we knew the cleanup was going to be a nightmare,” she reveals of their last-minute panic. Her tip? Know exactly what kind of sanding needs to be done for your specific cabinets. After making the initial mistake of overdoing it by opting for an electric sander, Olivia decided to embrace the kinks. “Now I smile every time I see them.”
The best part: “Realizing that your mistakes tell the best story when it comes to DIY,” Olivia shares. “Whatever you’re making, it’s going to have character. For me, knowing that was really cathartic, and that’s really what DIY is about.”
Labels, labels, labels!
Her advice: Label everything. According to Olivia, Maude saved the day: “She came in and drew a huge map of the kitchen.” The duo then proceeded to place all of the hardware, screws, and bolts into individual bags that correlated to the cabinets labeled on the map. “It was crucial because by the time we went back to put the cabinets back on we would've been so confused and lost.”
Final bill: $350
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