Our 48-Hr (Surprise) Kitchen Makeover
*This kitchen makeover post is sponsored by Formica® Group and SheKnows Media
Hey, guys! Maryal here. I’m kicking off this post on my own because we absolutely had to tell this story separately. Telling it together like we usually do here on Love and Specs just wouldn’t do it justice! Now, there are few things I love more in life than a good surprise, and of course, Mr. Chris Carter. And after a magical, unforgettable year of Chris surprising me over and over again with little things like, oh, I don’t know a proposal, I finally found the perfect way to give back to the guy who gives so much to the people he loves, and surprise him with something I not only know he’s been wanting, but something I knew he’d absolutely love… a new kitchen!
I know I know, that’s a pretty big surprise, but I had the help of a few friends to make this magic happen. But first, the backstory.
Chris and I are getting married in August. Woo hoo! And after we got engaged and Chris officially moved into my beloved little mid-century ranch home in Arcadia, we’ve slowly been updating our little love nest together and turning it into a shared home that will fit our needs for years to come. As a couple, the kitchen is where we spend most of our quality time, and it’s definitely our most-loved room in the house but it’s been in desperate need of a makeover.
I was recently chatting with my friend, YouTuber and interior design genius Mary Elizabeth about our kitchen issues, and by the end of our conversation she had completely convinced me that not only could she help turn our lackluster kitchen space into something out-of-this-world amazing, but that she could also help maximize our budget and increase the kitchen’s functionality, all without sacrificing one ounce of style. Sold!
Now that I’d gotten over my kitchen makeover and remodel fears, we started scheming and came up with the totally ridiculous plan of conquering this kitchen overhaul while Chris was away on a business trip… for 48 hours… and surprising him with the new and improved kitchen when he came home. Are we nuts? Possibly. Would it be awesome? Definitely.
Of course, there was no way we could make this happen by ourselves, so Mary Elizabeth called in the help of her friends at Formica® Group to execute one of the pillars of her grand kitchen plan – replacing our hard-to-clean, unsightly pink granite tile countertops with new Formica laminate countertops from their 180FX® line in the stunningly gorgeous Café Azul pattern. These new countertops would be the centerpiece of our new kitchen, and will really brighten our space with their white quartz-like background and veins of cool gray and warm brown flowing throughout. This pattern is gorgeous, and it includes Formica® EliteForm surfacing technology built in, for a more durable countertop surface. Not to mention that this countertop is much easier to clean than those yucky tiles. Score!
Seriously, you guys these countertops are a revelation and couldn’t be more beautiful! The high resolution 180FX pattern I chose is granite-like and doesn’t repeat for 5 feet, so it looks just like real stone, making this a great way to maximize our budget and spend on other updates for the kitchen that we desperately needed. The colors and pattern of Café Azul also gives us that perfectly stylish mix of masculine and feminine that’s always such a delicate balance to strike in our house.
Once that very important piece of the puzzle was in place, we called in a few more helpers from our partners at SheKnows and our friends at The Countertop Center in Phoenix, and we were off to the races ready to shed blood, sweat and tears to get this project completed and polished by the time Chris got home from his trip.
Before our Kitchen Makeover
Here’s a little breakdown of some of the problems our old kitchen presented, and some of the solutions Mary Elizabeth and I came up with to fix those problems.
New Kitchen Fixes
New colorful runner for the cold tile floor (with extra Scotch Guard for this high traffic area!)
White paint for the cabinets
Brand new Formica® Brand laminate countertops in Café Azul
Matte black pulls and knobs for the cabinets
Large white farm sink
Large, easy-to-use brass faucet
Old Kitchen Problems
Ugly, pink, tough-to-clean granite tile countertops
Dark, lackluster color scheme
Outdated mismatched appliances
Mismatched cabinet hardware
Unfinished, dark cabinets
Small sink with no room for faucet
Outdated, hard-to-use faucet
And now that you’re all caught up, this is the moment you’ve all been waiting for and my very favorite part of this whole surprise – the incredible before and after pics of the kitchen remodel and Chris’ reaction when he got home and saw this insanely beautiful makeover! Take it away, Chris!
After our Kitchen Makeover
I absolutely love to cook. It’s my favorite hobby, probably because I’m constantly snacking on whatever I’m making. You know you do it too! I live in a world that revolves around restaurants, chefs and food. Lots of delicious food. I also happen to really enjoy photographing food. According to my beautiful fiancé, the kitchen is officially “my space”. I’m not going to claim that out loud in the house ever, but I will claim it here in writing where I can get away with it without getting a one-way ticket to the doghouse!
So last week, I’m in California to teach a hospitality class at one of our restaurants, North Italia. After a few days surfing, working and eating, I’m excited to get home and see the babe. Then, the most amazing thing happens to me! I can only attempt to articulate my exact feelings as I walked into the house because to say the least, it was an incredible few minutes. I walk in the door and there stands Maryal and one of our dear friends, Mary Elizabeth (a master in the art of interior design), inside a brand new kitchen. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! It absolutely stopped me in my tracks, and I couldn’t believe the transformation our funky little outdated kitchen had undergone in the two short days that I was away, and I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that these girls took on this huge project with such a short timeline, just to surprise me!
Check out my reaction and the full video of the surprise kitchen remodel here!
Congrats on your engagement. Congrats on this AWESOME makeover and congrats on having such a wonderful experience though it all!
I don’t know you both (obviously hee-hee ☺️) but I appreciate you sharing this story with all of us.
One question, if I may boldly ask, how much did this makeover cost?
You don’t have to give me an exact number, just a ballpark.
My husband and I (newlyweds), got married for the 1st time very later in life and we merged two very equipped homes into one.
We live in "his house" at the moment (until we can save money to buy a new-er home) and we’re trying to make it more mine but trying to break the bank at the same time, ya know?
And redoing the kitchen is on MY priority list.
It’s as dark and gloomy as yours was (if not gloomier) and I’ve run out of ways to remedy it but I’ve come to realize that more work than putting up a sticker wall border and country decorations is not doing it for me.
Anyhoo, if you can share that small bit of info that would help my case and I can start hounding my hubby for a new… weekend project! ?
Hope all is well and congrats again!
Love and Specs says
Hi! Thank you so much for your kind kind words – we love hearing from a fellow newlywed, and we can both totally relate to the whole scenario of getting married after you’re already sort of fully equipped on your own and trying to merge your two households. Our entire kitchen renovation was done on a relatively small budget, so we maximized the impact of everything we did. The most important part of that was going with our Formica countertops. The aesthetic of the countertops was really important to me, and they have the most gorgeous patterns and colors, and buying them allowed us to spend money in other key places… but those other key places also didn’t break the bank. Having the cabinets painted white made a HUGE difference and really brightened and updated the entire space, and it wasn’t really that expensive in the grand scheme of things. You could also do that part yourself and save even more money that way (it would take some patience, but I’ve seen it done)! And then the farmhouse sink from Ikea packed a huge punch, and was one of the most inexpensive white farmhouse sinks I saw while searching, which was great. And the new hardware on the cabinets was obviously an easy fix, but also updated the entire look. So I’d say that the place we spent the most money was on our new appliances, which was just a personal choice and to be expected. We really needed them and it really has made a difference both functionally and aesthetically for us in the kitchen. They also don’t break down on us, which is always a plus. So all in all, we did this entire kitchen remodel for under $5K, which for us was right where we needed to be. And after about 5 months of living in the space, we’re even MORE in love with the new kitchen. It’s so functional and beautiful and we’re still just so happy with how it turned out, and especially happy with the look and functionality of our new countertops. Fun stuff! If you go with Formica countertops, I’d love to see pics of your before and after and see which pattern you chose. I fell in love with so many of their patterns while choosing mine, and would love to see what you pick!
So the pictures look like the Formica is black and white but when I look at the sample online it looks like there is brown.
Love and Specs says
There is a slight bit of brown in the Formica, you’re correct. The predominant tones are black, white and grey, but there is some brown that runs through it as well. We have a lot of natural light that floods our kitchen during the day, which is when these photos were shot, which mutes the brown quite a bit. BUT under our regular somewhat warmer kitchen lights when it’s dark outside, the brown shows through so much more in the countertops. I think the more warm, artificial light you have shining on the countertops the more that warm brown tone will come out. It’s such a beautiful pattern – we’re so in love with our countertops.
This is fabulous! I am going to do the Formica countertops which means I can splurge on the extra details I grumbled about when I went over budget! There’s at least 2–no 3–no 4! patterns I spot to choose from! Thank you for sharing–there’s light at the end of the tunnel! I have one question though–WHERE did you find that great runner??
Love and Specs says
That’s awesome, Valerie! So glad that our kitchen project inspired you and helped you prioritize the items in your budget for your project! We certainly know how daunting the whole remodel can be and how hard it is to do it on a tight budget. But it can be done! Using Formica is such a great way to maximize your budget, and there definitely are so many cool patterns to choose from that will make your kitchen look stunning! The runner is from Lulu & Georgia – it’s the "Elodie" rug and it’s A-MAZ-ING! We love it so much. https://www.luluandgeorgia.com/elodie-rug-by-glitter-guide
Thanks for stopping by – and don’t forget to drop a comment when your project is finished and tag us in your photos so we can see them!
Hello! Can you tell me about the backsplash and edge profiles for your countertops, please? It is not big box store-like.