Let the Fun Begin | One Room Challenge Spring 2021

Am I crazy for updating my kitchen merely two years after building it from scratch? Probably.

Quick backstory: Sean and I are renters. We live in an in-law apartment that was not finished when we were married in January 2019. We completed it within the first 6 months living there, but it was rushed. Eating crockpot meals and hauling dishes to the main house to be washed got old real fast. And since we were working on it ourselves, design aesthetic was not a main priority. If I could do it all again, I would put more thought into it at the expense of waiting longer for a working kitchen.

While it’s fully functioning, it is still unfinished and lacks harmony with the rest of our apartment. Which leads us to the Spring 2021 One Room Challenge. I’m finally investing the time this space deserves and has needed for two years.

Not everything is changing, though. There are just a couple of elements that I’d like to rework so that they fit better with the rest of the apartment.

What’s Staying:

  • Lower Cabinets

  • Range Hood

  • Mid-Century China Cabinet

  • Backsplash

What’s Changing:

  • Wall treatment

  • Refrigerator

  • Upper Shelves

  • Accessories

Color Palette

My main goal is to let this space feel like the rest of the apartment, but make a bit more of a statement. Keeping the black cabinets is a no-brainer for me because 1) I love ‘em and 2) they give this space that boldness I want. The color palette is based around the primary colors in the bedroom that adjoins the kitchen and the “hallway” connecting to the living room. Terracotta, teal, black and brown. When I decided on this color story, I instantly thought of the American Southwest and as I write this first blog post, I’m sitting shaded sun of Arizona. Being here affirmed the mood of this space in many ways. The sharpness of the city against the flow of the desert, the fierceness of the wind whipping through the smoothed red rocks of the Grand Canyon; that's the kind of balance I'm aiming for here.


Dramatic, distinct, daring. Preferences come from all kinds of sources. For me, I love the idea of leaning into the depth and closeness of my kitchen. Lacking windows and square footage, I was inclined to brighten it when I first "designed" it. I truly didn't know what I was going for here. The only piece I knew just worked was the cabinetry. Sure, black is unconventional for a small kitchen. That just means the challenge is even greater to guarantee its glory.

These Pinterest images are where I began my scheming for a dramatic kitchen.

As much as the rich cabinetry is a main feature, the real star of the show is my collection of Carnival Glass, inherited from my great aunt. It's warm, dynamic, and certainly uncommon. I fell in love with each piece and the way they are enhanced by the dark wood of their home-- a mid-century modern cabinet I sourced on Facebook Marketplace. This collection also encouraged the feature wall connecting my dining space to my living room, Benjamin Moore's tuscan tile CSP-1130 (featured above).

The Plan

The next eight weeks will certainly be busy, in the best way possible. The energy that comes from a fast-paced project is thrilling and worth every late night when it all comes to a close and ideas become reality. And I'm a planner at heart, so I have laid out each week's tasks as follows:


Remove wallpaper behind hutch

Paint Walls (two coats)


Add wood trim to countertop edge

Stain black + seal with polyurethane


Paint refrigerator

Build cabinets

Order area rug


Finish tiling behind stove

Build cabinet doors


Finish tiling behind stove

Paint cabinets + doors


Install cabinets

Swap outlet + switch covers


Accessorize and photoshoot

REVEAL — June 24 - June 27

Obviously the biggest task here is building the upper cabinets. And also matching the rectangle backsplash tiles. They were on major clearance (like, 10 cents per tile) back in 2018. And we soon realized we wouldn't have enough for the whole length of the kitchen and ended it at the corner. However, in the two years and a half we've lived here, I've come to see why a backsplash is so important behind a stovetop. Yikes.

If you are already familiar with Evergreen Design Co., you'll know I participated in the One Room Challenge last spring. I refreshed the owner's suite at my parent's home -- you can see the Reveal here! The best part of the challenge was getting to know other participants and see the beauty that we are all capable of creating. I look forward to following the projects of featured designers and guest participants this year, especially as the industry has changed with COVID. So, let the fun begin.