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It’s taken a few days—scratch that. It’s taken many, many, many days and countless hours of toiling through pages and pages of instructions that don’t make sense to assemble the new cabinetry in my sister’s basement. I think my brother-in-law is ready to strangle me. I don’t blame him.


Yes, there’s still a tiny bit more work to be done: the kick boards need to be put in place, and obviously there’s a door missing. But considering that this thing came in 800 different pieces, I think my brother-in-law deserves a beer even though he wouldn’t drink it.

TOTALLY against the BYU honor code. Maybe I’ll buy him a huge Sprite.



Is it custom? Of course not. Custom is not in the budget. But you know what? The custom cabinetry that the previous owners of our house installed in the kitchen in 2003 is currently falling apart. So custom doesn’t always equal quality. That’s called design expertise by experience! It’s a design philosophy I like to call Kids Destroy Things.

Before I even took on this project my brother-in-law had already ordered doors for all the rooms in the basement. And they look like this:


A little bit country, not at all rock-n-roll. Like I said previously, I think one of my main challenges with this project is marrying my sister’s traditional style with my modern taste. So when we were thinking about cabinetry I wanted something that could combine both design styles without looking like a neglected stepchild.

So we chose a shaker-style door with a beech veneer and coupled it with sleek stainless steel hardware and a smooth black countertop. It’s simple and clean, and it leaves us a lot of room to play in terms of what we do with the wall above it. Internet, WHAT DO WE DO WITH THAT WALL?

I’m thinking of a glass tile backsplash, either in a square or rectangular pattern:


Or, do we sand that wall and just paint it? Do we hang some mirrors? Perhaps etch a skull and bones with the blood of a goat? I mean, the possibilities.

What is your experience with this kind of space?


Design Inspiration

72 Responses

  1. Lannoula says:

    Enclose a square on the wall with matching wood and paint the chalk board paint inside the square to make a huge chalkboard for family notes etc.. But it really depends on the purpose of the cabinets/area… I also like the idea before me about framing kids artwork.

  2. kate says:

    How about you make that the BYU wall? There would be something quite poetic about having a BYU wall above a wet bar.

  3. Missy says:

    I triple heart the multi-size rectangles. However, as a previous poster said, that is one BIG wall back there. Here's what I'd do: fantasize about the glass tiles whilst painting the wall with a nice, mildew-resistant yet totally bright and fun and funky paint.

    In another basement I saw once (belonging to my ridiculously rich aunt and uncle, who do indeed have the budget for ANYTHING) they painted picture frames right on the walls at different heights so the kiddos could hang their artwork in museum-style "frames". It was mucho cute. A similar thing might work on the wall behind those cabinets.

  4. @dooce says:

    Leslie, I love your kitchen. And Kate, that would be a brilliant juxtaposition.

  5. Lannoula says:

    If its purposed more toward adults, maybe the floating staggered shelving to show off a few favorite collectables would work better. Or wine bar shelving for bottles and wineglasses? Oops! Scratch the latter, forgot the non drinking brother in law. Oh well. Eh, throw up a configuration of framed mirrors …

  6. somereaderinseattle says:

    - tile (the botom of the 3 samples you posted) like a backsplash, but get creative with your lines.
    – paint above the tile to the ceiling — go bold, go mildew resistant. OR, go with sections of magnetic chalkboard paint — kids could draw and hang art on the wall.
    – hang at least 3 mirrors.

  7. @blacklid says:

    Just throwing this idea out there, since space is often difficult to judge in a photo, but maybe you could fit all three ideas on a wall that long:

    Try skinny upper cabinets in the center of the wall (I'm thinking etagere-style skinny) ceiling to counter, save on tile by only tiling above the sink, have a modish mirror in a frame over that and then do the artsy message center with magnetic and then chalkboard paint on the other side within sight of the walkway. Light both sides in matching sconces. If it's symmetrical enough, it might work.

    I, too, prefer the design-neutral cabinetry over the matchy matchiness of those white doors. Good choice!

  8. Megan says:

    Mirror backsplashes can be kind of cool.

  9. Andrea says:

    I don't understand why you keep saying you want to marry your sister's traditional aesthetic with your modern one. It's her house. Wouldn't you want it to be in the style your sister likes since she's the one who has to live in it? While I do prefer your style to a traditional one, it strikes me as wrong to insist on using your aesthetic if it doesn't match with your sisters. But then maybe that's why I'm not an interior designer. *shrug* Regardless, I'm looking forward to seeing what else you do with the space.

    • Mrs Bolli says:

      I thought that difference of style was exactly why September asked Heather to take on this project in the first place…

    • beth says:

      I get the impression that she means it more like, "I like this, and she likes that, and it's hard for us to collaborate." But that's probably because my sister and I have completely opposite taste and whenever we shop together we end up looking at each other with the raised eyebrow.

  10. Marie Moore says:

    Leslie that is GORGEOUS!!!! LOVE it!!!! Now the cabinets here for your sister dooce are just not my style. It still SCREAMS Modern and cold. Like of looks like a Dr Office table lol. But that is why it is not my house. Just suprised your sis made such a big jump to the world of modern

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