Fall 2023 ORC Week 1 & 2: Adding Character to a New Build Kitchen

I’m so excited to join the Fall 2023 One Room Challenge! I participated in the Fall 2022 ORC and it was a great way to put the pressure on to get a room done fast. Now that I’m all moved into the new house, it’s time to tackle the first big project – the kitchen.

If you subscribe to my emails, you may know that I recently I bought a new build from a budget builder. The floorplan is fantastic and I love the neighborhood and I couldn’t ask for a better exterior. Downside? The finishes inside are as cheap as they come, and there is zero character or charm. The kitchen is my favorite room to design and it’s currently very sterile, so here we go! Read on to find out the plans for this space.

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The Before

I don’t mind the white cabinets, but I really don’t like the laminate countertops and black appliances. There are some beautiful black appliances out there, but these are not them. Plus the contrast with the white cabinets is too stark for me. The whole room feels cold.

And did you notice, no cabinet hardware? The two sad rows of subway tile? No warmth, texture or visual interest in this kitchen at all.

The Goals for “After”

So what’s the first step? Here’s the first mood board I made. The white cabinets are staying and the layout will remain the same, so that hopefully makes it possible to complete in the eight-week timeframe the ORC gives!

The first big decision was to go with dark butcher block countertops. I can’t really afford quartz at the moment, and I have experience with butcher block from my previous home and loved it. I feel like a dark wood stain will give them a more traditional refined look, and will compliment the brass hardware well.

I’m definitely replacing the appliances, and will build a DIY range hood in place of the microwave, which is one of my top 5 kitchen renovation secrets to a getting a high-end look on a budget. I’ve done this swap in my last two houses and I never regret it!

As for the backsplash, I’m currently deciding between marble subway tile and travertine subway tile. Do I commit to the cottage chic aesthetic with the travertine? Or bring in a more polished look with the marble? To be determined… Then I’d love to complete the look with a new faucet, sconces and some open shelving somewhere. And there’s the rough idea for the kitchen!

Since we’re already The ORC Week 2, I’ve knocked a few things off the list. Check out the progress!


One Room Challenge To-Do list

  • New range
  • Add cabinet hardware
  • Replace laminate countertops with espresso butcher block
  • Replace backsplash and bring it to the ceiling
  • Swap out microwave for DIY range hood
  • New faucet
  • Install vertical panelling on surrounding walls
  • New countertop/built-in microwave
  • Incorporate open shelving
  • Sconces?
  • Gallery rail above cabinets?

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See you in Week Three!