top of page


Kitchen Revamp | How I’m planning to give a tired kitchen a budget makeover

Mood Board Kitchen Green White Cabinets

As you may have heard, I moved, and not just to another London borough. I decided to leave London all together and start afresh in the North East of England. Life in London was great. I loved it, but then, I also did not. I had everything I needed on my doorstep and more, made life-long friends, and really enjoyed living in our little 60s upside-down house as well as very leafy South East London. However, I was never really a city girl. The constant buzz, endless amount of people, and spending half of my life on public transport, is all not the things I have on my list of favourites. And so when we were all forced to slow down in 2020, the cycle was broken. I suddenly lived a much slower paced life. I explored the various local parks with my buddy Xiong (check out his little adventures on #xiongthedog), read books in the garden without any traffic noise, cooked for pleasure rather than necessity exclusively, and got to know my neighbours. All adhering to the pandemic related restrictions at the time of course. Once I experienced all this, and then imagined what life may be again after the pandemic, I realised, even if there would be a ‘new normal’, a metropolis like London will always be a metropolis, and it was no longer for me.

Walk at Greenwich Park London
Greenwich Park with Xiong
Summer berry cheesecake
Rediscovering baking
Newcastle Quayside view from Swing Bridge
First shot of Newcastle

So here I am in my new area and my new abode, a two bedroom flat in a lovely little development built in the early 2000s. The residents here refer to it as ‘The Village’, which I find very appealing considering why I left London. If you have ever been in one of these developments from this era, you may be able to imagine the interiors: clean, tidy and neutral. They are made to appeal to a wide range of tastes, providing their future owners with a blank canvass to make their own. The modifications eventually made can include various forms, with some going further than just painting the walls, which can result in spaces that are not as comfortable to use as originally intended. One of those spaces in my current flat is the kitchen. So let’s dive into the what and the how.

The now

The concept

Concept Board Kitchen

The layout

Whatever modifications have been made to the kitchen since it was first installed, has unfortunately resulted in providing a few challenges once you start actually using the space. If you look closely and imagine yourself cooking in this space, where would you chop your veg and layout all your ingredients? Where would you place your cookbook while preparing your meal? And at the end of the day, where would you pile your dirty dishes, once you found a home for the kettle, toaster, and microwave? I’m not even asking how you would manage to cook a meal for more than one person … Exactly. All this will probably end up happening on approximately half a meter of actually usable counter space. So, adding more of that has been high on my priority list as soon as I set foot in the flat. It will make the biggest difference to the flow of the space, and generally improve the overall cooking experience.

The best place offering itself for adding additional counter space is underneath the black shelves. It won’t be spanning all the way along that wall, as space is still required to move around the fridge, but it will nonetheless make a big difference. The material I'll be using is wood, which will add the much needed warmth and will make the space feel much more grounded.

The units

Overall the aim of this project is to keep spending minimal. The plan is to bring the space into the 21st century without having to rip everything out and start afresh. As exciting as this may seem as an option, it is not always the most practical solution, especially not during a global pandemic, which is still raging through the UK at the time of writing. Inspecting the units more closely also reveals they have been built to last and do have a little more life left in them. A little budget makeover it is then, which means paint will be my best friend.

Kitchen design inspiration by Courtney Barton. Top cupboards white. Bottom cupboards green. Wooden island.
Design: Courtney Barton | Photography: Jenny Antill Clifton

I have taken nature as my inspiration, especially important in this flat where there is no direct access to a garden. I’ll be painting the bottom units in a calming shade of green and keep the top units clean and neutral with an off white, similar to what you can see in the inspirational images above. The green will balance and blend in nicely with the darker flooring and the black worktop, both in perfect condition and are staying. The white on the other hand will give the top half of the kitchen the much needed lift and will make the different sized wall cupboards appear less busy. An additional bonus of this colour scheme is that the eye will be drawn to the darker areas of the room, giving the impression of having a much larger space above.

The splashback

Modern geometric tile stencil Madrid inspired
Madrid Tile Stencil by Dizzy Duck Designs

If you’ve been following my journey on Instagram last year, you may have seen my absolute favourite project of all time in my previous home - my beloved terrazzo splashback. It incorporated the most beautiful mixture of colours and was created by using paint and a stencil. It certainly deserves its own blog post to be written soon. So, it may not come as a surprise, that within this budget makeover, my first choice was to use the same materials. But, as tempting as it may be to create another terrazzo pattern, this kitchen absolutely deserves its own identity with its own splashback design. As soon as I came across Dabito's eye catching use of pattern in his guesthouse kitchen, I was inspired and knew a simple light grey and white geometric design, like the Madrid Tile from Dizzy Ducks Designs I had saved for a while on Pinterest, would be just right in adding a touch of interest to a modern development. The neutral colours on the other hand balance nicely with the grounding green and calming white.

The details

To round off the design there are a few finer details I’m known to obsess about and spend hours deliberating and sourcing. Given the current handles are simply not fitting the overall look and feel of the new design, even when up-cycled, they'll be going on Facebook Marketplace to hopefully find new life in another home. In their place will come a mixture of round handles and linear cabinet pulls. Both will pick up the round geometric pattern in the splashback, and add interest to the kitchen at the same time. The round handles will be used on the top cabinets and the drawers, to keep these light, where the bar handles are going to dress the bottom doors.

Other than that, I’m absolutely due to address my bins situation. You may have spotted that I’m using one of my moving boxes as my recycling bin since moving in, so saying I am excited about having new matching bins with a lid, is definitely an understatement. By the way, another advantage to adding a worktop underneath the shelves is that it will nicely confine as well as partly disguise the bins, step stool and other unsightly items, I need to store there. Win. Win.

And that is it. DIY tools at the ready. I'm going in ...

So what do you think and which colours would you go for in your kitchen?

bottom of page