How We Transformed Our Kitchen for $200


I always think it is interesting to contrast how one dresses with how they decorate their homes. In many instances, there is a stark difference — a minimalist may be secret hoarder and a prepster may eschew a nautical motif to indulge her secret yen for Japanese zen.

My apartment is more crammed than my personal style may indicate.  but I prefer to bill it as bohemian. The one exception to my chaotically-but-carefully-curated environment? The kitchen aka the scene of my nightmares.

The kitchen contains a trifecta of unholy horrors, including patchy walls, zero counter space and ancient appliances from the Cold War era.

I've had sofas bigger than this kitchen.
I’ve had sofas bigger than this kitchen.

I was so horrified with the kitchen when I first moved into the apartment, I swore I would one day renovate. I got as far as getting a quote and had such a severe case of sticker shock that the kitchen has remained unchanged for five years.

But after two successful closet revamps, my husband and I became a little braver and decided to tackle a few kitchen projects ourselves. First up? Conquering a huge lack of storage and perking up the food-spattered, faded walls.

Some of the colors we had considered for the kitchen.
Some of the colors we had considered for the kitchen.

The only empty space was the wall on the north side of the apartment, so we knew we wanted to leverage it for storage. Initially, we were considering built-in shelving, but scrapped the concept when it seemed too bulky for such a narrow space.

Turns out the answer was something I had seen years before — when I had watched Julia Child on PBS. Her genius kitchen hack? Using a plain pegboard, just like the kind you see at hardware or convenience stores.

My inspiration was Julia Child's kitchen.
My inspiration was Julia Child’s kitchen.

Glamorous? No. Utilitarian and space-effective? Yes. We had a winner.

We chose this pegboard, which was less than $50. We decided on the glossy red color after I convinced my husband that bright colors don’t appear dirty as quickly.

(But secretly, I’ve been dying to recreate the bathroom from The Shining in my own home, but since my husband says all-red rooms look too much like the womb, this statement wall is the closest I’ll ever get.)


The paint we used was Benjamin Moore’s Tricycle Red, which is described as a “bold, soulful red that leans toward orange.” (Our living room is orange, so this bright color seems like it naturally flows, instead of an overwrought, random “quirky” choice.)

We got our pegboards for $40.
We got our pegboards for $40.

We let the paint dry overnight, and then a friend helped us hang the glossy red peg boards. (Neither my husband nor I trust ourselves to tackle such a high-stakes, potentially disastrous project with an electric drill.)

The final statement wall.
The final statement wall.

Aesthetically, I was thrilled with this speedy transformation. Maximizing your space epitomizes urban living, and this type of utilitarian approach strikes me as terribly French — which may be why I like it so much.

Best of all? This mini-makeover was both speedy (just a day and a half) and affordable ($70 for the paint and less than $50 for the pegboards).

What do you think of our fire-engine red kitchen? Would you ever try something like this? (PS: Share any storage secrets in the comments!)

The red paint makes EVERYTHING look better.
The red paint makes EVERYTHING look intrinsically stylish.