It took three and a half years for blogger Vanessa Pleasants of Vintage Whites to perfect her dream kitchen in her Kalispell, Montana, home. “When my husband and I bought the house,” she said, “the kitchen was red, lined with cheap white cabinets, a linoleum floor, and had almost no appliances.”
They improved it bit by bit, as time and money allowed, doing almost all of the heavy lifting themselves, from DIY projects like installing kitchen cabinets to more involved projects like pouring concrete countertops. Lucky for Pleasants, her husband—not a professional handyman—is a good sport: “When we bought the house, he didn’t have much experience,” she said. “He learned as we went, mostly from YouTube.”
Pleasants filled the space with almost exclusively salvaged or secondhand wares; patina is what she’s after—she’s the cofounder of Vintage Whites Market antique fairs and an expert in chic, country-inspired style.
Photography by Vanessa Pleasants, courtesy of Vintage Whites Blog.
Above: Pleasants designed her kitchen around “focal points, layered front and center, with everything else very minimal.” For her, the room’s main focal point is a long, low wood cabinet—a onetime car repair shop storage unit—which she bought for $500 and stripped and stained herself. She wanted two more focal points: a dark island at the center of the kitchen, and dashes of color on her open shelves.
Above: Pleasants found the island—an antique printer’s table from the 1800s—at the Farm Chicks antiques fair in Spokane, Washington. “It was greenish then, and my friends thought it was hideous,” she said. She painted the body in a distressed black finish and kept the original worn marble top.
Above: The couple installed marble countertops atop the wood cabinet, using antique marble slabs that Pleasants found at a salvage building supply in Colorado.
For Pleasants, the key to her affordable kitchen remodel was patience. “My kitchen certainly did not cost a fortune,” she said, noting that most elements came from Craigslist, eBay, antiques shows, and garage sales, plus a few worn hand-me-downs. “It was all pieced together over time and with items that were very affordable.”
Above: Pleasants added color to her open marble shelves using pale blue ceramics. “My everyday dishes and utensils are all from antiques stores and garage sales,” she said, “but a few items here are just for color.”
Above: Pleasants’s husband installed an antique Wedgewood stove that had belonged to his great-grandmother. “It was not fully working when we brought it in,” she said, “but with the help of YouTube and some parts from eBay, my husband fixed the entire range for $65.”
Above: Pleasants and her husband made the pot rack themselves. First, she banged on the wood to give it some light dents and scars, then she treated it with Light Brown Briwax stain. Finally, they hammered in nails from Lowe’s as hooks.
The walls were textured when the couple bought the house, and they’re smoothing them one by one as they remodel each room. “Our goal is to have all smooth walls eventually, and we’re almost there,” said Pleasants. The walls are painted in Glacier White from Benjamin Moore.
Above: Pleasants sprung for a new Smeg fridge, and its narrow width gave her some extra room next to the dishwasher. Her husband built a custom cabinet between the two; “I wanted a blocky look with thick, rough-cut wood,” she said. She wanted rough countertops that would contrast with the white marble on the other side of the kitchen, so she and her husband decided to take a chance on their first ever concrete DIY.
Pleasants wanted light gray concrete, but instead of ordering a custom color she bought a bag of gray concrete and a bag of white concrete at their local hardware store and mixed the two together. “It was a risk,” she said, “but I love how it turned out.”
Above: Pleasants replaced her worn sink for a large Craigslist find that had been reenameled. “I knew I wouldn’t find one in better shape without spending a fortune,” she said.
They used some leftover marble to make a simple backsplash. The new sink didn’t quite fit beneath the existing window, so Pleasants’s husband removed the windowsill and installed a marble strip instead, just above the sink.
Above: Pleasants bought the small wall cabinet, which now holds spices, at an antiques store years ago.
Above: Though Pleasants typically buys faucets from eBay, this one came with the sink.
Above: The dishwasher is the only element left of the original kitchen. “I am fortunate enough to have an old stove that is gorgeous, and I have a fridge that is pretty to look at as well,” said Pleasants. “But that’s not the case with my dishwasher. Instead of trying to find a pretty dishwasher—which I don’t believe exists—I have a dishwasher that fades away among my other pretty pieces.”
Above: The kitchen floor is fir wood, painted with a white oil-based porch paint. The pendant light above the island is an old factory light (found at Farm Chicks), that Pleasants’s husband rewired for use with a standard lightbulb.
Head to Vintage Whites Blog to see more of Pleasants’s rustic-chic home. For more affordable transformations, see: