Gwen Hefner of The Makerista gave us a sneak peek into her newly renovated kitchen, and we’re obsessed with her minimal, quintessential American design. Clean lines, traditional appliances, a sophisticated neutral palette and the timeless look of marble offer *THE* perfect mix of minimalism and American flair. Even more amazing, we love how everything in the makeover is chic and affordable too!
If a kitchen overhaul is out of your budget — with all those expensive kitchen appliances, tiles, etc. — you’d be surprised to know that you actually can make it affordable. We asked Gwen for her design expertise on how to transform your kitchen without breaking the bank. Snatch up her design tips and see more photos of the stunning Lowes-sponsored makeover below!
You’ve worn a lot of hats before focusing on your blog The Makerista. Can you tell us about your road to interior design and starting a blog?
Gwen Hefner: When I married my husband and moved into his house seven years ago, I was paralyzed by the idea of interior design. I knew how to put together an outfit but a room felt completely foreign. I learned some basic principles from my mother-in-law, and when I became a stay-at-home mom I started reading blogs during my son’s naptime. Through that I found this whole world of women decorating and designing their homes and sharing the process in a way that helped me translate my own personal style into my house. My blog really started as a space to share things I made, which at the time was a lot of things for my kids, invitations and parties, but as I shared those things that took place in my home people wanted to see more of the house. So I started showing, and that’s kind of how it morphed into an interior-heavy blog.
How would you describe the ideal kitchen?
GH: I think the ideal kitchen is probably different for everyone. For me, it must be beautiful, clean and functional. I am unfortunately not a passionate cook, but as a stay-at-home mom of two (almost three!), it’s a room I spend hours in every day. A beautiful kitchen is crucial for me enjoying my time in there; a clean space allows me to stay calm in the midst of the chaos, and the functionality makes the process as seamless as possible.
What were your main goals for this kitchen renovation?
GH: The kitchen was certainly the eyesore of the house. It lacked personality, life and functionality. There had definitely been some renovation over the years, but it was not done well, and it had all been poorly maintained. The wood floors were raw in areas from the pool traffic, so tiles floors were a must. The upper cabinets were short and not utilizing all of the space available. Taking them all the way to the 10-foot ceiling added loads of storage. The pantry in the hall area was not convenient, so moving that designated storage into the kitchen itself saves time, and allowed the old pantry to become a great storage feature for the pool and people coming in from the garage.
What advice do you have for designing a kitchen on a tight budget?
GH: Paint can go a long way. If the cabinets are in decent shape, a coat of fresh paint can do wonders and completely transform the look of a kitchen. Tiling a backsplash is a fairly simple DIY, and you can’t go wrong with classic subway tile. Splurge on the countertops. It’s the surface you’ll use the most, and it’s worth spending the bulk of your money on something that will be easy to maintain and nice to work on.
Do you have any tips for renters who want to renovate without breaking their leases?
GH: Build a good rapport with your landlord. If you present your clear plan and materials to them, many are willing to let you update and some will even knock off some rent. Neutral, classic design will be hard for them to turn down.
Any design tips and tricks for those with tiny kitchens — you know, the ones that are also the dining room, foyer, workspace, etc.?
GH: Keeping everything within the same palette is key for a cohesive look that will make the space seem bigger. Clutter will be your worst enemy, so utilize your cabinet space and only keep what you really use. So many of us have tons of kitchen gadgets, old mugs and tools that just clog up our cabinets. If you can house small appliances in cabinets and off the counter, you can really maximize your counter space. Adding mirrors into your kitchen, whether that be hanging, propped up on a shelf or as a backsplash like we did, can help open a space up. Just keep in mind, if you keep a lot on the counter, a mirrored backsplash will double all of that visually.
GH: Probably the importance of cohesiveness. I love so many different styles and colors, sometimes it’s easy to want it all. But creating a home that feels put together means it needs to flow and connect to feel cohesive.
What are your go-to sources for home decor inspo?
GH: Instagram is filled with some of my favorite designers and publications sharing inspiring work. I love seeing projects they are working on and sneak peeks into their day-to-day lives. With that said, I am constantly fighting to force myself out from behind the screen to dive into a book or go somewhere new. Inspiration can be anywhere, and I’ve found limiting myself to only looking online can be stifling.
What’s the biggest interior design lesson that you’ve learned?
GH: Not everything can be a standout. I’m drawn to really interesting, special things, but if everything in a space is special, then nothing is. Allow yourself to have one or two stars and let the rest of the room play the just-as-important supporting roles.
(Photos via Justin Meyer)