Marlow cottage: DIY kitchen makeover

From the moment I first saw our kitchen I knew it had potential to be something special. The bones were good, but it was in need of a refresh and a major brighten up if it was going to become the cottage kitchen of my dreams.

I had been saving inspiration images for close to 8 years, so this DIY was overdue to say the least! The kitchen gets very little light, so having wooden cupboards, terracotta floor tiles and green backsplash tiles really wasn’t helping.


Although we love older style homes and still very much wanted to keep the character it already had, we did want to modernize and add some of our own personal touches as well.

Painting the tiles

This is something I was very hesitant about when the subject first came up as I thought the paint would just chip off, especially with constant cleaning. After finding out there is tile specific paint and primer we decided we would give it a go rather than attempting to completely re-tile the kitchen.

Tile paint is not the easiest to work with because it’s thick and sticky, so you have to take your time. My best advice if you give tile paint a go, is to work in thin layers and keep an eye out for drips before it starts drying.

I’m actually really happy with how the tiles turned out, as it’s brightened the kitchen so much, and cost us only a small portion of what re-tiling would have.

Painting the cupboards

Painting the cupboards was the thing I was most excited about in this makeover. I have endless images saved of white shaker style cabinets, so it was always a non-negotiable that the wood-look would go!

We sanded them back, used a primer suitable for varnished surfaces, then painted them in Resene Alabaster. To finish them off we said goodbye to the wooden knob handles and went with a black victorian style instead.

Updating the shelving

This shelving area used to be a cupboard, but we removed the doors years ago as it wasn’t practical for us. Because it was a cupboard, the area has no character which makes it look disjointed from everything else.

We decided to add in v-groove mdf panels to the back and sides, which we then painted in the same colour as our cabinets to keep it cohesive.


I really wanted this area to be a lot more minimal, so we decided to only have one shelf going forward. We repurposed a piece of Rimu we had, cutting it down to the right size and fitting it to the space with black brackets.


Because our kitchen is small we really have to utilise as much of the space we have as possible. I had been storing our pots on the shelf, but it was always cluttered so I wanted to install something where we could hang them instead.


I found a piece of Rimu when op-shopping and decided to cut that down, then add some hooks. We installed it right above the stove top and it’s as if it was always meant to be there!

Final touches

I’ve had my eye on a farmhouse style light for ages, and this black one we installed ties in perfectly.

The tap we had was actually a little too modern for a cottage style, so we changed it out for a more classic style.

To say I’m overjoyed with how the kitchen looks now would be an understatement. It’s swoon worthy, Pinterest worthy, and most importantly it’s inviting rather than dark and dingy!

If you are looking to give your kitchen a makeover, I hope this gave you some inspiration and proved just how much you can achieve yourself on a small budget.

Drop a comment below if you have any questions for me!

Claire x

2 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks beautiful – so modern and clean! The before and after pictures are such a good visual contrast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Claire Marlow says:

      Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

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