92 Year Old Mountain Cabin Gets a Face Lift

by Kayte
Have you ever taken on a project that made everyone around you doubt your sanity? That's the way it was when we bought our 'shack'. I don't know how I saw potential in this place, but I just knew it could be a cozy home. The first time I showed it to my husband, he walked through, shaking his head... no way! Good thing my insanity was contagious! Wasn't long and we sold our brand new, custom built home and moved our family into this complete disaster. It has been an adventure! I've learned how to do things that I never knew I could. This house was truly a DIY project. Not only could we not afford to hire the work out, no contractor would touch it. Yeah. It was that bad. ;)
I want to share the kitchen journey with you!
Oh, and we didn't have running water for a year. We had to haul it all from friends and neighbors houses, as well as chip the ice off the stream to get water to flush the toilet. It was fun first winter! I felt like such a pioneer.
The first photo shows the lovely mustard yellow walls. Don't they just inspire you?! (...to eat out.)

The walls were plastered plywood. Duct tape covered the seams, which as you can see by that back wall and ceiling in 'the laundry room' (HA), wasn't such a great plan. The whole cabin had duct tape and plaster falling down the walls. That was a bonus! It made it easier to scrape the plaster off so we could remove the 10 million nails and haul the plywood out.

Excuse the mess. There was literally not a single closet in this place and all I could do was tell everyone to 'stack it over there', as they helped us move in.
As you can see, we're making headway with tearing down walls and re-framing things. I wasn't about to stick with a 'galley' kitchen when all I needed was a little muscle to whack down a wall. (Remember I said I learned how to do new things! I now know that I really can move walls and doorways. ;) )
It's better! But now the wood stove is in a completely stupid place. We'll have to move that.
Fast forward and here's a good pic of where we got the wood stove moved, ceiling painted gloss white to raise it up a bit, sheet rock on the walls, 1x6 pine floor laid, all the upper cabinets taken down and rebuilt to make for a lot more counter space, and we laid a simple white tile counter top. As you can see, the door way on the left is gone and this lay out works much better.
Five years ago was a rough time, so I decided to paint the kitchen. I enjoyed the 'dramatic' feel of the orangy-pink with black and white. For a little while. ;)
I was really tired of the 1970's era cabinets and decided I could do something about that. So, last year, I decided to revamp the whole kitchen. I refaced most of them with bead board - framing that with thin strips of wood. I primed what would show first. I used Rustoleum Bulls Eye 1-2-3. It worked very well and stuck to the cabinets just fine.
The cabinet doors under the kitchen sink, I used a plaster stencil and I just love how they came out!

I refinished the handles by painting them black and then using various colors of pearl-ex on them. I sprayed them with with PYM II to make a good water proof finish. I like how they look different colors depending on the light.
The main cost was the new wood counter tops. We bought the wood on ebay... which seemed entirely weird to me, but turned out to be a great choice! It's African Mahogany, which was lighter than I wanted, so I stained it 'american walnut'. The finish I used is OSMO Top Oil and I absolutely LOVE the quality of this stuff. I could not be happier! It's natural, no odor, goes on super easy and is fabulously water resistant. If I get a problem spot, all I need to do is a light sanding right on the spot and reapply some OSMO. I get water on it constantly around the sink and it just sits there beaded up until I wipe it off.

And then there is the new hammered copper sink and the new faucet. (Did you hear me squeal? Yeah. Sorry. Hope it didn't hurt your ears!)

Just in case you noticed, I may as well fess up. I'm not quite done with the project. I need to put trim along the base of the bead board and counter. We're also planning to replace the window with a french double wood casement window. I.Can.Hardly.Wait.
The shelves are pine... 2 x 12's, stained with American Walnut.

I didn't want all the walls AND cabinets done with bead board. Seemed like that would be overkill, so, in a moment of pure inspiration, I decided to plank two walls. I love the contrast and interest it added! And it's totally in keeping with this old mountain cottage. We used cedar fencing, which I 'washed' with the same paint I used on the cabinets and bead board.
I found the brackets on amazon. They were solid white so I painted the center portion with the same paint I used on the walls and distressed them with paint I had mixed to match American Walnut. Super easy to do and the effect is just right for the kitchen.
We bumped the sink cabinet up and out, adding feet to make it look right. We also took off the cabinet doors on the right, added some fancy bits and now it holds my dish rack and cookie sheets. Perfect!
Another special touch are the floral panels. I used the same plaster stencil that I used on the cabinet doors and then added more depth by using a cake decorating tip and adding leaves/stems/swirls free hand. (I also added a touch of crackle medium here and there to give it a little more age.)

I used Victoria Larsen's Plaster Stencils. They're all so beautiful! This is the one I used:


I think this particular touch is what 'makes' the kitchen!
Thanks for looking! Hope you like it!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 21 questions
  • Wer20812078 Wer20812078 on Sep 24, 2017
    Is the copper sink hard to clean? Whats the upkeep on it? Looking at one but not sure how they hold up.

  • Sally Caldwell Sally Caldwell on Nov 04, 2017
    Can you tell me more about planking the wall with fencing? Thank you!

  • Millymolly Millymolly on Nov 26, 2017

    The makeover is fantastic, thank you for sharing this project with us.
    I always wanted to ask someone so I will ask you since you reply so completely to questions asked: when you say "I' when talking about the work is it actually just you doing it all or did your husband do the hard parts? I would love to tackle something like this and although not "easy" your information is very thorough and helpful, but I am not sure I could do all that. What tools did you use (that I probably don't have) ..am I being over confident that I could attempt such a reno?

Join the conversation
3 of 314 comments
  • Purtty123 Purtty123 on Dec 12, 2017
    Amazing idea!! amazing job!!!

  • Cinzia Farley Cinzia Farley on Aug 09, 2020

    I own an old trailer on a lake. It's a disaster. A broken pipe cause a 78,000. Gallon flood. The kitchen cabinets and floors were warped and I literally fell through the floor once. I'm living under the poverty level so can't afford to replace much more than the floors and used roofing panels because they were cheaper than plywood. Everyone I know tells me I should sell it to my neighbor that wants the property to build a garage and storage building. Your renovation has inspired me to tackle this huge DIY project. I'm going to turn my house into my home. Ordering brackets for kitchen shelves today!!

    • Kayte Kayte on Feb 19, 2021

      I'm so sorry I didn't see your comment until today! You posted last August! How's the work going? Did you get your brackets and get some shelves up?

      Sounds like you have a huge amount of work to do, but it feels so good to 'get it done' and enjoy knowing you did it!

      Roofing panels on the floor is a great idea! I'm all about doing the best I can do with what I have and that usually means cheap.  You can always make them beautiful with paint and a pretty stencil!

      Hoping the best for you and that your home turns out just the way you want it!