Antiquer’s DIY Kitchen Makeover

See how an antiques dealer mixes it up with style in her DIY kitchen, and get her tips on hot collectibles for yours.

Antiques Kitchen-Fridge in in DIY kitchen makeover

Antiques Kitchen-Fridge

See that tall white cupboard behind the island? That's actually Jennifer's 1970s fridge, made over by hot-gluing beadboard to it and adding barn hinges.

Antiques Kitchen-Window Side in in DIY kitchen makeover

Antiques Kitchen-Window Side

White Ikea cabinets (a DIY installation) with butcher block countertops and white subway tile form a clean backdrop for the vintage items in Jennifer's kitchen.

Antiques Kitchen-Window and Sink in DIY makeover

Antiques Kitchen-Window and Sink

Natural light pours in over Jennifer's deep farmhouse sink. The burlap window treatment took her 5 minutes to make, she says, using a spring rod, her hot glue gun and brown grosgrain ribbon. Note the metal plate rack by the sink—it once displayed combs and brushes in a barbershop.

Antiques Kitchen-Color in DIY kitchen makeover

Antiques Kitchen-Color

Splashes of bright color, from fresh citrus fruits and a bold-patterned dishtowel, pop against the clean backdrop.

Antiques Kitchen-Bakery Wall in DIY kitchen makeover

Antiques Kitchen-Bakery Wall

The large lettering on the wall is a contemporary touch, but the font is vintage. Jennifer found a company online that made the letters, then stained them.

Antiques Kitchen-Basket in DIY kitchen makeover

Antiques Kitchen-Basket

Jennifer's a fan of baskets to help group and organize items while adding a touch of character.

Antiques Kitchen-Riser in DIY kitchen makeover

Antiques Kitchen-Riser

An old square wooden floor joist sees new life as a "riser" on top of Jennifer's kitchen island.

Antiques Kitchen-Entry in DIY kitchen makeover

Antiques Kitchen-Entry

Jennifer's kitchen showcases her vintage finds in a bright and homey kitchen that's as functional as it is pretty. Like the flooring? She says it's not hardwood, but a waterproof, vinyl product (Allure) that's easy for novice DIYers to install.

Antiques Kitchen-Fridge in in DIY kitchen makeoverAntiques Kitchen-Window Side in in DIY kitchen makeoverAntiques Kitchen-Window and Sink in DIY makeoverAntiques Kitchen-Color in DIY kitchen makeoverAntiques Kitchen-Bakery Wall in DIY kitchen makeoverAntiques Kitchen-Basket in DIY kitchen makeoverAntiques Kitchen-Riser in DIY kitchen makeoverAntiques Kitchen-Entry in DIY kitchen makeover


By Barbara Schuetz

Jennifer Grey is a super sleuth when it comes to tracking down one-of-a-kind and vintage objects. Equal parts antique dealer, decorator and personal shopper, Jennifer is often out the door by dawn, doing her detective work at flea markets and antique shops.

“Clients like my eye,” she says. “I’m known for pulling things together.” She calls it “layering” or “merchandising,” and her bright, cozy kitchen shows off her finesse.

But five years ago, when Jennifer and her husband, Adam, bought their home in Newbury Park, California, that kitchen wasn’t even a germ of an idea.

“The house was an absolute wreck, but we were desperate,” she says. After being outbid on seven homes, the couple settled for “Cottage 8,” as she calls it, because it fit their budget. “I didn’t love the house, but at that point I would have taken an old shoe.”

Despite her knack for design and her love of antiques, Jennifer says she had “no vision” for their 1,200-square-foot home: “So I took baby steps. I let the house speak to me and, little by little, I conquered the nightmares.”

The kitchen was one of them. “It would’ve made your toes curl,” Jennifer recalls. So they took a sledgehammer to it—literally. The couple gutted the room from the ceiling  down. And with zero experience, she and Adam handled all the demolition and rebuilding. Her brother-in-law helped with the plumbing and electrical work.

Jennifer likes to start with a neutral foundation and build on it, so she chose white and taupe for the walls and store-bought cabinets from Ikea. Then they outfitted the room with classics: a farmhouse sink, butcher-block countertops, wood-grain-look flooring and white subway tile.

Jennifer installed the backsplash tile after watching how-to videos on YouTube. “It cost us $250,” she says, compared to a professional tiler’s quote of $1,500. Adam, meanwhile, installed the waterproof vinyl flooring in the kitchen, dining area and living room for under $1,000. In fact, the entire six-month project came in under $3,000.

She bought a budget-friendly island at JCPenney and made do with a hand-me-down refrigerator she’d doctored up years before. “It’s from the ’70s and has held up all these years,” she says. “I literally hot-glued bead-board to the front of it and added barn hinges.”

As the kitchen started to jell, so did Jennifer’s vision. She hung pendant lighting over the sink and island and even put in a swinging door, inspired by I Love Lucy reruns. And then there were all those vintage touches she does so well: a square wooden floor joist used as a riser on top of the island, an old European fry basket filled with glass water bottles, a pair of industrial-style stools, and a metal plate rack that once displayed combs and brushes in a barbershop.

The kitchen decor, she says, “is a revolving door. It changes every week. I’m always buying and selling.” Currently she’s looking for a way to give some character to the island, and she’s into yellow, as evidenced by the vintage glass jar of lemons on the counter.

Clients often say they want their house to look just like hers, but she encourages them to think of things that inspire them and make their decor a reflection of their own personalities. Then Jennifer takes over, hunting down those curious, elegant and unique finds.

“I hit the ground running each morning,” she says, “and I love every minute of it.”

See more of Jennifer’s charming kitchen at her blog.

To add vintage charm to your kitchen,  Jennifer suggests keeping an eye out for these collectibles:

  1. Old cutting boards.  “Beautiful old European wood cutting boards have so much character.” Jennifer suggests stacking them and setting a vase of flowers or a jar of silverware on top.
  2. Ironstone.  This dense, heavy white pottery was often called “poor man’s china” because it was durable and didn’t break like fragile, expensive china, Jennifer says. Stack the plates, add greens to a pitcher, or group various pieces together.
  3.  Baskets.  Jennifer finds these multipurpose organizers great for gathering up items. “I found my mom a basket and put it next to her stove, filling it with her oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.”

Photography by Jennifer Grey


Nikki 1 August 6, 2013 at 11:03 pm

I love the island!


Leave a Comment