Upcycled Dream Kitchen

What's old becomes new in this creative remodel that uses salvaged materials to create a dream kitchen for this hardworking homeowner.

Christina's Completed Upcycled Dream Kitchen

Upcycled Dream Kitchen

It’s hard to believe that most of the components of Christina’s dream kitchen had originally been tossed out, including the parts for this butterfly table, fashioned from two slabs of cedar, a delivery pallet, old tools and more.

Kitchen table detail in cottage kitchen

Upcycled Dream Kitchen

The salvaged cedar slabs of the butterfly tabletop are supported by legs made of weathered scrap metal—old sign letters, machete heads, tools and more—all welded together by a friend. (Like the look of aged metal? Our craft editor shares how to get the look without waiting for the weathering; click here .)

Shelves and sink in Christina's dream kitchen.

Upcycled Dream Kitchen

Countertops, marble backsplash, shelves, sink, and cabinet fronts all got a new lease on life in this creative kitchen. Christina uses old deli jars as canisters.

Upcycled kitchen sink

Upcycled Dream Kitchen

"Janitorial chic" is how Christina refers to her cast-iron American Standard janitorial sink with exposed plumbing. Its depth makes it perfect for canning produce from her extensive garden.

Garden blooms

Upcycled Dream Kitchen

Blossoms from Christina's 2-acre garden are showcased in small shot glasses set into driftwood and displayed over the sink. The project is one from Christina's book, "Everyday Eden."

Homemade pendant lights illuminate dream kitchen

Upcycled Dream Kitchen

Christina fashioned the pendant lights above the table from upended concrete flower pots, one of the details throughout the kitchen that underscore the importance of gardening and nature to both Christina and John.

Entry bench in Christina's dream kitchen

Upcycled Dream Kitchen

Wooden crates and a hand-sewn tote recycled from old canvas and two belts are stored on a bench at the entry to the kitchen, for easy transport of garden produce. John made the bench from oak that was part of a vintage industrial shipping crate.

Christina Symons

Christina Symons

Christina Symons is a lifestyle writer and photographer who lives on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast. She divides her time between a 2-acre cottage garden and a nearby 10-acre heritage farm that she and John are helping the original owners restore. Christina loves hunting for vintage finds, propagating herbs and growing heirloom vegetables.

Christina's Completed Upcycled Dream KitchenKitchen table detail in cottage kitchenShelves and sink in Christina's dream kitchen.Upcycled kitchen sinkGarden bloomsHomemade pendant lights illuminate dream kitchenEntry bench in Christina's dream kitchenChristina Symons


By Christina Symons
Roberts Creek, British Columbia

When I first saw our small cottage kitchen a decade ago, it was hardly love at first sight! Chipped particleboard cabinetry, worn laminate countertops, tired appliances, vinyl flooring straight from the ’70s—even the cheerier new wallpaper seemed to shout “game over!” But without a big budget for renovations, I knew I’d have to live with it, while dreaming of a kitchen with more character.

My dream was to upgrade, but in a way that would celebrate some of the original cottage features we were slowly restoring, such
as the fir beams and floorboards.

Today, almost everything in our renovated wood kitchen—except the new energy-efficient appliances—has been repurposed, recycled or reimagined.

In fact, most of the higher-end materials (the stone, wood and some lighting) had been destined for the landfill, while a few favorite items were hauled out of the backwoods and a burn pile.

Our carpenter and neighbor, Jeff Dexter, is a talented salvager with an eye for quality and quirkiness. He drew from a stash of carefully deconstructed building materials he’s collected for years.

For our cottage kitchen, he offered wooden lockers saved from an old fire station. Cleverly, he turned the locker doors sideways to use for the self-opening upper cabinets and refitted others to work as lower doors. A tall locker interior formed the handy pantry next to the fridge.

The open kitchen shelves are also made from recycled lumber, salvaged from a house that was being torn down. The door and drawer hardware is repurposed; we bought it from Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore recycling outlet.

Marble was part of my dream, too. So when we heard that a supplier needed to empty a warehouse full of leftover building materials, we hightailed it over there with a truck. There we salvaged the marble for the wraparound backsplash and the granite slab countertops.

That was a piece of luck—but not everything came so easily. Salvaging can mean compromising, and, as I learned with my dream kitchen, “free” is not necessarily inexpensive!

The main low-voltage track lighting system was a discard from a hotel construction bin, but the mixed-up components took me weeks to figure out. In the end, two necessary pieces of rail that we bought from a wholesaler cost more than I had budgeted for an entire brand-new lighting system.

But the super-awesome kitchen sink made up for it. It’s a cast-iron American Standard janitorial sink—as heavy as a small car—that Jeff and I pulled from the brambles around his salvage pile. Deep and lovely, it’s perfect for canning and washing up. I even love the exposed plumbing, which I call “janitorial chic.”

My partner, John Gillespie, crafted the beautiful slab dining table with offcuts rescued from a sawmill burn pile. John fashioned the two cedar slabs into a butterfly tabletop joined with oak stitches from an old delivery pallet. A welder friend made the legs from scrap metal—old sign letters, machete heads, tools and other junk all welded together.

At the kitchen entry is a catchall bench John made from oak timbers. The wooden crates stacked on top are handy for storage and for harvesting fruits and vegetables from the garden. Even the market bag  was stitched by my shoemaker from an old piece of canvas and two recycled leather belts.

The canisters on our shelves are recycled deli and mason jars turned sideways, and our cutting boards are made from salvaged windfall trees.

Today, I truly love my upcycled dream kitchen. It fits our home and lifestyle perfectly. Each piece has a unique story to tell, but mostly I’m happy that these beautiful secondhand materials have found a new home.

Upcycled Dream Kitchen Photos by Christina Symons. She and John blog at Everyday Eden.




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