80s Melamine Cabinet Makeover

HAVE YOU SEEN this kitchen before? Oh what’s that? You had this same kitchen some 30 odd years ago? Is it bringing back distant memories? Consider yourself lucky that those memories are distant because this here, this is my reality, or at least it was my reality up until a few short weeks ago. Now I know some people long for the 80s but this builder, melamine-cabinet-with-oak-trim kitchen is not a welcomed throw-back. It had to go and it had to go on a budget.

DIY 80s kitchen cabinet makeover

I consider myself blessed to be able to walk into a room and see it’s potential. It’s something I know my real estate agent was thankful for too. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say this kitchen was the reason I bought the place (c’mon let’s be real here), after seeing so many places (old and new) I was actually thankful to have a run down kitchen that warranted a makeover. 

I’m pretty particular when it comes to design but I’m also relatively practical (though my mom might disagree). I wouldn’t have been able to live (okay I would have survived but not happily) with a kitchen not done to my liking but I also wouldn’t have been able to justify ripping out brand new granite counter tops just because I didn’t like the colour. #firstworldproblems.

This kitchen – in all it’s 80s glory – at the very least – had true potential.

It didn’t take long for me to dream up a vision. White, black and gold, with warm wood accents (shocker), open-style shelving and subway tile for days.

My plan was to do a mini, DIY makeover on a dime that would last me a few years and then I’d invest in a real renovation once I was able to save some money.

The simplest way I figured I could update the look was by changing the cabinet doors. After taking a few measurements and visiting both Ikea and Home Depot I learned this wasn’t really an option because my cabinets weren’t standard sizes. Go figure.

A visit back to the proverbial drawing board and I had a new solution. It was a bit unconventional but I thought it just might work. With the help of my parents (thank-freaking-God) we got started on converting these old doors into cute and modern shaker style cabinets.

DIY-Shaker-Cabinets Via LITTLE LESSY

[*Before you take the doors off the cabinets be sure to label which door corresponds to which cabinet. You do not want to skip this step. You'll have a nightmare on your hands later if you do.]

I bought a piece of 1/8″ plywood and had the lovely folks at Home Depot cut it into 2″ strips. Here’s the thing you should know about me and why I could have never done this project without my parents. I’m terrible at measuring and I’m terrible at math. BUSTED. I can do the vision and the logistics but trying to make sense of how much plywood I’d need would have lead to a mental breakdown. Mom, Dad – I love you!

We brought the strips of wood home as well as a rented mitre saw and got to it. The important part was making sure that the trim overhung the old oak in order to hide it.


I should probably mention – in case any of you reading this are planning on using this as a reference for your own project – that we did a lot of measuring and re-measuring and aligning. We placed cabinets that were going to be hung beside each other, side-by-side, so we could make sure the trim was aligned properly and made visual adjustments when necessary. Every so often we also hung the doors back up to ensure it was all coming together the way we wanted. It was a long and finicky process but it was totally worth it in the end.


I glued the trim down with “No-More-Nails” and secured it with a few finishing nails which I sunk below the surface. Then I filled the holes and the cracks with wood putty to get a seamless and smooth finish.

Painting Cabinets

Then it was time to paint! We primed first (God I hate priming) and then rolled on a coat of paint. [Editors note: For some reason I thought I wanted the finish to be matte. It was a mistake (against my mother's better judgement) and I regret it. In the next couple of weeks I'll be adding another coat with an eggshell finish.]


I wasn’t going to replace the countertops so it got a mini facelift of its own. I sanded it down and the top part got a coat of American Walnut stain and the bottom part got painted white to blend in with the new doors.

DIY Shaker Cabinet Makerover

I’ve been told that getting the doors back onto the cabinets was a bit of a pain-in-the-ass. I can’t really comment on it because I may or may not have locked my parents inside while I disappeared to work for 10 hours. I know. Daughter of the year award. I came home that night and all the doors were magically hung! You need parents like mine. For real.

This is a good time for a small anecdote. My mom didn’t tell my dad that the sole purpose of this 10-day trip was to help me rip up my kitchen and fix it. My poor father packed his hiking boots, his cycling gear and his golf clubs ’cause he thought he was coming to chillax. Sorry, pops – not this time! He was a serious trooper though.

[inside tip: your sander will be your best friend during the project. We had to bevel the edges of some of the doors so that they could open and close properly.]


And there you have it! That how I saved my kitchen from the 80s without replacing the doors. And yes from the inside (back of the doors) it does look a little weird, but it’s something I’m more than willing to tolerate.

I’ve got a post coming up next on hardware and be sure to keep checking back as I continue to reveal my kitchen renovation here on the blog!



Lattice Top Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

SO I MADE this pie for Easter. Yup you heard that right – I’ve been sitting on these photos and this post since April. I’ve really been that busy. But the good news is that finding rhubarb was a bit of a chance back in the Spring (Whole Foods for the win!) but in the heat of summer this pie could not be more seasonally appropriate – extra points for you if you go and pick the strawberries yourself!


For some reason or another I’d been fixated on making a pie from scratch for a while now. My mom and I had done it a few times with success but every time I mention wanting to make the crust people’s eyes widen, get really serious and they give me a warning, “it’s really hard to make pie dough you know?”. Now, my mom and I are no Martha’s in the kitchen – I mean, we’re pretty okay but I wouldn’t say extraordinary ya know? I let these remarks intimidate me and since my usual partner in pie-dough crime was 3000KM away, I called in some reinforcements. Special thanks to Tiff who is always up for a challenge and also proved to be a fabulous hand model and pie-dough-maker too (see photos).

I found this article online and hung by her every word. She made 7 pies to uncover all the secrets to making the best pie. I’d trust her with my life at this point. That’s the recipe I followed for the dough.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling

Next step was to make the filling. I will have to admit that I don’t remember the recipe I used for this so you’re on your own for this one. The good news (well sorta) is that I didn’t particularly find this recipe out-standing. In fact my pie-filling was quite runny. My boyfriend’s family didn’t seem to mind but I still think they were just being polite. If you have a great Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe I want to hear it!

Step 3- Roll Out Dough

Then came the fun part! Making the lattice-top. I swear the actual pie was really for my boyfriend – making the lattice top – for some reason that’s the part of the whole pie experience I looked forward to (and enjoyed) most. I can’t explain the thing that fulfill me.

How To Make A Lattice Top Pie

Making the lattice top was pretty easy. I used this awesome post that has way better step-by-step photos than I’ve got here. I suggest you follow her directions.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

And Voila! There you have it. A strawberry rhubarb pie made entirely from scratch. I have to admit I was even pretty impressed with it’s counter appeal.

Ps. It’s my half-birthday today. 25.5 Whoa! I should have some pie to celebrate…



Home Decor | House Inspiration

ARGUABLY THE BEST part about a new place is getting to decorate. Or at least dream about decorating because lets be serious buying a house and moving leaves little money left for the pretty stuff.

I get really overwhelmed at the thought of filling a space and trying to decide what “style” I want it to be. I feel like my taste is always evolving and if I had to pin-point it in one aesthetic I’m not actually sure I could.

So when it came time to start thinking about decorating my new place I turned to the one source I knew couldn’t let me down. All hail the Pinterest Gods. Even if I can’t articulate my look I can certainly find a myriad of photos that make my heart flutter.

I tried to be as unfiltered as possible pinning anything that made me intrigued and excited until I started to notice themes occurring. Then I went through all the pictures I pinned and started curating it with a little more intention. I looked for images that not only did I love, but I felt worked seamlessly together in the grand scheme of a house. Eventually I landed with that collage above.

My mom laughs at me because when it comes to home decor I change my mind faster than I turn over my wardrobe. Exhibit A: my bed saga of 2011. When I moved here 4 years ago I accidentally purchased a queen-sized headboard for my double-sized mattress. In a cruel game of this or that the headboard won and I was soon shopping for a new mattress and box spring combo. “Because I LOVE the headboard. So much. And I’ll have it forever!”.

Needless to say I recently sold said headboard because in typical Allessia fashion I’d moved on to something else. (The old one had no place in my Pinterest vision). But that’s the thing, both good and bad about our modern culture. With sites like Craigslist, buying and selling your stuff has never been easier. Buying furniture (especially) just doesn’t feel like all that big of a commitment anymore because you know that someone else will happily take it off your hands whenever you’re ready for something else. And it’s hard to feel guilty about it when you know those pieces are being recycled into good homes rather than just landing at the dump!