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This Kitchen Makeover Is Charming and Colorful

Fueled by her love for color, Daniela Araya transformed her kitchen from an old, dingy room to a bright and joyful area to cook and entertain with friends.

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Designer Name: Daniela Araya

Instagram Handle: @danielacaraya

Project Name: Catskills Cabin

Type of Project: Residential

Project Location: Western Catskills, NY

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Let’s get acquainted! Tell us about yourself.

Hi! I’m Daniela, a Spoak-member-turned-employee (I’m now the Content and Community Director here). I’ve always loved design and dreamed of breaking into the industry somehow. I started out working in magazine publishing for Hearst’s interior design magazines and eventually hopped around at a couple of different news and tech companies. Through the power of the internet, I stumbled upon Spoak when I was looking for tools to help me become a better designer… and the rest is history! I work full-time at Spoak, but I also take on my own design clients on the side and am currently renovating my house in the Catskills. This project showcases how I designed our kitchen :)

Who was this project for?

This is my personal house project.

Describe the goal, design process, and budget for this project.

When my husband and I bought our cabin, we knew it would be a big undertaking because we wanted to change almost everything about it. It’s a small cabin, so we (very naively) thought even our biggest projects would be fairly simple and doable. While they are proving to be doable, there was no way for us to know how long everything would take since we’re first-time homeowners and DIY renovators. So, time has been one of our biggest challenges overall.

In the kitchen specifically, because everything was so closed-off and dark with the wood paneling, I knew I wanted to rip everything out and start from scratch. My husband and I debated between going with new upper cabinets or open shelving on the wall for kitchen storage but ultimately decided that a large island with hidden storage would be best. We demoed the old cabinets a year ago in January 2022, replaced the old wood paneling, and got our tiles delivered in June. The tiling process itself was straightforward but also stressful! I was very nervous about making mistakes and may or may not have shed a couple of tears, but everything turned out just fine in the end. The materials for the tiling project (including the tile itself) came in at just under $2,500. 

I really wanted to go wild with the kitchen colors and brighten up the space. Because I went with a more muted light blue for the new kitchen cabinets, I thought I could have a little fun with the colors and pattern of the tiles for the backsplash. I’m a huge fan of color, but I typically express that through paint on the walls. For the cabin, I wanted to lean into a more neutral wall color and weave in color through other decor and finishes, and this kitchen backsplash was the first splash into that!

Old kitchen diy project
The "before" photos of the kitchen: Dark and unappealing.

Can you describe the "before" photos of the space?

In one word: Awful! The kitchen before was dark and made me feel sad. I never wanted to make meals in there or be anywhere near this area of the house.

After kitchen photos colorful and fun
The "after" photos of the kitchen: Bright and inviting.

What do you love about the "after" photos?

It looks like a checkerboard confetti explosion! The tiles make the kitchen feel so happy. I love how the colors look when the sun reflects on them; it brightens up the whole space.

Are there any resources from your project that you want to share?

Sure thing! Our tile is from Fireclay Tile, which was most of the project's cost. I love Fireclay for their bright colors and fun patterns. You really can’t find anything like it. Our kitchen and island counter are quartz from Cambria; we went with a white slab with grey/blue veining. The cabinet bases are from IKEA, with custom fronts from Semihandmade. The cabinet hardware is from Rejuvenation.

tile products
To see all the materials Daniela used in her project, click here.

How did Spoak’s software help you bring your design vision to life?

I used Spoak’s online room planner to design my entire kitchen. I have a whole project dedicated to the cabin and use sections to plan out different parts of the house. I started the kitchen planning process with a mood board, then created different mockups to see what cabinetry, tile patterns, and color combinations looked best. Spoak’s online design tool, Viz, helped give me peace of mind with my final decisions before making any big purchases.

What was your favorite part about working on this project?

Collaborating with my husband on some major design choices! I usually take the reins in making the design decisions, but we worked together on this from start to finish. I also loved coming up with the color palette for this part of the house; it’s a nice balance of softer tones and high-contrast colors like the bright Negroni-colored one. 

Do you have any final words of encouragement or advice for someone tackling a design project soon?

Yes! You will probably have several “wtf am I doing” moments throughout your design project, especially something as meticulous as a first-time tile job, but you will get through it! Mistakes are inevitable. Embrace them. Try not to stress out too much during the process and have fun with it. Once you’re finished, you will be so proud of what you’ve created. 

What’s next on your design project radar?

Next up at the cabin are unsexy things like putting up the rest of the drywall on the first floor, but after that’s done, we can paint everything and install our new floors before jumping to the upstairs projects. It’s a never-ending list here!

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Date Posted
February 2, 2023



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