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With one toddler in the house and a baby on the way, most people would think twice about taking on a fixer-upper. Not Ashley Rose. The blogger behind Sugar & Cloth and her husband bought their Texas home in November 2018, and it’s been a steady stream of renovations ever since. Their latest project? Completely overhauling the kitchen.

What was once a dated, dark disaster—paneled cabinets, drop-down duct, and all—is now the complete opposite. Rose hired out for the heavier lifts, choosing to harness her DIY know-how for the smaller things: installing Shaker-style Semihandmade cabinet fronts, swapping in shiny new hardware, and building an appliance closet. “I will seriously never live without an appliance closet again!” she says of her favorite part of the room. Concealed by a pretty blush pink door, the feature offers the tiniest hint of color in the otherwise calming white space. 

While Rose loved dreaming up all the little touches, undertaking a massive kitchen reno while juggling a design blog and a baby, to boot, wasn’t easy. We chatted with her for the lowdown on how she got it done. 

Pick Your Pain Points

Rose recommends deciding on your three biggest wish-list items from the get-go and building your budget around those. “The rest will follow suit!” she reassures. For her, getting rid of the drop-down duct was a nonnegotiable.

Know When to Ask for Help

While the new door fronts were a breeze to add, other elements proved a bit trickier. “The only thing I wish I could change about the process was installing the IKEA base cabinets ourselves,” she says. If there’s a task that feels particularly overwhelming, it might be worth putting a few extra pennies toward having a pro handle it. 

Splurge a Little 

Rose’s biggest indulgence was the GE Café appliances with bronze accents. And while the aesthetics of the white and metal fixtures definitely helped sweeten the deal, she has a practical bit of advice for picking a splurge: “Try and choose whatever has the best resale value in the long run, but that still feels like you,” she shares. “Nothing is worse than putting money into a house that you can’t get back if you’re not planning to stay for the long haul.” 

See more kitchens that wow: This Designer Put Floorboards on Her Kitchen Ceiling—And We Can’t Stop Staring This Pink Kitchen Transformation Proves That Gut Renovations Are Worth the Stress You’d Never Know This Dramatic Kitchen Was Done on a Tight Budget