Two factors set in motion Andree Zamarlik's two-year kitchen makeover — her mother and Mother Nature.
"I grew up in a white kitchen. My mother had a white kitchen back in the 1960s (in Arabi), so I knew I was comfortable in that, and I just decided, well, maybe we'll do it. And the real catalyst was the flood in 2016," said Zamarlik, sitting on a cozy sofa in the keeping room of her home in Oakridge Subdivision off Perkins Road.
As Zamarlik and her husband, Dominick, vacationed in San Diego that August weekend almost three years ago, the flood devastated many parts of the city and nearby parishes, heavily damaging thousands of homes.
"When we came back, of course, this neighborhood was high and dry. It took us about a week, we didn't pay attention, and we looked up right here, and all of this was one big massive water stain," she recalled, pointing to a section of the ceiling toward the kitchen
Wind-driven rain had gotten underneath the flashing on the roof and into the attic.
"And because we weren't here, we didn't know," Zamarlik said.
The ceiling repair was a must, so they decided while they were at it to redo the kitchen, the first of many projects on Andree Zamarlik's wish list since the couple purchased the two-story home five years ago.
"When I first moved here, I knew I wanted to make some changes, but it was going to take a couple of years before we were able to do it financially and time wise, etc.," said Zamarlik, a media producer for Louisiana Economic Development FastStart. She also owns Creative Writing and Production LLC, while her husband, a retired Marine, is a capital buyer for AdvanSix Inc. The couple married in 2006.
Once the ceiling was finished, Zamarlik's creative wheels started turning. The couple set a budget of $25,000 for the makeover.
In the keeping room, the original lighting fixtures were out and canned lighting, all with dimmers, were in. Sleek, modern hanging lights replaced the dated florescent lights in the kitchen.
And the porous, pinkish floor tile had to go.
"When I went to price what a new floor would be here and in the half-bath and in the utility room, it came to anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000. I said, 'I'm just going to try something, that's what happens to me,'" she said. "It will be 11 at night and, next thing you know, I'll be knocking something down, and my husband's just like, 'What is she doing?'"
Zamarlik started on the pantry floor, painting the tiles with leftover living room paint and the grout lines with another leftover paint.
Liking the results, she headed to Benjamin Moore Paint Store, where she purchased floor and deck paint in two colors and polyacrylic. She painted on the recommended four coats of the sealer.
Entire cost for the "new" floors — $180.
Zamarlik said she used foam brushes to paint the floors, and did it in sections, so they could still use the kitchen. With a microwave, refrigerator and sink in the utility room, the couple was able to heat food and wash dishes while the new kitchen appliances were being installed.
Most of the upper kitchen cabinets were taken down. The lower ones, a natural wood that had turned orangish over the years, were professionally repainted.
"I don't like walls of cabinets. It always feels heavy to me," Zamarlik said.
She opted for bracket-free floating shelves on either side of the range hood. Consulting websites like Pinterest and shelfology.com, she found lengths of metal designed specifically to secure the shelves to the wall.
For the shelves, the couple purchased a board of antique heart pine from a St. Francisville shop, and used a drill press to cut it into the desired lengths, then stained it and applied the polyacrylic sealer.
"This is what I wanted more than anything else," Zamarlik said, surveying the shelves filled with plates, dishes and decorative pieces.
The pink tile backsplash was replaced with a subway-esque one featuring various colored glazes or no glaze on each tile, giving it a textured, almost iridescent effect.
White and grey quartz counters and an extended island add to the kitchen's sleek, modern design.
Zamarlik said she bought items along the way, including faucet fixtures and a sink, while Wayfair, Overstock and Pottery Barn were go-tos for decor and smaller furniture pieces, such as the bar cabinet, which arrived unassembled. She put it all together and traded out the small knobs for other more substantial ones.
"I just started buying little things I knew I wanted," she said. "We took it in pieces."
Doing some of the work themselves helped bring in the project $1,000 under budget.
"It can be done. It can be done within a budget, and still look, I think, stylish. You just have to be willing to wait," Zamarlik said.
"I live in here now," she added, standing in the modern version of her mother's white kitchen.