before and after

before & after: mobius manitou kitchen

by Grace Bonney

i love seeing a wide range of before & after projects. whether they involve a simple staple-gun upholstery job and a coat of paint or a total gut renovation, it’s always great to see how people transform space and objects. this makeover is more along the lines of a major renovation and comes to us from laura of mobius manitou. she and her husband david bought an 80’s style home in florida, complete with “garish wallpaper, 4 inch beige tiles and the tackiest gold lighting fixtures.” after deciding that they couldn’t live with the house as-is (you can see why in the “before” real estate listing photos above) laura and david hired some help and decided to change the floor plan all together. what was once the kitchen and living room (see the floor plan below for laura’s changes) became a massive kitchen and dining area full of light and color (and without a stitch of tacky wallpaper). because david is a big cook, they decided to create a custom restaurant-style kitchen using cost-effective metal, rather than solid wood. they purchased the floors, lighting and fans online and finished things off with a reclaimed redwood slab table. the result is a kitchen and dining room any chef, home-cook, foodie, or guest would love to eat in. i can hardly look at our own tiny kitchen i’m so jealous…great work laura and david!

[laura and david’s floorplan with revisions]

[images above: laura and david’s kitchen “after”]

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  • Wow. What an incredible improvement! I am always in awe of the ability to envision what something can become – It is a gift to be able to see the potential in something so stale. Thank you for sharing.

  • this must have been very expensive..
    i like the kitchen fully in metal, locks
    very professional and is for shure fun
    to work on such a great place!

    i’m jealous too!! :-))

  • Too, too, too, too much stainless steel …maybe they have a litlle polishing elf who will spend after hours polishing away all the drips and stains and rearranging the food in the fridge!

  • I love it, but if those are spices I hope they don’t plan on using them. You shouldn’t leave dry spices out and so close to a heat source. It makes them so stale. Same with oils, so don’t leave them by the stove. Anyway, after that nit picky comment, I have to say that I love the look and I adore the table. I dream of a loooooong table in my kitchen!

  • I love almost everything except for the lime green paint.

    I also love that fridge — great for energy savings! Growing up, my parents always kept an amazingly clean fridge. Spills were always wiped up and the fridge was cleaned on a semi-regular basis.

    I’m often disgusted when I go to people’s homes to see how gross some of their fridges are. It’s completely unsanitary.

  • This makes me itch for buying our own home that we can paint/renovate. Having the renovating bug and living in an apartment is difficult!

  • This is amazing! I was thinking that the little jars in the closeup are holding teabags (some of the colors are pretty vibrant to be spices) … might be spices off to the left of the stove, though. I love the little containers, with their wood lids; anyone have a source?

  • That. Is. Amazing. Their “after’ photos look like something in a design magazine spread. I would love a kitchen like that – especially that table.

  • That looks amazing. We have a very similar “before” floorplan and are contemplating a renovation, but I just don’t know if I can commit to a combined living room/kitchen! We’re very informal, but I like being able to close the kitchen door to contain smells and keep curious toddlers out sometimes.

  • WOW! Love it the mix of it all. It’s perfect. Wouldn’t want to be responsible for keeping all that SS clean.

  • Boy, thanks to Grace for posting our kitchen, and thanks for all the juicy comments! For those asking for resources, here are some of them:
    The wood table was reclaimed/salvage – it cost about $1200. We then found dirt cheap legs (less than $100 for all of them) online – they are the kind that extend. The wood came from here, but I’ve got other sources for reclaimed on my site, too:
    There is a wide price and size range. Ours is 3″ thick and 9 feet long.
    On the small shelf to the left of the stove are ‘tsp spices’ spice tins. They are safe and sound as, inside each tin, the spices are housed in one-tsp measured sachets. They can be found here:
    On the right of the stove are salts from the Artisan Salt Co. They are fabulous, from the Salish Alderwood smoked salt to the sulfur-y tasting Kala Namak. They are neat little glass jars with cork lids:
    The dishes are super budget and I love them – they are simple Corel dishes from Amazon:
    The pots are Spring by Andrew Weil -with sealed rims for healthy cooking:
    The cutting board is the best we could find – ironwood:
    The oil on the counter is Lucini Italia:
    The counters themselves are deceiving. When we looked at putting in a new kitchen, we looked at wood (too expensive), plywood or whatever that stuff is – still too expensive for the space we had – and the backs were sooo thin… Working with a custom fabber, we spent less than we would have on any other option. We designed exactly what we wanted, and they did it up. For those looking, we used JNC in Florida – talk to Mick, he is fabulous to work with. They do restaurants and stuff, too:
    The fridge is True, purchased online; the dishwasher and range are GE Monogram (we went midrange for the budget), the micro is Sharp – it is the drawer style one.
    The chairs are, as Grace noted, Eames – and they are sooo comfy.
    Regarding the green, yes, I realize it is a love it or leave it colour. Here in Florida the room almost needs something bold – it suits the space well. If we had a place further north, I would do it all over again, but choose a more climate-appropriate olivine. Surprisingly, the metal isn’t too bad to clean (or maybe I am just l-a-z-y and don’t realize it!).
    Thanks again for all the comments – much appreciated!!

  • I love this!! Growing up, I wanted to paint my bedroom that shade but wasn’t allowed. : ( I would love to know where the kitchen cabinets and countertop came from?

  • To add to Laura’s comments about our sourcing, a few footnotes:

    The counters are far less expensive and much easier to care for than any countertop material on the market. Quartz, stone, etc. Follow the simple rule- if it used in a commercial kitchen, be it food service or restaurant, wouldn’t it be more durable and sanitary than what you would buy at a home improvement store?

    This kitchen is completely removable. No glues to off-gas were used. The counters/cabinets are all on legs. Un-hook the plumbing, unscrew the back splashes and take the whole thing with you. Or deep clean, or change the floor easily. (The stove is very heavy- took 8 guys to move it in).

    To the left of the commercial fridge, you can’t see it but we have an 8′ double door totally stainless custom pantry. This holds our electrics, dry foods, and lots of good extra virgin olive oil (no heat, no light).

    Integrated into the counter top on the far right side is a recylcing/waste center. There is a trap door which opens to access two stainless bins- one for cans/glass and one for trash. No smell, nothing the dogs can get into. You can chop next to it and wipe the trimmings directly into the bin.

    There are too many little details to explain. We General Contracted this project and managed all the sub contractors. We had building permits for everything (hard to secure in S Florida). If you have questions, just post them here or on Laura’s site at Mobius. Happy to connect you to our sources.

    Someone posted that this was expensive. I assure you this cost less than it looks and much less than any home improvement outfit would charge you. The worst part is moving a kitchen into the family room. Pulling new electrical and plumbing is the worst part. If we had done this in place of the existing kitchen, your talking half as much.

    Thanks for the great comments.

    Free your mind. That’s when the best ideas are released.


  • Haha, when I saw those photos my first reaction was “no way! that is not the same kitchen”

    Absolutely fantastic!

  • I love the look, but stainless steel doors are hard to keep clean. My kitchen has them only below the sink and they show every drop of water.

  • That refrigerator is an absolutely brilliant choice. I am just so in love with this room. But does anyone else think that all that stainless steel would be a pain to keep fingerprints off of?

  • Woah, such a radical change!
    I love how the almost lime green compliments and softens the harsh stainless steel. A beautiful combination!

  • Hi. This is such an inspiring makeover! Do you mind sharing where the shelves are from? I am looking for similar ones. Thank you!

  • When can I move in? simple beautiful! I would never have a bad day in this home… it just makes me happy looking at the pics. It’s an ispiration!

  • i would never want to clean all that stainless or the fridge, but good lord is it beautiful (although i have cream cabinets, so i should shut it). that table is SO amazing and does so much to warm up the space.

  • for those asking about the shelves, they too came from JNC Welding and Fabricating. The contact info is in my post above. Please let me know if anyone wants additional info – happy to share.

  • Wow, wow, wow! I love the whole kitchen, but I’m really drawn to that color. I’m using that color in my house as an accent color. I would love to do a large wall in that color too.

  • One secret to smear-free stainless steel is baby oil and a microfiber cloth. Just wipe on one direction top to bottom and it’ll glisten AND be clean. Think of all the grime and dirt regular counters and cabinets are hiding. Great job guys. Hope to break bread with you at your table some day soon. We’ll all fit around perfectly. Amanda

  • Seems a major concern about the stainless is the cleaning of it. Honestly, it isn’t any more work for us than other cabinets. To minimize potential finger print and scratch concerns anyway, we opted for a feathered finish on the countertop. I don’t think we’ve scratched it yet, but if we have, I can’t tell. I know Laura doesn’t use a cutting board most of the time and it has survived her well. JNC offered about 20 different finishes and textures from the regular shine to satin, to feathered (a few grades) to those 3D diamonds, to mini squares, to multi colored. The possibilities are endless…

  • Did JNC fabricate the cabinets as well or were they from another company?

    As a designer who does a fair number of kitchens, I have to say you did a great job!

    We have clients who have the SubZero glass door version of this refrigerator, and most are totally fine with it being the usual random arrangement of foods inside, and don’t stylize their food. I think that’s great.

  • Thanks, Colleen!
    JNC did all the metal stuff – we didn’t like the cover of the shaft on the hood, so JNC also fabbed one up that suited our style and kitchen better. It was cheaper, too… Mick came over with his metal swatches and sat on the floor with me (the kitchen was already gone, floors half done, door blown out) with three dogs in his face and went over every detail with us. He took our drawings and did them up, happily making changes ’til we got it just so. Really, really fabulous company – can’t say enough about them. They did the upper shelves, the back splash, the shaft for the hood, the pantry that isn’t in the pics above, the countertops/integrated sink/cabinets (all seamless). They dealt with our pot filler over the stove, the microwave under counter, and the dishwasher without getting anything balled up. The whole thing went in like a dream.

    Re the random stuff in the fridge, I, too, think this is fine – looks like a human lives there. That said, I am crazy anal about things being oh-so neatly lined up with all the pretty labels facing front.

  • Trudy:

    There is a restaurant supply place here – I think that is where we started, got some inspiration, etc. If there is one by you, they might know of custom fabbers that their restaurant customers use for stuff they don’t sell.
    The fridges at the restaurant supply needed commercial-space venting, though, so we took that inspiration online and bought the True refridgerator from a website. Made it easy. Google ‘True Refrigerator’ and options should come up. Some of them offer free shipping in continental US. I think this is our model:
    though it looks wider, somehow. Might just be the pic. Anyway, they have loads of options there, and the free ship.
    The faucet (both sink and over-range and a matching one for our laundry) we purchased online, also. If you want the specific website we used, let me know – I find anything with a google checkout not to be too bad… The faucets are Dansk – nice look, nicer pricing ;-).
    Regarding a metal welder and fabricator in your area, I think you’d definitely want one that does restaurants or kitchens already. I can’t recall how we stumbled upon JNC – I’d be inclined to give Mick a call and see if there is an association or something. That way, you can call through the association’s directory. Or perhaps he knows of one local to you…. he seems fairly well connected. Conversely, his prices are competitive enough you might also think about having him do it and throwing it on a palette.
    I have another contact for a place in Georgia that does it. They seemed pretty good, too, but Mick beat their pricing and I just liked his work style better. The Georgia place did a lot of online+ship stuff. I think just spending a couple hours obsessively google-searching would bring something up, too.
    I’d definitely try your local restaurant supply shops, though. Rather than stopping at the regular sales staff, I’d talk to one of those people that lays out the kitchens. I bet they have a rolodex of resources tucked away.
    Hope that helps…I love 50’s ranch style; I bet it’ll be gorgeous!! Have fun with your project (and feel free to email me directly if you want/need anything that I’ve missed).

  • Mark –
    sorry about that! It is Benjamin Moore in Grape Green – 2027-40. The inspiration was the colour (exact match!) of the palms framed by the kitchen window…that part between the beige/brown trunk and where the fronds start. It (for us) is a really energizing colour. Funny, it seems to change with the light quite a bit. It’ll be one colour in the morning, and compleeeeeetely different at night. I like change, so it works for me ;-)

  • WOW! Amazing kitchen! And from reading Laura & David’s comments, it looks like they really thought of everything & have a very workable space! Someday I will toooooooo.

  • Laura and David this is an amazing reno!! I love it. My husband and I are looking to redo our kitchen and keep down costs of the cuboards/countertop ect. We have been looking at Ikea but Ilove this look and the sanitary factor is great. Can you let me in on the cost of the welding/fabrication/custom work. I would love to rework my budget around this!

  • Ruth –
    if I recall without getting up out of my seat, I think it was around $11-12k. It is 19 feet by 15 feet, so it is a fair size. That included the pantry, the upper shelves, the lower cupboards, and the countertops, backsplashes, cover for the vent shaft (not the range vent itself, just the shaft), and the integrated sinks. Basically everything that is silver in there….
    and thanks for the compliment. If you want to discuss further, feel free to drop me an email directly.
    Helena: the freezer is separate from the refrigerator; we have a chest one that you can’t see in the picture. There is also a big pantry beside the fridge that is the same size as the fridge that is outside the pic, too. It is a double-doored stainless steel dealio that matches the cabinets (same guy made it).

  • laura if you are still out there i would love to know how you attached the legs to your redwood table and where you found them, thanks