before and after by 96

before & after: sabrina’s kitchen

good morning! i’m kicking off before & after day early this morning with a great kitchen makeover from d*s reader sabinra holley-williams. sabrina was up against a seriously tough combo of red brick and brown cabinets but decided to power through and give her entire kitchen a face lift. after diligently painting the brick a bright white, she painted the cabinets two different colors and gave the counters a new wooden top. i love the clean new look and want to give sabrina two thumbs up for the great handiwork!

[have a before & after you'd like to share on d*s? just shoot me an email right here with your images!]


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before and after


Laura Jane

Looks like a different house entirely! What a lovely, bright change! Also– I’d kill for that brick! Looks great painted white (although I’m in Milwaukee– city o’ the cream brick). ;)


this has inspired my morning. i hope to one day own a set of bricks like this so i too can paint them white. looks awesome!

Carrie S.

Oh, this is such a great before and after! My hubs and I are house-hunting right now, and I’ve been seeing a LOT of kitchens that look like “Before.” It’s great to see a transformation that doesn’t cost big money (because goodness knows we’ll be broke after paying that downpayment). Thanks, Sabrina and Grace!

Tracie Setliff

I love this. It’s so impressive when spaces end up looking great after a “facelift” and not a total gut and re-do. Great job!


Great job! What did she do with the microwave? Painted also or is it just some Photoshop work?


Really great! A wonderful reminder that we don’t always need to scrap everything and start over, no matter how cringe worthy or out dated it may seem. The kitchen has been given a beautiful new life!


Yowza! That looks amazing! I love when out of the ordinary colors are used in places you wouldn’t consider them. That teal/turquoise is amazing!!


Oh My Gosh! It went from being a dark cave to being a ray of sunshine. Amazing work!


I definitely appreciate that you could transform the space so much with minimum cost. well done! and that before picture…wow. it hurt my eyeballs to look at it! :)


Oh, that’s so beautiful! I don’t usually like painted brick, but those guys were a pretty terrible red and now they look so good!

supa (Mary Beth)

WOW, what a great job, Sabrina!

I was wondering the same thing about the floor — when we were painting walls and cabinets in our 60s-ish kitchen, I came across a few articles detailing how to paint vinyl floors. Might be worth a shot if you wanted to tone down the faux brick.


So light and airy! I’m curious about the floor too — I’m sure there’s a crafty and cheap way to tackle that linoleum as well.


That is unbelieveable – did not honestly think that it was the same units and tiles – good job!


It looks wonderful. My mother-in-law has a kitchen almost identical to the before image and every time I visit I think about what I’d do to make it less like a cave. I really like the two colors of cabinets—I might try that in my own kitchen.


What a fantastic transformation! I love that it isn’t a sea of white cabinets. I’m so inspired! I second Nora- was the floor also updated?


Thanks everyone. I’m grinning from all the compliments. It was indeed a very inexpensive project. Just a lot of elbow grease and crossed fingers. To answer a few questions, the microwave is new as are the countertops and sink (Ikea and Home Depot so all pretty cheap). The brick is worse than just an ugly red brick – it’s loathsome Z-brick so the transformation was so amazing to see. We also used white caulk between the bricks which really was key in the overall finished look. As for the floor, though you can’t see it there, we just threw down some peel and stick faux wood tiles over the faux brick linoleum. Not ideal and we’d love to install some real floors at some point but good enough for now. Thanks again.


I would have never thought of doing the top and bottom cabinets different colors but it looks GREAT!

its beautiful!

jen jafarzadeh

amazing! besides loving the white brick (why are so many people terrified of painting brick on these hgtv shows — look how amazing it is!!), I applaud the use of different color cabinets on top and bottom. the color combo really works and looks modern and fresh!


Holy shimoli–what a project! I think this might be one of the best/most inspiring facelifts I’ve seen.


WOW! That is the best after. It’s amazing what paint and a creative person can do. I really love the different color cabinets.


Like so many others have remarked, I can’t get over the difference! It truly does not look like the same kitchen. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I’m nearly speechless! Way to go in painting out that brick-you’ve got to be a bit fearless some of the time.


I’ve been thinking of painting my cabinets as well–do you have any tips? What type of paint, did you paint inside, etc…


That is amazing! I love how bright and colorful it is now. I want to see the rest of her house!


Wow, so much better! I gotta say, I think my spirit would have shriveled at the prospect of having to make something like that better…


I saw this on my RSS feed and thought it was two separate posts, clicked to see what folks had to say about the dreary cavelike first kitchen, and only then did I realize it was redone! Wonderful work, and such a simple change!

Stephanie May*

I LOVE that painted brick!! Great job with everything!

I wish there were more photos though…


wow, it’s just amazing!!! what an inspiration!

we are also giving our kitchen a facelift, and I’ve been contemplating changing our countertops to the ikea butcher block. have you enjoyed it so far? is it “cooking-friendly?”

Lydia, CluelessCrafter

Amazing, Sabrina.

Just a thought: can you glaze the bricks to make the backsplash seem more custom? I don’t know if this can be done, but the effect would be stunning, no?


WOW! You definitely made a big impact with a litte bit of paint and new countertop. I would love to see more pictures of the after!!!! I am re-doing my kitchen and your is great inspiration!


Well, to each his own, I suppose, but I do not think saving money on kitchen remodeling in this manner really saves as much as it seems to at first blush. Nor does it actually do the job. You can re-paint kitchen cabinets, and someone like myself (I’m a cabinetmaker) can surely do a good job at it. And what you did with your own painting is a very professional-looking job, for that matter. But, in the end, all you’ll have is old cabinets with a fresh coat of paint.

Re-facing cabinets is another option, but a person I know who has done this from time to time for clients describes it as “putting new crap on the old crap.”

A woman I know first went out and got new countertops for her kitchen. Cheap stone of some sort. Cost her four thousand. Then she had her cabinets re-faced and spent another nine thousand. She now has a “re-modeled” kitchen that is not re-modeled at all, for which she has spent thirteen thousand dollars. For just a little more she could have gutted the kitchen and done the job right—up to, and including, new appliances. Instead she has spent quite a bit of money to end up with a kitchen not much better than the one she started with.

You get what you pay for. Always. I understand budgets. I have one myself. But if the tool I should have costs a thousand, and all I have is five hundred, I would rather just hang on to my five hundred until I have another five hundred, so I can get a good tool. That junk comes back to haunt you, in tool purchases and home remodelings.

You are in kitchens and bathrooms every day of your life. If you are going to go to the mess and expense of a remodeling, why not get the very best you can?


the brick looks great, I actually thought they were white subway tiles, looks like a complete renovation


Wow wow wow wow! What a huge difference. So much brighter and happier. I love how space can evoke such different feelings.

Thanks for sharing!




Perfect…the paint choices are similar depth or intensity. That is why the two colors work. IKEA and Home Depot are your design friends. Bang for the buck! Wish you had more pics to post…

Sophie @ Century Finds

Unbelievable! If I’d known a few years ago that such transformations were possible, I might have had the courage to buy a real “doer-upper” house!
I love that blue, too :-)

Jen O

This kitchen was a ‘face lift’ and not a remodel. After spending far less than the wasted $13,000 in your example, these new home owners have a gorgeous, light and cheerful kitchen they can live in for a decade, if necessary. Having taken the same road myself, it is totally worth the money spent to have a ‘temporary’ solution to a bigger problem.


Amazing transformation…it doesn’t even seem possible that the before is now the after. I had to keep comparing the photos to take it all in.


gorgeous! I’ve known too many houses with ugly seventies kitchens like this. I love how simple things really made a difference in the feeling of this room. The painted bricks look great and I absolutely love the colors of the cabinets. It’s the perfect example of how you don’t have to spend $$$ to get a really great result. Congrats!


OMG you did such a great job! We share a love of jadite and aqua I see! Don’t you just love the Martha Stewart enamel pots?! I have them in 2 sizes! My kitchen is done in yellow and aqua but I still need to do my cabinets. Thank you for the inspiration. I’m subscribing to your Tumblr page now!!

Margaret Kelly

Could you tell me what the name of the turquoise paint is?
Thank you. :)

Amy Jo

Wow! That is a remarkable transformation and I can’t imagine that it cost much at all, certainly nothing like the $13,000 dollars on of the earlier readers described. The cabinets do not look like they are falling apart, so painting them is a very thrifty and “green” solution to replacement even if it is only for the short term. This is a lovely kitchen, very inspiring really. And, I too would love to know the brand/colors of paint used!


I think this kitchen is one of my favorite “before & afters.” It is so simple, but has such a dramatic effect. And it’s something anyone can do with a very limited amount of money.


WOW! Is that even the same kitchen?!?! Amazing transformation, just beautiful.


I agree with Joseph…but there is such a thing as ‘over-improving’ a home. Maybe this home is not in a neighborhood that would support new cabinets, granite & stainelss…but it will support fresh paint, IKEA and DIY Home Depot. That ‘refreshed’ kitchen will go much farther than a remodel ANYDAY….depending on the neighborhood/real-estatate mkt.

Chris H-W

Just FYI (as the other half of the design team and resident bookkeeper), this project was quite happily low-budget. I believe we’re still under $2K, *including* the new side-by-side fridge and microwave.

Colors are courtesy of Martha: Wading Pool (lower cabinets/walls), Vintage Map (unseen in photo; on upper walls), Seedling (upper cabinets), and Piano Key (brick and trim).


I’ve been thinking about getting a wood counter. I’m definitely seeing it used a lot more of late. I just wonder how it will stand up to my man’s cooking. It’s like iron chef is in the kitchen everytime he cooks.


Looks cute and a great improvement.

Are there more pictures? I would have appreciated if the pictures had been taken from the same spot and at the same time of the day – makes me feel the difference even more objectively.


i agree with Lola i thought you installed white subway tile for the backsplash. Great update!


That’s what I’m talking about! A transformation doesn’t have to involve thousands of dollars and a whole bunch of dust. This “temporary” solution would be my permanent solution… and I could change the color of my cabinets on a whim!


Great face lift! Great choices!
Just love it when people are thrifty, smart and creative!

Sandy May Smith

I love this! Wow! What a great job! This really inspires me to do something about my dated kitchen. I am so impressed with how different the room looks.


Whooh!!! Go Chris and Sabrina! I love your remodel and all of these glowing comments are totally correct. Brilliant job. <3


seriously unbelievable. I shoulda had her with me when house hunting. It’s tough to see the potential in a horrific kitchen like that.


LOVE. so clever yet simple. the 2 different cabinet colors is a great idea; kind of gives it the feeling that the bottom cabinets are separate pieces of furniture, sorta country/vintage, ya know? but modern too. great job.


wonderful transformation.
and the right thing to do.
but….somehow makes me nostalgic and love seeing this old kitchen – we had something like that growing up. And the fake linoleum brick tile is just so bad it’s good.


OK, so on the cabinets that was paint out of a can? It looks great, but I do understand the cabinetmaker’s lengthy comments above, because latex paint in kitchens are never as durable as the new cabinetry you can buy. Still, this is a mighty attractive “fix” for under $2K, especially if you don’t have $15-20K lying around doing nothing. Very nice look and a very dramatic difference.


I just want to say that I absolutely respect opinions about durability of the cabinets, etc, but wanted to explain our decision a bit more. There was nothing functionally wrong with the cabinets and painting them was minimal cost and effort on our part. Someone (including us) could always replace them later if so desired. This whole project was about making a house that was supposed to be a short term first home, but turned into a longer term stay because of the market and economy, more enjoyable and comfortable for us. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and wanted to love being in there. And no, we definitely don’t live in a market that could support a major kitchen remodel even if we had the money on hand to do it.


The transformation looks fabulous! I was having a hard time getting past all the dark colors, but you were able to make that into a beautiful kitchen. Great job! :D

Erin Lee

I love that this makeover didn’t require tearing down walls or cabinets–just goes to show what a little paint and a new counter top can really do to a room!


What an excellent job you did here…. I cannot believe that this is the same kitchen… My compliments, it’s so inspiring to see !!

Love it.
And like Erin says: it shows what a bit of paint an a new counter top can do…

Job well done !!


Night and Day…. amazing what a couple coats of paint, new countertop, and a few appliances updated can do for a tired kitchen.


So we know it was cheap – but how much work went into it? I have similar cabinets and am trying to decide whether painting or replacing is the way to go. Did you need to do a lot of sanding and priming?


Have to say, I think it’s a good thing if you can totally transform the feel of a room with such simple measures.

Chris H-W

Re: time… We have next to no free time, so we put off this project for years. In the end, it was very manageable: 90% of this was done over the long July 4th weekend. The small details we couldn’t finish then (touch-ups, installing new blinds, etc.) were completed in 20-30 minute increments each evening while dinner was on the stove.

Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating

I was so thrilled to see this kitchen!! Not only because you did a FANTASTIC job on it, but also because it’s so incredibly similar to how I’m doing my kitchen currently. With the exception of the upper cabinet color, my kitchen plan is almost identical–teal blue cabinets, butcherblock countertops, white (subway tile) backsplash!! Wow!! I almost finished my painting, and then I kind of stalled out…ran out of steam. Seeing this has really energized me again! I’m anxious to get mine done.

Beautiful job. And thanks for the inspiration!


I want to do the same thing to my kitchen. Is there a way to find out materials that you used?

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