before & after: pegboard kitchen makeover + studio redo


This kitchen makeover comes from our very own Sewing 101 expert, the super talented and clever Brett Bara. Like many renters, Brett wasn’t allowed to alter anything permanent in her apartment. However, using her eye for fabrics and her DIY savvy, Brett was able to lighten, brighten and totally modernize this little kitchen for very little money and even less time. Great work, Brett! — Kate

Time: One day

Basic Steps: Since this apartment is a sublet, I couldn’t make any structural changes. I really had to get creative about cover-ups I could do that would make the space feel more like me. Since there was already a pot rack hanging above the mural, I was miraculously able to just hook the peg board onto the pot rack, which saved me the stress of figuring out how to safely mount the peg board onto the old plaster walls. For the smaller piece of peg board above the sink, I mounted it to the bottom of the cabinets with screws. I knew I wouldn’t hang anything heavy on that piece, so it was just a light attachment. (I had the peg board cut to size at the lumber yard where I bought it.)

To hide the clutter in the cabinets, I lined the doors with wallpaper.  I removed the cabinet doors (the hinges pop right off) so I could lay them flat, measured the glass and cut the paper to fit. Then I just Scotch-taped it to the inside of the doors. For the new kitchen-sink curtains, I decided to use oilcloth, since it would be resistant to splashes or spills. Oilcloth is great because you don’t have to hem it (it won’t fray), so I just cut it to size and sewed a pocket at the top for the curtain rod.

My advice to others would be to think creatively about how to cover seemingly unfixable problems. I tend to want to tear everything out and redo things my way, but a real renovation wasn’t possible in this case since I sublet. This kitchen really helped me to push past that tendency and see how much I could accomplish with just band-aid-type fixes. So in the future, I’ll try not to get so discouraged that I don’t have the perfect home of my dreams (yet!) — I’ll just look for little ways like these to add more beauty where I can. It makes a big difference! — Brett

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

CLICK HERE to see Sullivan’s elegant and airy floral studio makeover after the jump!

Oh, to have a workspace that looked like this! Needless to say, I’m incredibly envious of this studio renovation from floral designer Sullivan Owen. It was clearly no small feat, however, and Sullivan put a lot of hard work into the space. The palette of grays, creams and wood tones are the prefect backdrop for showcasing flowers, and the sparing use of great vintage furniture works so beautifully to set the tone. Wonderful transformation, Sullivan!

Time: 4 weeks

Cost: $9,000

Basic Steps: The removal of the partition walls was the first and key step. We were fortunate they were not load-bearing walls. The new half walls allow the natural light to flood the whole space and make the studio feel twice as big. I chose the cool gray wall color to allow the colors of the flowers to pop so that they are the focal points. Removing the old carpet revealed the original floorboards, which had to be painted as they were about four different colors.

I used my grandfather’s antique packaging collection as my main inspiration for decor; he was an industrial designer from the 1950s to 1980s and had amazing taste. The giant green cabinet is from a 1950s general store in upstate NY. The furnishings are a mix of antique, vintage and new chosen to emphasize the high ceilings and store my huge collection of jars, vases and bottles.

The best advice I can give is to get several recommendations from people you trust for your professional subcontractors. I had great electricians and carpenters. They were a pleasure to work with, did an amazing job and helped me get finished on schedule. It’s my dream studio; I feel very fortunate to get to do what I love in this beautiful space. — Sullivan

  1. Kathy says:

    So interesting to see how renters make improvements to spaces they can’t permanently alter. Hopefully there will be more before/after submissions that showcase other examples of temporary makeovers.

    Also, that workspace is sooo beautiful! Congrats on both makeovers! Very inspiring work!

  2. rochelle says:

    HA! you should put a warning on pictures like that!! I took one look at the backspash and nearly snorted my tea!

  3. Georgia says:

    Good god! That before kitchen is a renter’s nightmare. What an incredible save!

  4. bethany says:

    wow ….. WOW …. I really can’t get over that first picture. (Dear God, I’m sorry I ever complained about my apartment kitchen! Amen.) It took me several minutes to convince myself that the first pic was NOT of a construction progress in place on the tile … nope, that was actually how it was originally SUPPOSED to look.

    Most dramatic before & after I think I’ve ever seen. You are a miracle worker.

  5. Djen says:

    Wow! I really appreciate that apartment makeover. Having lived in a zillion places that I couldn’t do anything with, I wish I’d that kind of talent.

    I’d love to see more examples of temporary makeovers like that, now that my kids are getting to the age where they’ll have their own vomitrocious backsplashes to deal with!

  6. Lynn Barber says:

    Wow! Brett’s is a pretty resourceful and innovative transformation.

  7. Thank God for the kitchen renovation!!!! OMG I never in my life see something so horrible in a kitchen,that get anyone a headache, she did a great, great job.

  8. Neha says:

    You are inspiring Brett!!

  9. Merlot says:

    What is going on with those tiles? Even though the cover up transformation is great, I don’t know if I can ever forget that I saw those!

  10. Shy says:

    that kitchen wall is grotesque!!!

  11. LOVE this kitchen sooooo much. Stunning!

  12. Caity says:

    Gorgeous kitchen makeover! May I ask where you got the wallpaper from for the cabinets? I love that flower print!

  13. valerie says:

    Ok, I saw the before pic and thought this was an APRIL FOOLS post!

  14. Jennifer says:

    I think any change would have improved that kitchen backsplash. WOW. Nice makeover and practical use of a small space.

  15. Lisa Cole says:

    I agree with several others — I’m going back to renting soon and it would be great to see more examples of before and afters for spaces we can’t permanently alter. I’d particularly like to know how to take a boring off-white box of a room with no architectural interest and turn it into something special. Thanks for the inspiration on this one.

  16. anabel says:

    The kitchen transformation is my favorite. amazing work! I love the mustard yellow teapot too.

  17. I thought the backsplash was pretty Memphis myself – but wouldn’t want it in my kitchen either. The only think I don’t understand is why they didn’t bring the pegboard all the way up to the ceiling to hide ALL of the ugly tile work… other than that, a phenomenal transformation.

  18. These are great transformations. The kitchen after is such an improvement, nice and orderly!

  19. Kiki says:

    @ Ash: :))))))))))) couldn’t put it better….!
    You are one courageous person Brett, to tackle THAT backsplash… well done!

  20. roomenvy says:

    Wow…world’s worst tiling? It looks like the opening for a kid’s game show! The makeover is brilliant and inspiring to those of us on a budget!

  21. The studio looks amazing!!!

  22. French Gifts says:

    Amazing makeover. Its really very nice. Great transformation. If our rooms are very clean and if its looks like what our heart felt, it will be very pleasant to our minds. Great advices. Thanks for sharing,

  23. erin says:

    I thought this was an April Fools joke…I can’t believe that actually exists! What!?

    Great transformations all around! Nice work. I really like the green hutch.

  24. erin says:

    okay, so I read the article & saw that the green hutch is part of a different makeover. either way- that kitchen is MUCH better now!

  25. I’m impressed….and did everyone know that Brett has a sewing book coming out, I think, in the fall or is 2012 sometime?

  26. Amanda says:

    Wondering how you could affix pegboard to an ugly backsplash if it is purely tile and there is no wall area to hang it on. I would love to try this idea but not sure how.

  27. Love the kitchen redo. Any chance you can share the source of the wallpaper used on the cabinet doors? It’s so pretty.

  28. Kelly says:

    If I was the landlord I’d pay you to leave the pegboard in the kitchen when you move out.

  29. Helena says:

    The pegboard is genius (LOVE pegboard) and the yellow wallpaper inserts are so pretty! Well done!

  30. Apricot says:

    I love love love Sullivan’s studio! I was also wondering about the shade of gray – thank you for replying with the colour. I am surprised that was MS’s Dolphin! I have picked up and put down that paint chip a few times, but I didn’t realize that the result would be lovely!

  31. mimi says:

    what is that tile “Mural”?? oh the agony. Hideous is right but the cover up is good.

  32. Ellie says:

    That backsplash has to be an April Fool’s joke. I can’t believe that any person would create that on purpose for any reason other than a prank on the world.

  33. Kaytee says:

    Maybe that tile job was part of some brilliant fad diet. You get so nauseous every time you walk into the kitchen that you don’t want to eat.

  34. Robin Baron says:

    Wow, wow, wow. That studio space really underwent a full face lift! You took all of the steps to open and lighten the space. Excellent work!

  35. Rachel says:

    wow! Who would decorate their kitchen like that?! (the before!) amazing afters!

  36. You are one brilliant kitchen renovator. Amen.

  37. georgia says:

    Well done….those tiles had me giggling. I can’t imagine what they thinking when they put them up.

  38. Alison says:

    After seeing all the negative comments, I kind of want to wrap that backsplash in my arms and give it a hug. At least that person was trying to do something different and creative. It’s pretty mic the antithesis of the design*sponge aesthetic.

  39. meagan says:

    I L.O.V.E. Brett’s kitchen makeover! And love that the rental issue was mentioned – since I don’t own my own place, this is an on-going issue for me – but I love what Brett did! Thanks for the share!!!
    Meagan, row house nest

  40. haha, that backsplash is hilarious! wow! you know someone thought they were changing the design world with their new, awesome tile pattern :) the makeover looks great, though!

  41. Julie says:

    The kitchen before is one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen. It looks wonderful after!!! Great job!

  42. Jamie says:

    So pretty. Any chance you would share the wallpaper source? It is so pretty.

  43. Esther says:

    I just love any series of before and after.. Little change matters!

  44. Brett says:

    hi all – thanks for your comments, they’ve been cracking me up! Yes, this mosaic is not a joke – just goes to show what New Yorkers will endure for an affordable apartment in a good neighborhood. :)

    But even though I covered up the backsplash, I almost want to defend its maker (whoever it was) – he/she put a lot of crafty love into this piece! Makes me wonder how much of what I make today will be laughable in 20 years, too. :)

    Anyway – the wallpaper is from Anthropologie and still in stock now. It is so, so pretty and I hope to use the remainder of the roll in another project soon.

    Brett

  45. Jesse Lu says:

    What a great transformation in the kitchen, and such applicable ideas for those of us who rent. Thanks for the inspiration.

  46. Liz says:

    LOL that background was HORRENDOUS! Whoever did it probably got a whole heap of tile samples and remnants and thought they’d get crafty. Nice work around Brett!

  47. Stephanie says:

    Very interesting backsplash.
    The after shots are all very beautiful!

  48. timsim7 says:

    I agree with Liz. Definitely someone’s “artistic” take on what to do with cheap leftover/discontinued tiles. Great job too.

  49. Dee says:

    Thank you so much! So many WONDERFUL – easy – and INEXPENSIVE ideas!

  50. Lily says:

    I know this post is super old but hopefully I’ll still get a reply, doe did you manage to get the wood cutting boards on the metal shelfs to the left? I have the same ones and I’d like to do the same. Please please reply im despretly trying to reuse these shelfs in my kitchen. Thank you!!

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