before and afterkitchen

before & after: pegboard kitchen makeover + studio redo

by Kate Pruitt

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

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  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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!

  • 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,

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.


  • 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!

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

  • 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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