before and after

Before & After: Kitchen Makeover

by Kate Pruitt

I’m sure a lot of us go through favorite color phases. Right now, Grace is loving olive green, and I can’t disagree — it’s a rich, warm, earthy color that’s perfect for fall. Even though we’re interested in dark tones right now, I can still appreciate a pale palette, like in Kristine’s kitchen makeover. I love the icy mint green, especially paired with a blanket of beautiful, snowy white, and the new lighter colors are doing wonders for the gray countertop, which looked somewhat muddled in the “before” space. This new kitchen is bright, cheery and so well composed — a must if you’re switching to open shelving, but not always easy to achieve. — Kate

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.)

Time: 6 days

Cost: $4000

Basic Steps: Without a doubt, the large windows and open floorplan were the big sellers in this kitchen to begin with, so we really wanted to maximize the light, especially since it is often cloudy or drizzling where we live. We decided to remove the doors from the main stretch of upper cabinets to show off our bright and cheery dishes, and that gave the inspiration for the rest of the space.

We switched the existing backsplash, which called out the pinker tones of the granite, with white subway tile and painted the cupboards, walls and window frames white, which both brightened the space and provided a needed neutral backdrop, allowing our little pops of color to really sing. To pull it all together, we had an electrician add three jadeite pendant lights over the bar.

Our advice: If you are going to remove cabinet doors or add glass doors, keep in mind that you may have to replace shelves if they aren’t made of the same wood as the cabinets. And while I am a big fan of DIY painting, hiring professionals to do cabinets will save a lot of time and heartache if you can afford it. Once wood has been painted, it can be difficult to fix if something goes wrong. Cabinet pulls are a simple way to update the look of a kitchen, and using a template is a good way to ensure they go on straight. They are easy to find online, and usually cost $5 to $10. We used these, and with the exception of a drawer face that had been attached crooked, they worked like a charm. — Kristine

Paint: Parker Paint “Swiss Coffee” in Latex Millwork (woodwork and cabinets), Parker Paint “Swiss Coffee” in Satin Glow (walls)
Lighting: Ivanhoe Aero Shallow Bowl porcelain pendant in Jadite “12” from barnlightelectric.com, $149 each
Drawer Pulls: GlideRite 6-inch solid Stainless Steel Finished Cabinet Bar Pulls from Overstock.com, $46.99 for a case of 25
Backsplash: 3″ x 6″ white subway tile, available at Home Depot for around $1 each
Barstools: Glenn Bar Stool from Ikea, $69.99 each
Tea Towel: Latticework Tea Towel from Avril Loreti

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  • This was really a beautiful kitchen to begin with, we should all be so lucky, but you made it better with your choices. I don’t know that I could live with open shelves myself but I love the look because it make the dishes seem like artwork. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amazing difference for $4k! Looks like a whole new place, totally gorgeous, and definitely a bright, airy, clean, and comfortable space that I’d want to spend a lot of time in. Nice work!

  • beautiful! white makes the space so fresh, and I love that they removed the top cabinet doors. we did the same thing in our kitchen!

  • Love the all the white, it makes the kitchen look very clean and modern. However the fridge looks humongous and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the space.

  • Lovely transformation. And thank you for the great resources list. Those cabinet pulls are exactly what I love and am considering for my kitchen re-do. An inspiration to fix my kitchen.

  • wow! this is beautiful and amazing – I am always so impressed when a few well made designs make such an enormous difference and really help to make the space look so fresh and young!

  • I love that you worked with what you had and didn’t tear everything out. It shows creativity and resourcefulnes,s and the results are beautiful.

  • I love that you worked with what you had and didn’t tear everything out. It shows creativity and resourcefulness, and the results are beautiful.

  • I really love how the light just opens the space. The white cabinets and the open upper cabinets makes the room look larger. I tell people all the time, if you’re willing to put in some sweat equity, you can accomplish a lot on a little budget. Just know your limits and don’t cut corners. Know when to call in a pro. Good Job! Olive green can transfer into most holiday decorating. Love your choice.

  • here’s what i like best about this: you thoughtfully dealt with what you had, and didn’t just tear everything out and start from scratch. this is upcycling at its best.

    • david

      our photos aren’t so small- we have a pretty standard sized content well. we can’t run images huge because it would dramatically slow down the loading time on the site and take up too much of the layout space.


  • I love it, going to tile over my dark backsplash now. There is a product called Simplemat that you adheres to the wall and then you put your tile on it and apply the grout. What a makeover for 4K.

  • This is so much like my kitchen. The layout is nearly the same, just not as much space between the the outside wall and where the refrigerator sits. My house is 100 years old and the kitchen was redone in the 80’s, I am guessing and just doesn’t fit the classic style of the house. This gives me hope!

  • Very beautiful.
    I’m living with a dark-ish kitchen as well, so this was an eye opener.
    Not too sure the ply with pine finish the previous owners used can be painted over, though

  • I loved your before kitchen and thought how many people wd be ever so lucky to have a kitchen with that much space. I ADORE what you did with it and send you my heartfelt congratulations on optimizing the light and space. I took a deep breath when I saw all that white, it feels fresh and happy. I would only ever have a kitchen redone with granite tops, I had them done when living in UK and I just loved that you could cut on it, put any goods on it, wash it down and it always looked new and natural and wonderful. Great job for very little money. Bravo

  • This looks fantastic, really fresh and light. I am confused how it cost $4000 though – painted cabinets, some lights, and some tiles? Did the cabinets cost a lot of money to get painted? Great makeover though!

  • Wow.. Love so many aspects of the new kitchen.
    May I ask where the gorgeous grey rug under the table is from?

  • We have white tiled floors in our kitchen and foyer (which is large enough that it’s also my office) and the upkeep is beyond annoying. One could reasonably vacuum and mop every day. It’s so much work. I think white floors look great in styled photographs, but in real life, it’s another story.

  • WOW! The “Before” space is just “generic middle class.” The “After” is so cheerful and aesthetically pleasing froma design and color perspective. Great job!!

  • I get that the original cupboards were dark and a bit dated and oppressive, and that the change to white lightens things up, but I wonder about removing all the cupboard doors completely and the attendant dust problems. The trio of pendant lights looks great, but it is hard to see $4000 extra value added to what was an already spacious kitchen.

  • Thanks everyone for the kind words and questions. I’m glad to know so many of you value the importance of reusing and modifying existing fixtures in the home when possible. And Clare, the grey rug under the table was bought from World Market. Not sure if they still sell it, but they have many similar options online.

  • Wow, what a great kitchen!!! Of course, it’s the size of my apartment, so I am slightly blinded by envy! I really like it though…

  • I love the remodel but I have to agree with Ashley about the appliances. Of course, it looks like they kept the items from the ‘before’ kitchen, which is very eco-friendly, not to mention economical.

  • Really nice transformation!
    Kristine, how hard was it to paint over those cabinets? Did it take lots of coats or a primer? Did you have a trick to apply the paint smoothly and evenly?!
    We have similar cabinets which could seriously use a make over!

  • I love, love, love the white on white with teal accents – reminds me of the beach. And I love the open shelves, but I wonder how often I’d get around to dusting them. They must collect dirt and grease like a magnet. Still, gorgeous to look at!

  • Just $4K? Maybe I don’t know what a reno costs, but $4,000 seems awfully high. For that much, I would have at least replaced the remaining upper cabinet doors so they match the lower. I hope you had the doors you removed painted so they can be reinstalled on if you decide to sell.

    I mean, I like it; it’s pretty. I just don’t get how it cost that much and don’t see where the money went.

  • @vanessa, we did consider painting the cabinetry ourselves, but after a bit of research (and an honest evaluation of my sad track record of actually finishing big projects) we called in the pros. Here is a description of their process: remove cabinet doors and drawer faces, sand down anything with finish on it, which was pretty much everything, remove hardware and, since we were switching to new pulls, filling the old holes with wood filler, prime, paint then paint again. (how was that for a run-on sentence?) There are leveling agents available at most hardware stores that can be mixed in with the paint to help minimize brush strokes. I’d love to hear if you get your update!

    And to answer the questions about dust in the open cabinets, the area we live in doesn’t happen to be particularly dusty, so this hasn’t been much of an issue. Having lived in the desert, I know what a major consideration this can be in certain climates, so if you live in such a place, you could start by opening a small section as a trial before committing to something larger. That said, you’d be surprised how much time I save by not having to open and close the doors every time I need a glass for water or have to put the dishes away.

  • Grace,

    Thanks for the reply.

    The solution could be a thumbnail gallery of photos, that expand when clicked in a lightbox effect. The initial oad time would actually go down, as only the thumbnails are loaded with the page. You’re using WordPress, right? Tons of WP plugins let you do that.

    When I can’t even tell what the cabinet handle looks like, or what shape the backsplash tile is, then yes, the photos are small. imho, of course.


  • How refeshing to see a kitchen make over that doesn’t rip everything out! It’s an amazing transformation and very inspirational. If the new kitchen was in a showroom, I’d buy it! I love the open shelving too, the colour blocking stops it looking cluttered.

  • In this age of composite timbers it is a bit of a shame to copletely paint over such nice timber.Sometimes painting with white or colour lightly then roughly sanding back, thena varnish if req” can give a “shabby chic” look which is a nice look,on furniture anyway Just a side issue is where is the exhaust canopy for the stove?I like the breakfast bar too ,it helps hide the clutter on the bench and I think stone is cool too .

  • I loved the before look much better!
    Doesn’t anyone like the rich color of wood anymore?
    It looks like it has been striped it of all color, warmth and appeal.

  • I would be glad to be in touch, @Andrea. How can I reach you? Or you can follow the link on my name below the first before photo to my blog. Thanks!

  • I’ve always loved white kitchens. So classic and they never go out of style, whereas you can tell what decade a kitchen was installed by the type of wood finish it has. You see oak for instance, and you know it was probably the 80’s. Lovely reno!


  • Wow…it looks so pristine! I live on a farm full of animals and little boys. That would look pretty for about ten minutes here! Well done!

  • Whew! The before photo is a million times better than my current kitchen. I’ve been itching to do open, all-white cabinets and this has really inspired me to go for it.

  • I liked the before MUCH better.it was a gorgeous kitchen and you took all the personality out and replaced it with a sterile operating room look. open shelves might look good on paper,but they are not practical in a working kitchen. that’s why cabinets have doors.i liked the lots of counter space.the only thing I might have changed in the original would be to center the sink under the window and put a hood/exhaust fan over the countertop stove.

  • Thank you so much for this! We are moving into our new place and the kitchen is in desperate need for an upgrade. I knew immediately I wanted to paint the cabinets white so thank you for providing the exact colors and type of paint to use and also the type of back splash. We also are going to hire a professional to paint, that way it can be done right the first time. Thank you sooo much!

  • My cabinet maker says we cannot paint over the cabinets he built…they have a lacquer finish and are Alder with a cherry-ish stain. My kitchen feels very dark. Our floors are brazilian cherry – Jatoba. Our sinks are black and the countertop is granite that looks like smeared mud. I want to have the cabinets painted white, remove the granite countertops and put in marble and replace the sinks with white ones. My question to you is…can my cupboards be painted over…even with a lacquer finish??

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