before and afterInteriors

Before & After: Form Meets Function in a Tulsa Kitchen Makeover

by Rebekah Carey

Ashley and Patrick Palmer’s Tulsa, OK home is a 1953 ranch-style house. While they loved the mid-century style and open floor plan and proximity to Mockingbird Lake, there was one thing that could certainly be improved upon — their kitchen. Patrick is a software developer and Ashley owns Retro Den with her friend Ashley Daly and together they style, buy and sell vintage home goods and furniture, have a plant-bar with succulents and air-plants, and carry goods by local artists and makers. Naturally, a kitchen makeover by someone who owns a vintage store is likely going to incorporate a few fabulous vintage finds.

From having to cook holiday meals at her mom’s house because Ashley’s oven was too small, to dated materials, and simply having a kitchen that didn’t work for them (or simplify their time in the kitchen at all), it was time for an update. One of the scarier finds was, “When we did the demo, we discovered that the huge, high vent hood was actually venting into our attic via a cardboard box. I always knew that vent hood was no good!” The Palmers ideally would have loved to have hired a general contractor, but ultimately opted for the more budget-friendly route of managing the renovation themselves. They talked to family and friends who had done the same, and carefully researched for about a year before jumping in for the six-month remodel.

Function was the name of the game when it came to reconfiguring some of the kitchen. “We relocated the pantry to a wall that used to be complete dead space, which allowed room for drawers and countertops on both sides of our stove/oven. We also pushed the peninsula out towards the eat-in area to allow room to the left of the dishwasher so that you can actually put up dishes. Before, you had to unload the dishes onto the counter, close the dishwasher door, then put up the dishes. So much better now! We also removed the stove top/vent hood from the peninsula making it just a long, useful stretch of countertop.”

Ultimately, Ashley is glad that they waited a few years living in their house to know what did and didn’t work for them so they ended up with the best kitchen for their family’s needs. Ashley made sure to incorporate thoughtful and meaningful details and vintage pieces into the space to reflect both their family and the rest of their home. “Thrift store finds (like the pedestal table), family heirlooms (salt and pepper shakers that belonged to my great-grandmother), and pieces handmade by friends and family (my mom made the yellow bench cushions and two potter friends made mugs, spoons and other beautiful pieces) make the kitchen feel warm and personal.”

Ashley’s also proud that she stuck to her gut in painting the walls the bold green she chose. Despite some people telling her she wouldn’t be happy with the color in the end, Ashley loves it and was so happy that it still allowed her to maintain the overall feel of a light and calming space. “I feel extremely lucky to have a kitchen that is both beautiful and functional. I’m thankful that my family spends time together in this space nearly every day. Even if doing separate tasks (cooking, eating, coloring, painting), we all seem to gravitate to the kitchen these days.” —Rebekah

Photography by: You Are Photo Co.

Image above: Good style and utilitarian function meet in the Palmer kitchen. “I love how the built-in bench seating runs right up to the cabinetry. It feels like it was meant to be. Plus, the proximity is great for passing food to my three-year-old.” 

Tulsa Kitchen Before And After On Design*Sponge

Ashley shares some of the space planning that went into their remodel, “We pushed the peninsula out towards the eat-in kitchen so now we have a whole column of drawers to the left of the dishwasher and we can actually put away our dishes! We also tucked the microwave away under the counter to make room on the wall that houses the stove. I was a little worried about having it so low, but it really has been no problem at all.”

Colorful Kitchen Makeover In Tulsa On Design*Sponge

“We adopted a white German Shepherd recently and she loves to hang out in the kitchen with us, especially near the three-year-old in hopes of dropped food!”

Kitchen Nook And Extended Countertops Shine In Tulsa Kitchen Before And After On Design*Sponge

“We removed the stove top and vent hood from the peninsula, so now we have this long stretch of countertop for food preparation. It’s so nice to be able to easily talk with someone sitting at the table while preparing a meal,” Ashley shares.

Bright Colors Create A Sophisticated Palette In This Tulsa Kitchen On Design*Sponge

“I love how all of the colors in the kitchen play with each other. I fell in love with this bold yellow I started calling ‘school bus yellow’ and I knew I had to bring it into the kitchen in some way. The cushions (created by my mom!) ended up being the perfect way!”

Ashley Isn't Shy About Art In The Kitchen And We Love It Kitchen Before And After On Design*Sponge

“The artwork used to belong to my dad who has passed away. He found it at a garage sale years and years ago, and I can still picture where he hung it in all of his houses and apartments,” Ashley explains.

Before And After Tulsa Kitchen That Added Function And Style On Design*Sponge

“We lived in our home for a little over two years before deciding to renovate,” Ashley tells us. “My business partner Ashley found the vintage round pedestal table at the thrift store. It was the perfect piece to balance out the newness of the rest of the kitchen.”

Functionality And Style Are Key In This Tulsa Kitchen On Design*Sponge

Another instance of cleverly mixing style and necessity: “We used outdoor fabric for the cushions so they would stand a chance against a toddler eating spaghetti. The orange pillow fabric is from a friend’s local fabric shop!”


The Palmer's Daughter Tests Out The New Banquette Kitchen Tour On Design*Sponge

“We eat 90% of our meals in this little nook.”

The New Kitchen Features A Bold Green That The Homeowners Can't Get Enough Of Tour On Design*Sponge

“I’m so pleased we painted the walls a bold green! It’s one of my favorite aspects of the space,” Ashley admits.

Art And Special Mementos Are Sprinkled Throughout The Palmer Kitchen On Design*Sponge

“I found this framed vintage train print at the Tulsa Flea Market mid-renovation and knew it would be perfect in the new space,” Ashley shares.

A New Kitchen Window Offers Even More Beautiful Views Of Nature On Design*Sponge

“We installed a new window that is a solid piece of glass (as opposed to divided up). I love the wide open view while washing dishes now. It’s the little things!”

Special Pottery Holds Court In This Tulsa Kitchen On Design*Sponge

A thoughtful gift has become an everyday staple, “Our dear friend and local artist Kris of Foxy Pots made our coffee mugs and surprised us with a miniature one for my daughter Caroline. She uses it every day!”

A Kitchen Made For Family On Design*Sponge

“We bought our fridge on sale in the scratch and dent section, so the sides of it weren’t very nice looking. To solve this problem, we created a case for our refrigerator without any upper cabinets.”


“I love the view through the kitchen into the mudroom (which is peach). The mudroom’s landscape gallery wall feels like artwork for the kitchen, too.”

Peach Painted Walls Peek Into The Kitchen From The Mudroom On Design*Sponge

Ashley describes one of the little ways she created a cohesive space, “One vintage paint-by-numbers landscape painting that used to be on the mudroom gallery wall now sits on top of the refrigerator. I feel like it brings the two rooms together.”

Before And After Kitchen In Tulsa Stove Remodel On Design*Sponge

“Another view of the wall where the stove and vent hood are now located. This little stretch of countertop was never very useful before,” Ashley explains. “This wall used to house the pantry, microwave and oven. We relocated the pantry and microwave so now the cooking area has its own dedicated space with countertops and drawers on both sides of the stove. Relocating the pantry was my favorite change in the kitchen.”

Shallow Shelving Allows For Frequent Use Without Taking Up Extra Visual Space In This Kitchen Remodel On Design*Sponge

“I mixed in several vintage pieces on the open shelving to make the space feel more like us. The chicken and rooster salt and pepper shakers belonged to my great grandmother. I cannot believe they haven’t been broken (knock on wood!).”

Mid-Century Details Were Incorporated Into This Modern Kitchen Remodel On Design*Sponge

Ashley shares ways she brings personality and sentimental pieces into the kitchen, “I love being able to display artwork, dishware and pottery we’ve collected on the open shelving. Also, the backsplash mimics the pattern of the stone of our fireplace and the exterior of our home.”

Open Shelving For Essentials And Sentimental Pieces Kitchen Tour On Design*Sponge

Convenience is key in the kitchen, Ashley says, “The open shelving makes it so handy to grab dishes and spices while cooking.”

A Tulsa Kitchen Before And After Tour On Design*Sponge

“This is a view looking into the kitchen from the front entryway. I painted the entryway a peach color because I love the way it looks with the green walls of the kitchen,” Ashley explains.

Palmer Kitchen Layout On Design*Sponge

The new Palmer kitchen layout.


Wall Paint- Sherwin Williams, Evergreens
Cabinet Paint – Sherwin Williams, Dover White
Floor Tile- Home Depot
Banquette Cushions- fabric (similar), Joanne’s
Banquette Cushions- upholstery, Janie’s Upholstery
Banquette Pillows- Etsy
Banquette Pillows-  Joanne’s
Pedestal Table- thrifted
Countertops- Samoa Quartz
Cabinet Hardware- Schoolhouse Electric
Cabinetry- MJM Construction
Design Consultation- Whiteside Art & Interiors
Backsplash- Mission Stone & Tile
Warehouse Light- vintage, Retro Den
Composite Sink- Amazon
Globe Pendant- Schoolhouse Electric
Hand Towel- Jenkins & Co.
Coffee Mugs- Foxy Pots
Serving Spoons, Coffee Spoon, Vessel With Cork Top- Mudhouse Studio
Enamel Canister Set- Schoolhouse Electric
Appliances- Hahn
Dish Rack- Lowe’s
Rug- KY Rose Designs
Blinds- American Blinds
Ceiling Medallion- Amazon
Brass Wall Clock- Target
Yellow Concrete Planter- The Makerage
Bar Stools- vintage, Retro Den
Floating Shelf- tutorial, Bigger Than the Three of Us
Floating Shelf Hardware- SilicateStudio

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