before and afterchairskitchen

before & after: tomy’s kitchen + heather’s chair

by Kate Pruitt

I know this might be a controversial makeover because unlike many of the kitchens we see, this “before” is actually kind of good looking. I’m not speaking about its functionality of course, which could be sub-par. However, if someone wants a completely different look, I’m the last person to stop them — especially if they have great taste, as in this case.

Tomy Karaiskos, art director of the Athens-based design firm Designium, has turned this “good” kitchen into a positively dreamy kitchen with excellent execution and style. I love the floating shelving and the airy, open quality it adds to the room. The addition of the white-painted brick gives the room a less “sterile” quality as well, and you cannot go wrong with bright green plants in the kitchen. Overall, it’s a beautiful transformation. Well done, Tomy! — 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.)

CLICK HERE for Heather’s beautiful chair makeover after the jump!

When it comes to furniture, I am not a big fan of paint stripping. Well, I’m a fan of it, in that I love the way it looks, but I rarely summon the energy to do it myself. In fact, there is not one or two but THREE vintage school desks waiting for me in storage that would be so beautiful if I just put in the effort. It’s criminal, I know.

This GORGEOUS chair from Heather is seriously putting me to shame right now. After snagging four chairs at an auction, Heather and her partner Mike put hours of sweat and toil into stripping the many layers of paint off them. The results are breathtaking, especially when paired with that amazing gray-toned ikat print. If this project doesn’t motivate me to take the time to strip furniture, I don’t think anything will :) Great job, Heather!

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  • Wow, that’s a really great kitchen. Love the airiness. I also really enjoy that chair. So often I don’t care for chair redos, but I’d put this one in my house in a split second.

  • I liked the kitchen before. It was much warmer and inviting. I would have put in a new backsplash but that’s about it.

  • Fun kitchen, the lighting above the top shelf is nice. Was the brick wall cover in drywall before? Horrors!

  • I think the kitchen makeover is great, but I’m totally confused about the roller blind that goes over the door, instead of on the door so you could still open it. Maybe the need for symmetry with the window trumped functionality?

  • Okay, this might be an odd question to you, but where did you get those shelves? I need something freestanding like that and yours look a lot better than what I’ve seen.

  • I totally agree with you on the kitchen. I was like “that’s the before?! That’s what I want my kitchen to look life after.”

    But the actual after is totally lovely in a 180 degree way.

  • That kitchen makeover is superb! I’m curious about the bricks. Were they hiding under the tile the whole time, or are they “facade”-style thin bricks that were added? (Or something else…)

    Lauren, I recognize the shelves as being HYLLIS units from IKEA. $15 a pop!

  • I agree with Tara- I think all that the kitchen really needed was a new backsplash, a new sink/faucet and some great lighting. I don’t dislike the new kitchen choices except I wish that the back splash and walls were at least a slight contrast to the great cabinets and shelving to show it off more, it all blends together and I can’t see the design as much.

  • I love the after kitchen image. The white is so clean and fresh! What an amazing transformation.

    The fabric on that chair redo is to die for. So fun!

  • OMG so cool Heather and Mike! Way to DIY to a cool new level. Where do I score some office furniture?

  • Thanks everyone– and a HUGE thanks to DS for sharing! Mike and I had a love/hate relationship with these chairs during the stripping- but the end result was more than worth it!

    Ashley: Lewis + Sheron fabric!
    Nina: Thanks so much!

  • Again, how do you secure the reupolstered portions of the chair to the frame? I, forone, am in serious need of a DIY article on this!

  • Funny, I am against the grain here a bit.

    I think the kitchen looks much better after (to me, before was very run of the mill and dull looking). I personally would have wanted to incorporate more color pops in the after, but I love it as is too.

    As for the chair, while it is a definite improvement over the before, I don’t like it. The fabric is great, but imo the frame color doesn’t mesh well with it.

  • Why oh why would you get rid of that amazing wood floor? Covering up that beautiful wood is a crime. I don’t think the kitchen really needed than much to update it to something modern. I do like the addition of the painted faux brick for the facing wall and the back splash. But the rest? No – I don’t like it.

  • love the chair. it’s perfect.

    its the dude’s kitchen and he can do what he wants with it, but were those real wood floors that are now gone? GASP. also, white floors in a kitchen? i could never do that unless i mopped every day.

  • It is such a shame to me when someone takes an perfectly fine kitchen and remodels it just because they want a different look. It creates so much waste. This is our consumer society.

    • michelle

      i think what feels like “consumer” may feel like “creating a home” to other people. i can speak for myself only, but i have a hunch other readers feel the same way- if you own a home, you want it to speak to who you are and what you love. and if the current space doesn’t feel like that, you may make changes to suit your personal style. i don’t think that’s so much about being a consumer as it is about creating a space that feels like home to you. i understand it’s not everyone’s style, but sometimes what looks and feels good to one person just doesn’t feel like home to another. you’re welcome to your opinion but i feel the need to voice my own when i feel someone’s implying that another’s are wasteful or purely consumer-driven.


  • grace, you are so great.

    that kitchen is absolutely lovely. i adore those thing, steel shelves.

  • I think the “after” kitchen is great, but WHY did they keep the original sink and faucet? Maybe I’m just biased against stainless steel sinks (I love my granite composite Blanco to death!) and I have great love for unique fixtures… BARF!

  • I think the kitchen is beautiful!! Love everything about the after. And yes, the before was far from hideous but I totally understand wanting to make it your own. I’m sure this speaks more to who they are design-wise.

  • Michelle and Grace –

    I think you’re both right. I’m sure the kitchen wasn’t true to the owner’s aesthetic but by “creating a home” they were also being consumers. If you’re using new products (and in this case, it looks like they were) there’s no way around the consumer label. Is it more important to limit our consumption or to live in a space that that is true to yourself? It depends on your priorities and I think decent arguments could be made for each.

    • Felicity

      Well said and I definitely see your point. My issue is more in implying the more negative connotation of the word “consumer”, which to me seems to imply people are consuming without thought or without care. And I think if you consume wisely and when it’s important to you, you don’t necessarily embody those negative undertones that can hang around the word “consumer”.


  • i wonder how well the kitchen aesthetic will hold up. it has every one of the trends that is floating around right now (all white, floating shelves, modern/industrial/farmhouse), just as the before looks like 2008. hopefully they are “creating a home” and not replicating images floating around the internet.

  • I think both before and after look fantastic, but I’ve always wondered how to keep all the dust from collecting in/on the open/floating shelves…

  • Yes, the old kitchen was not bad, but the new one is pure deliciousness. I would love to cook in that kitchen. And I love the chairs, such a surprise and done so well!

  • Oooh, makeovers like this really bother me. The before was perfectly nice and could easily have been personalized in a way that was a lot easier on our Earth’s limited resources. Those were perfectly nice (and fairly new by the looks of them) cupboards. And I am fervently hoping that they painted the floor and didn’t rip out that wood flooring.

    There are more than 6 billion people on this planet. What would happen if we all just trashed everything that didn’t suit our tastes perfectly?

    The chairs, on the other hand, are amazing!

  • My favourite part of the new kitchen is the inclusion of those great IKEA garden shelves! They are SO inexpensive (only $15 each, I think) and wonderful. This is one of the best uses for them I’ve ever seen.

  • love what they did with the kitchen, but also hope the before cabinets/shelves didn’t go to waste. i would have definitely taken those off their hands and replaced mine.

  • i think the “new” kitchen not only looks 100% more clean and sunny – it also looks like it would work well. i am a big fan of open shelving and as for white getting dirty quicker that is just nonsense. every kitchen requires cleaning every day if you are using it. dark wood or floors are just as dirty as light. pretending its not dirty just because its less obvious goes against the purpose of a kitchen – which is to prepare healthy meals in a clean environment. if making over your kitchen so you love it results in you being in it and creating healthy meals more often that in my books is a PLUS. the only thing i would add to this kitchen would be a movable island bench as i love cooking “in the round”. AND i love the brick wall and bakers shelving by the door … which hopefully leads to a little courtyard or patio with potted herbs and flowers. very sweet. well done.

  • oh just looked at the last pic again and yes i can see through the back door wall hung plants. fantastic!

  • I LOVE this kitchen make-over (H.A.T.E the before – couldn’t live with it either!). I also hate the idea that someone would consider this to be wasteful or consumerist – it’s not like they’re getting another new one next month when they’re sick of it. and did anyone consider the old cabinets may have been re-purposed?

    Gorgeous – congratulations.

  • oh man. something about this kitchen really bothers me. i think if you took away all of the personal items, dishware, etc. you’d have a completely stark white, flat kitchen. while the brick is a nice addition, i think they really could have made it better by incorporating some different textures, maybe a different sort of countertop or floor. perhaps it’s just the picture not doing it justice. i, for one, am stuck living in rental homes with no option of redoing or personalizing the kitchens (in any permanent way) and this really reminds me of my kitchen right now. cabinets with no handles, laminate floor, and beige paint and countertops that match. yucky. but hey, if that’s their taste, more power to them.

  • I LOVE the brick. It adds such character to the space! The whole green movement has “jumped the shark” imho if you can’t personalize your space without being made to feel guilty.

  • Great makeover. I do prefer makeovers where the owners transform the space with what they already have, but that isn’t what makeovers are only about. Nothing is more exciting than walking into The Restore and finding anything that is reusable. People donate, the benefiting multiplies and the new products that were purchased to replace the discarded ones keep the economy rolling. Everyone benefits!
    I am also curious about the brick walls?!

  • I also feel compelled to add to the conversation about consumerism and the environment. I do not like the negative implications some of the commenters made regarding this kitchen remodel. Maybe there were problems with the kitchen “before”. Maybe it was all shoddy builder-grade cabinetry. Maybe the cabinets were re-purposed or donated.

    When someone spray paints a lamp base do you question the release of ozone-damaging aerosol into the air? Do you think the before of the chair was “good enough” and recovering it was a waste of resources and added chemicals (stripped paint) to the local landfill?

    How do you live your every day life? Do you drive a car or bike or take public transportation? Do you only buy organic, local groceries ? do you only receive paper-less bills? I think before we act so judgemental over a kitchen remodel, we should look at our own every day habits. These are the most damaging to the environment.

  • Mike and Heather are SO clever — when they are not toiling away on chairs, they have the grooviest design business:
    drawstring design – graphics, products, creative consulting –
    this is but a glimpse into their weird and wonderful minds! xx

  • I am curious about the shelves. How do they hold up? I looked at them, but thought they were too flimsy. Instead went with similar in my kitchen, but wider/deeper ones rated to hold 75 kg per shelf.

    Great chair. Has me seriously rethinking my dislike for ikat.

  • If I’m not mistaken, the original cabinets are from Ikea. I’d bet the new floating shelves are too.

    That chair is amazing! Please, please, please tell us how you re-upholstered it!

  • I feel like I have to apologise for my kitchen makeover.

    First of all, thanks to everyone who liked the after version.

    As Grace said the home you live in, descirbes who you are, not what ohter people think.
    For me, the previous kitchen was awful and was the first thing I wanted to change in the house. That’s why, I took it of and put a better – for my taste – white glossy kitchen that makes me wanna cook, invite friends, enjoy my everyday life. The kitchen is Italian by http://www.essebi.com (the shelves too) The brick was added later – it’s a thin one, not an actual brick.

  • Hi Tomy, I read these posts with much interest – and you know, it’s great that your kitchen got so much discussion going, in a way! But you certainly don’t need to apologise! You have created a beautiful living space that you shoudl be proud of – i think its infinitely better than the previous – clean, airy, slick and bright! Congratulations!

  • @James

    Thank you very much.
    It’s funny cause it’s the first time I post something and it became such a contreversial issue. The thing is that I really love it this way.
    I hope in the future when I am done with the decoration I ll send some more pics to be posted – if I get lucky.

  • I LOVE the chair! I see these ind of chairs all the time,
    and have wrongly assumed they were lost causes Not anymore! Thank
    you for featuring this, and giving me some inspiration!