before and afterInteriors

Before & After: A Kitchen In Seattle Gets A Clean & Modern Overhaul

by Erin Austen Abbott

From previous renter to current homeowner, today’s Before & After seemed like the perfect time to check in with Seattle-based blogger, Joanna Hawley. We’ve previously featured her transformed bathroom when she was a renter, and today we’re sharing her new kitchen makeover with you in the home she now owns.

One might think: the smaller the room, the easier the project — right? For this kitchen remodel, however, that’s far from true. For 10 months, Joanna and her fiancé Sean lived in their very small bungalow, cooking outside under a tarp, on a camping stove — even throughout the rainy Seattle winter. “Our bungalow is over 110 years old, so we had a lot of old house quirkiness to contend with,” Joanna recalls. “For example, all of our floors and walls are actually made of 3-4 layers of shiplap… but not the pretty, Joanna Gaines kind. The cedar pieces are randomly cut and mismatched together because the house was probably built by shingle mill workers. Oh, also, our floors were very uneven and lumpy because the house was built on logs (they still have their bark on them!). We did a lot of foundation work in order to level the floor and have somewhat square walls. Now it’s the only room in the house that isn’t super-crooked.”

Knowing that this project might be a bit out of her comfort zone based on the amount of attention that it needed, Joanna reached out to Sarah from Room For Tuesday for help. “Redoing a bedroom is one thing, but a kitchen is a major investment, so I wanted to get it right,” Joanna begins. “Sarah is an incredibly talented designer and renovates homes all on her own, so I knew that she’d get it right. Sarah lives in Salt Lake City, so we were in constant contact via text, FaceTime, and email. She was a rockstar on this project and helped us troubleshoot so many mishaps.” Together, they were able to swap the kitchen’s particle board two-tone cabinets for custom cabinets in a sleek and modern take on a tuxedo kitchen, and add new appliances in a seamless line (rather than the original misshaped layout) and marble countertops.

Joanna leaves us with this sweet story about her home, “My favorite story to tell about our tiny bungalow is how I actually came to own it! In 2015, my grandfather Harvey passed away and the loss was devastating to me. The last conversation we had consisted of me telling him that I was finally moving back to Seattle after a few years of feeling so lost and ungrounded. He was incredibly happy to hear that, knowing that the PNW was my real home and where I felt the happiest. A year after he passed, I found out that he had left a large sum of money for me to purchase my first home and to ‘settle down,’ in his words. Within four weeks of receiving the sum, I had looked at over 30 houses and fell in love with this tiny, weird little bungalow. Several contractors tried to buy it in order to tear it down and build townhouses on the lot, but they all fell through… so I swooped in with my offer and the seller accepted it! Every renovation I do in the house is meant to honor my grandfather and his memory. If you notice the floor tiles, they are H-shaped as a subtle homage to him. It felt like the best way to thank him and honor him in this new space.” —Erin

Photography by Joanna Hawley /@jojotastic 

Image above: A full view of the kitchen from where a wall once stood. Opening up the room created a more natural flow and let in more natural light as well, something always embraced in Seattle. 

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

A look at both sides of the tuxedo kitchen in this side-by-side photo.

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

Natural light pours into the kitchen, allowing the couple’s pet chickens to hop onto the ledge to say hello.

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

A Fireclay sink pairs well against the dark cabinets and marble countertops. The faucet is a smart faucet, allowing Joanna to simply touch it to come on, making cleanup so easy!

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

Matte black appliances blend in against the black cabinets, making the small room feel slightly bigger.

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

Cabinets now extend to the ceiling, adding more storage and the illusion of taller ceilings.

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

The light over the sink connects the tones from the other side of the kitchen and stands out against the white cabinets and marble countertops.

One of the couple’s two dogs enjoys the new kitchen rug.

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

Before, a wall to the dining room kept the room feeling small. By knocking out that wall and moving the fridge, the space now feels so much larger without having to add square footage. The fridge now lives in what was once a cramped closet.

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

By changing out the quarter-pane door for a full-pane door, the natural light pours in. With a frosted glass, they retain their privacy as well.

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

What was once a cramped closet is now a coffee bar, pantry and refrigerator nook.

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

By squaring out the arched doorway, uniformity is added to the kitchen.

Joanna Hawley on Design*Sponge

Before, the sink was flanked by heavy tiles and the window was covered by plants. Now, after clearing space around the window, it feels light and airy. The minimalist approach also gives height to the marble that serves as the new backsplash.

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  • Great remodel! Also I live in a mill worker house built in 1892. I’m in the throws of a kitchen remodel getting custom cabs. Holy crap my walls are wonky. The top of the pantry cabinet hits the wall. The bottom is a good 3-4 inches off the wall. AHHHH, old houses are so fun. Lovely job!

  • That waterfall marble is stunning. Loving the beautiful floor tiles too, so unique!

    xo Jessica

  • What an amazing transformation! And even with dark colours on the cupboards the whole kitchen is looking lighter, clean and sharp. I love these colours. Great job xx

  • We’re currently looking at re-doing and designing our kitchen, so this post is fab, as it isn’t all that big. I’m looking to completely change the styling and these are right up my street! Thank you so much for sharing so many amazing ideas.

  • Oh my heck! I’m obsessed with that blue tile floor. I’ve been seeing a lot of pretty tile like yours and why did I not know of this before!? Your kitchen went from eh to oh-my-gosh I love it. Completely refreshed and changed.