Before and After: A Basic Kitchen Says Goodbye to Boring

Everything about this kitchen is enviable — the stainless steel appliances, the hardwood floor, the rich wood cabinets, the granite, the windows — but it all adds up to a look that’s somewhat Generic Condo. It’s all very nice, but there’s no there there. Can something be done without starting from scratch?

It’s so charming now! Much like the recent Peel-&-Stick Before & After, this kitchen combines the best of then and now: the appliances and plain cabinetry are totally modern, while the pegboard and vintage (or vintage-inspired) accessories add vintage flair. This makeover was created by Bev Wilson of Room Sauce, who did such a lovely job adding personality, warmth, and life (all the plants!) to an impersonal kitchen.

This photo is a great example of my belief that even the most amazing finishes can cancel each other out to create something of a muddy whole. Though the countertops, backsplash, cabinets, and floors are all enviable, it’s hard to focus on any of them. That stunning backsplash particularly gets lost in the mix, whereas it is a total superstar when it can pop against the new white cabinets.

Here’s how Bev describes this condo pre-renovation:

When I bought my condo about 2.5 years ago it had been used as a rental for over ten years and needed some upgrades. The floors were damaged and the walls and ceilings were stained. The granite counters, backsplash, and appliances were all in good shape, so I did not need to replace those.

The kitchen was certainly usable, but it was not special and I didn’t love the finishes. Since I wanted to refinish the floors, I decided to make some other small updates to the kitchen during that renovation that I hoped would have a big impact.

See what I mean about the granite? It really pops now, and its gray tones work perfectly with the stainless steel appliances, whereas before there didn’t seem to be any connection between the two materials.

Even with all that steel, gray, and white, the overall feel of this kitchen now is one of rosiness. The floor has beautiful warm tones (without being orange-y), as do the wood and terra cotta accent pieces — and that fantastic rug, of course. In the future, Bev could easily change the room’s color scheme by swapping in black, blue, yellow, or pink accessories.

Looking at this photo, I don’t think it would have occurred to me that there’s enough room to fit a sideboard, so good to Bev for having vision (and spatial awareness)!

Here’s how the seemingly painless remodeling process went:

My schedule did not permit me to take on a DIY project, so I worked with a contractor and the entire process took a few weeks. The only setback was that the fridge was not plugged back in after it was returned to the kitchen after the floors were stained. Moving a fridge on newly-stained floors in order to plug it in was a little nerve-wracking, but ultimately the floors were fine.

Oh my goodness, I gritted my teeth so hard when our fridge, washer, and dryer were jostled in by delivery men who did a perfectly fine job but perhaps did not regard our floors with the same deep love and gentleness that we did, having just refinished them ourselves. You tiptoe around in stocking feet, then suddenly there are dollies and work boots bashing about!

I love that little built-in nook! Kitchens with open shelving intimidate me because my dishes and such will probably never be display worthy, but a small additional shelf like this one allows you to display an ever-changing array of favorite pieces, while keeping all the random mugs and chipped dishes hidden away.

Argh, that granite is so gorgeous, and I feel like I couldn’t even see it before! In this case, I think painting the (probably laminate or veneer) wood cabinets white was totally the right way to go. This photo shows off all the gray and white accessories, as well as the swanky Restoration Hardware pulls.

If you can’t take on a big renovation project, consider small/inexpensive changes like a fresh coat of paint, which may have a big impact!

Thank you, Room Sauce!



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