Before & After: A “Dark, Cramped” ’80s Kitchen Gets a Modern, Airy Update

published Jan 24, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Dark wood cabinets in kitchen before renovation.

In 2017, Rossana Bassford, who owns Memmo Interiors (formerly Eggshell Home), was ready to sell her condo that was built in the ‘80s. The only problem? The home still looked like it belonged in the past — especially the kitchen. 

“This was the original kitchen for this condo built in the 1980s,” Bassford said. “It felt small, dark, and cramped. It came with yellowed cabinets, linoleum floors, and tiled counters.”

Before selling the home, Bassford had big plans for the kitchen. “We wanted to completely renovate it to bring it into this decade and give it fresh appeal,” she said. Renovating the home (which included updating the kitchen and bathroom, painting the entire space, and replacing the floors) took around three to four months.

Unfortunately, Bassford ran into some contractor issues while renovating the space. For instance, the refrigerator didn’t fit with the new cabinetry, and the dishwasher couldn’t be installed, as it was missing a key plumbing piece. “We had some issues with the quality of work from one of our contractors, so I would recommend vetting and choosing contractors carefully. Don’t go with the least expensive option, and check references and experience. Also, measure and measure again,” Bassford said. 

Credit: Nicole Ho

Although she ran into some setbacks throughout the renovation, you wouldn’t know from the kitchen’s final design. The once-dark wood cabinets, dated appliances, and worn counters were replaced with modern options, and a modern tile backsplash runs to the ceiling, making it look “more high-end.” The layout of the room was updated, too. 

Credit: Nicole Ho

“What I love about the new design is that it looks so much bigger and more open to the living and dining areas. I accomplished this by taking down the set of cabinets hanging over the sink,” Bassford explains. “There also used to be an odd half wall that closed in the kitchen and made the peninsula not very functional. So we took that down and did just one extra-large peninsula where the sink is.”

Credit: Nicole Ho

Even though this project was years ago, and Bassford has gone on to complete several stunning projects, it’s still a perfect example of how reimagining a space has some serious payoffs.