20 of the Best Kitchen Makeovers We’ve Ever Seen

updated Dec 9, 2020
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There’s something extremely satisfying about a great before-and-after — and that’s especially true for kitchens. While every room has the potential for total transformation, the kitchen usually has a lot more going on, from cabinets to shelving to counters to backsplashes. Changing even just one element can make a huge impact.

Aside from all that, the kitchen is the heart of the home. You’re sure to hit it at least a couple times of day for meals, of course, and it’s also a gathering place, a homework zone, a home office, and more.

If you’re looking at your kitchen and thinking it could be doing more for you, your inspiration is right here. Below, 20 of the best kitchen makeovers our friends at Apartment Therapy have ever featured — from DIY refreshes to all-out kitchen renovations. Let these dramatic kitchen transformations get your creative design wheels turning.

Credit: Kayla Grover
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1. A $15,000 Two-Tone Kitchen Has a Fresh Take on Gallery Walls

Being in this Massachusetts kitchen was like slipping on brown-tinted glasses and time-traveling back to the 1980s. With help from her dad, Kayla revamped the room with new white upper cabinets, black lower ones, and gleaming brass pulls. Oak open shelving and a black-and-white photo gallery wall create an inviting dining nook. 

Credit: Basma Masood
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2. You Won’t Believe How Little This High-Design DIY Kitchen Reno Cost

Designer Basma Masood was happy with her Virginia home, except for the stark white 1970s-era kitchen, which had some odd angles and didn’t flow with the rest of house. Basma’s DIY remodel moved the kitchen to the former dining room, which created an inviting, modern space with white cabinets, oak floating shelves, and a surprising pop of color behind the range. 

Credit: Devann Madden
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3. A Three-Week $500 Kitchen Facelift

This kitchen had a lot going for it, with warm wood cabinets and matching floors, dark granite counters and stainless appliances. But it was missing pizzazz. The homeowner gave it a fresh look by painting upper cabinets and  backsplash white, painting the lower set a charcoal grey, and adding some fresh pattern to the island. Best part? All together, it only cost $500.

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4. An Unbelievably Bold Blue Kitchen Gets a Modern Makeover

Brett and Brendan were thrilled with the Craftsman home they bought in Oakland — except for its kitchen, which was painted an electric ocean blue and had a very worn linoleum floor. They gutted it to create a bright Scandinavian feeling kitchen with an L-shaped counter, white cabinets and counters, open shelving and a white subway tile backsplash with dark grout. French doors let light stream in every day.

Credit: Justin Russo
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5. A Dark, Dingy, and Dated Kitchen Got an Incredibly Cute Update for Only $500

Justin Russo and his boyfriend Pierce Atkins wanted to give their drab kitchen a look that felt at home in their 1920s-era NYC apartment. Using just $500, they turned it into a colorful retro kitchen with mint green cabinets, a work area with a rolling cart and open shelving and black-and-white flooring.

Credit: Submitted by Sabina
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6. Sabina’s “Dated, Depressing” Kitchen Gets a Bright Makeover

It doesn’t get more drab than Sabina’s Pittsburgh kitchen, with its dull gray wallpaper, dated gray backsplash, and dusty-looking floor. She gutted the room and gave it new life with turquoise tile in a herringbone pattern, white cabinetry, gray marble counters, and deep blue floors. 

Credit: Sweeten
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7. A Smart Kitchen Transformation in Hell’s Kitchen

Taking down the wall that blocked off their NYC apartment’s kitchen allowed Dan and Mike to design a modern kitchen with European feeling cabinetry, an eat-in counter, and open shelving.

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8. An Industrial Kitchen Created with IKEA Cabinets

A yellow and white traditional kitchen might make some people happy, but it wasn’t right for Gaëtan and Violane’s style. Gaëtan, an architect, designed the new kitchen for their Montreal home himself, using IKEA’s SEKTION cabinets to create a sleek industrial black-and-white kitchen.

Credit: Sweeten
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9. Barrin’s (18 Years in the Making) Updated Kitchen

After 18 years of living there, Barrin’s Brooklyn apartment kitchen was so cluttered it was hard to find space to work. But removing a wall allowed him to add more functional custom white cabinets to free up counter space — and the kitchen’s new modern-meets-rustic look isn’t too shabby, either.

Credit: Brooke Littel
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10. $3000 Later, This Brown Builder-Grade Kitchen Is Unrecognizable

This “open” kitchen was really a small area with a tiny sink and a shortage of counter space, and boring builder grade cabinets. But owner Brooke Littel and her husband transformed their kitchen with a wisely spent $3,000. Since the cabinets were in good shape, they painted the uppers white and the lower cabinets blue. Adding an extended wood counter, double farmhouse sink, rolling cart “island” and a classic Spanish tile pattern floor made it look like a whole new kitchen.

11. A Once-Dark Kitchen Is Brightened and Has a Bold Backsplash 

Shiny black cabinets, a dark painted backsplash, and hexagonal island made this kitchen look dark and dated. Katie Griffith of Sundling Studio started by opening the layout and swapping a window for French doors. Gleaming white cabinetry cheered up the room, while an oversized island makes a more practical food prep and dining zone.

12. Updating the Kitchen in “The Ugliest House on The Block”

This kitchen was dark and closed-off, with wood paneling, cabinetry that looked like plastic, and a serious lack of counter space. The owners gutted the entire home, and remade the kitchen with an L-shaped island topped with white a fresh white-on-white color scheme and lots more storage.

13. A Condo’s Closed-Up, Dated Kitchen Is Now Modern and Marvelous

This 1950s condo started with a small kitchen with faux-looking cabinets and claustrophobia-inducing wall dividing it from the dining room. Designer Yumi Murayama of YU+ME Design took down that wall, and refreshed the kitchen with sleek white and light oak cabinets, open shelving, and geometric tile in bold teal.

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14. A Kitchen “Held Together with Tape” Gets an Overdue DIY Remodel 

When designer Michelle Gage and her husband moved into this home, it was in rough shape. The floors were sticky, appliances were ancient, and some of the countertops were held on with duct tape. The couple saved up for two years to fund a DIY kitchen remodel that included crisp white cabinets, soft blue walls, and a playful scalloped tile backsplash.

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15. This $500 Rental Kitchen Redo Is Packed With Great Ideas

When Anna and her boyfriend found a spacious Paris apartment they jumped on it, even though the kitchen was dingy. (Think: gray wallpaper, exposed pipes, and almost nowhere to work.) They transformed it with turquoise and white color-blocked paint job, black skirting to hide under sink storage, and a smaller sink to allow for more counter space.

Credit: Submitted by Jennifer
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16. A Silicon Valley Kitchen Gets a Contemporary Makeover

Jennifer’s townhouse kitchen had an airy vaulted ceiling, but it felt cramped and out-of-date. Taking inspiration from the many Joseph Eichler homes in the area, they installed globe drop pendants, waterfall butcher block island, and handmade white tile on the floor. Red walls brighten the white cabinets, a mix of traditional and a break front ones that open vertically, like a mini garage. 

Credit: Jake Boeve
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17. A Dated Kitchen’s Remodel Not Only Saves Its Charm, It Improves On It

The owners of this 1924 bungalow, Dan and Mike, wanted a kitchen remodel that would keep with the home’s old-school style. So they hired a contractor who created a kitchen with sage green cabinetry, brushed brass and black details, plus a black-and-white checkerboard floor that feels new and vintage at once. 

Credit: Gisele Blaker
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18. The $500 Kitchen Refresh of Your Scandi-Modern Dreams

Sometimes less is more in a kitchen remodel. Mobile artist Gisele Blaker realized that her tiny kitchen would feel bigger if she removed the upper cabinets and got rid of the gray walls. After spending $500 on white paint and a couple long open oak shelves, she has a more airy and very cottage-cute kitchen. 

Credit: Dan Pacek
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19. A Former Laundry Room Becomes a Functional Kitchen

Stephanie didn’t want a kitchen in the laundry room that had a fuse box on the wall, but that’s what she had to work with. Friends helped her level up the space with a open wall shelving to cover the fuse box and store spirits, and a new bank of cabinets below with open storage for bowls. These changes, and a feature wall painted cheery blue, give this little kitchen a whole new attitude.

Credit: Sarah Roberston
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20. How A Design Guru Created the Kitchen of Her Dreams

Sarah Robertson was so busy with her Studio Dearborn kitchen design business that she hadn’t gotten around to remodeling her 1980s Westchester County kitchen with blonde wood cabinets and inadequate storage. But after 10 years of planning, she finally created a modern farmhouse kitchen with white cabinets, open shelving, shiplap details, and tons of hidden storage.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: The 20 Best Kitchen Makeovers We’ve Ever Seen