Before & After: Bold Black Cabinets Make This “Dated ’80s” Kitchen Totally Sleek

published Nov 19, 2023
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Wooden cabinets in kitchen before renovvation.
Credit: Sarah Blumer

When Joel and Sarah Blumer initially moved into their colorful now-mid-century modern Pittsburgh home, the pair knew the space needed work to fit their growing family’s tastes and lifestyle. One of the rooms that desperately needed a makeover most was the kitchen. 

“This might be controversial, but to be completely honest, there was not a single thing that I liked about the late ’80s farmhouse kitchen flip that the previous owners had done,” Sarah said. “Where some will see the ‘before’ photos and say it looked charming, I thought it was dated and aggressively not our style at all.” 

Credit: Tom Donovan

Intending to cook more homemade dinners and ditch their go-to frozen Trader Joe’s meals, the couple agreed that the kitchen would need to be entirely reimagined. Here are some ways Sarah described the original room: “Lighting: horrible; tile floors: hideous and uncomfortable; thei sland: small and awkward; the tile countertops: loathsome.” Clearly, it was time for a change.

Sarah and Joel set their budget at $50,000 and decided to tackle the project themselves. One of the more challenging parts was the demolition — they wanted to donate their kitchen cabinets, so they had to be gentle when removing them. During the renovation, Sarah took their kids to Texas to stay with family, but on the morning that she left, they first had to carry a 300-pound ceramic sink outside. 

Once the kitchen was a blank canvas, Joel assembled the kitchen cabinets himself. “I’m pretty sure my puzzle-loving engineer husband thoroughly enjoyed putting all the pieces together before installing them,” Sarah said. “Leveling the cabinets for the island was one of the most difficult but rewarding tasks.”

It was a labor of love, but the kitchen was finally ready to enjoy. Luckily, Sarah loves “every single thing” included in the new space, which includes modern aesthetics and colors like black, walnut, and Carrara Quartz countertops. They noted their culinary skills have gotten better since the renovation, too!

“I’ve learned to make focaccia, and Joel is now an expert at serving up delicious smash burgers with Parmesan truffle fries,” Sarah said. “Everybody wins! I’m regularly pinching myself when I see this total dream kitchen in my own home.”

If you’re intrigued by the kitchen renovation, you’ll likely be excited to hear that it’s not the only transformed room in their home. To explore more of their gorgeous home, visit the full house tour on Apartment Therapy