Before & After: A Kitchen’s Major Transformation Is a Functional “Dream Come True”

published Apr 12, 2024
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Cream colored cabinets in kitchen before renovation.

A giant kitchen reno often comes with a hefty price tag, so it makes sense that a big kitchen remodel might take years of planning — and years of dreaming and wish-listing before that.

“Although I’ve been a homeowner for more than 20 years, this was the first major reno we’ve undertaken,” homeowner Elizabeth Davis (@davises88) says of her own kitchen makeover. “I’ve been clipping photos, pinning posts on Pinterest, and saving reno articles for decades. This was my chance to make my kitchen dreams come true.”

Elizabeth and her husband and kids had several things on their kitchen wish list: good task lighting, sufficient natural light, a functional work triangle, a workspace devoted to baking, and more. They wanted to revamp the cabinets, which had pitch-black insides and couldn’t fully open if the oven was also open.

Elizabeth also wanted to upgrade the marble floor tiles (one of a whopping four clashing tile designs in the room), which were “deadly if you dropped anything,” Elizabeth says. “You might crack a tile or a plate or both.” And they wanted to maintain a kosher kitchen, which the previous owners also did. 

“If you keep kosher, you separate meat and dairy in your kitchen,” Elizabeth says. (The previous homeowners had two ovens, and they used a niche near the kitchen table for a smaller kitchenette, which they devoted to dairy.) “While we wanted to ensure that the new kitchen would be conducive to keeping kosher, we knew the floor plan needed reconfiguring,” she says. “I hoped to have two separate sinks under two separate windows as well as two dishwashers — one for meat and one for dairy.”

Here’s how the layout changed.

To allow for this, Elizabeth and family (and their contractor, Carlos) decided to eliminate the peninsula bar seating and extend the kitchen along the left wall. Now there are two dishwashers, two sinks, and two windows (one from before and one new one) on the left-hand wall.

The Davises also decided to take space previously allocated to the living room and add it to the kitchen. They installed a pocket door between the kitchen and dining room, and doing so allowed for wall pantry cabinets and a designated baking area. The extra space from the living room allowed for a large island.

Because it was already configured for plumbing, they turned the little kitchenette that the previous family used for dairy items into a scullery, a place where Elizabeth keeps dry goods and her freestanding appliances. 

A new island adds ample seating and prep space.

Borrowing space from the old living room was “a game-changer” for the kitchen, Elizabeth says, and now there’s ample space for everyone to gather. “I look at an island as a space for prep, to lay out a buffet, and to hang out,” Elizabeth says. “It’s wonderful that we have three sets of big drawers and an expanse of countertop that’s not punctured by a sink or appliances.”

The island is painted a deep navy (Benjamin Moore’s Newburyport Blue), the countertops are quartz, and the pendants overhead are from Shades of Light. 

Built-in shelves house cookbooks.

Another one of Elizabeth’s favorite parts of the kitchen is the new shelving behind the island. “I love standing at the island with a pile of books as I plan a meal,” she says. 

Across from the bookshelves is a new prep space specifically designed for baking, with lowered countertops for kneading bread. “Underneath, in the cabinets, are roll-out shelves for flour, sugar, and baking tools,” Elizabeth says. 

The “after” feels so much brighter. 

Elizabeth says the new flow and layout of the kitchen works so much better. “There’s room to spread out, room to entertain, room to do homework, room to hang out and chat,” she says. “This is a dream come true.” And the lighting “is tremendous,” she adds. 

This is in part thanks to the new window in the space, and in part thanks to bright white paint (Benjamin Moore’s White for the walls and Chantilly Lace for the cabinets) throughout. “I’ve loved white Shaker cabinets forever,” Elizabeth says. “As much as I tried to consider other designs, I kept returning to this classic look … I had a picture of an English kitchen as an inspiration.”

Elizabeth says she’s proud of how her exact vision came to life. Although there were setbacks and budget issues that come with a big-time renovation, “all of these challenges seem to fade away now that we’re enjoying our new kitchen,” she says. “This is our forever house … therefore, we wanted to fix it up so that we could enjoy it, using the colors and finishes we selected, the layout that works for us, and the use of space. There’s something wonderful about seeing all of our efforts come to life.”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: A Kitchen’s Major Transformation Is a Functional “Dream Come True”