Before & After: A “Catastrophic” Kitchen Gets a Stunning Redo with a DIY Faux Cement Wall

updated Jun 19, 2021
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.
Before: Run-down and dated kitchen

When it comes to styling small kitchens, less is often more. When you have limited space, color, finish, and layout choices can all help a kitchen feel more streamlined — and much larger than it actually is.

In homeowner Laura Wlasenkov’s tiny kitchen, almost all of the existing features were working against the space. “The upper cabinets were bright yellow,” Laura says. “The rest were white and destroyed. The sink was super small and uncomfortable. There was a space for the fridge, and ours didn’t fit. The backsplash was beige with green flowers. It was an uncoordinated mess.”

In addition to being uncoordinated, it was also just uncomfortable. “There was really no place to cook,” Laura says of the before, where counter and sink space were severely lacking. And while colorful cabinets and vintage tile backsplashes can be charming in an older kitchen, if they’re not properly cared for or restored, they can make a small kitchen feel overwhelming with color and pattern — and just overwhelmingly outdated.

“The first thing I did was paint all the backsplash and walls white,” Laura says of her four-year mission to improve her kitchen. “I needed to see at least fewer colors.” In a small kitchen, sticking to a simple color scheme — such as black, white, and gray —can immediately make it feel more modern and more organized.

Next, Laura changed the sink, faucet, cabinets, and counters, sticking to shades of black, white, and gray. Laura opted for black lower cabinets and white uppers — a reliable design trick for keeping an open, airy feel up top without sacrificing storage. She also added a wood bar, perfect for extra prep space and extra seating. Behind the bar is a stunning faux cement wall Laura created with paint.

“That wall was completely tiled, and I didn’t like it at all, Laura says. “It was painted white like the backsplash, but I felt like I was in a butcher’s shop.” She decided to use spackling paste to level the grout and tile and make it look like a normal wall. “The process was lengthy and there was a lot of sanding involved,” she says.

After smoothing it out, she began priming it to paint. “I already had the gallery wall vision in my head, but as I was applying the primer (after all the sanding), I thought it could look very cool if I found a way to make it look like cement,” she says.

To de-sterilize the space and add some warmth and texture, she began to mix shades of gray. First, Laura experimented with sponge painting to get the cement look, but she wasn’t pleased with the outcome. To create the final look, she painted the whole wall a medium gray, then took her roller and painted slightly lighter and darker shades over top “in every direction possible,” giving the wall the slightly uneven, light-catching feel of cement.

“The paint starts to mix in a way that the different shades are still visible, but it’s very subtle,” Laura says. She had all of the materials at home for her DIY, so she didn’t spend a cent, but paint and rollers are an affordable (and less permanent) solution for any DIYer looking to get the industrial look for less.

“I love that it feels very me and not like any other kitchen I’ve seen,” Laura says of her completed kitchen, with its simplified color scheme and DIY feature wall. “It’s comfortable to cook in, and now I love spending time there.”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A “Catastrophic” Kitchen’s Stunning Redo Includes a DIY Faux Cement Wall