Before & After: This Kitchen Actually Got Smaller, but It’s Way More Functional After a $5,000 Redo

published Jan 23, 2022
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Before: 1970s-style kitchen with brown wood cabinets, beige vinyl floor, and off-white countertops
Credit: Alexis Moore

If you live in a small space, you know how important it is to maximize the square footage you do have — whether that’s by using vertical space, taking advantage of hidden storage, or even changing layouts altogether.

Credit: Alexis Moore

Alexis Moore (@AlexisNicoleMakes) certainly knows the struggle. The 1930s farmhouse she moved into with spouse Johnathon Moore is just under 1,150 square feet, “so we really have to make every inch count!” Alexis says.

One area that was not working for them: the kitchen, which was long and narrow, “created a lot of wasted space,” Alexis says. Plus, the area — which also included the family’s washer and dryer — wasn’t really pulling its weight in the looks department. “Our kitchen before was dark and dated,” Alexis says. “The cabinets were wood, the surround was faux wood paneling. It was all very orange and the popcorn ceiling and attic access in the kitchen didn’t help.”

Credit: Alexis Moore

Alexis and Johnathon knew they wanted to feel bigger and more inviting, and they wanted it to function better, too. But they also knew they needed to stick to a budget. “After researching options, we came up with a plan that cost roughly $5,000 — so we knew it was possible if we did a lot ourselves!” Alexis says.

Credit: Alexis Moore

Alexis and Johnathan started by tearing out most of the old kitchen cabinets, donating what they could. Once they took out all the old wood paneling, they framed out a new wall just past the window that divided the space in two, which allowed them to separate the laundry area from the rest of the kitchen.

Since the wall was totally new, Alexis and Johnathon brought in a pro to help wire it for electricity and place an outlet that could accommodate the new range, purchased secondhand on Facebook Marketplace.

A friend helped scrape the popcorn ceiling, and Alexis and Johnathon closed off the attic access (there’s another access point elsewhere in the house). The new smooth, bright white ceilings make the kitchen feel a lot more spacious.

Credit: Alexis Moore

Alexis and Johnathon were also able to lay luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring directly over the old floor for a more sophisticated look that’s also durable.

New cabinets came from IKEA; the couple topped them with concrete counters for a modern touch and made sure to include a peninsula long enough to serve as a breakfast bar. They skipped the upper cabinets, instead opting for a beadboard backsplash that’s capped with a peg rail — handy for hanging all sorts of kitchen tools. “The open shelves and peg rail are an absolute favorite for me, as it creates a more interesting space than plain uppers would have.” Alexis says.

Credit: Alexis Moore

The new kitchen has a vintage style that feels totally at home in Alexis and Johnathon’s nearly century-old home, but there’s one thing that Alexis says she’d do differently: “Give myself a reality check on time frame. It’s hard to know before starting a DIY for the first time how involved it’s going to be,” she says. This project took eight months of on-and-off work, but the couple managed to stick to their $5,000 planned budget by going mostly DIY and buying secondhand when possible.

And now, the mostly DIY kitchen is just what Alexis had envisioned. “I honestly love everything about our kitchen,” she says. “While it wasn’t easy and very exhausting at times, it was definitely an adventure and we learned a ton along the way!”

In the end, that’s what she’s most proud of — “that we transformed our space almost entirely with our own two hands — or four hands!”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A $5,000 Redo Actually Makes This Kitchen Smaller — But Way More Functional