Before & After: Colorful Cabinets and Diner Vibes Add Instant Joy to a “Dull” Kitchen

published Mar 22, 2024
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Kitchen before renovation.
Credit: Kaarin Joy

When artist and content creator Kaarin Joy moved into a builder-grade home in Texas with her husband, it was clear that the kitchen wouldn’t fit her eclectic, colorful style. Her social media channels are chock-full of vibrant shots of DIY projects that usually have lots of color, fun shapes, and whimsical features (like this handmade crayon chandelier, which has over 150,000 likes on TikTok alone!), and she knew she’d need to leave her mark on the kitchen.

“The kitchen was very plain. The cabinets were that light oak wood that was really popular when our home was built, but I saw the potential,” Joy shares. “I knew with some paint the cabinets could be brought back to life.”

Credit: Kaarin Joy

Knowing how much time Joy and her husband spend in the kitchen, she wanted the space to feel “bright and happy,” while keeping costs low, as a full renovation wasn’t in the budget. Joy pulled together her inspiration for the new space, enlisted the help of her husband and a friend, and got to work DIY-ing the entire space.

“I wanted it to feel joyful above all. I kind of went for a colorful diner vibe with the black and white tiles,” Joy explains. “The black and white made it easy to add more color with the cereal on the wall, and the spoon chandelier. I wanted to be able to step foot in the kitchen, and feel like I was at home inside my own mind.”

Credit: Kaarin Joy

It took some time for the couple to find the perfect cabinet paint color, but she wanted to start there because she “could not stand how bland the cabinets made the rest of the kitchen feel.” They chose Sherwin Williams’ “Mesclun Green” for the cabinets and painted them, which took longer than anticipated. Next up was painting the walls — even though Joy’s style is considered maximalist, she appreciates how the Sherwin Williams’ “Extra White” wall paint brightens the space and allows the other details, like the green wall squiggle, cereal bowl wall art (a project she originally went viral for!), and DIY spoon chandelier, stand out. 

Naturally, the spoon chandelier happens to be Joy’s favorite piece in the kitchen — even though it took her a long time to complete. She spent weeks using a mold to make the spoons out of resin, drilling holes into the bottoms of them, and mounting them onto the chandelier. 

Credit: Kaarin Joy

Joy added peel-and-stick floor tiles, an IKEA dining table, and fruit stools (which she had collected over a long period) for the finishing touches. It’s hard for Joy to pinpoint exactly how much she spent on the kitchen makeover, as she took on projects over a long span of time, but she says she spent around $300 on the peel-and-stick tiles and another $300 on the chandelier materials alone. “I’ve tried to be very reasonable with more affordable options, like peel-and-stick tile, and doing all the labor myself,” she explains. 

“I hope my place can encourage others that adding color to a space doesn’t have to be scary or super expensive! You can start with a white wall, and add so many touches of color that it feels like you painted,” she says. “There is so much you can learn to do yourself that will save you so much money. Transforming a space doesn’t have to be immediate — take a month and slowly work on things. You can do it!”

Now that the kitchen’s finished, Joy admits that “it’s hard to be in a bad mood while you’re cooking in this kitchen.” And that feeling is consistent throughout the entirety of her colorful home — if you want to see more, visit the full home tour on Apartment Therapy here