Reader Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Before & After: A Smart Kitchen Renovation For Under $7000

updated Apr 27, 2019
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(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Tanja and Mark live in a 1,000-square foot condo in Los Angeles, and they’ve wholeheartedly turned the space into a personal, comfortable home. They haven’t been afraid to tackle some pretty major projects, too, including the kitchen. They renovated on a budget with environmentally-friendly choices, like cork floors, and did it all for under $7,000, which is a good deal anywhere, let alone pricey LA. See what the kitchen looks like now:

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Tanja and Mark couldn’t change most of the structural limitations in their galley kitchen. They couldn’t knock down walls or add windows, but they could lighten it up in other ways. They decided to keep the costs light, too, as well as their environmental burden. Tanja explains:

We tried to make the most environmentally friendly choices possible: we kept the existing cabinets, used a renewable and nontoxic cork floor and laid it over the existing tile so we didn’t have to scrap those, used wood instead of granite for the counters, Energy Star appliances of course, low-energy halogen bulbs, etc.

We think that this is a good example of a smart kitchen renovation, where instead of knocking the whole thing down and starting from scratch, the owners cherry-picked wise upgrades and updates.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)
(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Here’s a taste of what Tanja and Mark did in this kitchen:

  • Changed the light fixtures
  • Repainted the cabinets and changed the cabinet hardware
  • Replaced outdated appliances and added a built-in microwave
  • Changed the countertop to smooth butcher block
  • Got rid of the old mirror backsplash and put in classic subway tile
  • Updated all of the electrical outlets and switches
  • Swapped in a new, more functional single-bowl sink with a new faucet and sprayer
  • Covered up the floor tile with comfortable, environmentally friendly cork
  • Added quite a bit of storage (my favorite part!) with a new wine bar and wine refrigeration unit, plus an IKEA buffet outfitted with baskets. This and the other hidden storage they added, says Tanja, “makes the whole kitchen function so much better.”
(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)
(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)
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In the end, their little galley kitchen went from boring and drab to lightened-up and fab. “It turned out far better than we could have expected!” says Tanja, and we agree. The extra stretch of countertop over the wine storage unit seems especially inspired to us. And all this for under $7,000, including appliances.

Their favorite element? Their new continuous grate, five-burner gas range. “It gives us room on the stove for so many more pots and pans, which saves counter space and lets us cook more at one time,” Tanja says. Their only regret? “I wish we had done it sooner! We spent a whole lot less than I would have guessed, and so it was definitely something we could have tackled right when we moved in, instead of waiting almost two years. I thought I’d want nicer counters, but I actually love the wood, which was the cheapest choice after laminate.”


Wall paint: Sherwin Williams sandbar
Cabinets: Original to the condo, painted Sherwin Williams high reflective white
Refrigerator: Samsung counter depth from AJ Madison
Range: Frigidaire Gallery from AJ Madison
Microwave: Maytag from AJ Madison
Dishwasher: Maytag from Home Depot
Wine fridge: N’Finity from Wine Enthusiast
Corner cabinet: IKEA Perfekt
Counters: IKEA Numerar
• Floor: Athena Sorrel Cork from Home Depot
Faucet: Concord Modern Pulldown Faucet from
Water filter spigot: Continental from
Sink: Elkay Signature Plus universal mount 22×25″ from Home Depot
Subway tile: Lowe’s
Cabinet hardware: IKEA Metrik
Shelves and sideboard: IKEA Lack and Expedit
• Café table set: Winsome Kallie set from Amazon
Posters: Art Source International in Boulder, Colo.
Knife holder: Bodum via Amazon

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)
  • Read more about the renovation → The big kitchen “after” at Postmodern Hostess
  • See more of their home → Tanja & Mark’s Contemporary Live/Work Home at Apartment Therapy

This post has been updated. Originally published 7/7/2011.