Before & After: This Dated, Mold-Infested Kitchen Gets a Bright and Roomy Redo

published Nov 28, 2021
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kitchen before renovation wood counters black square floor tiles

Some home renovations are expected and long-planned, while others are a little more surprising — and urgent. For instance, when Jessica and her husband Matt (of The Brain and The Brawn) first found their house, the kitchen was an immediate turn-off — but it seemed to be in good enough condition that it wouldn’t require any immediate reno.

That said, the couple definitely wasn’t a fan: “The No. 1 reason we almost didn’t buy this house was because of the kitchen layout!” Jessica says. The layout wasn’t functional for their family, and the space was entirely too tight.

But after buying the house, Jessica and her husband agreed to live in it for a few years before taking on a renovation. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t last long. Shortly after moving in, they found mold all throughout the kitchen. “This surprise mold discovery forced the mold remediation company to rip out our entire kitchen,” Jessica says. That meant it was time for a whole new one, even though she and her husband didn’t have any design inspiration, plans, or Pinterest boards. “We had to make decisions FAST,” Jessica says.

Jessica and Matt took the opportunity to re-work the layout, taking out a wall between the kitchen and dining area to create a more open cook space. Jessica came up with the creative idea to move the fridge to the side of the kitchen sink where a small “eating nook” used to be. “We already knew from having eating nooks that it was worth the sacrifice for the bigger picture,” Jessica says.

They also rearranged the cabinetry so that they had room for two kitchen islands. The two-island layout was the perfect solve for the crowded kitchen, which before had no clear path to the sink. “Multiple contractors told me I was [silly] to think about doing double islands, but I stuck to my guns,” Jessica says. Now, the double islands are one of her favorite features in the kitchen.

For the base cabinets, Jessica and Matt opted for drawers instead of doors, which gave them lots more usable storage space that even includes space for hiding away countertop appliances. The new all-white color scheme for both uppers and lowers makes the kitchen look way bigger, too.

While the cooking area stayed in the same spot, the electric stovetop was replaced with a six-burner gas cook top. They also replaced the ’90s-looking backsplash with sophisticated white marble that matches the new countertops installed throughout the kitchen.

Finally, they replaced the old black tile floors with a more timeless dark hardwood that they laid themselves. In fact, Jessica and Matt did most of the work themselves, though they hired pros for some pieces such as electrical and plumbing.

The project took a couple months, during which time Jessica and Matt were without a kitchen —  but it was totally worth it, Jessica says. “We love the open feel and how our whole family can be downstairs,” Jessica says. “From the living room to the kitchen to the dining, we can all see and hear each other.”

The biggest thing that she learned in the process? Trust your gut, she says: “If you have your heart set on something that you know you want, like my beloved double islands, and you’re convinced it will help your life function better, don’t let anyone talk you out of it.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: This Dark, Dated, and Mold-Infested Kitchen Gets a Bright and Roomy Redo