Before & After: Bright, Colorful Cabinets Took This Kitchen from Blah to Breathtaking

published Aug 9, 2023
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Kitchen before renovation. Lots of wood cabinets, dark, no real color

When you think about kitchen renovations, dollar signs might start flitting about your mind — suddenly, all the hypothetical mishaps that lead to unexpected and expensive costs loom heavy. However, not all stunning transformations require a $25,000 kitchen renovation budget.   

Take Hilary Crawford’s 128-square-foot kitchen in her family’s colorful, four-bedroom home in Northern Ireland, for instance. The original kitchen was glum because “the dark wood cabinets were sucking away any light that was in the room, making it feel rather gloomy,” Crawford said. 

Her goal was to make the space feel lighter and brighter to flow with the rest of the vibrant house — but she wanted to keep the “costs to an absolute minimum.” Here’s how she and her husband, Mark, completely DIY renovated their kitchen. 

Because the kitchen is part of our open plan living space, I wanted it to have its own identity while still feeling cohesive with the overall living space,” Crawford shared. She started by picking her color palette — green/teal, pink, and mustard — from the living and dining rooms to tie the spaces together. Once the paint shades were confirmed, it was time to get to work. 

Her family needed to use their kitchen during the renovation, so Crawford had to piecemeal the updates. The first area of focus was the cabinetry, and she decided to work on five doors at a time. Crawford set up two pasting tables, began sugar-soaping and lightly sanding each door side before priming them with Blockade, and then painting them with two coats of Little Greene’s Mid Azure Green.

When the cabinets were finished, it was time to paint the walls. “I decided to color block the kitchen area and carry the pink of the walls right up over the ceiling to give the illusion of separating the spaces while still allowing the spaces to flow together,” Crawford wrote at the time of her house tour. 

Wanting to honor the pink in her color palette and complement the mustard yellow Orla Kiely dandelion blinds, she painted the walls and ceiling in Graham & Brown’s Lady Like Pink. The cabinet handles and the sink’s tap were the last accessories to be updated. 

“I chose Hive handles in raw brass from Dowsing & Reynolds, as I loved the detail of the six-sided design as well as the raw brass color against the green,” Crawford said. “For the tap, I chose the Neo Mint Tinkisso tap also from Dowsing & Reynolds, as I thought the mint color tones perfectly with my kitchen cabinets.”

Crawford’s kitchen proves you can make a big difference on a minimal budget, just by way of bright colors and strategic placement. “We couldn’t afford to change the kitchen, so we had to get creative and come up with an alternative way to turn it into something closer to what we would choose ourselves,” she wrote.

The kitchen isn’t the only colorful room in Crawford’s house. To see more of their stunning space, visit the full house tour on Apartment Therapy.