Before & After: You Won’t Believe This Luxe Kitchen Reno Was a DIY Job

updated Oct 30, 2020
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Credit: Basma Masood

Older homes — even the ones with well-preserved historic features — always have few drawbacks. For Virginia-based designer Basma Masood, who lives in a 1970s home with vaulted ceilings and other charming, contemporary features, the kitchen was the main problem.

“Our kitchen was enclosed, and it felt completely dark and disjointed from the rest of the house,” Masood says. She and her husband, Tamer, wanted something open and integrated with the main living areas but still slightly defined. “We were looking for cleaner and brighter — warm, earthy, textural — and functionally efficient, and obviously, it had to look designer on a total budget,” she says.

Credit: Basma Masood

Sometimes the best way to get what you want at home is to roll up your sleeves and flex those DIY muscles, and that’s exactly what the Masoods did, from to swinging hammers for demo and reframing windows to retooling their HVAC and literally raising their roof over their new kitchen. Anytime they needed to skill up on a task, they watched YouTube videos, rented the appropriate power tools, and took their time to get it right. Eleven months — and countless meals eaten in their car — later, the Masoods had the cookspace of their dreams for less than $15,000. Whatever your level of renovation skills, there’s plenty of inspiration packed into this light, bright but still warm minimalist kitchen.

The couple’s design plan started with demo of the old kitchen and relocating it to a corner of the house that had previously been a dining area. To get the bones of the space right, they demoed a larger window in this area and then framed and installed a smaller window that would eventually highlight placement of their new sink. The Masoods then turned their attention to the HVAC, rerouting new ductwork via the attic so they could insulate and raise the ceilings to “their full vaulted glory” in this area. Next, they framed and raised a new wall to create some sense of separation from their living room and entryway.

Once the shell of the space was ready, they ran new electrical wiring and added down lights to the space, plus moved the plumbing lines and added a new gas line for the stove. Then they closed off the walls with drywall, skim-coated, sanded, and painted. After raising and leveling the subflooring, they laid new engineered wood through the whole main floor as well. While it’s important to never DIY beyond your means or comfort level for safety reasons, it’s worth noting that the Masoods, as first-time homeowners, had never taken on a project of this scope before. Lots of research, learnings, and mistakes were part of the process, and even with setbacks, they were able to figure things out along the way.

Then came the fun part: selecting finishes, choosing appliances, and honing in on materials to build out and decorate the kitchen. The Masoods saved big by ordering flat-packed cabinets online and assembling them themselves. White quartz countertops were the major splurge and also the only feature the Masoods hired help for installing, just to be safe because stone can be finicky and easy to damage. To further keep the space light and bright, Masood used her favorite white paint, Benjamin Moore’s Simply White, and invested in a glossy zellige stack-bond style backsplash with tiles by Bedrosians.

A mixed-metal sconce highlights a small section of open shelving from Rejuvenation, while a custom range hood, trimmed out in warm wood, echoes the natural tones woven throughout the space with artfully placed cutting boards and serving utensils. Hits of subtle sage green, from the kitchen island to the tile behind the range, add a sense of serenity. On the whole, the largely white kitchen still feels warm, with plenty of texture and shine to boot.

Their dining area now occupies the footprint of the original kitchen (hard to believe it’s the same spot!), and it, like the kitchen, plays into the overall earthy minimalist look.

Once the dust literally settled, the couple was left with nothing short of their dream kitchen. “Natural light bounces off of all the surfaces, making the space feel extra special, ” says Masood. “I also love the touch of color and softness in the tiling behind the range. Our kitchen may be small and humble, but I still stare at it in disbelief, awe, and gratitude thinking of how we literally made this with our own hands.”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before And After: You Won’t Believe How Little This High-Design DIY Kitchen Reno Cost