Before & After: A Sad, Dated Kitchen Becomes Unrecognizable After a $19,000 Overhaul

published Sep 25, 2021
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kitchen before renovation beige counters white walls
Credit: Lauren Sears

When moving into a new home, one of the trickiest things to figure out is often what to do with the kitchen. How do you lay it out for maximum organization? Should you paint the cabinets? And what about plants — do they belong in the kitchen?

When Lauren Sears (@thelksaddress) and her husband, Kameron, moved into their Chicago condo, they knew the kitchen would be one of the first things to change. From its extremely ’90s white and wood kitchen cabinets to its clunky layout, the space just wasn’t working for the couple.

“Words can’t really describe the before,” Lauren says. “Have you ever had a bedroom in your dining room?” The owners prior to Lauren and Kam had enclosed the dining room to add an additional bedroom, which made for a small and choppy layout — plus the kitchen was disconnected from the family room and entertaining areas.

Credit: Lauren Sears

An open floor plan and a dedicated dining room were at the top of their wish list. “We needed a house that functionally flowed well,” Lauren says. “We love to be in the kitchen, so it was a must-have for us to have both an open and larger kitchen.”

Credit: Lauren Sears

Because of the scale (and the electric and demo involved in a kitchen reno), the couple hired a contractor for their 16-week project, but they also did much of the work themselves. “We use our kitchen and dining room every single day, and it’s really satisfying knowing it’s because of the hard work and thought we put into it.”

Credit: Lauren Sears

The project essentially flipped the kitchen and dining areas, placing the kitchen next to the windows for more light. “I love that the after is not recognizable visually or functionally from the before,” Lauren says. “Once we got the initial walls demolished, the light and vibe of our condo was completely transformed.”

Credit: Lauren Sears
Counters: Vicostone Bianco Venato
Faucet: Moen
Outlets: Legrand
Sink: Kraus

Lauren and Kam decked the place out with modern finishes, opting for simple blacks and whites plus oak floors. They furnished it with many mid-century angles, and the result is cool, airy, and incredibly easy on the eyes.

Their design also more seamlessly connects the kitchen and dining spaces without sacrificing the storage that open concepts sometimes lack — check out the lower cabinets in the dining area (from IKEA) that almost blend into the wall.

Credit: Lauren Sears
Light fixture: Wayfair
Table: EQ3
Chairs: Target,
Wall art: Stephen Christ

“The whole project cost around $19,000; one way that we could have easily cut costs is by not continuing the cabinets into the dining room, but being in the city, additional storage is really important,” Lauren explains.

Another one of her favorite parts of the remodel is the bar area, which makes a feature wall out of the backsplash’s matte black tile — and which almost didn’t happen. After the contractor demolished some of the drywall, attempting to create the totally open space Lauren and Kam imagined, the three realized that there was a phone line riser to condos above and below in the wall, and it could not be moved. “We were forced to pivot and instead decided to capitalize on the extra space and create a bar accent wall,” Lauren says. “I am sure the kitchen would not look as complete without it.”

Credit: Lauren Sears

Her best advice for large-scale renos is this: “Don’t get completely stuck on the initial plan, such as if unanticipated things come up and you are required to pivot. Sometimes this is where the best things can happen.”

When life (or your complete kitchen overhaul) gives you lemons, make a lemonade-infused cocktail at your sleek new black-and-white bar area.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A Dim, Dated Kitchen Becomes Unrecognizable After a Glam $19,000 Overhaul