This Part DIY Kitchen Reno Took 1.5 Years — And Was So Totally Worth It

published Feb 21, 2018
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(Image credit: Mas Means More)

Not only did this kitchen receive a major aesthetic upgrade, but the project also achieved the Holy Grail of renovation dreams. In the words of the condo owner, “Same footprint, more space.” Hashtag goals indeed.

So elegant! Malcolm Simmons of Mas Means More did such a fantastic job on this project. Is it strange that my favorite part is the cupboard above the refrigerator? It elongates the fridge and adds grace to a necessary appliance. Compared to before, where the refrigerator appears to just be plonked into place, it’s a major upgrade.

The grey, white, and stainless palette is so sophisticated, with the wood shelves and gold accents adding warmth and glam. It’s now a room you’d want to spend time cooking in, rather than one in which you simply (attempt to) get the job done.

Before (Image credit: Malcolm Simmons of Mas Means More)

Malcolm shared additional details about what the kitchen was like before renovation — and a good reminder that photos don’t always tell the whole story. Dishwashers and counters that appear perfectly fine can actually be broken and/or not even properly attached.

Every element of the kitchen was stuck in the ’80s, from the parquet floor to the original cabinets. The soffit, which housed florescent lighting, hung a foot below the ceiling height, which made the already-small kitchen feel even more cramped. The refrigerator was too big for the space, and the dishwasher was old and dysfunctional. The countertop wasn’t even fully attached to the lower cabinetry.

I didn’t notice that parquet floor until just now. Perhaps that floor could have worked beautifully with different elements, but when combined with the yellow cabinets and florescent lighting, it’s all so murky.

Removing the soffit really made a world of difference! The kitchen truly feels like a room, as opposed to a dark nook that seemed more like it belonged on a boat than in a terrestrial home. Here’s how Malcolm described the results:

I love how much more open the kitchen feels! This is mostly because of the removal of the soffit, but I think the open shelving also helps the space feel more spacious. Even though I opted for open shelving instead of cabinetry on one wall, I actually have a lot more closed storage than I did previously because of the extended height of the cabinetry and the addition of cabinets over the refrigerator.

I also decided to purchase a counter-depth refrigerator to allow for more floor space. Also, I decided on an 18-inch dishwasher so that I could fit a lazy Susan on either side of the sink base, which also increased my cabinet storage by quite a bit!

I also love the finishes in the kitchen. I’m a big fan of neutral palettes, and this space certainly meets my standards. Brass accents and light wood shelving help the space feel more warm.

A counter-depth fridge! It makes perfect sense — and explains why the new refrigerator configuration looks so slim and streamlined.

Many of the renovations we see get crammed into a weekend or a few months, so Malcolm’s novel (and highly relatable) approach was interesting to read:

Because I worked in stages, the project took about a year and a half to complete. The first step was removing the soffit. About eight months later, I tackled the floor, cabinets, and countertop. Most recently, the backsplash, shelves, and other smaller features were installed. I hired various contractors for different aspects of the renovation, which taught me a lot about what to look for when bringing in outside help.

One of the biggest surprises was a hidden pipe underneath the soffit, in the far-right corner of the kitchen. I boxed in the pipe myself, and I actually think it adds some nice character to the space.

I don’t know the details of Malcolm’s process, but I can certainly envision many different life scenarios in which construction gets paused or delayed.

This is such a sweet corner now — and that boxed-in pipe does indeed add architectural character. The open shelves allow the sunlight to flow into the room yet still provide plenty of storage (they could easily hold a full set of dishes and more and still look attractive).

Finally, Malcolm shares the lessons learned from this renovation:

I would recommend that you spend some time with your space before jumping immediately into a renovation (even though that might be slightly uncomfortable). Not only will this give you more time to save money, but it will help you understand how you function in the space and what changes will work best for you.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: This Kitchen Was 1.5 Years in The Making