Before & After: This ’90s Kitchen Turned into a Scandi-Boho Dream for Just $2,000

published Apr 4, 2020
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Before: Kitchen with orangey wood cabinets and beige walls

A lot of great things came out of the 1990s — and there are plenty of design trends making a comeback that we love to see. But some of the decade’s looks could use a refresher, like the super-brown kitchen in designer Sheryl Sanders’s home. After only living in the home for only two months, she knew she needed to do something to modernize the cook space.

Because the old cabinet boxes were solid wood and in great condition, she decided she could get away with just replacing the doors. But even then, she received some hefty quotes for the job — so she decided to make her own.

“I had no previous carpentry skills but bought a table saw on Facebook Marketplace,” Sheryl says. “I designed, cut, and assembled all 20 shaker doors. I primed my doors and a friend sprayed them (in exchange for my old granite countertops).” The color is a pretty green-leaning gray (Sherwin-Williams’s Cityscape). Sheryl ripped out the upper cabinets with help from her mom, then replaced them with open shelves instead (she gave away the old cabinets for free). “My favorite part of the kitchen are the open shelves. It makes the kitchen feel so much bigger and airy,” Sheryl says.

Sheryl used a stock cabinet box to expand the size of the island, topping it with butcherblock from Lowe’s. “I chose a damaged piece, on the underneath side, so they took $100 off,” Sheryl says. Once installed, you can’t even see the flaw! She also added a built-in bench for the dining area, installing a rattan pendant light over the table for a boho vibe.

Sheryl FaceTimed with her dad to figure out the electrical, which she did herself. Rather than ripping out the bulky soffit — which would have cost thousands, as it affected the home’s HVAC system, Sheryl masked it with shiplap.

She also installed new gold hardware and a white subway tile backsplash.

Sheryl also swapped the old microwave for a new vent hood, wrapped in plywood to match her shelves, and bought a smaller countertop microwave to keep in her pantry.

“Becoming a minimalist is really what inspired me to make the necessary changes to the kitchen,” Sheryl says. By eliminating all the upper cabinets and replacing them with open shelves I was forced to buy and use less stuff.”

Cabinets moved in from the laundry room serve as the coffee station, where plywood walls help them tie into the rest of the cook space. All of Sheryl’s changes added up to about $2000. “You don’t need to shell out big bucks to make a big impact in an outdated kitchen,” Sheryl says. “Shop around and wait for deals and specials for everything.”

“I love how open the kitchen feels,” she adds. “Removing the upper cabinets allows for so much more light to come in from the back window. Enlarging the island has given me so much more workspace. Also turning my eat-in kitchen space to a banquette allows for so much more seating.”

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: Just $2,000 Turns This ’90s Kitchen into a Scandi-Boho Dream