Before & After: A Tiny, Dated Kitchen Gets an Open Layout and a Fresh, Black-and-White Color Scheme

published Mar 20, 2022
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Credit: Spacecrafting Photography

All-white kitchens have become a bona fide classic, but in 2022, designers are predicting that white will make way for moodier shades and more eclectic materials.

Designer Jennifer Davis’s home, also featured in this Apartment Therapy house call, certainly ups the moodiness in the kitchen with matte black cabinets and matching tiles, and it came a long way from its humble beginnings in 1993.

Credit: Spacecrafting Photography

“When we purchased the house, the kitchen was 7.5 feet by 12 feet,” Jennifer (@davisinteriorsmn) explains. “You couldn’t fit more than one person in the space. It was dark and dated.”

Credit: Spacecrafting Photography

She says she and her husband, Calvin, bought the house with the intention of knocking down the wall that divided the small kitchen and formal dining room and adding a dining area to the other side of the staircase. “We removed the wall two hours after our closing!” she remembers.

They wanted to make way for a larger kitchen island for their family and for more storage before moving in.

Credit: Spacecrafting Photography

“We had planned on doing everything ourselves except the floors,” Jennifer says, but they ended up bringing in some extra to help to speed things up. “We were living at my parents house while they were in Arizona for the winter. We had a date we needed to be out by, and it was getting too close for comfort.”

To get the added cabinetry they were looking for, Jennifer and Calvin used KUNGSBACKA IKEA cabinets. (However, Jennifer says if she were doing the project over again, she’d go with a different cabinet choice because the matte black finish of these is difficult to clean.)

Credit: Spacecrafting Photography

Still, she loves the new layout and high-contrast color scheme she created, all while managing to keep some of the original features, like the paneling, which was just given a fresh coat of white paint, and the windows, which were painted black around the edges. (Jennifer and Calvin also added two additional windows to the space.)

“Removing the wall was easy because the wall didn’t run all the way to the ceiling,” Jennifer remembers. “It allowed us to work the existing paneling. We wanted to keep the paneling because it added texture to our neutral color palette.”

Credit: Spacecrafting Photography

Another semi-original detail in the space is the floors. While new oak flooring had to be feathered in in some places, some of the flooring just had to be stained a lighter color.

And painting the window trim was a good, practical trick to preserve the existing windows, Jennifer recalls. “We had fairly new windows, so replacing them was an option or in the budget,” she says. “We painted all of them black, and they turned out so well.”

Credit: Spacecrafting Photography

When it comes to the other trim in the space, Jennifer’s advice is to practice on a less-visible area of your house first, if possible. “I wish we would have practiced millwork in our basement first,” she says. “We are SO much better at it now.”

But in general, she loves her new statement-making kitchen. “I am impressed with the scale and portion in relation to the rest of the house,” she says. At 14 feet by 12 feet, the now-roomy kitchen has space for an island with a marble countertop, new sink, and bar seating — in addition to the dining nook across the room behind the stairs.

Credit: Spacecrafting Photography

Some of Jennifer’s favorite details in the space are the open oak shelves and the sconces overhead. “They were the last thing to go in, and they finally made it feel finished and everything felt like it was the right proportion to the ceiling,” she says.

She’s most proud of how cohesive the new space looks — and its bold, clean lines. “We are really proud of all of it,” she says.

This post has been updated with a clearer link to Jennifer Davis’ house call.