In this post: The evolution of our white kitchen shows how we transformed a dark, outdated room over time and completed a chic kitchen remodel on a budget..⇒
It was non-negotiable from the start.
Yes, the dark cherry kitchen was only 5 years old and was in good condition. But for me it was a non-starter. There were many things I was willing to compromise on when purchasing our new townhome, but a dark wood kitchen with black granite counters was not one of them.
We were selling our family home of 20 years, a home whose kitchen we had gut and replaced with a brand new custom kitchen and I regretted, even back then, listening to the kitchen designer and not going with white.
“It will become dated”, she said. Here I was 20 years later still wanting a white kitchen. I was not giving in this time.
So hubby and I discussed it and I explained that I was only comfortable buying this house if we could renovate the kitchen.
He agreed and the prospective remodel became part of our calculations.
Still, we also agreed that the kitchen makeover would be done on a budget and it would not include brand new cabinets. That meant not reconfiguring anything or customizing it for our needs, not upgrading the carpentry quality or taking the cabinets up to the ceiling, all things I would have preferred.
But I could live with that.
Today I’m sharing the story of the evolution of our kitchen, from dark and depressing to uplifting and light. You’ll see the entire process and the before and after pics, which, seen side-by-side at the end, show just how transformative the update has been. I’ll share where we saved and where we splurged and what precipitated a second round of changes.
This post is part of the ‘Evolution of Our Homes’ series, with Ann from On Sutton Place and Yvonne from StoneGable, so be sure to check out the evolution of their kitchens, as well.
Let’s start with a look at the kitchen before…
White Kitchen Remodel
The first thing to note is that our kitchen is blessed with a good deal of space. We’re fortunate to have started with a decent layout and most things were located in a fairly logical place. So the entire update would be cosmetic.
While these are not the cabinets I would have chosen, I’ve also seen worse. Instead what really bothered me was the dark wood tone, the black granite counters and the hideous backsplash. I wasn’t particularly keen on the floor tile, either.
So essentially this would be a surface update.
Note: I had already replaced the pendant lights at the time of this photo, as I knew where we were headed. The originals were a dark amber, and provided no light.
With a vision in place, I started securing materials and vendors. The first place we saved was in not using a kitchen contractor. Since I was not replacing the cabinets, it made more sense to approach each aspect separately.
So I started with the kitchen counters. I would’ve loved to rip out the entire black granite but there was a lot of stone and that would’ve been quite expensive. So instead I opted to replace just the kitchen island, a decision that saved us a great deal of money.
The black would be less offensive in a mostly white kitchen and with the island changed to white, the effect was greatly lightened. I chose white quartz and asked the stone supplier to remove the existing thick 4″ backsplash, as well.
For more details visit: The Kitchen Counter Update
The Floor Tile
Next we addressed the flooring. The original tile was a bland ceramic with no character and a muddy tone. (You can catch a glimpse of it in the first ‘before’ picture.)
My tile contractor ripped out the original floor, put in a sub floor, and then added the new wood-look porcelain planks. I absolutely love the look of the new floor and how easy it is to care for.
For more details visit: The Kitchen Floor Update
Once the floor was completed, the tiler moved on to the backsplash. This was one place I chose to splurge. It was a relatively small space, yet had significant visibility, so selecting a special tile was a worthwhile investment.
I chose my favorite marble, calacutta gold, in a 2″ x 8″ subway tile layout. The subtle variety in color of this natural stone is what I love so much. It has notes of warmth even though it reads as white.
This is precisely why I removed the 4″ backsplash slab, so that the new tile could be appreciated in the full height, from counter to cabinet bottom. It has a cleaner look and is quite beautiful.
For more details visit: The Kitchen Backsplash Update
All of the changes thus far would not have amounted to much, if I didn’t know that I would be painting the cabinets.
For this I hired a contractor for several reasons. First, I was already pleased that we were saving by not ripping out the cabinets, so paying to have them professionally painted did not seem so bad. I had also decided to put glass fronts in many of the cabinet doors, so the contractor would be able to handle that, as well.
The cabinet maker removed the doors and drawer fronts to spray in his studio. The bases, as well as the inside of the cabinets that would have glass doors, would be painted in place, by hand.
I was amazed that I didn’t even have to remove everything from all of the drawers, and would just run them through the dishwasher when all was done.
For more details visit: The Painted Cabinets Update
When the cabinets were completed, the transformation was quite shocking. I had planned everything with this result in mind, but to see it realized so spectacularly was gratifying.
The icing on the cake was the new hardware, an antique brass ribbon and reed style. I used bin pulls for the drawers, and handles for the cabinets.
At this point, I thought the kitchen was done. I filled the glass front cabinets with white dishes and was generally thrilled with the net result.
But serendipity was on my side. A few years passed and I would occasionally think about how I’d love all white counters. And one day, in the middle of the pandemic, when it was impossible to buy appliances, our oven broke.
This was my opportunity.
Oven and Cooktop
It’s not like the oven was attached to the counters, but it made sense to get a new cooktop to match the oven. I worked with a wonderful salesperson, who understood what I was looking for, and he recommended a brand I’d never heard of in the European style that I like.
The key, of course, was that the pieces were in stock.
I love the gold trim on the cooktop burners of my Fulgor Milano stove.
And best of all, I now had a reason to replace the counters (or at least I seized the opportunity). I stayed with white quartz, as I love both the look and the way it performs. And it looks so nice with my marble backsplash.
The Final Touches
The new counters gave me the chance to replace two other things I’ve been wanting to update. I selected a white rectangular fireclay sink and a gorgeous brass faucet.
NOW my kitchen was complete!
A look at the ‘before and after’ is quite compelling, as the transformation is so profound. In addition to being more cheerful, the room looks more spacious and it makes me happy to walk in there.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish without the cost of ripping out the cabinets!
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
Be sure to visit Ann and Yvonne’s kitchens below: