An '80s Kitchen Makeover That's Anything But Cookie Cutter

Lightened up with a few stealth moves, this outdated oak kitchen gained storage space and an efficient work flow, plus warm, modern character.

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Everything In This Slideshow

  • 1 of 10

    Before: Gaining Space

    Low ceilings made this kitchen feel dark and confined, despite its moderate size. Raising the dropped ceiling about a foot was the first step in the room's five-month remodel. Next to go? The sea of stained oak.

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    After: Seeing the Light

    White cabinetry, seafoam subway tiles, and whitewashed oak flooring give the kitchen a beachy vibe. The double-wide island -- it's more than a foot wider than the old one but still meets the 36-inch clearance on both sides -- provides a focal point and storage boost. 

  • 3 of 10

    Tile Style

    Subway tiles in seafoam green instead of the usual white give the kitchen a color kick. Run to the ceiling, the smooth, glossy tiles also provide a textural changeup from all the wood. Bright white cabinetry with traditional recessed panels supplies plenty of neutral color to the fresh palette.

  • 4 of 10

    One-of-a-Kind Backsplash Ideas

    Love the green tile in this kitchen makeover? See more of our favorite backsplash design ideas.

  • 5 of 10

    Hidden Asset

    A mini office is a nice surprise in a bank of cabinetry. Doors slide inward pocket-style, so they can stay open without getting in the way. A small stool tucks under the floating desk without impeding foot traffic.

  • 6 of 10

    Before: Cramped Quarters

    A half wall between the living room and kitchen gave homeowners a designated breakfast nook but not enough space. The banquette's oak finish was in addition to a sea of beige finishes.

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    After: Finer Dining

    Moving the partial wall back a few feet into the family room (and shortening its length) allowed space for a banquette and large round table. The bench tops lift to access storage space. Shiplap walls nod to an old beach cottage.

  • 8 of 10

    Before: Odd Flow

    Two interior doorways created an awkward flow through the kitchen. The wall ovens, cooktop, and refrigerator lined up on one wall, and the island was a roadblock between them and the sink on the opposite wall.

  • 9 of 10

    After: Style Smarts

    Closing one doorway (now a pantry) and moving the other a few feet to the right improved flow. The built-in fridge lines up with the island, allowing a straight shot from the mudroom to the breakfast area. The new island contains what the cooking zone lacked: easy access to a sink. It features a recessed end to accommodate seats for guests who want to chat with the chef. Soft colors throughout create a tranquil mood that balances the noise and activity of life with kids. 

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