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

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Lightened up with a few stealth moves, this outdated oak kitchen gained storage space and an efficient work flow, plus warm, modern character.

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.

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. 

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.

In a hardworking kitchen, a backsplash is an ideal opportunity to add a little personality. See how pretty materials and unique installations can bring a fresh face to your kitchen.

One-of-a-Kind Backsplash Ideas

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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