Mini But Mighty Updates for a Builder Kitchen

Give your builder-grade kitchen a fresh outlook with minimal mess using these 10 inspiring improvements from Melissa Michaels of The Inspired Room.

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Before: Basic at Best

kitchen before
Before being updated, Melissa's kitchen wasn't bad; it just lacked the personality and openness she wanted for the hub of the home.

Melissa Michaels had peninsula problems. The storage unit trapped guests and cooks in a corner so that only one person could work at a time. By removing the island and adding a new cabinet to the right of the sink, the kitchen gained great party flow and six valuable drawers.

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After: Modern Charm

BHG Melissa Michaels Kitchen
Melissa Michaels was able to give her kitchen a bright, airy update on a minimal budget and without major disruption thanks to some scrappy thinking.

A single smart floor plan fix, as well as a punch of personality, gave this builder kitchen new style and function. Cabinets removed from the range and sink walls add to the room's new airiness. Quartz countertops, a tile backsplash, and a modest island -- all in shades of white -- further freshen the space without requiring reconstruction.

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Scheme Team

Kitchen Cabinet Colors
The dark charcoal lower cabinets are a nice contrast to the bright white of the upper cabinets, trim work and countertops. Melissa chose Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore for the lower cabinets and Dove White by Benjamin Moore for the uppers.

Painting the maple cabinets charcoal and white helped blend the new cabinet by the sink as well as a panel that covers the soffit on the fridge wall. The medley of bright and creamy whites found throughout make for a clean, sunny space worth spending time in.

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On Display

Melissa Michaels Kitchen

One set of cabinet doors were removed to create open storage. Paneling behind the shelves creates continuity with surrounding cabinetry. Pops of yellow and blue in ceramic dishware bring cheery color into the kitchen.

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Convert Cabinets to Open Shelving

Give plain kitchen cabinets a new look by converting them to open shelving. See the step-by-step process for this easy kitchen project.

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Sleek Switch

Melissa Michaels Kitchen
Melissa swapped out the above-range microwave for a new range hood for practical reasons as well as aesthetics. The new range hood is properly sized for the space and provides the right amount of ventilation.

A modern range hood replaced an over-the-stove microwave, which moved into the walk-in pantry to save counter space and avoid tedious installation. All other appliances stayed. White subway tile provides a pretty, budget-friendly backdrop.

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Smooth Swap

Melissa Michaels Kitchen
The sunny window ledge is the perfect place for Melissa's teacup garden, a collection of mosses and small succulents she tucks into flea market-found cups.

An apron-front sink designed to be easily retrofit into existing cabinetry replaces the previous model. Pretty painted knobs add sparkle against gray base cabinetry.

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Storage Haven

Melissa Michaels Kitchen
The mix of stain and paint finishes gives Melissa's island much more character than a plain painted piece would have. If you're staining a butcher block surface in the kitchen, be sure to look for food-safe products.

An unfinished piece of furniture became a personality-packed island thanks to a special DIY paint treatment. The homeowner used a plastic bag full of screws and nails to give the island a distressed texture. She then painted the frame, stained the top and shelves, and screwed in hooks to supply a handy spot for dish towels and utensils.

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Raise a Glass

Melissa Michaels Kitchen
Melissa installed industrial-style sconces with Edison bulbs on either side of the kitchen window for task lighting and added character.

A decorative shelf filled with pretty patterned teacups dresses up a blank wall above the beverage station. Wall sconces provide task lighting and an industrial touch.

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Can-Do Closet

kitchen pantry with microwave and open shelving

What the original pantry lacked in personality, it made up for in useful space. The storage space became a decorative extension of the kitchen by removing the door and adding shelves for baskets and jars. Clear glass containers save time when identifying contents and look pretty lined up in a row, while a console table serves as a handy spot for the microwave.

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Revamp Your Pantry!

Try these seven ideas to create the most organized pantry with open shelving.

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