Food & Drink

Before & After: This Kitchen Kept the ’90s Cabinets and Counters — And Somehow the Space Looks Brand New

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Kitchens are the highest-traffic areas in any home, serving as a place to work, cook, eat, and gather. The renovation inspiration for kitchens is endless, and sometimes it’s hard to decide where to start. If your kitchen isn’t in need of a complete overhaul, but still doesn’t fit your style, simply painting the cabinets or replacing the floors can make a huge difference.

Courtney Barch (The Homebody Life) and her husband recently bought a home in Colorado that they love with a kitchen that they didn’t love so much. It was dated with oak cabinets, vintage-looking ivy wallpaper, and ‘90s light fixtures. “We wanted an updated look to tone down all of the orange and brown,” Courtney says.

Courtney and her husband have bought, renovated, and sold three homes before this one, so they’re no strangers to DIY projects. Neither of them had any reservations about jumping right in. Shortly after they moved into the home, Courtney and her husband installed new flooring throughout the entire main floor to create a more cohesive feel. That meant that when it came time to update their kitchen, they already had a major project (and expense) checked off their list. 

The kitchen’s cabinets and island were in good condition, so the smartest and easiest thing to do was paint them. Courtney did the job herself, choosing a simple white color (Valspar’s Ultra White) for the uppers that instantly brightens up the space. For the lower cabinets, Courtney chose a soft gray. “I love the interest this brought to the space, and it made it less stark than painting everything white,” she says. The only thing Courtney did to alter the built-ins was remove the curvy corbels from the back of the island, which instantly pulled them out of the ’90s.

With the new white and gray cabinet combo, the existing counters look way less busy — that meant they could keep them in place, saving another major expense.

Courtney’s husband replaced the black builder-grade light fixtures with brass globe pendants that match the new brass pulls on the cabinets, all of which make the kitchen feel way more modern than before.

The slatted wood detail Courtney added around the island and on the ends of the lower cabinets gives their once plain cabinets a little kick and makes the kitchen look totally custom.

The total cost for paint, supplies, pulls, and lights was about $500. Courtney later purchased a counter depth fridge for $1,600, bringing the total kitchen cost to $2,100.

Courtney and her husband hope that this one will be their forever home, and they’re making updates with that in mind. And after all that work, Courtney can finally say: “I love how our kitchen looks now.”

Savannah West

Home Assistant Editor

Savannah is a master binge-watcher and home cook. When she’s not testing new recipes or re-watching Gossip Girl, you can find her on Facetime with her grandma. Savannah is a news producer turned lifestyle blogger and professional homebody. She has a bachelors in journalism from Clark Atlanta University, a certification in Digital Storytelling and is earning her Master’s degree from Harvard University. Savannah believes every day is a good day and there’s nothing good food can’t fix.

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