Kitchen Renovation: Before Pics + The Plan

I feel like I’ve traveled back in time because this is oak cabinet situation is MIGHTY familiar:


This is our new (old) kitchen! It hasn’t been touched since the house was built in 1986, which is fine because if oak cabinets and butcher block laminate are your jam then who am I to rain on your parade? The style isn’t the main issue (though it will be changing). I’m fighting another monster:

There. Is. No. Storage.


That frying pan has to live on the stove because none of the cabinets are wide enough to give it a proper home. DItto the silverware tray–all three (!) of the drawers are narrow, so the poor thing has to chill on the counter.


And over on the fridge wall, you can see our collection of small appliances that have nowhere else to go. The crock pot and rice cooker have to sit on top of the fridge like a pair of sad hats, the microwave (which we bought on day 2 because there wasn’t one) has to be sideways on that sliver of counter, and there are two whole boxes we couldn’t even unpack that are currently hanging out in the dining room.

So, that’s a bummer. But on the bright side, we have what I call The Wall of Nothing that’s about to become way more useful:


I assume the intent of the empty area was to provide a spot for a tiny table, but I think the space would function so much better as a galley-style kitchen without a table at all. The dining room is literally three steps away, so do we NEED another eating area in here? Nope!

Here’s a quick sketch of our plan. For reference, the room is 10′ x 10′.


Not only are we moving the fridge to the longer wall, but we’re adding 30″ of additional countertop and cabinet space, plus a 90″ tall pull-out pantry because if I can’t even put my frying pan away, you better believe I can’t store much food. We’re also replacing the sliding glass door to the deck, and widening the doorway to the dining room. I wish we could’ve taken the cabinets all the way down on The Nothing Wall, but the doors are in the way. We’ll put a command center there instead.

The functionality is going to improve by 500%, and because the overall palette will be lighter, it will feel bigger, too. We ran around town on Sunday and found all of our main materials. Behold!


Because this house is going to be a rental property after we’re done with it, we aimed for durable, easy-to-maintain finishes that were also pretty affordable. Example: those are laminate countertops and vinyl plank floors. Gasp! I feel like those are things a design professional like me “shouldn’t” recommend or use, but I don’t care. I design for real life, and the reality is that rentals need to stand up to wear and tear. Laminate and vinyl have improved leaps and bounds in the last decade, anyway, so I’m happy to use them for projects.

Cabinets: IKEA | Bodbyn Off-White
Countertops: Formica | Portico Marble
Flooring: Stainmaster | Casa Italia
Wall Color: Benjamin Moore | Balboa Mist

We won’t actually swing the hammer for another month–still need to order the appliances, get quotes from contractors about the doors, etc.–but that will zoom by. Aaaaaah! I can’t wait.

What have you been working on lately? Who else has gutted a kitchen? Have you dealt with a bad storage situation?

9 thoughts on “Kitchen Renovation: Before Pics + The Plan”

  1. Can’t wait to see how this develops, Paige! We have oak cabinets, too (and I’m one of those who loves that wood look), but there are a lot of them, as well as lots of light–and we added a cabinet to one wall. No dining room, so our kitchen has one long, large traditional table, no cooking island. People spend a lot of time in a kitchen, so any effort you invest is worth it.

  2. What if you put in doors like in our dining room where only one of them opens? Could you put in an additional cabinet then?

    1. The wall itself isn’t wide enough to accommodate a base cabinet down there, and even if the door doesn’t swing I don’t want to visually block the opening. We’ll still have plenty of storage!

  3. I kept thinking about you yesterday! We were helping friends take down popcorn ceiling and it reminded me of your remodeling projects and made me wonder what you’d have to say about all the super dated (in a bad way!) features. (Though it’s not really their fault. They’re renters and the land lady’s husband, who used to do maintenance, passed a couple years ago. They finally got sick of it and asked if they could remodel!)

    1. Hoo boy! Popcorn ceilings are no fun, but I’m glad they got permission to take them down. Sounds like they have a cool landlady.

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