As with most remodels of older homes, the kitchen and bathrooms see the most transformative changes, and that was certainly the case with ours.  While keeping the original layout of the kitchen and making mainly cosmetic updates, we were able to take the kitchen from a drab and dated area to a bright and open space that’s instantly become the heart of our home.


As I mentioned, the kitchen already had a great layout so luckily that didn’t need to be changed.  It opens up into the breakfast area and then to the living room, so it’s really one big open space, which is exactly what we were looking for.  The ‘BEFORE’ was your stereotypical early 90’s-style kitchen.  With a little (ok, ALOT) of TLC, I knew it could be a stunner…but it had to be a stunner on a budget!


  • New floors throughout
  • Paint existing cabinets white
  • Add hardware
  • Remove upper cabinets on either side of sink
    • Replace with open, floating shelves
  • Install wired, under cabinet lighting
  • New backsplash
  • New countertops
    • Extend island counter top by 24″ for dine-in seating
  • Remove light fixture above sink
    • Replace with wall sconces
  • Remove fluorescent lights above island
    • Replace with hanging pendants (dimmable)
  • Add canned lights (dimmable)
  • New refrigerator
  • New kitchen sink
  • New faucet
  • Customize island for microwave
    • Install dedicated electrical circuit for microwave


First, the floors.  I mentioned our flooring decision here, but failed to mention costs.  I’ve broken everything down in this post, so you can scroll to the bottom to see exactly what we used and pricing.  In addition to floors, we also replaced all of the baseboards, door casings, back door, pantry door, and hardware (matte black) throughout the space.

While I would have loved to reface all of the cabinets with something more modern and streamlined and made the upper cabinets go all the way to the ceiling, that wasn’t really in the budget.  I settled with painting EVERYTHING white, and it made the world of difference.  I’ve had a number of people ask me about the cabinet-painting process, and in hindsight, I would have done it differently.  The cabinets were hand sanded, primed, and then hand painted using a satin latex paint (Snowbound by Sherwin Williams).  I would have preferred to have used an oil-based paint and have it sprayed on, as opposed to hand painted.  They don’t quite have the sheen or durability that I’d like, and I’m already finding myself either touching up paint here and there and wiping them down with a Magic Eraser to get rid of smudges.  All of that being said, they still look WAY  better than the ‘BEFORE.’ Perhaps in the future, should I find that winning scratch-off lottery ticket, I’ll have them re-done–but not anytime soon!

To add a touch of luxe, we installed these amazing Freestone cabinet pulls (c/o Emtek).  We had someone else install the hardware, and again in hindsight, it’s something we could have easily done ourselves.  There are ton of tools out there, like this handy hardware installation template from Home Depot, that serve as easy guides so that you get it right the first time without constantly measuring, re-measuring, and leveling out.  Our installer did NOT get it right the first time…

It was an easy decision to get rid of the cabinets on either side of the sink, but figuring out the floating shelves that I wanted to replace them with was a challenge.  Of everything in the kitchen, the shelves were the last to be completed.  Fortunately, I was able to have a co-worker custom build exactly what I wanted at almost a fraction of retail cost.  They were constructed almost like a box with the back side open. To mount them, we used shelving cleats, drilled them into the studs and then slid the shelves over the cleats, and caulked them to the wall.  The cabinets in the corner are the sturdiest and can hold the most weight, but I have to be careful of putting too much on the free-floating ones to the left of the sink.

Before I even found a house to remodel, I knew I wanted solid white quartz counter tops.  Quartz is extremely durable and easy to maintain.  I ended up choosing ‘Iconic White’ by Cosentino Silestone and have been so pleased with them!  We also added 24″ of counter top to the end of the island so that we would have room for a couple of bar stools.  Despite having a breakfast table and a dining table, we eat 99% of our meals here.

To break up all of the white, I went with 3″ x 6″ marble subway tile in an offset brick pattern for the back splash.  It’s hard to tell in the above photo, but we also “waterfalled” the tile in the sill of the window behind the sink. There’s about a foot or so there, so it’s the perfect spot to keep plants, herbs, etc..

We updated all of the lighting throughout the entire house, but in the kitchen specifically, we replaced the dated fluorescent lights with three hanging pendants over the island.  We also added canned lights throughout and put everything on dimmers.  I also added under cabinet lighting under the cabinets pictured above.  When purchasing under cabinet lights, be mindful that everything has the same Kelvin level. (i.e. 2500K vs. 3000K).  You want to make sure all of your lights are casting the same color temperature, so you don’t have one section that looks more yellow or white than another.

I also got rid of the god-awful light fixture that hung above the sink and replaced it with two armed wall sconces.  These were extremely reasonable at only $49.99 and I’m in LOVE with how they turned out.

Electrical is where you’re going to spend a good amount of money during a remodel, so if you’re working within a budget, like I was, do your research and you can find some really inexpensive–yet extremely stylish–fixtures!

Luckily most of the appliances in the kitchen were new and in good shape, so the only big purchase we had to make on that front was a new refrigerator.  I really liked the direction everything was going with being all white, and I didn’t love the idea of having a big stainless steel box break up my consistency.  After researching white fridges, this counter-depth KitchenAid model was just the ticket. The white fridge is the first thing people comment on when they see the kitchen, and I’m so happy with the decision!

Another thing I knew I wanted in a new house was a farmhouse sink.  We replaced the existing sink with this 33″ single basin farmhouse sink and accented it with a pull-down bronze faucet.  Since the farmhouse sink was deeper than the previous, we had to custom make the cabinet doors below it and get a smaller garbage disposal that would fit underneath.  All easy, and mostly inexpensive, fixes.

Lastly, the previous kitchen didn’t have a microwave and I wasn’t in love with the idea of putting one above the cook-top OR having to keep it the pantry or out on the counter.  Thanks to our terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad first contractor, I ended up having to get some of the lower cabinets and kitchen island re-fabricated and custom-made to match the originals because he destroyed them, so I took the opportunity to have a space built in the new island to hide the microwave.  I found a microwave that would fit within the size constraints (less than 22″) and had the electricians install a dedicated electrical circuit for the it in the island, so we wouldn’t blow up the house every time we heated something up! I love having the microwave out of sight, but still easily accessible when we need it.

While I love how the kitchen turned out, this portion of the remodel took the longest and about sent me to the loony bin on more than one (ok, probably 15) occasion(s).  About a million (BIG) things went wrong, and there’s a laundry list of things I would have done differently given the opportunity.  I could whine and cry about them here, but I’m going to attempt to focus on the positive, pour myself a glass of wine, and bask in the glory of our white, bright, and happy space.  For sources and costs, scroll below.  And as always, if there’s anything I left out or that you have questions above, comment below!



Floor TileLumber Liquidators, 1,200 sq. ft. @ $1.43/sq. ft. = $1,857.57 (25% off sale)

GroutLumber Liquidators, 7 #1 gallons @ $33.75/gallon = $255.74 (25% off)

Thin Set MortarLumber Liquidators, 19#50 lbs. bags @$8.99 / ea. = $184.90  (25% off)

TOTAL WOOD-TILE COST (minus installation): $2,298.21 for 1,200 sq. ft. 


Quartz Counter topsCosentino UK, $5,828.25

Farmhouse SinkQuality Bath, $699.00

Sink Faucet, Amazon, $367.00

Sink + Disposal StopperAmazon, $48.01

Pendants Above Island, All Modern, 3 @ $77.95/ea. = $316.13

Sconces Above SinkAmazon, 2 @ $49.99/ea. = $118.33

Gold Cabinet Hardwarec/o Emtek

KitchenAid RefrigeratorHome Depot, $1,809.18

Microwave, Home Depot, $247.89

Back Splash, Lowe’s, 63 sq. ft. @ $5.98/sq. ft. = $407.82

GroutHome Depot, 1 gallon @ $59.50/gallon (used less than one gallon)

Double Ovenconveyed with home

Cook Topconveyed with home

Vent Hoodconveyed with home

TOTAL COST (not including labor, paint, electrical and custom cabinet replacements): $9,901.11

6 thoughts on “BEFORE & AFTER: KITCHEN

  1. Marianne Inman

    I am so glad I found your website; this information is enormously helpful! The kitchen looks stunning and I’m blown away that you did all of the design yourself! Do you do that sort of thing for a living? If not, you should! Thank you for the “sources list” as well. We hope to remodel our master bath in the near future and it’s always nice to have an idea of what things cost these days. Looking forward to future posts!

  2. Emily D

    I just came across your blog and love it! Your kitchen remodel came out beautifully! We are at the beginning end of our own and our kitchen layout is almost identical. I was wondering if you could share dimensions of your island (countertop) and— I know this is an odd request— could you share how much space is between your side counters and your island; the walkway in between. We are stuck finalizing the layout, knowing how big to make the island and how much space to leave in the walkway around it. Thank you!

  3. Sara

    I am wanting to but this exact hardware and found your page by searching for it. can you share what size your pulls are. since the center width and real length vary I cant decide what we need

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *