Transform your kitchen with fresh ideas for color, counters, cabinets, lighting, and more
1 of 31Drew McCulloch/Windermere Properties
Portland loft: before
After downsizing by more than 1,500 square feet, Monique and John Menconi bought a loft in Portland's Pearl District and set out to create a kitchen that could easily accommodate entertaining.
2 of 31Lincoln Barbour
Portland loft: after
In such a tight space, storage was key. Drawers and open shelves were used instead of standard kitchen cabinets to avoid unreachable, wasted back corners. A large table leaves room to entertain and provides another workspace.
The owners of this Arizona home wanted a '60s vibe, but with their own take on it.
When they bought the house, the kitchen was retro all right, but lacked much style.
See what they did with it next.
4 of 31Photo by Thomas J. sTory
Retro ranch: The kitchen after
Being on a tight budget, the owners of this retro ranch house did most of the rehab work themselves—redoing floors, fixtures, walls, and ceilings—and then decorated with a mix of new and secondhand pieces.
The owners found the Silestone quartz countertop online, never seeing it in person. It arrived a perfect fit for the multiuse room.
White Shaker-style cabinet fronts are a bright foil for the vibrant glass-tile backsplash. New niches display cobalt bowls. A two-toned, two-tiered concrete counter--pale green above and charcoal gray below--adds sleek style to the work and serving spaces.
9 of 31
Bright kitchen (before)
This kitchen had assets -- well-made cabinets, vintage tile countertops, and a generous layout -- but they were hidden by layers of aged grout, worn paint, scuffed linoleum, and cutesy detailing.
10 of 31Thomas J. Story
Bright kitchen (after)
A new island, covered in stainless steel and painted with bright orange auto body paint, makes all the difference.
Other fixes included removing the wooden window scallop, replacing the knobs with metal handles, and covering the cabinetry with white marine paint.
Most potential buyers looked at this house and its poorly remodeled kitchen ― a typical galley, cut off from the garden ― and saw big headaches. John Jennings and Sasha Tarnopolsky saw design freedom.
12 of 31
Light-filled kitchen makeover
Two decisions in this remodel were key: replacing a window at one end of the galley-like space with a glass Dutch door and wrapping three sides of the room with a counter. The counter passes in front of the Dutch door, becoming a breakfast bar; light coming through the door washes the floor and walls.
Design:John Jennings and Sasha Tarnopolsky,Dry Design, Los Angeles (323/954-9084, ext. 21)
13 of 31
A kitchen for entertaining (before)
This 12- x 13-foot kitchen was walled off from the adjacent dining room, which had a beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay. A jumble of work surfaces made cooking prep and socializing difficult.
14 of 31
A kitchen for entertaining (after)
Now it’s a warm and inviting place to cook and hang out with friends. A bigger opening and hardwood floors connect the room with the rest of the house.
The original kitchen in this condemned beach shack in Venice, California, was a cramped, haphazard jumble. The young owners had major budget constraints but believed in finding creative ways to make the most of what they had.
16 of 31
Beach kitchen (after)
Out went the old mold — and fire-damaged interior walls — and in came space-saving wood cabinets, contemporary fixtures, and lightweight concrete countertops. The owners did most of the work themselves, turning a ruin into a neighborhood showpiece.
Before the remodel, this circa-1900 San Francisco home had little connection with the outdoors. Most prospective buyers had walked in, looked around in disbelief, and left.
18 of 31
Airy kitchen-living space (after)
Light-reflecting flat white paint now covers old paneling. Floor-to-ceiling French doors open an entire wall to the small deck. A wood table and benches mixed with metal dining chairs create a relaxed look. A marble backsplash and wood display shelf make the kitchen handsome enough to entertain in. And the breakfast bay acts as a daylight-catcher that brightens the rest of the kitchen.
"When this house was built, the kitchen was only a place to work, so it was a small, dark room," says architect-owner William Hefner. "We wanted a kitchen open to a family room, so we put it at the back of the house. The dining room is now where the kitchen used to be."
The narrow U-shaped design of the all-white kitchen trapped an oven between the counters. There was barely room for two stools at the counter end.
24 of 31Thomas J. Story
After: Family-friendly kitchen
Warren and Jennifer Lloyd turned a cramped alcove into an inviting dining nook by borrowing room from a closet (located opposite the original freestanding counter) and rearranging the appliances. "We gained just 15 square feet, but the kitchen feels triple the size," Jennifer says.
Within the same footprint, this 8½ by 20-foot kitchen changed from cramped and dated to spacious and modern. The designer worked this magic by incorporating areas once hidden from view and using a palette of contemporary materials in tones of red, black, and silver.
The most dramatic transformation in this kitchen took place near the sink and range.
The original flat ceiling was removed; now the angled line of the window bay extends upward, borrowing several feet from the former attic. Vertical bands of frosted glass panels set into a wall of cabinets emphasize the room’s newfound height. Stainless steel on the counters is repeated in new appliances.
27 of 31Thomas J. Story
Before: Eichler update
With a few subtle changes ― done without altering the floor plan or developer Joseph Eichler's basic post-and-beam aesthetic ― architect Anne Phillips transformed this space into something fresh and lively.
28 of 31Thomas J. Story
Eichler kitchen update
More light and openness, the latest appliances, and a richer color palette give this kitchen new life while preserving its midcentury-modern character.
When Susan Churcher moved into her 1950s home, she faced a decorating dilemma in the kitchen. It was a dreary space with dated cabinets and dark brown appliances. Long-term plans called for a complete remodel, but what could she do in the interim?
Color was this kitchen's quick fix. $30 worth of paint even spruced up the old appliances, achieving an entirely new look.
31 of 31
Get a head start
Research is the first major step in remodeling your kitchen. Gather ideas from your favorite magazines, books, Web sites, and dealer showrooms. Once you have a folder of ideas, it’s time to do a reality check on needs versus desires.