21 inspiring kitchen makeovers

Transform your kitchen with fresh ideas for color, counters, cabinets, lighting, and more

retro kitchen before

Inspiring kitchen remodels around the West

Retro ranch: The kitchen before

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.

Retro kitchen renovation

Photo 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.

Read more about this retro ranch remodel

Kitchen makeover before


Before: Creative home renovation

The new owners of this 1930's home in Oakland opted for a careful renovation that updated the house but preserved its character.

As part of the kitchen makeover, cabinets were replaced using the same footprint; the countertops and walls were resurfaced, appliances updated, and plumbing revamped. See what they did next.


Cooking area after

Photos by Thomas J. Story; styling by Miranda Jones; 

Creative renovation

A new island increased counter space and allows for a prep sink beyond the main farmhouse sink.

The kitchen cabinet doors were removed: “If a door’s closed,” says homeowner Jamie, “I have a tendency to forget things are there.”

To maintain the integrity of the house, the owners had the walls repaired with plaster, not drywall.

See more of this home renovation



outdated kitchen with a u-shaped layout and tile countertop

Fresh, colorful kitchen (before)

The goal of this remodel was to transform a bland, U-shaped space into a brighter, more contemporary kitchen where the family could gather and entertain without going beyond the room’s footprint.

bright, blue, yellow, blue and brown tile splash gives the kitchen remodel a vivid design and makes the modern, white cabinets pop against the stainless steel refrigerator, stove and microwave

Fresh, colorful kitchen (after)

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.

See more of this colorful kitchen makeover

outdated kitchen with a l-shaped cabinet layout that divides the breakfast room from the kitchen

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.

a bright, orange, modern kitchen island with a steel countertop sits in the middle of this updated, vintage style kitchen

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.

See more of this bright kitchen remodel 

How to refinish cabinets

Before: Light-filled kitchen makeover

Before: Light-filled kitchen makeover

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.

After: Light-filled kitchen makeover

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)

outdated kitchen with plain white cabinets, dark floors and an old white stove

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.

contemporary kitchen with avocado green walls, warm oak cabinets and a kitchen island in the middle with a wooden countertop and black painted underneath

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.

original photo of an old kitchen in a beach shack with cramped space

Beach kitchen (before)

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.

modern, beach kitchen with an island in the middle, warm wood cabinets that have slide out shelving and a stainless steel refrigerator

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.

See more of this beach shack makeover

wood paneling in a carpeted room with a round white table and a sliding glass door to the left side

Airy kitchen-living space (before)

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.

light breakfast bay space to the left of the renovated, contemporary kitchen

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.

Before: Tudor kitchen

Before: Tudor update

"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." 


Grey Crawford

After: Tudor update

Now in the kitchen/family room, traditional wainscoting and a coffered ceiling complement contemporary marble counters, glass cabinets, and a stainless steel hood.

More:  Learn all about this Tudor update 

Warm kitchen before

Thomas J. Story

Before: Modern farmhouse kitchen

The small kitchen had an awkward space for dining and was hidden from the home's main living areas by a closet wall.

Warm kitchen

Thomas J. Story

After: Modern farmhouse kitchen

Now a sliding barn door allows the kitchen to be hidden for formal dinner parties and serves as a place to hang holiday greeting cards.

More:  Get Dutto's tips for a phased remodel

Room for the family

Thomas J. Story

Before: Family-friendly kitchen

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.

Room for the family

Thomas 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.

More:  Learn more about this kitchen makeover


Before: Bold kitchen remodel

Before: Bold kitchen remodel

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. 

After: Bold kitchen remodel

Bold kitchen remodel

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.

Design:  Neil Kelly Design/Build Remodeling, Portland (503/288-7461)

Eichler kitichen, before transformation

Thomas 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.

Eichler kitchen with a few subtle changes

Thomas 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.

More:  See what makes this kitchen work

dated kitchen with white cabinets, wooden countertops in a u-shape with a window over the sink

Interior decorator’s kitchen (before)

Food tastes better when it’s made in a pretty space. Now there’s no official study backing that statement, so you’re just going to have to trust us. But have no fear: You, too, can get a gorgeous look. Kitchen designer Cyndy Cantley of Birmingham shows us a makeover project that’s near and dear to her heart -- her very own kitchen.

/in the remodeled kitchen, a white farmers sink with creamy marble countertops and a stainless steel refrigerator

Interior decorator’s kitchen (after)

Cyndy Cantley’s design secrets transform this kitchen into a showstopping space. Follow her helpful hints to take your kitchen from dated to dazzling.


outdated kitchen with a white kitchen island and a bar stool pulled up to it

$400 kitchen renovation (before)

See how we took on the challenge of transforming an outdated kitchen from cluttered to classic -- with less than $400 to spend.

white kitchen cabinets, microwave, and kitchen island with neutral colored accents in the kitchen accessories

$400 kitchen renovation (after)

The homeowners were so happy with the finished project that they bought a new dishwasher and microwave to complete the new look. Mission accomplished!

oversized kitchen island with brown cabinets with an old oven and old florescent lighting in the ceiling

Best kitchen remodel (before)

The tragic flaw in this big kitchen was the lighting -- fluorescents set in a dropped ceiling.

creamy kitchen cabinets that also covered the front of the refrigerator, dish washer, and a granite kitchen island countertop and copper-lined stove hood above the island

Best kitchen remodel (after)

Recessed lighting and a new, 9-foot gypsum drywall ceiling was just the start. New tiles, flooring, and paint complete the picture.

outdated kitchen with dark wooden cabinets, red tile floors and old kitchen appliances

Tuscan kitchen makeover (before)

This kitchen was dingy and dark; its wood cabinets were equally matched by surrounding brown (brown!) appliances that barely worked and plain-Jane linoleum floors. And then there was the red floral wallpaper.

Italian-inspired kitchen with stucco walls, new cabinets and windows with diamond panes reminiscent of Tuscany

Tuscan kitchen makeover (after)

See this homeowner's great choices, from an aged stucco treatment on the walls to alder wood cabinets and porcelain floors.


turn of the century stove in an outdated kitchen with a tall cabinet

Vintage charm (before)

See what happened to this turn-of-the-century kitchen. It was just an empty room, with the sink relegated to a separate annex.

retro mint green kitchen classic cabinets and a kitchen island with a white marble countertop

Vintage charm (after)

To achieve vintage charm with modern function, the homeowners chose state-of-the-art components designed, whenever possible, in turn-of-the-century style.

kitchen with peach cupboards above the sink and white cupboards below with white tile backsplash and tile counters

Classic redone (before)

See these inspiring makeovers that take place within each home’s existing floor plan. The creative repurposing of space transforms these rooms from dull and outdated to just like new.

classic, white kitchen cabinets with gray marble countertops and glass panes in the upper cabinets

Classic redone (after)

Custom cabinetry with fine detailing gives the new kitchen architectural "bones" and traditional charm. White ceramic subway tile on the backsplash and an ogee edging on the solid-surface countertops are classic; stainless steel appliances are a nod to the new.

outdated kitchen cabinets with an old oven and stove in burgundy colors

$30 Makeover (before)

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?

In this kitchen update, periwinkle paint covers a kitchen oven and stovetop while the cabinets’ doors are painted a pale yellow color with rest covered in creamy white.

$30 Makeover (after)

Color was this kitchen's quick fix. $30 worth of paint even spruced up the old appliances, achieving an entirely new look.

See more of this budget kitchen makeover


Portland loft before

Drew 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 accomodate entertaining.

Portland Loft After

Lincoln 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.

See more of this loft renovation

Light and bright airy kitchen with windows along the left side, over the sink area and in the middle of the kitchen, a long prep table with room for storage underneath. Also a stainless steel gas/oven range is at the far end of the kitchen.

Invest in your kitchen

Every kitchen needs an occasional update. Maybe the space isn’t working for a changing family. Perhaps you’re tired of the noisy dishwasher or the oven that heats unevenly. But, before you proceed consider these planning checklists for the best return on your dollars and your dreams.

stainless steel gas stove range in a kitchen with creamy, subway tiles as the backsplash behind the stove and light, tan kitchen cabinetry to the left and right of it

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.


a renovated kitchen with natural wood breakfast table with two chairs, creamy kitchen cabinets with glass panels and copper countertops

Kitchen makeover on a budget

Learn how one homeowner and a creative friend completely transformed this kitchen for $2,300.

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