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Before & After: A Dreary Kitchen Gets A Bright Makeover for Spring

by Lauren Chorpening

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Author’s Note: We’re excited to bring you this post created with our partner, , who kindly provided the paint for this project!

When our teammate, Caitlin, was looking for a home, things seemed pretty bleak. While looking online, she dismissed one of the homes immediately. The photos for the listing were “a whole lot of brown” and filled with dark wood paneling nearly everywhere. She put in a contract on another home, but after the home inspection revealed major structural issues, she decided to look at the “brown monster” in person. When Caitlin and her daughter walked in, they were shocked by the amount of light the interior actually receives. The photos had appeared dark due to the huge windows covered with louvered shades. She found that with the shades pulled up and the 5-foot-by-5-foot skylight atop the pyramid roof, light streams in. All of that light and a Juliet balcony convinced Caitlin she could make the space her own.

Caitlin recently took on updating the kitchen with some new paint to see what longterm renovations she might need to save for and make. Relying on the power of color to wipe away the gloomy brown, her goal was to freshen the kitchen so she could enjoy a light, bright space and consider how she and her daughter moved around it and used it every day. The transformation the paint made in her space is inspiring. Caitlin now has the motivation to fully inhabit the kitchen and consider other longterm investments. She says the bright, glossy white and deep blue is a color palette she’s excited to live with for a long time. She made this spring refresh project her priority one weekend and was thrilled with the coverage and quality of the . The thickness of the paint and the smooth coverage made the tedious task of painting cabinets with bevels a one-day project. Caitlin took a “whole lot of brown” and quickly made it a gorgeous space for her and her daughter to call home. –Lauren


When Caitlin first toured her 1970s home, she loved the high ceilings of the hip roof topped with a massive skylight and the open floor plan. But it was very hard for her to get past the monochromatic brown that touched every inch of the interior.
Caitlin envisioned a bright kitchen with glossy cabinetry, but after pricing out fancy cabinets, she decided that a paint update made much more sense. As a new homeowner, the last thing she wanted to do was spend more money and live in a construction zone. Inspired by all of the paint makeovers on D*S, she was confident that some good paint and color would go a long way.
Adding similar tonal colors with pieces of enamelware and house plants helped Caitlin steer away from a coastal feel and towards a more "museum meets lake and forest" vibe.
Caitlin said she was shocked at how difficult envisioning her own space was, given the fact she works here at Design*Droits-Humains - and looking at beautiful spaces is part of her daily duties. She says that she even turned to some Feng Shui books to focus her thinking as she considered color. After many trips to Lowe's, where she spent hours in the , she felt drawn to blues and greens for her kitchen space. Ultimately, she went with a two-tone cabinetry scheme, anchored by the almost-teal of Valspar's Azure Jazz and the brightness of Ultra White in a high-gloss finish.
While the lower cabinetry's blue hue carries the same weight as the previous brown, the glossy brush stoke finish of the Ultra White paint gives the upper cabinetry (and its dated bevel) a new twist. Caitlin says she likes the contrast of the modern look of the bright white paint that captures the light, combined with more delicate brass hardware and the heaviness of the lower cabinets.
Caitlin says, "I toyed with the idea of open shelving, but I loved the white exterior of the upper cabinets so much that I quickly abandoned the idea. I did leave one set open because the accidental look appealed to me. 'Unfinished' suits my personality and reminds me there's always room for growth and change."
Caitlin continues to experiment with mismatched cabinet hardware, like the oversized coral knobs on this top drawer. She also loves how the Azure Jazz blue cabinet colors change from dark and dramatic to matte and bright, depending on where the sun is. Here an ironing board/plant stand brings a shade of green into the room that makes the kitchen feel more playful to her.
Doing dishes at the window makes Caitlin smile because she can gaze out into a semi-cleared area where the deer roam and bunnies romp.
The two large windows were the perfect area to frame with Farrow and Ball wallpaper remnants Caitlin held onto for years. She says she may eventually paint the beams, which are painted the brown that dominated the house. Grace advised her to live with as much original details in the house as she could stand for a few years before taking on major projects. She removed the dark brown paneling from the peninsula island and is still deciding what the dining area-facing surface should be. For now, she's happy with the rough plywood.

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    I’ve been working on my kitchen renovation for what feels like forever. I love looking at before and afters on here for inspiration. Loving the wallpaper and exposed beams here! I ripped out several ceilings and am working with a juicy beam and open rafters right now, check it out:

  • The transformation here is so fantastic. I also think the ‘unfinished’ cabinet and mismatched hardware has is so great– so clearly an extension of the personality of the homeowner!

  • If I were Caitlin, I wouldn’t be in a big hurry to tear out any paneling until she’s ready to spend the money to replace it. The paneling can always be ainted a lighter color for now. Looks like, aside from the previous owner’s taste for dark colors, the workmanship and quality of the interior is good, so that’s a huge .

  • It is truly amazing what changes can be wrought without spending that much money. Love the paint colors here! That blue is perfect. I also love the mismatched knobs and the open cabinet. Gotta love a little imperfection!

  • This is inspiring. What a wonderful middle road between living with a space that doesn’t feel like you or make you happy and walking into a new home and gutting everything right away. So smart. And it is amazing to see what can be done with a little imagination, some colour, and not very much money. Beautiful.

  • Caitlin, did you ave to prep the cabinets before painting, BROWN is hard to cover particularly with white paint, how many coats did it take? love the colors you chose!!
    thanks for the inspiration hope mine turns out as well as yours has!!

    • Hi Patricia!

      So yes, I was prepared for 3 – 4 coats, especially with the glossy finish, but it literally took 2 coats of the Valspar Reserve line paint. Full disclosure, Lowe’s provided the paint, but I honestly was so impressed by the coverage. I’ve done a lot of last-minute, quickie (kinda bad) paint jobs myself to just change a room and this time I realized that I should have splurged on the best grade paint. I would have saved a lot of time & money.

      The prep I did was simply clean well and a (really) light sanding by hand, both of those took me about 2.5 hours. Then the painting — which took me about 3 hours with me trying to do a good, precise job.

      I’m so happy you like it! My taste is always a little off trend, so your kind words made my day!


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