Before and After: A Smart Redo Makes This 1969 A-Frame’s Kitchen Feel Much Larger

published May 30, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
A-frame kitchen before renovation: pale green cabinets with black pulls, brown tile countertops and backsplash/wall, one wood counter.
Credit: Erika Cash

A-frame houses are picturesque, quirky, and totally cozy, but they can also come with steep angles that can be tricky to design around. To see how real homeowners have styled their steep-roofed spaces, check out this light and airy California retreat, this orange A-frame in upstate New York, and this cozy Pacific Northwest-based home.

Credit: Erika Cash

Homeowner Erika Cash’s (@shadypines_aframe) cozy-chic 1969 A-frame in Rimforest, California (in particular, its kitchen) is another beauty, but it didn’t always feel so chic. “The kitchen cabinetry was dirty and damaged from years of use and neglect,” Erika says. The original cabinetry showed wear and tear, not to mention layers of paint, and the kitchen felt a bit cramped with a layout that featured all of its appliances on one side. Moreover, there was no dishwasher, and the only light source in the kitchen was a small bathroom vanity light.

In an $8,000 redo, Erika and her husband, Aaron, reconsidered the layout to better suit the small space. “This is the first full-kitchen renovation we have done,” she says. They started with a demo of the old cabinets, replacing them with new IKEA SEKTION cabinets, new appliances, and open shelving.

Credit: Erika Cash

Where the live-edge countertop once was, Erika and Aaron added a lighter and brighter quartz countertop, and Erika says “the kitchen is bright, clean, and so functional” now. As for the original live-edge countertop, fret not: Erika and Aaron saved that and turned it into a floating desk elsewhere in the A-frame. New white paint (Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace) helps add even more of a bright, open feel.

Erika says the remodeled kitchen is the perfect blend of new materials that still work with the cabin’s rustic, old-school vibe. “It was important to honor the home’s era, so we tried to choose modern elements that you might find during the time the home was built and within our budget,” Erika says. And not only were her and Aaron’s design choices timeless, they were also small space-friendly. 

Credit: Erika Cash

The couple chose a paneled refrigerator and moved the microwave to avoid having a wall of appliances, or “to avoid the side of the kitchen looking like an appliance store,” as Erika puts it. They also added an 18-inch dishwasher and storage under the new quartz countertops. “There is plenty of storage and counter space,” Erika says.

Her advice for renovating a small kitchen? Dimensions are key. “The measurements had to be so precise,” Erika says, and she and Aaron had a friend who knew how to use SketchUp to help them map everything out. This ensured the newly added dishwasher could open and not hit the handle of the oven, for example. The one close call they had was that the fridge almost wouldn’t fit under the wooden beam in the kitchen. (“About 2 centimeters from not fitting,” Erika recalls.) This was especially concerning because Aaron had driven about 10 hours to purchase the fridge due to supply chain issues.

Credit: Erika Cash

Luckily, it fit, but Erika’s takeaway is clear: “Don’t forget to consider these tiny elements that can create large headaches and setbacks,” she says. The part of the project that was easier than expected was removing the tan tile. 

“There was minimal drywall damage to repair,” Erika says. “And we assumed we may have to replace large sections, which fortunately wasn’t the case!” The new white walls and open shelving “create space and light within the kitchen,” she adds. 

Credit: Erika Cash

Space and light are the two key words for this simple-but-chic cabin kitchen. “So far, we wouldn’t change a thing!” Erika says. 

Inspired? Submit your own project here.