Before & After: A “Go With Your Gut” Kitchen Remodel

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(Image credit: Submitted by Spenser )

Spenser saw this mid century property and new that even though it needed some updates, it would be well worth the time, money and effort. Working on a tight timeline, they laid out their vision for a versatile yet stylish kitchen that honored the homes roots and got to work creating an open and breezy space out of a cramped ’80s kitchen.

(Image credit: Submitted by Spenser )

From Spenser: We bought a 1964 mid-century modern home in foreclosure. It was pretty rough, but that didn’t scare me. I saw the home layout and the beauty of its bones. It looked like someone had remodeled the kitchen in the 1980s, lots of heavy drapery, elaborate crown molding, dark granite countertops. The kitchen cabinets were extremely dated, and there were WAY too many in the space. It was very dark! There was a wall separating the living room from the kitchen, lined with even more kitchen cabinets.

I wanted to restore this mid century back to how it should be – open and bright. The one feature I wanted to keep was the suspended track lighting (consisting of about 10-12 can lights). I had to keep some feature of the home, and I wanted a statement piece. With a fresh coat of paint, that lighting would come to make the kitchen.

(Image credit: Submitted by Spenser )

The process took about four months. We more or less gutted the whole house. The day the place came on the market (probably the ONLY mid-century modern home in rural Greeneville, Tennessee) we went and looked at it and put in an offer. The following week I searched for a contractor who could understand my vision and take on the project. We were working with limited time as we had to be out of our other house pretty fast. In total the kitchen remodel was probably around $20,000. It sounds like a lot, but because we bought the home in foreclosure, it was feasible. The company we hired to do the work, Reliable Building Services, totally understood my vision.

(Image credit: Submitted by Spenser )

My favorite elements of the new kitchen are the countertops and the suspended track lighting. I went with sleek flat faced cherry cabinets and I was set on having a waterfall countertop. I wanted something bright, sleek, and modern. I was getting tired of seeing the white shaker cabinet kitchen designs and wanted to do something that would be unique. We had remodeled our previous kitchen with white shaker-style cabinets and they dirtied so easily! I knew having the flat faced wood cabinet doors would be our best bet,especially with a new baby.

I love the different elements of the kitchen. I like to mix materials a lot. I went back and forth on whether or not to keep the suspended track lighting and I am SO glad I did. It totally makes this kitchen and house! It definitely adds a wow factor. There is something neat about mixing the old with the new. Also, I am big on geometry and shapes and lines. I am a nuclear engineer and I feel like shapes and lines and dimensions are all throughout my designs. I see math, numbers, and shapes in everything.

(Image credit: Submitted by Spenser )

If I were to do it all again I would try not to second guess all my design decisions so much! Through the process, I would constantly ask my husband, “did I make the right decision?” or “oh no, I don’t know if I should have done that!” After the work was complete and the designs were set in place, I realized that everything was just perfect. There is not one thing I would change. Always go with your gut and don’t hesitate to make decisions quickly. I am a planner and so working with such a short timeline, I felt like I was rushed to make all this fast design decisions. It actually worked out in my favor, because typically your first decision is the best decision. I am glad I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and stew about things. I had to make decisions quickly and it turned out beautifully.

(Image credit: Submitted by Spenser )

Spenser’s words of wisdom: Don’t be afraid to be different! My style isn’t for everyone, especially in the area we live, where traditional design reigns. A lot of people may not understand my vision and love for mid-century design, and that’s ok! I enjoy going off the beaten path and I enjoy having something that isn’t like the rest. It’s OK to be unique! That’s the beauty of things.

(Image credit: Submitted by Spenser )


Contractor: Reliable Building Services, Inc. in Greeneville, TN

Kitchen Cabinets: Kraftmaid

Countertops: Hard Rock Stone & Tile in Johnson City, TN.

Photography: Amber King

Appliances: Samsung Black Stainless Steel

Thank you, Spenser!