Before & After: A Modest Galley Kitchen Makeover

published Mar 13, 2009
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(Image credit: Leah Moss)

Let’s just say the kitchen was not what attracted us to our new home. Country rooster decor was in abundance and so were peeling vinyl floor tiles, 80s lace valances, and honey-stained cabinetry — not exactly our dream kitchen. However, coming out of grad school, we weren’t really in a position for a total dream kitchen remodel, so we prioritized our list of essential updates, enlisted a handyman friend, and went to work…


1 Before & After views.

2 After. Our house was built in the 40s so we wanted to bring back some of the vintage vibe, but in a subtle, updated way. So, out came the neon overhead light, and up went the reproduction old school pendants. We also replaced the dated cabinet pulls with retro looking ceramic ones.

3 Before. All the warm dark colors made the kitchen feel dingy, and since we love to cook we’d needed a clean color scheme that we could live with. To cut down on costs, we decided to keep all the appliances — thankfully, all in working condition — and work our color palette to suit them.
4 Before. Aside from the color scheme, the damaged floor tiles and the oddly fitted counter tops — they extended about 5 inches over where the cabinets ended — were our main hang ups. We wanted the new surfaces to have a clean, streamlined look, but I’m a messy cook, so white was definitely out of the question. Black was perfect!

5 After. We sanded and painted the cabinetry to refresh the space. Originally we planned on putting all the cabinet doors back on once they were painted, but we decided to leave off the ones where we keep our dishes in order to open up the cramped galley. Also, we stuck to a very limited cool, color palette: whites, black, and silver.


6 Before: Muted browns everywhere! and After: Clean and Bright!

7 Although I’m not crazy about the look of crowding mini-appliances together, I wanted all the counter space I cook get, so clustering them was the best way to achieve a nice expanse of workable space. The stainless steel color helps them to more or less read as one.

8 The absolute black granite counters were our splurge. They added a lot to the look of our otherwise modest kitchen. The magnetic spice rack is one of my favorite parts about the kitchen. Visually, they add color and variety, and I love being able to have all the spices accessible.

9 We don’t have space for a traditional pantry, so we use one of the overhead cabinets for canned and dry goods. Also, I borrowed a tip from my mother-in-law and hang Christmas card photos, birth announcements, and save the date pics from friends on the interior of the doors. We’re in the season of life where lots of friends are getting married and having kids, and I love all the pictures they send us of their landmark events. However, a fridge can only take so much clutter, so I like this tucked away photo gallery. Every year, we switch out the pictures with the new ones we’re sent.

10 Counter space is coveted, so everything that could be mounted was.

(Images: Leah Moss)