The 12 Most Amazing Kitchen Makeovers of 2023

published Dec 14, 2023
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Kitchen with chunky wooden shelving

With so many elements to consider — from the appliances and the flooring, to the countertop and the cabinets — a kitchen renovation is one of the most difficult home projects anyone can take on. First and foremost, a kitchen is a functional space — but aesthetics have value here, too. After all, if you love to cook and spend tons of time in your kitchen, you’ll want to make sure that it perfectly suits your needs and tastes (routine-wise, and design-wise). 

While it may sound daunting to redo your kitchen, DIYers have shown this year that it can be done (beautifully and, often, on a dime!) through our Before and After series. Here are the top 12 stylish-meets-savvy kitchen redos of 2023.

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1. A $1,400 Kitchen Redo Proves the Power of Paint Projects

Kitchens tended to be a lot smaller back in the day, and that was certainly the case in Guerin Piercy’s home. The home was built in 1941, and believing the cook space to be the major deal-breaker, Guerin decided to see its good attributes and “make a change,” as she says, through lots of DIYs. The kitchen proves that thoughtful design details can still exist in teeny-tiny kitchens, witnessed through the lovely wallpaper mural that takes center stage. “What could be better than feeling like you’re in a wooded wonderland while you scramble eggs on your (working) stovetop?” she says. And to make her refrigerator more beautiful, she hot-glued magnets to the backs of picture frames and displayed them all over her fridge.

Credit: Hannah Froberg
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2. After This Gray Kitchen’s Sunny Redo, Every Hour Is Golden Hour

Because neutral (think: white, black, navy, and charcoal) kitchens often reign supreme in the design world, it’s refreshing when someone takes a color risk with a space, which is what Hannah Fröberg (@myplaceincolour) did in her kitchen. Awash in sunny shades of yellow, the renter managed to make her Swedish apartment’s kitchen her own through fairly straightforward DIY projects, like putting up retro peel-and-stick wallpaper and painting items she already had on hand. “It makes cooking more fun, it makes morning coffee taste better, and it’s more fun to keep the kitchen clean when it looks like this!” she says.

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3. A Smart Redo Makes This 1969 A-Frame’s Kitchen Feel Much Larger

A-frame houses, even though they’re oh-so charming, do carry some quirky space issues. After all, when your home is shaped like a triangle, you can expect to feel a little squished here and there, like in Erika Cash’s (@shadypines_aframe) 1969 A-frame kitchen. The layout was undoubtedly cramped, so the kitchen needed a refresh to open up the space — and Erika’s smart makeover did exactly that. She replaced the old-school cabinets with IKEA ones, swapped in new appliances, and included open shelving for storage. The white paint also made things airier. Opting for small, Euro-sized appliances saves even more square footage — an ingenious idea to steal for small-space dwellers.

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4. A ’90s Kitchen’s Makeover Stylishly Maximizes Its 88 Square Feet

While the ’90s don’t sound all that far away from 2023, the separation is enough for a kitchen to look dated. That was true of Virginia Chamlee’s (@vchamlee) condo kitchen. Originally painted in a shade of brown that would have been popular in 1996, Virginia brought brown into the modern age with a semi-translucent quartz backsplash in a warm mahogany shade. The statement-making backsplash perfectly matches the cool new geometric cabinet pulls. To save space, “We got rid of the existing appliances and replaced them with a European-sized fridge and dishwasher,” Virginia adds.

5. This Dramatic Kitchen Redo Is the Work of Creative, Budget-Savvy Renters

As a renter, it can be difficult to make something your own because you aren’t allowed to modify a whole lot. But with some creativity, it can be done, as seen through this kitchen reimagined by Lily (@komposition_official) and her husband, Evan. The duo turned to renter-friendly hacks to level up the visuals in the space. This included replacing the old linoleum floors with vinyl plank ones, painting the cabinets white, and installing new pulls. “This was definitely a time-consuming job, as we had to remove, sand, and paint each piece, but the payoff was HUGE, and the cost was extremely low,” Lily says.

Credit: Courtesy of Lily Sawyer
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6. A Plain Kitchen Goes from White to Wow with a Retro-Inspired Makeover

Not everybody is into an all-white kitchen — for instance, Lily Sawyer (@layered.home) wanted something way less neutral. The DIYer saw an opportunity in her apartment kitchen to do some bold pattern mixing, and she accomplished the look in spades. “I wanted the space to have some personality and to connect with nature, hence the use of the Congo Forest wallpaper,” Lily says. Other cosmetic upgrades include black-and-white checkerboard flooring and new upholstery that perfectly matches the wallpaper for a cool camouflaged look.

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7. A Renter-Friendly Kitchen Redo Packs Big Style into 85 Square Feet

It’s true that 85 square feet isn’t a ton of room in general, and it feels even smaller in the context of a kitchen, a shared space that has to fit in a lot of functionality. But 85 square feet was the exact amount of space in Daniella Caruso’s (@casajanara) kitchen, so she had to be creative about her redo. Reflecting on the snoozy “before,” Daniella says, “Sometimes white walls work, but in this case the space felt very bland and washed-out,” which prompted her to play with pattern and color. She went with renter-friendly elements like paint for the cabinets and peel-and-stick wallpaper featuring tigers and peacocks for a cool, colorful, personality-packed refresh.

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8. A Dated Galley Kitchen Gets a Modern, Functional Overhaul for $8,000

With a goal of making the space larger and incorporating as many DIY details as possible, Juliana DeMarici turned her dated galley kitchen into something that’s both functional and stylish. She cleverly made the kitchen feel bigger by removing the wall between the kitchen and living room — but she did remove her upper cabinetry in the process. Using her DIY savvy, Juliana designed and installed floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets along the dining room wall for much-needed storage.

9. A Kitchen with Red Carpet (!) Looks Unrecognizable After a DIY Makeover

Red carpet? In a kitchen? That was a big no for homeowner Darya Karas. Not only was her kitchen’s carpet dated, but it was also covered in years of stains — which is not surprising, as cooking can be messy! Because everything else in the kitchen looked like it traveled in a time machine, too, a top-to-bottom demo was in order. “The important steps included doing demo, installing sheetrock, laying LVT, building and installing the IKEA cabinets, tiling the backsplash, installing new lights, and everything in between,” Darya says of the kitchen makeover, all of which she did herself. Now the kitchen feels sizable and breezy, thanks to white IKEA cabinets and matching white tile. And no more carpet!

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10. This Maximalist Kitchen Makeover Features a Clever $8 Cabinet Hack

Yes, maximalism can live comfortably in a kitchen, proven by this cook space that belongs to Tamzin McGillen (@at_themcgillens). With an original gray-on-gray color palette that didn’t suit Tamzin’s maximalist flights of fancy, the kitchen required a personality zap. Tamzin added lots of elements that brought that character, like new hardware, an on-trend backsplash, and cheeky artwork. She even added pink stripes on the glass fronts of her cabinets with an $8 masking tape hack. “I’m really pleased with the masking tape hack,” Tamzin says of her clever DIY. “The pop of fluorescent pink has really elevated the scheme.”

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11. A Rental Kitchen Keeps Its 1960s Cabinets in This $600 Refresh

Lest you think you need to spend thousands of dollars to achieve a new kitchen, this project from Taylor Jordan (@ktaylorjordan) shows that you can do a lot with a fraction of that. Taylor gave his rental kitchen a totally new look for just $600 total. Because he kept the same cabinets (automatic cost savings!), Taylor turned to peel-and-stick to get the fresh look he wanted. This included his punchy green geometric floor tiles and the black subway tile backsplash. “Rental transformations are possible,” Taylor says, and his makeover proves it.

12. A Gut Reno and a New Layout Make a Cramped Kitchen Way More Usable

If your home has some history, it can be difficult to justify a renovation when all that character is already in place. But to make it feel like your own space, a little refresh is sometimes necessary, and can be done thoughtfully. In her 1808 house, Libby Gudz Reynolds managed to upgrade her kitchen without removing the original charm. The new floating shelves, for example, aren’t new at all — they were built out of old floorboards from the attic. A quartz countertop and marble backsplash bring a more modern sensibility. Describing her style as “moody maximalist,” Libby definitely nailed the look.