Before and After: A Builder-Grade Kitchen Gets a Bespoke Boho Redo for $2,500

published Jul 17, 2023
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About this before & after
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natural wood cabinets, island, double door fridge with freezer drawer, carpet stairs, pantry closet door, window, metal hood vent, white walls, glass cabinet doors, black railing

If you’re looking to personalize your builder-grade kitchen without having to change too much, this redo by DIY power couple Adaeze (@adaezenoelle) and Chad Brinkman is like a DIY textbook for maximum impact, minimum budget that you should study. 

When Adaeze and Chad moved into their new-build home, they asked their builder “to pretty much do zero upgrades, because they would have been way more expensive than just doing it all ourselves,” Adaeze explains.

That meant that once Adaeze and Chad stepped inside, this kitchen (and the entire main floor) “was pretty much a blank slate,” Adaeze says. It took multiple DIY projects to make it feel a little more cool and custom. 

The first (and most impactful) step was bringing the cabinets all the way to the ceiling, Adaeze says. “I’d never understood the space above kitchen cabinets and have always wanted to take my cabinets up to the ceiling once I was in my dream home,” Adaeze says. “I’d never done it before. I just knew I would figure out how, and I did!”

Adaeze and Chad used plywood and scrap wood for their cabinet extensions, which required careful measuring and cutting. “We marked the ceiling studs in the kitchen so that we knew where to attach wood pieces that would act as brackets for the cabinet extension,” Adaeze explains. “We then attached scrap pieces of wood behind the existing tops of the cabinets, which the ceiling wood pieces were lined up to.”

The couple painted the cabinet extensions and bodies of the cabinets black (Behr’s Warm Onyx) and left the doors light for some contrast. “We wanted whatever cabinet/drawer pulls we used to match the dramatic height of the cabinets, so we bought extra long gold pulls,” Adaeze adds. And the gold hardware matches perfectly with the new gold pendant lights above the island and the new black and gold sink.

There’s also gold detail in the backsplash, and installing the luxe marble feature was a DIY first for Adaeze. “I’d never done backsplash before,” she says. “Chad cut our tile pieces, and I attached them to the wall with mud and also grouted in between them.” (They opted for gold grout and gold edging on the backsplash to match the other gold shimmery details in the kitchen.)

“I’ve always somewhat considered tiling to be a bit of an intimidating thing, but I very much enjoyed the process and learned so much!” Adaeze says, adding that opting for extra-large marble tile helped them cover the area faster and matched the drama of the space.

For the only wall space that isn’t “backsplashed,” Adaeze hand-painted an African-inspired wallpaper pattern, using black paint leftover from the the cabinets. She also DIYed a wooden plant hanger above the sink using a birch wood stalk and two plant brackets from the hardware store. Adaeze completed the space with velvet emerald and gold barstools for the island.

All of the changes to the kitchen aren’t purely aesthetic. The backsplash makes cleaning the wall a lot easier after cooking splashes, new soft-close attachments to all of the cabinets make for quieter closing, and an added pull-out drawer trash can in one of the lower cabinets clears up floor space (and hides the garbage).

But one of Adaeze’s favorite features are the to-the-ceiling cabinet extensions, which mean she won’t have to climb on counters or a ladder to clean out cobwebs in a random open space above the cabinets. “The black and wood is so cozy while being bold and striking,” she says. It’s a match for the hand-painted black-and-wall that’s another of her favorite elements in the new kitchen. “Everyone who comes in who doesn’t know I made it asks where we got it!” she says. 

The final touch in this new, vibrant kitchen? Lots of plants, of course! To follow Adaeze and Chad’s lead and perfect your own plant-filled kitchen, check out these five sage pieces of advice.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.