Home Projects

Before and After: A DIY Kitchen Redo Axes “Two Decades Worth of Grease”

published Jan 13, 2020
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Credit: Sheridan Ferrara

Sometimes you love your significant other more than you love their home—and that’s OK! Marrying two different design styles when you move in together is something most every couple has to navigate. But sometimes moving in together shines a light on existing problems with the design and function of a space that might have gone unnoticed with just one person in the home.

That was the case for Sheridan Ferrara, whose now-husband Matt already owned his home when they started dating. “When we first started dating, he warned me of the state of the kitchen,” Sheridan says. Because it was a rental for more than two decades, the house had more than its fair share of quirks—and the cook space was among the worst offenders.

Credit: Sheridan Ferrara

“The cupboards had film of at least two decades of finger and food grease,” Sheridan says, “and the floor was permanently yellow no matter what cleaning products we used.” The layout was a real drag, too: “The counter space was pathetic once a microwave was on the counter and allowed about two feet working space,” says Sheridan.

Credit: Sheridan Ferrara

“And that blank wall!” she adds. “The house is only 850 square feet, so I’m unsure why a dining nook was necessary when the small dining room area was but a mere two feet from the kitchen.” She’d have much preferred for that space to be usable for prep and storage. “Shortly after Matt and I got married, I couldn’t handle the lack of storage, being unable to both help prepare dinner, and the grossness factor was unbelievable,” Sheridan says. An update was 100 percent necessary.

Credit: Sheridan Ferrara

It took about a year for couple to transform the kitchen into something far more beautiful and useful. Matt did almost all the work himself, plumbing, resetting the subfloor, tiling, and installing the cabinetry and countertops; the couple only hired out the drywall installation.

The project was a total gut job, with new flooring and stylish gray cabinetry, plus a new U-shaped layout that offered lots more counter and storage space.

Credit: Sheridan Ferrara

As in most fixer-upper projects, there were some surprises and setbacks along the way—in this case, the discovery of water damage along with dirt and debris stuck in the wall cavities due to poor upgrades in the past. And, says Sheridan, the old electrical was done by an amateur, resulting in wiring that was both dangerous and illegal. Yikes!

Credit: Sheridan Ferrara

Because Matt was working on the kitchen during his free nights and weekends, progress was slow and occasionally had to take breaks to make way for life (and allow for recharging time). To keep cool amidst the chaos, Sheridan swore by three essentials: a microwave, a toaster oven, and a camping stove. But all that effort was worth it, she says: “I love the brighter look, extra storage space, the countertop space, and the chance to show off the major improvement that my husband (and I) worked on for so long!”

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