This Kitchen’s “Dull” Oak Cabinets Completely Transform with a Lively Color

published Apr 10, 2024
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Kitchen before renovation.
Credit: Kaarin Joy

From pink enthusiasts to extreme kitch enthusiasts, Apartment Therapy has featured some incredibly stylish maximalists, and often, it took paint, peel-and-stick materials, and lots of DIY projects for these homeowners to create their colorful homes.

When artist and content creator Kaarin Joy moved into a builder-grade home in Texas with her husband, it was clear the kitchen wouldn’t fit her eclectic, colorful style. Her social media channels are chock-full of vibrant shots of DIY projects that usually have lots of color, fun shapes, and whimsical features (like this handmade crayon chandelier, which has over 150,000 likes on TikTok alone!), and she knew she’d need to leave her mark on the kitchen.

Credit: Kaarin Joy

“The kitchen was very plain,” Kaarin says. The cabinets were that light oak wood that was really popular when our home was built, but I saw the potential. I knew with some paint the cabinets could be brought back to life.”

Credit: Kaarin Joy

Knowing how much time she and her husband spend in the kitchen, Kaarin wanted the space to feel “bright and happy” while keeping costs low, as a full renovation wasn’t in the budget. Kaarin pulled together her inspiration for the new space, enlisted the help of her husband and a friend, and got to work DIYing the entire space.

“I wanted it to feel joyful above all. I kind of went for a colorful diner vibe with the black and white tiles,” Kaarin explains. “The black and white made it easy to add more color with the cereal on the wall, and the spoon chandelier. I wanted to be able to step foot in the kitchen, and feel like I was at home inside my own mind.”

Credit: Kaarin Joy

It took some time for the couple to find the perfect cabinet paint color, but Kaarin wanted to start there because she “could not stand how bland the cabinets made the rest of the kitchen feel.” She and her husband chose Sherwin Williams’ Mesclun Green for the cabinets and painted them, which took longer than anticipated.

Next up was painting the walls. Even though Kaarin’s style is considered maximalist, she appreciates how Sherwin Williams’ Extra White wall paint brightens the space and allows the other details, like the green wall squiggle, cereal bowl wall art (a project she originally went viral for!), and DIY spoon chandelier, to stand out. 

Naturally, the spoon chandelier happens to be Kaarin’s favorite piece in the kitchen — even though it took her a long time to complete. She spent weeks using a mold to make the spoons out of resin, drilling holes into the bottoms of them, and mounting them onto the chandelier. 

Credit: Kaarin Joy

Kaarin added peel-and-stick floor tiles, an IKEA dining table, and fruit stools (which she had collected over a long period) for the finishing touches. It’s hard for her to pinpoint exactly how much she spent on the kitchen makeover, as she took on projects over a long span of time, but she says she spent around $300 on the peel-and-stick tiles and another $300 on the chandelier materials alone. “I’ve tried to be very reasonable with more affordable options, like peel-and-stick tile, and doing all the labor myself,” she says. 

“I hope my place can encourage others that adding color to a space doesn’t have to be scary or super expensive! You can start with a white wall, and add so many touches of color that it feels like you painted,” she says. “There is so much you can learn to do yourself that will save you so much money. Transforming a space doesn’t have to be immediate — take a month and slowly work on things. You can do it!”

Credit: Kaarin Joy

Now that the kitchen’s finished, Kaarin admits that “it’s hard to be in a bad mood while you’re cooking in this kitchen.” And that feeling is consistent throughout the entirety of her colorful home — if you want to see more, visit the full home tour on Apartment Therapy here

This post originally appeared on The Kitchn. See it there: Before & After: Colorful Cabinets and Diner Vibes Add Instant Joy to a “Dull” Kitchen