Before and After: This “Country” Kitchen Scraps the Pine Cabinets for a Bold New Look

published Jan 22, 2024
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About this before & after
Home Type
Historic Home
Project Type
Skill Level
Rental Friendly

There’s something distinctly special about living in a historic home. You get all the charm from the house’s past, with the potential to make your mark on the space. That’s precisely what freelance photographer Natalie Jeffcott and her partner did with their 1880s brick home’s kitchen in Melbourne, Australia. They were ready to make their mark. 

When the couple moved into the home, the previous owners had already renovated the kitchen and designed it to look like a “pine country kitchen,” which Natalie didn’t love. So, instead of doing a complete renovation (she and her partner wanted to save some money first), she made cosmetic adjustments, like removing the glass fronts on the cabinets, painting the walls and cabinets a rich dark blue, and swapping out the hardware. 

Before, the layout was limiting.

One of the biggest problems the couple faced with the original 207-square-foot kitchen was that there wasn’t enough counter space for cooking. “As the kitchen is housed in a room rather than an open floor plan, it was also limiting where we could position a dining table,” Natalie shares. 

She always wanted a colorful kitchen with white walls that wouldn’t distract from her vintage jar and tool collection that could be on full display with the open cabinets. She browsed her Pinterest feed for general kitchen inspo, as well as tips on building banquette seating in the corner of the room. 

After living with the original kitchen and then the updated space, it was finally time to renovate the entire room to their liking. Although the couple had planned for their budget, they chose to save some extra cash by doing all of the demolition, wall repair, and painting themselves. “We had a kitchen set up in our living room that we used for 6+ weeks and a BBQ outside,” Natalie shares.

It started with “disgusting” demo.

Doing the demo themselves uncovered some unpleasant surprises. “Demolition of the old cabinetry was disgusting! There was black mold behind some of the existing cabinetry,” Natalie recalls. “The old tiles on the wall were attached with a hardener, so it required a jackhammer to get it off. Repairing the walls and painting was a big job, as the ceiling is very high.” But the couple persevered.

Once it was time for install, the couple worked with the help of professionals, which made the process not only more smooth, but also more enjoyable. They worked with an interior designer for the cabinetry design and layout, a plumber, a flooring specialist and tiler, an upholsterer for the banquette, and a cabinet maker.

The color scheme is much cheerier.

Ultimately, their dark kitchen became a bright, happy sanctuary with a pink backsplash, forest green cabinets, white walls, and wraparound countertops.

“I have a collection of retro, vintage cookie jars and kitchenalia, so I wanted open shelving to display those,” Natalie adds. Plus, there’s a bright mustard banquette for gathering (all for under $28,000).

Banquette seating adds function in more ways than one.

Speaking of the built-in seating, Natalie says it’s the most clever addition because it has drawers underneath for additional hidden storage.

“We love the banquette. As a family of three, it suits us perfectly,” Natalie says. “We can then pull up another two chairs and easily fit six — although we are constantly telling the cats to stop scratching at it!”

Natalie and her partner have clearly mastered the art of adding color into a space without making it feel overwhelming. Have you ever seen a kitchen so fun?