Projects & Improvements

Before and After: A Builder-Grade Kitchen Gets a Cozy Cottage Makeover for Just $450

published Nov 20, 2023
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There are lots of different kitchen styles out there, from rustic Italian to industrial to bold and maximalist. And if the hundreds of kitchen makeovers on Apartment Therapy have proved one thing, it’s that you don’t necessarily have to do any major demo to totally change the aesthetic of your kitchen. 

Take this kitchen in Christina Heppard’s home. The “before” was very 2000s and builder-grade, whereas Christina was looking for something more quaint, cozy, almost cottage-y (think: Schoolhouse-meets-Anthropologie-meets-the flea market, shopping-wise).

“Because I cook a lot and spend most of my time in the kitchen, I really wanted to make the kitchen a place I love to spend my time in,” Christina says. “I love the window above the sink. Not to mention all the storage. Other than that, it needed a small makeover.”

Credit: Christina Heppard
Credit: Christina Heppard

The brown 2000s cabinets got three contemporary upgrades.

Christina describes the chocolate brown cabinets from before as dark and outdated. “I changed a few things that I feel make the kitchen more me,” she says. “The first DIY project was painting my kitchen cabinets from oak wood to a pretty sage-y dill green.” (It’s Behr’s Chopped Dill.)

Christina’s best cabinet painting advice is to sample the paint color on your cabinets in many different types of light throughout the day. “I love the shade of green I picked for my cabinets, but I wish I would have tested the paint sample before committing to it because the overhead lights make it look so different throughout the day,” she says.

She sanded all the cabinets, primed, and painted them. “I called many places to see how much it would cost to have a professional paint them, which was not in my budget,” Christina says. “I decided to save my money and do it myself.” After everything dried, she changed the silver hardware on the cabinets and elsewhere for brassy gold. This includes the faucet on her sink, too.

Christina also chose to leave off a couple of her cabinet doors for a more open-shelving look in the kitchen. “I love getting to display some of my more colorful, fun, and eclectic finds,” she says.

Credit: Christina Heppard
Credit: Christina Heppard

Red trim adds contrast.

For a pop of color, Christina opted for sage green’s complement, a brick-meets-cherry red (Behr’s Lingonberry Punch), on the trim. “After painting everything, it felt like a whole new space,” Christina says. “Much warmer.” 

Christina says painting was the hardest part of the kitchen makeover as she was on a tight two-week turnaround time, but that it made a world of difference. “Don’t be afraid to paint everything a fun color,” she advises. “It’s very fun and well-worth it.”

Credit: Christina Heppard

Paint also improved the backsplash.

Before, “the kitchen counter and backsplash were both black, which again [was] too much and too dark,” Christina says. And once again, paint came to the rescue here. 

“I bought a can of white tile paint and went to town,” Christina says. “I like that the backsplash feels brighter now against the black countertop.” 

Credit: Christina Heppard
Credit: Christina Heppard

Two eclectic touches add the final je ne sais quoi.

There are two last details that Christina is proud of in the space. First, the stained glass pendant above the sink, and second is the handmade sink skirt. 

“In front of the sink was a small light fixture that had not been touched in years,” Christina says of the former. “Instead of taking it out and dealing with electrical problems, I sourced a vintage stained glass lampshade on Etsy.” Christina adds that the colors of the stained glass help tie the room all together. 

And as for the hand-sewn sink skirt, she says: “I was having trouble buying a sink skirt that would be the right length. I went on Etsy, found window curtains I liked, and bought the size closest to my sink dimensions.” She pulled out her needle and thread and hemmed them a bit, and she says it was much easier than expected. “I just want to add a sink skirt everywhere,” she jokes, and says it adds “a more charming, European feel.”

In total, Christina’s DIY-packed redo cost $450. “What I love about the after is the way it makes me feel like I was transported to some cottage in Paris,” she says. “The colors feel warm, the vibes are cozy, and I’m so proud of how it came together in the end.”