Before and After: An Early 2000s Kitchen Gets a Sophisticated Revamp for $8,500

published Feb 3, 2021
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Before: Kitchen with brown cabinets, white appliances, and wooden island in center
Credit: Elise Zernis

When you buy a house, sometimes there are things you just know you’re going to change, like a boring bedroom or an empty entryway. For Elise Zernis, the must-change space in her 2002 home was the kitchen. When she bought her home, it was clear that the kitchen hadn’t been updated in the nearly 20 years since the house was built.“We fell in love with the house the moment we saw it, but knew right away we wanted to update the kitchen,” she says. It was  still stuck in the early 2000s, with lots of dark oak cabinets, dated laminate countertops, and appliances that were cracked and leaky. Elise wanted a kitchen that made her happy to be in, and felt more unique to her family.

Credit: Elise Zernis

“We finally decided we had lived with the kitchen as it was for too long,” Elise says. After realizing she had a window of time with a (relatively) clear schedule, she decided to give her kitchen an overdue makeover.

Credit: Elise Zernis

First up: dealing with the cabinets. Elise kept most in place to save on costs, but painted them deep green (Benjamin Moore’s Hunter Green). “If we had it to do over again, I would have budgeted more time for this project,” Elise says.

“Painting the cabinets was a lot of work — cleaning, sanding, priming, sanding, and then three coats of paint — and took a long time.” The effort was worth it, though: With the new color and some modern gold hardware, the cabinets look brand new.

Credit: Elise Zernis

As for uppers, Elise kept some in place but replaced others with open shelving; the swap makes the kitchen look way more spacious.

Elise also added a new subway tile backsplash in an offbeat geometric pattern — a little classic, a little contemporary.

One of the biggest costs in the reno were the new appliances. The stove had a cracked cooktop and the refrigerator was leaking, “so replacing those two was a no brainer,” Elise says; together they cost about $2,700. In an effort to save money, she opted to keep the dishwasher.

Credit: Elise Zernis

Another splurge: white quartz countertops that came out to $4,000. The sleek white looks way more modern, and quartz will resist scratches and stains. For the island, Elise chose a butcher block top bought from a local wood supplier.

Credit: Elise Zernis

The whole project took about three months, and only cost about $8,500 — pretty impressive, considering how major the change was. Now, instead of feeling trapped in the aughts, Elise’s kitchen is 100% 2021.