Before & After: Contrasting Cabinets and Countertops Brightened This Bungalow’s Kitchen

published Sep 1, 2023
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natural wood cabinets, french door fridge stainless steel, double layer island, white countertops, grey tile floor, curved wood chairs at island shelf
Credit: Jessica Kane

When Jessica Kane, a social media marketer, brand builder, and visual storyteller, and her partner, Justin Lehmann, bought their cool California bungalow in 2020, they had big plans for a kitchen renovation. Kane pulled inspiration from dozens of other homes, including this Loz Feliz space with dark countertops and neutral-colored cabinets. 

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“At the time, the trend was to do bright whites and neutrals, and I loved that this felt a bit more unexpected, but still pretty timeless,” Kane shares. “The contrast between the darker countertop and the warmer, creamy paint drew me in, and I felt like it provided a great canvas to incorporate some pops of color, patterns, and gilded accents.”

Kane and Lehmann wanted to breathe new life into their kitchen and remove elements they weren’t the biggest fans of, like the kitchen island extension. They set a budget of $20,000 (excluding the cost of appliances), but the quote for new cabinetry alone blew past that limit.

Not wanting to go over their budget, the couple decided to pivot. “We decided to start from scratch, and instead do what we considered a ‘kitchen facelift’ rather than a full renovation,” Kane writes. Now, she says they don’t plan on doing the entire renovation in the future — because the space is perfect. Here are the stunning changes they made. 

The couple reimagined their cabinet doors. 

One of the biggest updates the couple envisioned was to swap out their brown cabinet doors for something lighter and airier. So, they hired a contractor to sand and paint the cabinets in Dunne Edwards’ “Cream Wave” shade. Then, two of the cabinets were outfitted with glass frames. 

New Silestone countertops paired with the light cabinets add contrast to the kitchen. 

Pulling inspiration from the Los Feliz home, Kane wanted her countertops to be darker. The couple landed on a gray-blue Silestone, a specific brand of quartz; this update is her favorite part of the kitchen. 

“They’re unbelievably durable, and as someone who’s not super careful when she’s cooking, I never have to worry about it staining or scratching during that process,” Kane says about the Silestone countertops. 

Fresh wallpaper complemented the cream-colored cabinets. 

Another major update was having the contractor hang Sarah Sherman Samuel’s Checkerboard Wallpaper. Because the print is ivory and taupe, it blends with the cabinetry, while the pattern makes it pop. 

Plus, this wallpaper is very special to the couple. Even though most of the construction work happened over three weeks, it took Kane and Lehmann nine months to decide on a wallpaper pattern that they both liked. 

Styling choices tied all of the details together. 

Kane and Lehmann also had their contractor install new hardware, a new sink and faucet, a built-in trash drawer, outlets in the island, a new light fixture over the sink, and a hanging glass shelving unit (Kane’s other favorite element about the space). “I’m no expert, but I’m pretty proud of how I styled them, only using existing items in our home,” Kane said. 

Even though Kane and Lehmann didn’t end up sticking to their original plan to fully renovate, their finished kitchen proves the magical benefits of pivoting. Kane refers to their kitchen as “the most important room in the house,” and it’s easy to see based on all the thoughtful care that went into transforming their space. To see more of the home, visit the full house tour on Apartment Therapy.