Before and After: This Kitchen Has a Radically Different Look

updated May 3, 2019
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Let’s be real: This about-to-be-renovated kitchen is far nicer than any kitchen I’ve ever had, so much so that I kept putting ‘after’ labels on the ‘before’ photos. But now it has a fresh vibe, new appliances, and a radically different look.

After all the before/after confusion, I still had to double-check that this was the same view as the top image. It is the same camera angle, but every other thing has been changed. The floors are now glossy white (“Resene Sureseal followed by two coats of Resene Enamacryl”), which Google tells me are an Australian “pigmented, solventborne, alkali-resistant, penetrating sealer” and a “gloss waterborne enamel,” respectively. The counters are tiles and reclaimed rimu (a New Zealand conifer), and the walls are porcelain tiles that look like concrete. There’s even a new pantry, just out of view on the left of this photo, that used to be a closet in the adjacent bedroom.

Clever! This major overhaul was created by Unna Burch of The Forest Cantina (Instagram: @the_forest_cantina) and husband Aaron.

Let’s go back to the kitchen before; here’s how Hanna describes it, acknowledging that it was pretty nice but pointing out its invisible-in-photographs weaknesses:

It was definitely cute and had some real Kiwi kitchen charm—but it didn’t function to it’s full potential. It lacked bench space, had no storage (no pantry and only four small drawers), the wall cupboards had weird divisions on the inside so you couldn’t store anything taller than a tin can, and any painted surfaces; the window, skirtings, and inside cupboards were all chipped and worn.

Look how gorgeous that window frame is now! It took Unna tons of time and elbow grease to strip it, but the results are glowing and (I hope) worth it. Unna and Aaron did all of the tiling themselves, and the results are impressive. I am on-record as being stressed out by tiled kitchen counters but even I have to admit that these look fantastic. The petite grid pattern throughout the kitchen is super cute and poppy. A much bigger factor is the removal of the wall with the arch! The kitchen now includes a breakfast bar and flows into the dining room. I also enjoy the way the white dishwasher disappears into the cabinetry; metallic appliances are so in-demand right now, it’s nice to be reminded that the white and black models still have their place.

This is the old stove area—the corner spot is sweet and cozy.

Now the stove is where the wall cabinets were; it did seem like the counterspace under those hanging cabinets might be difficult to use, as they were rather low. Now open shelving holds all the pretty dishes, and the new pantry and island provide a ton of additional storage. Those faux concrete tiles on the wall are so envy-inducing—they’re soft and subtle in appearance yet hard and durable in actuality. They look beautiful with the silver of the appliances and, along with all the wood, add an irresistible warmth to the kitchen.

Thank you, Unna Burch and The Forest Cantina!