Before and After: This $750 Kitchen Redo Uses Pole Wrap in a Fresh Way

published Dec 19, 2023
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Living in the hustle and bustle of a big city like New York can be an incentive to create a calming, serene environment at home, and one way to do this is to take inspiration from Scandinavian design (think: natural materials, muted color palettes, and soft lighting).

This is exactly what DIY fan Mary Cullinane (@marycul22) did when she transformed her Upper West Side kitchen into a space from an all-white, unfunctional room to a calm and cozy Scandi-inspired space.

“I bought this Upper West Side apartment with the hope of updating it without a large investment. The kitchen needed the most help,” Mary says. “It is a very unusual shape and is really all about function.”

The fake wood countertops and the decorative fruit tiles were two of the elements that dated the old kitchen the most, and updating them was a first-time DIY for Mary. 

Budget-savvy cabinet and countertop upgrades make the biggest difference.

Mary upgraded the countertops with epoxy to give them a stone-inspired finish, and she says it’s the “most notable improvement” in the kitchen. “I’m surprised by how fundamentally different the space looks — and the ability to get there without spending thousands and thousands of dollars,” Mary adds. 

Another big surprise factor was how great wood pole-wrap was for creating a Scandi-inspired backsplash. “I did a lot of research on figuring out a realistic way of redoing the backsplash,” Mary recalls. “Given this is a New York City apartment with not a lot of tools and space, the thought of doing the tiling myself was a bit too much,” she says. “Finding the pole wrap solution was a game changer … using the adhesive and the pole wrap saved me hundreds of dollars.”

Adhesive tile on the floor adds personality to the kitchen.

On the floor, Mary placed patterned geometric tiles that not only give the space some depth and character, but also add a retro feel to the kitchen — like if Scandi style met Mad Men.

Using the tile adhesive to stick the flooring down was surprisingly easy, Mary says — the only tricky part was cutting the tiles to have angles to match her wonky-shaped kitchen — but she wishes she had used more adhesive. “I’ve been going back and using a super-glue application that has a micro fine tip,” she says.

Cabinet paint ties it all together.

Mary also primed and painted the once-white cabinets a creamy beige color that ties the warm tones in the room together. “I had painted some of the cabinets before but didn’t use the appropriate primer,” Mary says. “After getting a better solution, the chipping has stopped, and the cabinets look great.

The last thing on her to-do list is replacing the microwave, which she says will happen on a weekend in the near future. In total, the project took her two weekends and just $750, and she did it all solo. Talk about a DIY win! “The kitchen has taken on a whole new vibe,” Mary says. “I don’t feel like I have to build a door to cover it.”