Before and After: A Dingy Vintage Kitchen Gets a Charming Teal-and-White Redo for $2,000

published Mar 25, 2022
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Before: Dated kitchen with yellow cabinets

An apartment in a big city deserves a calming interior to provide a bit of separation from the bustling outside world. Some favorites? This soft white cloud-themed apartment in NYC and this totally serene, streamlined home in Drammen, Norway.

When Margarita Echenique moved into her 1960s apartment in Chile, she was looking to create an oasis within the city. “This apartment is downtown, in the center of the city of Santiago, which is very noisy and hectic,” she explains. She created a more calming vibe through paint and tile.

When she first visited the apartment, she loved the kitchen’s vintage charm. “I fell in love with the kitchen because of its cabinets,” she says. “I saw a lot of potential in them as they are made of good wood.”

She kept the original cabinets — but raised the upper cabinets by 12 inches. After that, she primed and painted them white, which was a much-needed modern refresh from the brown shades before.

“For the doors —which were already painted in yellow, so we had to paint white first — I used a slightly ash turquoise color from Behr,” Margarita says. She loves how airy and calm the new color scheme is.

In addition to painting, she hired a professional to build a new cabinet to conceal her dishwasher. “He was the best!” she recalls. “He went to five different hardware stores in the city looking for the same cabinet handles, and he found them!”

Adding to the new, bright space are the white subway tile backsplash and the patterned white and gray floors. “For the floor, I got the inspo from a very good quality Chilean company over 80 years old,” Margarita says. “Unfortunately I couldn’t afford it — they are made in a craft process — so I got them from Cordillera (both floor and backsplash).”

Her total costs for the kitchen redo were about $2,000. Margarita says her biggest expense was her new granite countertop, “but it was really worth it.” She saved money for the countertop by using secondhand furniture and accessories — including a new-to-her vintage tap for the sink — and she’s pleased with the airy and modern, yet still quaint look she created.

“The hardest part was making it feel new but conserving the original identity,” she says. “I think mixing styles was the key.”