Before and After: A Cabinet Overhaul Helps This ’70s Kitchen Maximize Space and Natural Light

published Jan 26, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Outdated kitchen before being renovated

A few things to love from the ’70s, design-wise? Macrame, rattan, funky patterns — even conversation pits. A few things that certainly aren’t missed from the decade? Orange-toned everything, florescent lighting, and bland laminate countertops.

Unfortunately, Jenessa Weaver’s 1977 kitchen had several not-so-fun-or-funky ’70s details, and she was looking for a change. So she enlisted the help of her childhood best friend, Alysha, designer and owner of Camp Interiors.

“This house is a true ’70s home with a very ’70s kitchen,” Alysha says. “From the mustard linoleum floors, laminate counter tops, a huge fluorescent troffer light, and last but not least, the ‘boob light,’ this kitchen was practically screaming for a makeover.”

Jenessa and her husband bought the home with the intention to tackle the kitchen first. “It was time go out with the old and in with the new,” Alysha recaps.

Although the kitchen was relatively spacious, it felt yellower and smaller than necessary thanks to the brown cabinetry, yellow floors, and low-hanging light. Alysha made a few suggestions to Jenessa for how the space could feel completely new again, and Jenessa’s contractor father helped bring the project to the finish line. The vision? “Farmhouse charm,” Alysha describes — plus functionality.

Jenessa’s redo took about six months to complete. “At the time, the biggest setbacks were the lead times on everything due to COVID,” Alysha recalls. First up was removing the giant troffer light, which made the ceilings feel about a foot shorter than they actually were. Jenessa replaced that with can lighting and a pendant in the center of her kitchen. Removing the bulky light allowed room for taller cabinets that stretch all the way up to the ceiling, helping to elongate the whole space.

The cabinet, wall, and trim color this time is a much more timeless white (Behr’s Poetic White), which brightens the room and helps reflect light coming in from the window, as do the large white farmhouse sink, the white subway tile backsplash, and the off-white quartz counters. (For more ways to brighten a dark room, check out these five ideas.)

The cabinets up top are glass-front, and Alysha suggested swapping the ones in the right corner for open shelving, all of which helps to make things feel lighter and airier in the room. Meanwhile, the brown hardwood floors are a much more contemporary step into the future and help to anchor the space.

But one of the most impressive design feats given this kitchen’s age is that much of the footprint didn’t change. The sink and dishwasher stayed in the same spot, meaning no major plumbing changes were necessary there, and the range is in the same spot. (Now, it’s a stainless steel range with a sleek hood, not surrounded by cabinets, which certainly lends to the sleeker look.) The fridge did move into a now-recessed wall, and when the Weavers moved in, they took down a wall between the kitchen and a dining area to allow for a large island.

“Removing the wall separating the kitchen from the dining room and adding the island provided much more work space and also created a gathering space for hosting friends and family,” Alysha says.

The island also makes up for any storage that was lost with the removal of the upper cabinets. “I sketched out on a small piece of paper how [Jenessa] could design the cabinetry along the walls and include the island,” Alysha recalls. (Looking to create an island yourself but don’t have the ample space Jenessa did? Here are 11 small kitchen island ideas that’ll have the same effect.)

“It is so much brighter, inviting, and now a great hosting space,” Alysha says of the kitchen and its new additions. “It’s a place where my friend and her family spend time in every day.”