Before and After: Sleek IKEA Cabinetry Modernizes and Maximizes a Brown Kitchen from the ’90s

published Aug 6, 2022
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Before: brown wooden kitchen cabinets
Credit: Sarah Ames

Kitchen cabinets can really make or break a kitchen. By painting them or replacing them, you can totally change the vibe in your space without touching counters or appliances or flooring.

Credit: Sarah Ames

Sarah Ames’ (@thesamesstyle) kitchen redo is great proof. “The kitchen was original to the house, which was built in 1999,” Sarah says, and its oak cabinets with their curved colonial fronts were certainly showing their age. In addition, the wall opposite the appliances was totally blank, with no storage whatsoever.

“There was a ton of wasted space,” she says.

Credit: Sarah Ames

By replacing her ’90s cabinets with white IKEA SEKTIONs (and installing a countertop and cabinet on the opposite wall), Sarah and her husband modernized and maximized their kitchen. Their countertops and appliances from before look totally new again!

Although they initially wanted to replace them, keeping the same counters “was a big cost saver,” Sarah says.

Credit: Sarah Ames

From the time she started planning to installation, her kitchen redo took about one month. “Fortunately we did not have any setbacks,” she says. “We designed the kitchen using the IKEA kitchen planner, ordered the cabinets, and demolished the kitchen in between that. We did the design ourselves but had a contractor install the cabinets for us.”

Credit: Sarah Ames

One of Sarah’s favorite parts of her new kitchen storage is the drawers on the bottom. “I find drawers in a kitchen are so much better for storage compared to the usual kitchen cupboards,” she says.

Sarah also loves the added cabinetry across from the appliances. “Can you believe this wall was originally empty when we bought this house?” Sarah wrote on Instagram. It really never made sense that it had NOTHING on it. What a waste of space. Especially because there was more than enough room to have a full-depth counter… I’m so happy we added it because we gained over 7 feet of counter space plus all the storage space that comes along with that.”

Credit: Sarah Ames

For the countertop on that wall, Sarah and her husband did not choose to go with matching granite. “Instead, we added a gray counter that pulled the same gray that was found in the granite counter,” she explains. “This was a great opportunity to add some fun color blocking and a feature to the space.”

In addition to the crisp white color scheme (including a new white subway tile backsplash), also helping to modernize the kitchen are the new black pulls and the black faucet, which create stark contrast. However, “there is one lower drawer where I chose to put an extra large drawer pull on,” Sarah says. “It looks great on all the other lower drawers, but where this particular one is located it stands out too much and doesn’t blend in with the rest of the corner.”

Credit: Sarah Ames

If she could change one thing about the space, it would be that drawer pull, but she is mostly very pleased with her kitchen transformation. Her favorite part of the redo? The appliance garage! “It was the best design idea and such a counter space saver,” Sarah says. “There’s no reason to have all your appliances out on the counter. I will never have a kitchen without one.”

It’s yet another reason her new cabinetry made a major difference. In keeping with this, Sarah’s kitchen renovation advice is to marry form and function. “Take time to live in your space before making a design plan,” she says. “Understanding the functionality of your space is vital to making the best design ideas.”