This Dated Kitchen’s Dramatic Makeover Is One of My All-Time Favorite Transformations

published May 31, 2024
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wood walled and wood cabinet kitchen before makeover
Credit: Krista Stooksbury

I will forever sing the praises of paint as a makeover tool, but sometimes when I take on a new project I am newly reminded of just how incredible the impact of fresh paint can be. Recently, I’ve been working on a makeover of my dining room as part of the One Room Challenge and while I haven’t quite finished, it already looks dramatically different after just a few changes. The biggest difference-maker? I painted over the old ivory-colored paint with a brighter white, which made the room look bigger and like it had way more natural light (even though I did nothing to change the windows!). Even just one coat in, my husband and I saw an instant difference between the old color and new.

The experience reminded me of this from-the-archives before and after, which is an all-time favorite of mine. This wood-paneled kitchen’s “before” is dated, dark, and cave-like — not generally something you want out of a kitchen! But instead of doing an expensive gut renovation and scrapping those wood cabinets or peeling off that extremely ’80s wall paneling, the homeowners decided to work with what they had. Their solution for turning a dated kitchen into a space that felt lively and modern? Paint, of course. The after shows how they used paint in a couple of different ways to give the kitchen an entirely new life for a much lower cost than replacing everything outright.

Credit: Krista Stooksbury

In white, rather than a knotty orange, the wood-paneled walls don’t look so imposing. Instead, they almost seem to open up (while still maintaining all the coziness of textured wood walls). While white cabinets are a go-to for many intrepid DIYers (and for good reason!), I love the choice to go with a bold black here. It makes this space feel totally modern.

For more information on this kitchen makeover, you can check out the full before and after here.

Ready to start your own paint project? Here’s everything you need to know about painting a room.