See How Fresh IKEA Cabinets Make a “Dark, Bleak” Kitchen Bright & Boho

published Mar 27, 2024
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beige outdated kitchen with wood cabinets before remodel

Usually, if a room needs a makeover, creative designer Kara Lauren Kirchhoff (@bohemianenigmadesign) adds jazzy paint and calls it a day. However, paint couldn’t save this tired kitchen in their St. Louis home.

“In my original interview for the Apartment Therapy house tour, I said that the house was ‘old and gross.’ I was specifically referring to the kitchen,” Kara says. “The ‘before’ photos show that it was dark brown, but they don’t show how disgusting the sink, drawers, and cabinets were.”

This was Kara’s first home of their own (they share the space with their two children, Aurora and Fox, too), so it was important for the space to be exactly what they’d dreamt of, unlike the original kitchen that felt “very heavy” and had built-ins, making the room cramped.

Kara says the kitchen needed to be “completely gutted.” Typically, they’d do much of the work themselves, but because the space needed a complete overhaul, they called in some additional help, and found a great budget-friendly compromise for the cabinetry: “I opted for an IKEA kitchen because it’s affordable but also because I knew I could do a lot of the labor myself that way,” Kara says.

The cabinets provided the perfect white canvas to add personality to. “I like to start with a white base and then layer on the colors,” Kara shares. “I knew that I wanted to knock out the wall dividing the kitchen and living room, and I could just see it in my mind’s eye. I like open shelves; I like gas stoves with range hoods; I like bright and airy spaces.”

The modern white, flat-faced IKEA cabinets (which Kara assembled) aren’t just stylish; they also make Kara’s life a lot easier. Having two “super messy” kids in the house means accidents happen, but these cabinets are easy to clean without molding or trim. 

Another one of Kara’s favorite parts of the kitchen is a DIY project. They added open shelving instead of opting for upper cabinets. “I love the open shelves that can display all my wacky coffee mugs,” Kara says.

Other additions to the kitchen include a teal painted accent on the partial wall that remains between the kitchen and living room, a geometric tile backsplash, a new statement light fixture, and lots of plants.

What was once a space that needed an overhaul is now the true heart of the home. Kara and their kids share meals (Aurora’s favorite part!) around the kitchen table and buffet set, which was a family heirloom from the 1950s. The new kitchen is bright, modern, and colorful — blending seamlessly with the rest of the Kirchhoff family’s gorgeous home. To see more, visit the full home tour on Apartment Therapy

This post originally ran on The Kitchn. See it there: Before & After: Bright Colors and IKEA Cabinets Make This “Dark, Bleak” Kitchen a Dream Come True