With buckets of paint, boxes of tile, and a countertop camouflage, this creative kitchen facelift transforms small and dark into roomy and light.


Kitchen before makeover

Elementary school teacher Jade Fox found a lot to like in the 1930s 2-bedroom, 1-bath house she purchased to be close to her school. As a first-time buyer, this 25-year-old appreciated the hardwood floors in the bedroom, the attached garage, and the yard, but she knew which room needed an immediate makeover. “I wanted to do the kitchen first thing,” she says of the tiny uninviting room with poorly used space and dated design. “The cabinets were a dark oak, and the vertical tile was two-toned tan/brown with a 70s flower pattern.” She also had to make creative use of the limited cabinetry and countertop.


Small kitchen makeover

Fresh paint and cabinet hardware revive the kitchen and give the impression of a larger room. A custom-fitted granite overlay widens the counter space.


Kitchen before makeover

Sunlight failed to illuminate dark corners and lighting options were limited to one overhead fixture.


Small kitchen makeover window wall

White subway tiles and painted cabinets reflect sunlight around the room and into corners. An over-the-sink pendant and adjustable under-cabinet fixtures add task lighting.


Small kitchen makeover sink

After painting the cabinets, which immediately enlarged the room visually, Jade replaced the dated tile with eye-catching, horizontal white subway tile. The countertop received the next treatment. Faux butcher-block counters gave way to a custom-fit low-maintenance granite overlay. Working with the installers, Jade chose a new faucet and richly-hued double sink.


Small kitchen makeover coffee service

Professionals measured and installed the new granite facade directly over the existing countertops. An ill-conceived space-wasting “appliance garage” was immediately eliminated in the update which opened up the L-shaped counter. The increased real estate gave Jade space to gather her morning beverage needs.


Kitchen before makeover

Facing a blank slate when it came to appliances, Jade had to use space-conscious design choices to fit in a refrigerator, stove and microwave on the wall opposite the window.


Small kitchen makeover appliances

A refrigerator with a freezer drawer on the bottom and French door design on top eliminates the impediment of a larger, single door in the narrow galley space. The tile was removed from the walls on this side of the room and replaced with a wainscoting of beaded board.


Small kitchen makeover stovetop

An over-the-range microwave saves counter space and centralizes the cooking area. With stove controls above the oven door and no throw space on either side of the stove, space behind the range is available to hold cooking tools and seasonings.


Small kitchen makeover canned goods

Using wire racks, separators and other creative solutions, the limited cabinetry increased storage volume making the kitchen functional for this young teacher and her close group of friends. Lesson learned.


Small kitchen makeover can storage rack

Make pantry storage organized and accessible using versatile accordion wire shelving. The pull-down stadium design makes the items in back as accessible as those in front.


Small kitchen makeover pan storage

Stash wire racks, cookie sheets, cutting boards, and baking pans on their slim sides. Small tension rods on the bottom shelf partition a space that’s too compact for off-the-shelf storage solutions.


Small kitchen makeover cupboard interior

Shelf space is optimized in cupboards using wire shelving that expands to fit the cabinet width. Dual-level storage allows stacking that’s easy on the dinnerware. As Jade’s collection of serving and cookware grows, she can incorporate more space-stretching strategies to each shelf to maintain order.


Small kitchen makeover cabinet door storage

Shelving attached to the inside of cabinet doors fills vacant areas when they’re closed and keeps cleaning items hidden away under the sink.


Small kitchen makeover cleaner storage

Clever use of storage cubes and add-on gliding drawers keep ordinarily jumbled areas such as under the sink and lower pantry shelves well-ordered, providing additional space and easier navigation.


Small kitchen makeover cutlery drawer

Drawer dividers provide an easy, orderly method of storing utensils. Buy expandable sizes to compartmentalize larger utility drawers.


Small kitchen makeover moodboard

Jade’s inspiration

A darker wall color chosen for the adjacent dining area and a cheeky owl-print fabric provided the jumping-off point for our pistachio, avocado, and pink makeover.

Draping the window with bold stripes and a drawer pull with a playful tea towel bring in bright hues and softness.

New hardware and fixtures in brushed nickel provide a subtle shimmer.

A matte finish on the creamy subway tile contrasts with the gleaming granite countertop mottled in flecks of black, salmon pinks, and sage greens.

Shades of gray-green on walls and cabinetry provide variation without injecting a busy contrast.


Product that may be of interest:
Countertop—Karro Oro from Granite Transformations
Sink—double bowl in café brown, from Blanco
Subway tile—Profiles 6×3” in matte designer white from American Olean
Appliances—refrigerator, range, microwave, and dishwasher available at Lowe’s in white from Whirlpool
Small appliances, inserts, materials, and hardware—Kohler faucet, Keurig coffee maker, Cuisinart toaster, Rev-a-Shelf drawer and door shelf, wire expanding shelf, bakeware organizer, pull-down rack, cutlery drawer divider, paper towel holder, cabinet hinges, knobs and pulls, tension rods, beaded board panels, and trim from Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores
Tea towel fabric—Pattern #42128-139 in Summer
Window panel fabric—Pattern #42132-138 in Rose/Green
Both from the Westbury Collection by Duralee


© Caruth Studio

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