Before + After: 90s Kitchen Update
90s kitchen update
A young couple and parents of 3 under 3 (see also--actual superheroes) bought a home during the hyper-competitive seller's market of 2021. They love the location of their home but they weren't thrilled with the aesthetics. So we got to work together to remedy the problem. And we focused on their 1990s kitchen.
We got to work on a plan to help them maximize their budget. The new homeowners had a long wishlist for their place and a firm budget. The kitchen wasn't even on the list. They assumed updating it would blow their entire budget. After talking through their goals we put together a plan that would update the entire home by changing out most of the lighting, painting every room and updating the kitchen.
5 meaningful changes we made to the kitchen
Painting the orangey oak cabinets was a no brainer. The hard part was picking the right colors. We knew all the walls in the house would be painted white (Snowbound from Sherwin Williams SW 7004). The same crisp contemporary color was used on the upper cabinets so that they blended in and visually carried less weight. But the lower cabinets needed more heft to balance out the busy granite.
I was not excited about working with that granite. But replacing it wouldn't fit into the budget. Plus it's a high quality + durable material that's functionally perfect for a kitchen. So it seemed silly to remove it. When it came to paint colors for the lower cabinets, it was a tossup between black and green. Ultimately we decided on a dark, rich green, Laurel Woods from Sherwin Williams, SW 7749.
2. We installed floating shelves
We did a few things that updated the style of the kitchen. First we removed one of the wall cabinets and replaced it with floating shelves. Originally we wanted to also remove the soffit above but unfortunately it housed all the things, i.e. electrical a bathroom duct, etc.
3. Replace the backsplash tile
Next we removed the travertine backsplash and replaced it with 6" ceramic squares. They were installed in a brick pattern with white grout. Using white grout on white tile, minimizes the movement of the tile so it doesn't compete with the busy details of the granite. All these changes together make the kitchen look/feel larger.
4. New hardware
Even with the cabinets painted, the original hardware felt dated. Because the homeowners are musicians we went with some fun matte black door Amp knobs from CB2 and matched them with matte black drawer pulls. To avoid patching the existing hardware holes on the drawers we went with pulls in the same length so we could install them into the same openings.
5. We switched out all the light fixtures
We switched out all the light fixtures throughout the home. Light fixtures can really date a space. In the kitchen this was especially true. We traded in the "boob" light for recessed lights. We removed the chrome pendants and we relocated a geometric set of ceramic matte white pendants above the bar. In the soffit we originally wanted to remove, we add in another recessed light fixture.
What's the bottom line?
We took approximately half of their total budget, and put it towards updating the kitchen. It was a big change and a huge improvement, all within their budget goals. Because the kitchen opens up to much of the lower level, updating the kitchen really helped to shift the entire vibe of the home. Now it feels much more authentic to the homeowners. And now they are actually excited about how the home looks + feels in a way they didn't think was possible.
Wanting our homes to stay instyle forever is like asking the world to stand still. Despite our best efforts, preferences, material usage and design trends--all change. And because it's been this way since always, I seriously doubt it will ever change. BUT fear not! If you buy a home that's dated, this doesn't mean your only option is to majorly renovate. With a solid plan, some well placed paint, and few low-cost changes you can have a budget friendly update that allows you to adore your home style within a few short weeks for pennies on the dollar of a renovation.