Before and After:10 Kitchen Makeover improvements and their impact

The new owners of this Park Slope brownstone called me in for paint and furniture, and then we got to talking about the kitchen... It started with paint, then a banquette, then replacing countertops, then replacing the island, oh, and how about a 36" cooktop instead of the 30"? The list grew. This is part one of what I call the cascade effect -- once you start to take a closer look, well, a lot of things just don't work anymore.  In any case, we all agreed the yellow walls had to go and a calmer cooking environment was in order. Thus, the kitchen makeover began.

The thing about a retrofit, however, is that you really have to proceed with caution - once you start cutting, changing and touching stuff there is another thing that has to be done to accommodate it -- this is part two of the cascade effect. Below is a basic before and after, as well as the list of what we did, why and what the 'add-on' moment was -- that's the moment where you realize that if you do this, you might have to do that, which adds on to the project at every step.

kitchen before

kitchen before



Here's the list of what we did, why, and what the 'add-on' moment was.

1. Replaced the island with one that accommodated a 24" dishwasher where there had only been an 18".

Why? since we were keeping the other cabinets I decided it would be best if we do something completely different, that didn't look like it was trying to be a match. Thus the flat panel style and dark color.

Add-on: We avoided an add on by  keeping strictly to the same footprint of the existing island so we would not have to do any patches on the floor. Also, kept plumbing in the same place to avoid extra costs.

2.Replaced countertops with Caesarstone in London Gray.

Why? The Corian looked dated and the Caesarstone looked awesome and was easy to maintain. 

Add-on: As soon as the countertop got removed, the backsplash needed to be replaced.

3. Replaced the 30" cooktop with a 36" Viking cooktop, and Viking wall oven below. Also replaced the GE fridge with a Sub-Zero.

Why? the client really wanted a 36". I was reluctant since the space was only 30" but I managed to do some fancy cutouts with my cabinetmaker to make it work. As I suspected, we lost the use of the top two drawers in the process. The Sub Zero also required a careful install to prevent tipping. 

Add-on: with any retrofit of appliances, especially those involving gas and electric, look very closely at the installation diagram and the location of the existing supply. We needed the assistance of a cabinet maker, plumber, and electrician to make this whole thing work.

4. Installed a custom banquette

Why? Did you see those cushions??? 

Add-on: Again, since we were replacing cushions with something different, we had to spend extra time selecting fabric and working out all the details.

5. Replaced a ceiling fan with pendants.

Why? We all agreed that pendants would add character to the space.

Add-on: As soon as you touch that ceiling, you have to paint the whole ceiling. So we did.

6. Powder-coated the existing handles

Why? At first we thought we could just replace them, but no go -- the size was odd and nothing suitable was available.

Add-on: The powder coating was the add-on, but  I actually think it turned out cheaper in the end, except for the time it took to pick up and drop off the handles and find the place to do it.

7. Replace the backsplash and add backsplash over the desk area

Add-on: working out the corner near the banquette - always think about how your tile will finish when it turns a corner, or terminates with the edge showing.

8. Modified the cabinet near the back door to accommodate a pullout trash.

Why? there was no place for trash under the cabinetry

Add-on: One of the most time-consuming add-ons in the whole kitchen, and you'd never know. The cabinetmaker had to build a completely new box for the cabinet (what we thought was a 24" deep cabinet was two back to back 12" cabinets), which it then turned out was a little too shallow for many of the pullouts. So, we had to spend a fair amount of time finding one that fit. There was also electrical running through the cabinet which had to be re-routed. 

9. Wallpapered the back of the cabinets.

Why? To add interest and detail to a monochromatic scheme.

Add-on: The client (and I) really liked a fabric over any of the wallpaper options we had seen, so I had to send the fabric out to be backed with a material to make it possible to use as wallpaper. Also, for an installation this small it would have been very pricey had we not bundled it with another wallpaper job in the same house.

10. Painted throughout.

Why? yes, well, they just couldn't live with that yellow.

Add-on: I have to say that this was the one thing that didn't come with any surprises. I love paint!

Here's another pic of the wallpaper/backsplash area - oh yeah, replaced the sconces too.



So, I guess this is my way of suggesting that you go into ANY improvement, no matter how small, with the thought that it may be just a bit more involved than you thought.  Remember...Cascade Effect...