Before and After: Kitchens | Midwest Living

Before and After: Kitchens

These 12 kitchens illustrate the gamut of updates—DIY to additions—that can transform your kitchen from bland to beautiful.
  • Surface treatment (before)

    This kitchen had good bones and solid workmanship, just no style. The next slide shows what a little paint can do.

  • Surface treatment (after)

    The original cabinets and flooring remain, but sophisticated colors enrich the once all-white kitchen. The palette lightens as it moves from newly stained oak floors to the brown island and peninsula to cafe au lait upper cabinets. New materials in the counters and backsplash reference all the hues.

  • Tasteful updates (before)

    Dark and busy decor dates this kitchen. Click ahead to see how paint and inexpensive hardware make it modern. 

  • Tasteful updates (after)

    Cottage colors on cabinets set the stage for tasteful updates. Pendant fixtures are a praticial addition because they bring light closer to the counter. Wrapping the counter in stainless steel is a modern and work-tough application. Curving brackets add visual dash. Laminate flooring was a snap to install over old vinyl. The green glass tile ribbon is a smart investment of funds in a field of inexpensive subway tile.

  • Take aways (before)

    Sometimes it is just as much what you remove as what you add in a redo. Click ahead to see how removing cabinets shapes this space. 

  • Take aways (after)

    It's still an all-white kitchen, but the shelves now provide storage with period appeal. Clean-lined doors and hardware on base cabinets keep the look simple. Subway tile and Carrara marble sparkle; wood floors warm. And sunshine floods the space via the box bay window behind the sink.

  • Knock downs (before)

    A neo-Tudor home had separate breakfast and cooking areas. Tearing out a wall connected space in ways that impress. Click ahead to see. 

  • Knock downs (after)

    Knocking down a wall opened the opportunities in this 1926 neo-Tudor home. A new marble-topped island adds prep and eating space, and white paint transforms oak flooring. But it's the high-gloss, European-style laminate cabinets that establish the modern aesthetic, enhanced by the elegant marble backsplash.


  • To the top (before)

    Modernizations had stripped the style from this kitchen. See how all-new elements give it vintage style on the next slide.

  • To the top (after)

    A modest-size kitchen got vintage style and to-the-ceiling storage with custom cabinets outfitted with reproduction brass hardware. Because there is no plumbing or electrical in the island, they fashioned it to look like moveable furniture.  

  • Point of interest (before)

    This builder-standard kitchen lacks any personality. Click ahead to see how the homeowners added interest.

  • Point of interest (after)

    Though the white and dark wood cabinets lend visual interest, it's the accent tile behind the range that adds oomph to this redo. Keeping tile to a confined spot lowers cost and creates a focal point. Building cabinetry around the refrigerator also is a cost-saving move that provides the look of built-ins.


  • Sturdy scene (before)

    Stuck in the past, this kitchen also didn't work for an active family. The next slide shows how it became fabulously functional.

  • Sturdy scene (after)

    Kid-friendly materials withstand knocks while adding style. Acid-etched copper on cabinet doors creates a play of light on the dark purpleheart wood. Both materials withstand the knocks of soccer balls and grimy fingers. A cooktop in the island means mom can supervise the kids while working in the kitchen. 


  • Period details (before)

    Abundant storage doesn't compensate for a kitchen that doesn't suit the 1875 home. Click on to see stylish upgrades.

  • Period details (after)

    Storage still reaches the ceiling, but now it is clad in style. Cane-paneled doors conceal the refrigerator so it resembles an antique armoire. Appliances are in cabinetry with period details. The carved wood range hood was painted to mimic forged iron.

  • Efficiency expert (before)

    A convoluted layout undid any charm in this century-old home. The next slide shows changes that add both charm and workability.

  • Efficiency expert (after)

    Stylish is functional with an efficient work triangle, seamless solid-surfacing countertops and angled countertop forming a peninsula. Note the rug of teak laid in the  tile.

  • Spacious addition (before)

    Cramped and isolated, this kitchen needed square footage added to solve its problems. Click ahead to see the solution.

  • Spacious addition (after)

    An addition at the rear of the house integrated the kitchen with the home. The new layout added space for a wood-topped island. Glass subway tile and granite countertops show off shades of green that pop against white cabinets.


  • Style statement (before)

    This Disco Inferno was no place to fix family meals. The next slide shows the new hit wonder.

  • Style statement (after)

    Gone are the funky glass blocks and lackluster pickled oak. Now sleek stainless-steel appliances and glass-front cabinets set the stage for a bistro look. Stainless-steel panels back the revamped island.


  • Colorful past (before)

    The charming Cape Cod home's kitchen didn't fit the rest of the house. See how they gave the room fitting style.  

  • Colorful past (after)

    Modern and traditional elements combine now. Stock cabinets form the island base. Replacing upper cabinets with stainless-steel shelves keeps the space bright and open. Cape Cod blue on the base cabinets speaks to the era of the home.

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