How To Make A Kitchen Look Brand New Without A Remodel – Before And After

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Is your dark kitchen getting you down, but you aren’t able to do a total remodel?  Take a look at how I used my small kitchen ideas to turn this dark and dated kitchen into a bright and cheery work space on a budget. My galley kitchen now looks and feels so much larger!

How To Make A Kitchen Look Brand New Without A RemodelPin
Whether your kitchen is small or large – if it’s feeling dark and dated to you, but you aren’t able to do a full remodel, I hope you’ll find some ideas from the makeover of the tiny galley kitchen in our beach condo.  The footprint of the kitchen is only 4″ x 9′, so I had to use every trick that I could think of to give it a bright and spacious modern farmhouse feel.

Let’s start with the before.  This is what the dated kitchen looked like when we purchased the condo last summer.

Small galley kitchen before makeover, with dark wood cabinets.Pin

A small kitchen with wooden cabinets.Pin

And this is what it looks like today!  So much lighter and brighter and so much more pleasant to work in.

The same kitchen with white cabinets and counters.Pin


The light and bright new kitchen.Pin


I know what you’re going to say – “Why didn’t you remove those cabinets above the peninsula?”.  That very thing was my first reaction when we first toured the condo too.  I felt that they made the kitchen feel closed in and that they blocked the view into the dining room and living room.  But, the reality is that we need the storage space (they serve as a pantry for me) and now that the kitchen cabinets are white, it no longer feels closed in to me.  So this is very much a case of function over form, but believe me when I say that I’m almost always a form over function kind of person.  😀

The makeover of our kitchen began with the creation of a mood board.  I’ve found that using a moodboard at the beginning of any room makeover is so helpful for keeping my design at the forefront of my mind and for keeping me on track during the renovation process.  You can learn how easy it is to make your own mood board by clicking HERE.

Modern Farmhouse budget makeover plan for a small kitchen #kitchen #makeover #kitchenideas #modernfarmhouse #whitecabinets #rangehood #glasstile #backsplashPin

In every other post that I’ve written about this kitchen, I believe I mentioned that, because of the budget, I would be keeping our mismatched appliances.  During this whole process, I’ve been trying to minimize the fact that I had an icemaker’less black refrigerator, that was too small for the space, a stainless microwave, a black stove and an aging white dishwasher.

Well, apparently all it took for the hubs to give me the go ahead to replace the appliances was for me to give up wanting a more expensive drop-in stove and being happy with a slide-in one.  Honestly, I don’t know what my hangup was about that.  A slide-in stove looks just fine and costs 2 – 3 times less the amount of a drop-in model.  With careful shopping, we were able to replace all three appliances for around $1700.

Sooo…this is a photo of the kitchen that I haven’t shown you before.  I took this photo the same day that I was taking photos of the new backsplash, but I figured you didn’t really want to see big empty holes in the cabinets that day.  You can read all about our backsplash HERE.

Kitchen with appliances removed.Pin

Our new stainless steel refrigerator has an icemaker (yay!) and fills the space so much more nicely.  Now it no longer looks like I have the black hole of doom at one end of the kitchen.  The microwave is the one that was already in the condo and I’m loving the new stove with its stainless door and control panel.

Stainless steel appliances in the kitchen.Pin

The stainless steel fridge in the kitchen.Pin

I think that the white dishwasher that was originally here was nearing the end of its life, so it’s just a well that we went ahead and replaced that at the same time.  Plus, now everything matches.  😀  Oh, and you might have noticed in the above photo of the empty spaces that the cabinets below the sink were looking a bit wonky, but re-positioning the hinges just a smidge, took care of that problem.

There is a small rug in the kitchen.Pin

Once the major projects were taken care of, it was finally time to add all of the pretties.  I’ve been trying to keep a modern farmhouse vibe going on in the condo, so I made sure to keep that in mind when shopping for home accessories.

A grey backsplash in the kitchen.Pin

A wooden cutting board on the kitchen counter.Pin

Pretty decorative containers on the counter.Pin

Bowls and containers on top of the fridge.Pin

And of course I had to add just a touch of blue.  We are at the beach, after all.  winkwink

A light blue pottery with utensils in it.Pin


Affiliate links have been used, which allows me to make a small commission from your purchase, but at no additional cost to you.  See my full disclosure HERE.

Cabinet Paint Color – Sherwin Williams Extra White

Peninsula Color – Sherwin Williams Software

Barstools – Rustoleum Anodized Bronze

Granite – Luna White

Backsplash – Aspect Peel & Stick Tile

Sprayer Faucet – Home Depot

3′ x 5′ Area Rug – Amazon

Black & White Canisters  – At Home

Blue Utensil Holder – Amazon (similar)

Black and White Jars with Cork Lids – World Market

Small Wood Houses – Target

Bread Box with Wood Cutting Board – World Market

Accent Bowls – World Market (similar)

Black and White Vase – Amazon (similar)

Worthing Court BlogPin

Small Dark Kitchen total Makeover Without A Remodel graphic.Pin



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  1. Christine says:

    Love what you have done with your Beach kitchen! So bright and airy now. Your color choices are perfect and the stainless appliances really pop. Good job!

  2. What a great change you made there! I would’ve never dreamed that backsplash was peel & stick! It’s a very appealing, cohesive look, down to the accessories!

  3. Your transformation is beautiful! Come on over and work your magic in my kitchen!!

  4. I love what you’ve done with the beach condo kitchen! It’s beautiful! Thanks for sharing all of your secrets to getting great style for a good price.

  5. Great job! Love the transformation. I understand about needing the storage and not removing the wall cabinet. Our beach condo kitchen is similar in size. I have ONE small drawer that I use for utensils. Spatulas, big spoons, etc. are in crocks. We also have the washer/dryer in the kitchen which limits the amount of storage! Also, any pretty thing I buy for the condo must be functional! My new motto is….I’m at the beach, I can handle it! Thanks for sharing your pretty beach house!

  6. This looks fabulous! Now you painted the cabinets yourself? Did you blog about it and I missed it? I finally got the approval of go ahead its your kitchen anyway ! SO I want to do this but I am SO scared too! Neighbors had someone come in and do it and honestly he did a very poor job.. They could have done it themselves and saved 1500.00. So come hold my hand !!!!

  7. Beautiful, great job!!

  8. I desperately need to tackle painting my kitchen cabinets. Mine are the same color as yours used to be and my kitchen is not a very light, bright room to begin with.
    You’ve done a great job on your kitchen!


    Where can I find your lid storage, which is attached to the inside of a door?

  10. HI! Always enjoy reading your blog. I get such great ideas for home decorating from you. You are very encouraging, thank you.

  11. Sarah L Hinson says:

    Love this kitchen! Did you replace the countertops?

    1. Thank you, Sarah! Yes, we replaced the countertops. The originals were 30+ years old and were very worn.

  12. Well, I live in Germany. Our ovens don’t have the user-panel at the wall. We have it at the front part like the old one that you’ve changed. My question is: If you are cooking isn’t it dangerous to grab over the boiling water in the pot (for example) to change the temperature? I see the danger of getting hurt. But I don’t have any experiences with that kind of cooking.

    1. I know what you mean and you do have to be careful not to reach directly above something that is cooking! I guess you just get used to it though. I think it’s a matter of personal preference. I have always avoided having the controls on the very front because of children being able to reach the dials or even myself accidentally rubbing up against them.

  13. I just got my kitchen cabinets painted white and it was a game-changer. My kitchen feels so bright and open now. And I didn’t even have to get new cabinets. Highly recommend to anyone looking for an update without a full remodel!

  14. Looks so fresh and bright! What color are your walls in the adjoining room? Thanks for the ideas!

    1. I’m sorry, but I don’t know remember what the name of the color is. 🙁 I only remember it was a white with gray undertones from Sherwin Williams.

  15. Very Nice and some really useful tips, Thanks! I have come to the point where I feel less truly is more and my “Spring” Cleaning this year has already become more of a Spring Donating Extravaganza and it’s been very liberating. 🙂

    1. It’s such a freeing feeling to let go of stuff that’s been accummulating over time. Happy spring!