Before & After: An Old Kitchen in Alabama Gets a New Look

by hookedonhouses on June 8, 2011

When I saw this kitchen remodel featured in Southern Living, I thought it was pretty dramatic. Now everything is bright, white, and cheery, but when the family bought the house was dark and dated. Take a gander at the depressing “before” photo of this same sink wall:

I don’t know why the window was eliminated–I like having one above the sink and wouldn’t want to do without it–but it still manages to be a bright and airy space without it. Maybe because they vaulted the ceilings, painted everything white, and there are several other windows in the room to let the sunshine in.

They also knocked down the walls that separated the kitchen from the breakfast room and family room and opened the whole space up. Here’s how the breakfast room looked when they moved in:

And the eat-in area as it looks now, with the banquette seating (the benches open up for more storage underneath):

I had a similar vaulted ceiling in my first kitchen when we lived out in the country, and I’ve wanted one again ever since. Loved it. In this shot you can see how the ceilings were raised and the room was opened up to the family room:

If it were my kitchen, I think I’d paint the walls something besides white to make all of the trim and cabinets stand out a little more. I’m imagining how pretty it would be with a soft blue or green, and then some pops of orange or yellow in the lamps and window treatments.

Just a little too white and beige for me personally, but I like the changes overall. What do you think?

Go to Southern Living to see the rest of the photos, including the dramatic family room remodel. Photos by Laurey W. Glenn and interior decorating by Tyler Colgan.

Click Here to See More Before & Afters!

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Luciane at June 8, 2011 at 7:06 am

Hello Julia,

Funny, but I read about this kitchen yesterday! I was looking at my Southern Living magazine from Feb ( I think) and I saw this kitchen and felt in love with it. It’s truly inspiring reading and seeing their kitchen.

Great post.

Enjoy your day!


Luciane at

Natalie - Perth, Western Australia June 8, 2011 at 7:09 am

Just gorgeous!!!

Vivian June 8, 2011 at 7:13 am

OMG, I think I’m in love!

Mel Mel June 8, 2011 at 7:20 am

Ooo… love this kitchen! I especially love how fresh and updated it is without being too perfect. It looks as if someone actually lives there and uses it!

Amanda @ Serenity Now June 8, 2011 at 7:23 am

I loooove the bench seating!! I like having a window above the sink too….gives me something to look at while I wash dishes. ;)

Becky K. June 8, 2011 at 7:32 am

I agree with you on all points. A soft blue would be gorgeous in this space.
When we were first married we bought a fixer-upper and vaulted the living room ceiling. We did all of the work ourselves and it was intense…..but the results were so worth it!!

Marie June 8, 2011 at 7:34 am

What a great transformation! Although the 5 big white lamp shades are a little much.

Farmeress June 8, 2011 at 7:47 am

Very tranquil family kitchen. Think the dark floors are a good contrast to the soft white rest of the room. The muted neutrals with the wide variety of textures really welcomes my eyes. The rugs are great. Never saw an Oriental on top of a sisal before. Wonder if that works when walked on? If they lived with that dark old and ugly wood very long I could see them wanting for white and light! Not always a big fan of …so-much white…kitchens, I’m liking this one.

Lesley @ TheDesignFile June 8, 2011 at 7:55 am

Amazing transformation! It’s really impressive.

IAMSNWFLAKE June 8, 2011 at 8:04 am

What a pretty kitchen! I’d also like to have a window above the sink, especially if it overlooked the garden or yard (which would allow me to keep an eye on kids or friends outside)

Ricki Jill Treleaven June 8, 2011 at 8:06 am

When we redecorated our kitchen, I did the same thing (I painted our walls Benjamin Moore’s Super White). Our cabinets are white, we have creamy white and tan limestone floors, white ceramic and travertine backsplash and lots of windows. Our pretty woodwork disappeared, but I like white walls because I am constantly moving art around……..I painted our island Benjamin Moore’s El Cajon Clay and our trim a pretty, creamy color (Benjamin Moore’s Mannequin).

I *hate* our granite, so we might be replacing that soon. I would like distressed walnut, but it is very expensive.

Mike June 8, 2011 at 8:21 am

I agree with you, Julia. I would probably paint the walls something neutral (perhaps a cocoa color) to really make the white cabinetry and such stand out. It would look amazing on that tall end wall, and the banquette benches and cabinets would really “pop”. Jamie would add color with bolder colors in the accessories.

Jess June 8, 2011 at 8:50 am

Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me, but looking more closely at the “before” sink photo, it looks like a garage on the other side of the window — do I spy a car in the lower left corner? Does anyone else see what I’m seeing? If the window did look into the garage, I would have removed it, too!

It’s a lovely kitchen. I admire people who can turn undesirable living spaces into magazine-worthy ones!

Kim June 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I can see the car too. Maybe they have a carport right outside the kitchen. I would have removed the window too, if it looked out where the car parks.

Barbara Valenti June 8, 2011 at 8:50 am

What a difference by vaulting the ceilings and “whitening”! I agree that I would have added some color to the walls. It needs a kick. I am also not a fan of the “lampshade” lights that so many designers do today. (Too many lampshades in the landscape phototof this room, agree?) There are so many beautiful pendants available why resort to just lampshades. If you want to keep them simple use recessed lights so they disappear!!

Susan Fontana July 9, 2011 at 11:19 am

Are you the Barbara J Wright formerly of Livingston Manor?
I would really like to hear from you if so.
Wondering if you are coming to the 40TH reunion.

A.Men June 8, 2011 at 9:01 am

I could never part with the window over the sink — for any reason. I like breakfast nook with built-ins. Vast improvement overall.

etta June 8, 2011 at 9:09 am

WOW!!! What a transformation! It’s amazing…

Laura June 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

Wow, what a difference. I have just finished lightening my kitchen up. Changing to brighter cabinets really does make the difference. I wish I had the budget for a make-over like the one above! Lx

js June 8, 2011 at 9:36 am

Jess- I thought the same thing – there is SOMETHING on the otherside of the former window. Plus with all of the other windows in the area I don’t think that one window being gone darkens the space.

Ricky Jill – what do you hate about your granite? The granite itself or the color? We’re thinking of redoing our kitchen and don’t know what else to use besides granite.

Otherwise I really love this kitchen space. I do not think it is too white at all, because I think all of the lightness makes the whole space seem much larger than it really is. We’ll probably go with all white everything when we redo our kitchen, except for black or dark countertops, because our kitchen/breakfast area is huge and needs something to make it more interesting.

Jeri June 8, 2011 at 10:08 am

It is beautiful! What a great reno! I love the opening of the kitchen and the family room. I agree with you 100% though, I have to have a window over the sink and the kitchen needs a color on the walls to make the cabinets pop more.

Sheila June 8, 2011 at 10:14 am

Lovely! It takes great vision and a lot of gumption to make such a drastic change, but my, isn’t it worth it? I would leave the wall color as they have it — no need to make the cabinets stand out more. The unifying colors make the room(s) look larger and more airy. What pops? What’s in the open shelving. The beautiful wood floors. The funky chair coverings. If everything pops, nothing pops, you know? Love it.

js — you have a ton of other options beyond granite. Check out Silestone, Cambria, Corian (making a comeback), Swanstone. We’re getting ready to build a home and are having all-white woodwork with dark brown, matte-finish ______. Haven’t decided which surface yet, but we’re staying away from granite, as it has too much movement (pattern) in the surface. We (meaning I!) prefer the cleaner, simpler look of the solid-surface, solid-styled Corian or Cambria. Or Silestone. Wish I could make up my mind. But there are other viable options that are hassle-free and beautiful. :)

Lori-Anne June 8, 2011 at 10:32 am

Wow! I could never be a decorator, because I just don’t have the vision that would take a space from a before like that to the after it became! Beautiful!! I do like the white – so clean and fresh looking!

Jenny Allworthy June 8, 2011 at 11:06 am

I kinda like the white on white, but I would have just added some more colour in lamps etc. but it does have a nice tranquil look.

I thought the same thing about it looking like there was another room behind the kitchen sink, but the photo was taken at night and it seems to just be the reflection of the wall behind the photographer (you can see the flash). Maybe the window didn’t have a great view!

Trish @TheOldPostRoad June 8, 2011 at 11:21 am

WOW – that is impressive. Before photos take me back to the 1970′s!! I’ve been eyeing those Ikea rattan chairs for MY kitchen.

Maaike Quinn @ Life with FlyLady June 8, 2011 at 11:53 am

Nice! I adore those cute, tiny white tiles :D

Ann June 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Beautiful! All it takes is $$$!

Mary June 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I LOVE your kitchen make overs – more please!!! I find them so inspiring. I like this one – what a difference – although I enjoy my kitchen being a room of it’s own – I can happily get lost there for hours! – but maybe that’s just me!

Patience June 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I think they did a nice job but I agree with you about the paint colors.

Ashley @ June 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! Totally agree though… I would paint the walls to make everything pop!

Kim June 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

What a gorgeous kitchen! I love everything about it. I like how they went with simple cabinetry instead of something too nice or over the top. The kitchen looks like it would get used a lot too.

Thanks for sharing this with us Julia. I love kitchen makeovers.

Nita{ModVintageLife} June 8, 2011 at 3:03 pm

That is a lot of white and beige…yes…it could do with a little color. I like it a lot but I’m with you…why would they take out the window? That was a stupid choice unless the are adding another room on behind it but doesn’t look like it in the photos.

Jen @ Opal Never Shouts June 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm

WOW! That is such a drastic change. I think the old, dark kitchen would be a pretty depressing place, great change!

petra voegtle June 8, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Julia, you are so right – it looks so much friendlier and much more cheerful than before. I am often astonished how dark people like to have their rooms – I personally cannot understand this, living in a country where the winters are long and quite dark….

Nita June 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Although if I had spare cash laying around, I would vault my ceiling too, although I have an indented space for all the lights and the ceiling fan, but I always wonder why just not buy another house rather than go through all this.

Amelia@ Home Decors June 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Hi Julia! What kind of light is that on the ceiling? Are they the one with LEDs on it? I’ve been planning to have this type of light on my dining and kitchen areas but a friend told me they’re not cost-effective or practical.

If it’s possible, I would like to see how your dining room (fifth photo) will look like if most of your lights are turned on. I think it will look great and stunning.

E. George June 9, 2011 at 1:57 am

Hi Julia – it’s a beautiful kitchen but I like your colour vision better and I have a window above my sink I could no t do without it – helps looking out onto the garden while washing dishes. Regards Esther from Sydney (very very cold brrr).

The Little Red Shop June 9, 2011 at 6:48 am

I love the nook! If it were my house, I’d want the window over the sink and some exposed beams on that ceiling.

: )

Julie M.

Susan June 9, 2011 at 7:05 am

Love, love, love what they’ve done.

Ami Ponzo June 9, 2011 at 8:20 am

I don’t get closing up the window! It’s not like they even put cabinets there for storage. It’s still the same space but tiled. ??? That said, it’s gorgeous. Love the bright, white space. And the breakfast nook is calling my name something fierce (as my grandpa would say!)

Bre June 9, 2011 at 11:42 am

What a dramatic transformation! The before is so antiquated and depressing, the after is so bright and cheerful! Lots of lovely inspiration in that kitchen, I love the vaulted ceiling and shelving for cookbooks. I do like the white, but a soft celery green or sky blue on the walls would have been pretty as well. Great post!

Jodi from New Jersey June 9, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I love! I so love Southern Living every single month,my heart skips a beat when I see it in the mailbox.

Richella at Imparting Grace June 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Hard not to love this kitchen. . . but I’d probably want a little more color on the walls, too. The one time I had all-white kitchen cupboards and counters I had apple-green walls! :)

I thought of you today when I walked past a house under construction. One of the charming features is what’s obviously going to be a screened-in porch or a sunroom. Made me think of you and your sunroom. Hope you’re enjoying it!

Megan June 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Holy crap, I can’t believe this is the same house! The designers did a fabulous job with this one.

Rosa @ flutterflutter June 9, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Wow, what great before and after shots! Transformations are so inspiring!! Thanks!

Elisha June 10, 2011 at 10:00 am

I just LOVE this! The color combinations are so warm and inviting without diminishing the great light. I’m a huge fan of vaulted ceilings too. This way is a bit more “formal” I guess than having beams and joysts exposed, but I like it anyway. Gotta LOVE an open floorplan!

le@thirdontheright June 11, 2011 at 1:57 am

looks lovely … love it all :) le xoxo

HollyM June 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm

It’s a very nice redo overall, but I agree with your idea of putting color on the walls. I really like the mix of traditional, modern, and vintage-y furnishings and decor of this space. Looks easy to live in and very comfortable – - a far cry from the ‘before’.

Dawn Sanchez October 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm

I love this kitchen. It’s what I would like to do to mine. I’ve got natural maple cabs with granite tile (yuck). I’ve always loved white cabs and I want black honed soapstone on the perimeter and carrera marble in the island with the island cabs painted out black.
I think they did a great job with the neutrals and the use of texture, they biggest change I would make would be the island pendants. They could have added some glass pendants to bring a little more reflective surfaces in.
Good job.

NJ Cellulose Insulation Contractor January 5, 2012 at 11:40 am

Very nice!!

garden June 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm

the window looked out to a garage thats why it was removed….

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