Updating an 80s Kitchen

Or how we went from this to this and then some Smile

Working-Image[1]{Excuse the messy fridge door please!} 

When we were looking for our second house in Phoenix, there were some things that I was very particular about. The kitchen and an open floor plan!

We had 2.5 year old twins at the time and an open floor plan was vital! I had no intentions of knocking down walls and I certainly had no intentions of having the kids play where I couldn’t be watching them.

But the kitchen was the running joke between the realtor and me after a while. I probably drove her crazy. I didn’t actually want a new kitchen necessarily, I just wanted one with good bones that we wouldn’t have to tear out and start over to update it.

So, when we found this house, the open concept was there AND a very good bones kitchen. The layout was great, the cabinets were in good shape, all be it a rather ugly (to me) 80s orange-brown stain.

And don’t you just love the blinds and the “gorgeous” light fixture! Tongue out


But the kitchen was relatively large, had lots of cupboard storage and the cabinets were solid wood that really only had issues at the hinges! So, this was pretty much the kind of “good bones” kitchen I had been looking for!

First we redid all the worktops with Corian Counters, extended the island top a foot out, so it can serve as a breakfast bar one day when the kids are older.

See how cleverly they fixed it, so there would be no braces underneath the island counter top? This went down before they added the Corian!


The countertops are totally gorgeous! I love how they are just cool enough naturally to serve as an awesome way to roll out pastry dough.

It is totally seamless. I know there were seams, but there was no way I could find it after it was installed!

We also went with an inset sink made from the same material, but a different color.

And the different color is the only way you can tell that it must be added in, but there is no visible seam or any other way to tell there is a seam.


The countertop is so easy to keep clean, it is shiny and gorgeous and oh so durable! And no maintenance whatsoever. I know that granite is all the rage these days, but to be honest, I’ve never been all that fond of most of it. And I rather have the “busy” focus on the gorgeous back splash tiles than the countertop. But that’s just me Smile

And speaking of the glass and travertine mosaic back splash! *swoon*

I searched for the best part of a year before I found this one. I looked at so many sheets of mosaic glass tiles, I almost went blind. I looked online, in specialty stores … and in the end I found these which were exactly what I was looking for – at Home Depot online of all places!


When we pulled the old counters and backings off, we found a multitude of “interesting” things like this one:

PB233148[1] But once we fixed all that, the tiles went on!

PC043193[1]Then the cupboards happened!

Initially I was going to stain the cabinets myself, but to be honest, I had no confidence that I would be able to get even coats of stain gel onto these cabinets. Let’s face it, with two little ones the maximum uninterrupted time span is about 10 minutes on a good day Smile

So, I decided to research and found some local people that do cabinet refinishing. We found a company that gave us a pretty good price, made the color absolutely to order and not only that, they helped me to remedy one of my kitchen pet peeves – the wasted space above the cabinets!

I have always disliked the large gaps that 80s kitchens left on top … which is perfectly usable space – maybe not for things you use on a daily basis, but certainly space that comes in handy for storing lesser used things!

So they custom built boxes and doors to match our existing ones and since we were refinishing anyway, made them all look the same! And the open shelf above the window just opens things up a little too!


And my husband and I are pretty tall, so the high cupboards work just fine for us Smile

They did the whole refinishing of the kitchen in a total of 3 days.

This is what happened.

First everything got taped up. I never needed to empty my cupboards either, can you believe that? I did have to empty the drawers, as the fronts needed to be unscrewed, but that was a minor inconvenience!

Then everything got sanded down. But because they had everything taped up so well, the dust stayed well within their little plastic “tent.”



PC023186[1]{See the dust on the inside?}

Then they proceeded with several coats of stain. The casings were done in the kitchen, the doors in the garage.


We also replaced the hinges since the old ones were a little tired and didn’t close the doors so well anymore.

Then came the hardware!

I got a really good deal on some handles on ebay about 1.5 years ago, in anticipation of a kitchen makeover! I got 35 of them and paid something like $1.25 each and free shipping! Once they were on the newly redone, they were just perfect!


Gorgeous, right?


And then we built a custom spice shelf. You can see on the first picture how I had my spices arranged in the old kitchen. Can you say crowded counter top??


And here it is with the shelf that keeps them off the counter top.


I had previously had round spice tins, but I changed to square ones since they fit much better and my spice tins were old by then anyway and new ones were in order.

I also chose tins with a window lid, which I LOVE!  I designed the labels in Photoshop and printed on clear labels, so from a distance they are not visible as labels!

PC073200sm[1]   I LOVE how they turned out!

How it all turned out! This kitchen is gorgeous, even if I do say so myself!

We added a woven wood blind to the window and then I added some finishing touches, like these glass bubbles filled with air plants to the large window.


We also changed the light fixture. Yes,  I know, such a shame to remove that lovely florescent light box! *grin* Later when we were doing construction on the house we also added some recessed lighting throughout the house. 5 went also into the kitchen area. So now we have several lighting choices in the kitchen too. No more dim lights in the kitchen!


PA195214b[1] P3094153[1] 

So, here we go one more time.

We went from this:


To this:



I do still want to add cabinet drawers to the lower cabinets, but that is a whole different project altogether!

This entry was posted in Before And After, Crafts, DIY, Home Decor, Products, our house. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Updating an 80s Kitchen

  1. Kate @ Chic on a Shoestring Decorating says:

    What a transformation!!! WOW! I especially love your backsplash… fab kitchen.

    Thanks for linking my Flaunt it Friday party, please add my button so other people can join the fun. Thanks!! :)

  2. Birgit Kerr says:

    Hi Kate, thank you for your comment.
    All link buttons are over on the side bar on my blog, including yours :)

  3. Laura@Corner House says:

    Good work!! It looks great. I love the tile on the back-splash.

  4. Sawdust and Paperscraps says:

    Wow, what a transformation. I love your spice rack. I might have to use that idea in my craft room. :-)

  5. Kate @ Chic on a Shoestring Decorating says:

    Thanks for adding me!! I enjoyed all your links and am going to try that maple glazed chicken! :)

  6. Katie says:

    Loving the mosaic tiles and the open shelf above your window!

  7. Creative Decor by Brooke says:

    Wow, that kitchen is amazing. Love how it is all new and modern. Just beautiful. Great job.

  8. Kristin says:

    Love the Spice Tins!!!

  9. Diann Soelberg Kaivo says:

    What font did you use for your fabulous spice tins? Loved them!!!

  10. Birgit Kerr says:

    Thank you for your comments!

    Diann, the large script font is called Scriptina and is available for free here: http://www.dafont.com/scriptina.font
    I don't remember what the small font was called.

  11. Christa @ Stories of a House says:

    Gorgeous transformation! I'd love for you to link this up on my blog tomorrow!

  12. Birgit Kerr says:

    Thanks, Christa! I'd be honored :)

  13. Carrie says:

    MUST. HAVE. THAT. TILE. love it!

  14. Rhiannon says:

    love love it! you can come and do my kitchen any time!

  15. gstoney says:

    I love your "new" kitchen. The counter tops are fantastic. I think I'm over granite, this looks much cleaner and in my mind will never go out of style. The backsplash is gorgeous too! Great job.

  16. gail myrepurposedlife.net says:

    I love the new look! your kitchen looks great. I like the spice rack too.

  17. Kate @ Chic on a Shoestring Decorating says:

    Hi! I featured your kitchen remodel on Flaunt it Friday. Please stop by and grab my "I was featured" button if you'd like! And come back and party soon! :)

  18. Condo Blues says:

    Aw, the old fluorescent light used less electricity than the new one… :)

    I love your kitchen and want to do something similar to mine. My cabinets are in good shape, I just don't like the doors or the gap at the top. Does the Coren come in dark colors? I'm leaning that way in my kitchen, but given the coffee ring stains on my current countertop (I blame the dog) I'd like a darker color.

  19. Birgit Kerr says:

    Oh yes, they come in pretty much all colors granite comes in and then some!

    You might also like to check out Hi-Macs Solid Surfaces. They are considerably less expensive and essentially the same as the Corian (minus the brand name.)

    However their color choices are slightly more limited.

    We have both and can't tell the difference other than price :) HTH!

  20. Brittany@Love Stitched says:

    I am in love with your back splash ;) it is just the added pop of color you needed and how creative with the SPICE RACK…genius!

    you have some serious talent girl!

    thanks so much for linking up to my party!

  21. Jessie K says:

    I'm here from Love Stitched. I love your spice rack! So clever! And the tins! I'm having spice rack and tin envy! So cute. Also, I want to see more of whatever the plant-y, fish bowl-looking thingy was. Sorry! I don't know what it is, but it looked interesting and I want to see! :D

  22. Dixie Mom says:

    That is stinkin' awesome! I love the idea for your spice storage.
    Stopped by from the love stitched party….

  23. Stephanie says:

    I just came over from Loved Stitched's link party. Love how you added the upper cupboards to that dead space above the cabinets. Most people over decorate that dead empty space and then it just looks cluttered. Great choice. The handles just finish it off, and the price? Wow, what a steal those were. Good thing you had the mindset to think of that before hand. The back splash is my favorite, really just adds a designer look to it all. Great job.

  24. the cape on the corner says:

    that is awesome! i love the shelf above the sink-fantastic idea which i have saved to a kitchen inspiration file. also great idea for your spice rack, too. what a wonderful before and after!!

  25. Birgit Kerr says:

    @ Jessie
    The plant/fishbowl things are hanging glass bubbles that have holes in them. They had them a couple of years ago at C2B.com on sale and I got them thinking I might make a terranium like hanging feature.
    I googled quickly and found some here, unfortunately quite a bit more expensive.
    I filled them with chipped gem stones (ebay) and air plants (also ebay) I chose air plants as it seemed easier than earthbound type of plants.
    Air plants don't need earth to grow, they can just sit on top of the gem stones. And they make gorgeous flowers!
    You do however have to soak them for 10 minutes every other day (in my climate anyway), which can be a little cumbersome as you have to remove the plants from the glass bubble every time and then put them back in!
    So if I had to do it again, I think I would go with hanging plants that either grown in very shallow earth, and that would be content with regular watering from a watering can!
    @ others
    About the spice tins …
    I got the spice tins here:
    and the inkjet printable clear adhesive labels are from here:
    I chose the clear matte inkjet labels, as those would blend in the best with the spice tins. The main font on the labels is Scriptina (free) and you can download free programs that allow you to design your labels with the Avery templates before printing, so you have the right placement!

    Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>