We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.
Lily Kesselman‘s kitchen renovation — which was “long, long overdue” — is a prime example. Before, Lily’s kitchen was cluttered, dark, and dated, to say the least. “This was terrible, below builder-grade kitchen,” she says. The cabinets were literally falling apart, the walls had paint swatches all over them, and the narrow layout wasn’t functional at all. According to Lily, the space wasn’t event originally designed to be kitchen and was previously used as a bedroom.
The cabinets were so beat up and bulky that they all had to go. At first, Lily replaced the worst of them with a few used cabinets, but she realized she was going to have to do more. So, instead of doing little touch-ups here and there, Lily decided to save her money and start over from scratch.
Lily knew the biggest issues with the layout were the lack of counter space, storage options, and natural light. “I wanted to get as much storage space as I could without installing uppers, which I felt would block the light from the one fairly large window,” she says.
“I spent hours at IKEA buying and returning items that were not working — there was definitely a learning curve,” Lily says. But she finally found a winning design: While shopping, she noticed that the glossy white IKEA cabinets always looked clean, even after thousands of shoppers touching them. That sold her on the the style. Once Lily knew what she wanted, she waited for IKEA’s kitchen sale to buy the cabinets; later, during the countertop sale, she purchased her quartz countertops.
Lily designed a kitchen that features all drawers on one side and all doors on the other, with no upper cabinets in the entire space; a pro helped her both assemble and install the entire setup. To help keep the walkway open, she chose low-profile handles for the whole kitchen. “I went for low-profile handles because if you have handles that stick out, you will hit your legs with them,” she says. For a splash of color, she ordered a floral wallpaper from Houzz that almost looks like a hand-painted mural.
Lily rounded out her now-transformed kitchen with a new sink and faucet, range and hood, and a statement-making light fixture. She also added a set of open shelves near the window to store pantry goods at the ready.
The entire project took about four months and $15,000 “with many trips to IKEA,” Lily says, but the functionality of the kitchen made it well worth it. “I make a lot of big-batch things like jam and salsa and the countertop space is priceless,” she says. Now, she has 44 square feet of kitchen space that she absolutely loves.