Before & After: A Dark Kitchen Gets a Bright Makeover with Peel-and-Stick Flooring

published Dec 23, 2021
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Before: Dated kitchen with dark brown cabinetry and old appliances

Fall is here, and the holiday season is almost upon us. For some people, that means returning to the kitchens of parents or grandparents for a home-cooked meal — or reminiscing on holidays and gatherings spent in the kitchen with loved ones.

There’s just something special about the cooks, recipes, and kitchens you grew up with. 

Architect Dhara Sanghavi grew up in this now-dated ’80s-style kitchen, which her mother cooked in as-is for about 15 years. “It was a very central place in my household,” Dhara explains. “My mom is a great host and feels happy when inviting our friends and family for meals. The whole family would come together to chop vegetables, and I loved knowing what was cooking. The kitchen was where we gathered — meals or not — so it was very special.”

Recently, Dhara’s mom mentioned wanting to make a few changes to space, which was becoming more and more dysfunctional (and dated) by the day. “The stove wasn’t being used,” Dhara says. “My mom used a makeshift gas stove.”

Dhara thought it would be a nice way to give back to her parents, so she made a plan for the 170-square-foot space that serves as the heart of the home.

She gave the cabinets a refresh, stuck peel-and-stick pine-looking flooring over the dated linoleum, and opted to paint the walls pink —a popular paint choice for kitchens these days, and certainly one that’s more fun than the yellowish-beige that was there before. She opted for Clare’s Baby Soft on the walls and the slightly darker Rosé Season on the ceilings.

“My goal was to transform this space into a more cheerful, lively space that still felt like a gathering place for the family and also reflected my mother’s personality,” Dhara says.

She says the hardest part of the reno was making the fluted wood upper cabinets, from ensuring the new soft-close hinges were correctly fitted to getting the spacing of the slats just right. “I highly recommend using a template,” Dhara says. “I also had to redo the flooring near some edges especially when next to the door frame or angled wall.”

The easiest part of her project was pouring the countertop and backsplash, which look like expensive marble but are actually epoxy. “I have a great process I follow that ensures I get that perfect faux marble look,” Dhara says. “And even if I don’t, epoxy is more forgiving than wood; starting over is easier!” She cut panels to match the size of the counters and backsplash, then sanded them and painted them a base white. She added color to create the marble-like variation during her first epoxy coat and added a second clear coat after that.

With the fancy new countertops and fun touches like the modern light fixture, wooden hooks, and boho plant hangers, Dhara’s mom’s kitchen has time-traveled successfully from the 1980s to the 2020s, but it still retains its homey feel.

“I was worried my transformation would make it unfamiliar, but I’m so happy it has retained its spot as our most-visited gathering place in the house,” Dhara says.