Before and After: Black and White Paint Covers Up a Wood Paneling Kitchen

Wood kitchens can be wonderful: warm, inviting, and cozy. But wood-on-wood-on-wood can also leave a cook space feeling heavy and dark. When Krista bought her old house, the kitchen’s full-wood look was weighing it down. Knotty wood paneled walls competed with (you guessed it!) wooden cabinetry and wood floors in the adjacent dining space—all of which made Krista’s kitchen feel more like an old-school cabin in the woods than the sunny, breezy home she craved. Fortunately, Krista saw the potential in her kitchen. “I knew we could make this our home with some love and hard work. And a lot of paint,” she says.

Over the course of about three years, Krista renovated her whole kitchen—starting with the easiest upgrade, paint. A coat of white paint keeps the wooden walls from feeling overbearing, and black paint instantly made the dated wood cabinets feel moody and modern. “Don’t listen to people that say that painting your cabinets black will make your kitchen too dark,” Krista says. In fact, paired with the white walls and new white countertops, the new kitchen looks twice as bright as the old one.

The long renovation period allowed Krista to take her time in making design decisions for kitchen, which gave her more flexibility in selecting just-right pieces. “Don’t get in a hurry and choose the first thing you see just to check a box,” she says.

Another major change with huge impact? Krista swapped out the outdated multi-colored flooring for modern gray tile. From a distance, the deep gray tiles almost look like concrete—a perfect fit for the kitchen’s newly modern aesthetic. Bonus: The large-format size makes the space look bigger, too. For finishing touches, Krista installed new farmhouse-inspired hardware, modern lighting, and a generously sized apron-front sink paired with a new gooseneck faucet. “Everything was a setback with an old house, but that’s to be expected,” Krista says. “I’m very happy with the choices we made. It’s very us.”

Krista’s kitchen redo is proof that you don’t have to totally replace dated cabinetry to give it a new look. With a few coats of bold, dark paint, she totally transformed the feel of the cook space—no demo required.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.

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