ABM Studio: The Kitchen (Before)

Bright dreamy kitchenLove this kitchen via Old Brand New. 

Since we focus so much on food here on A Beautiful Mess the kitchen in our new studio is one of the most important rooms to us. We are so excited to give our new studio kitchen a makeover. We're not gutting it, but we're basically changing everything and we're SO excited to get started. 

You guys asked for it! Here's a (BEFORE) tour of the kitchen in our new studio house. Ready or not….. 

Kitchen BEFOREKitchen BEFOREHello wood! The cabinets are wood (plywood, to be exact!), the walls are wood, even the ceiling is wood. The only surface that is not wood are the linoleum floors and the vinyl countertops. Before we even saw this house in person we knew that the kitchen would need a lot of remodeling to become the light and bright space that we envisioned. There are pros and cons to this situation. The cons are obvious, so I'll skip to the pros! 

During the house hunting process we looked at a lot of homes that had been remodeled for resale. It was kind of frustrating to look at homes with new tile, new counter tops and new carpet that we didn't love. We were afraid it would feel wrong to rip out new tile just because we didn't like the look. With this kitchen, there is no guilt! It's not original to the house and it's also not updated. It's obviously in need of some TLC and we love that. Plus there's the added bonus that we didn't have to pay for updates that we would not have picked. In the end, I think it was the perfect fit for us. The only downside is that we won't be able to move in right away, but we all agree that it's totally worth waiting for. 

In the above photo you can see the main part of the kitchen. Our plan is to remove all of the upper cabinets, add floating shelves and pretty tile and paint everything white with a splash of color on the lower cabinets! We love this look

Patterned CeilingWhat about a striped ceiling? I love this idea and this room is incredibly inspiring. I also love the subtle pattern on the walls. 

To the right of the stove there are windows and a doorway. The doorway leads to our second set of stairs! 

Kitchen BEFORE  I already shared a few ideas for stairs in our entryway post. I think some sort of stripes or design may be happening here. They are already painted (brown). I'll probably spend the next few days dreaming about this staircase.  

Open shelving in the kitchen! Beautiful open shelving via Alice Lane

I LOVE picking out tile. There are so many different options I'd love to try for this backsplash. Subway tile, penny tile, maybe even a pattern? Eep!  

Kitchen BEFORE      Here's a view of the left side of the kitchen. The major things we want to do here are add a new (larger!) window and replace the door. 

And can we please talk about the floor?? I am so excited to do something bold with the tile in this room. I'm still in idea mode, but this tile and this tile are both seriously inspiring.

Kitchen BEFORE     Here's a view of the back of the kitchen, with a doorway into the dining room. Big changes in store here! Currently, it is set up for a washer and dryer. We're moving those and that back wall will become an area for the fridge and shelving. I can see it already. Can you? 

Kitchen BEFORE   Kitchen BEFORE   This is the view on the right side of the room. You can see the teeny TINY half bathroom that has been squeezed in under the stairway. The door to the bathroom, when open, swings out into the dining room. I'm not a huge fan of that, so I've been looking for a solution. Here's what I've been hoping for: 

Yellow pocket doorsliding pocket door would be an incredible fix for that awkward door. Do you guys think I can talk Emma into it? xo. elsie 

ps. For more obsessive daily studio inspiration, follow my studio inspiration board on Pinterest. 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson, Inspiration images are linked throughout. 

  • I love the look of that “sea glass colored” kitchen – that one is lovely 🙂


  • Ohmygosh…I actually love the wood!! A lot. So 70’s! lol. It does make it pretty dark in there, though. Are you guys going to keep some of the charm it has right now? I hope so! I can’t wait to see what you do in there!

  • I immediately though pocket door before I scrolled down! I love them! My great-uncle’s narrow house in Brooklyn had a pocket door to the little bathroom off of the dining room, and as a kid, i thought it was SO COOL. Now I have them in my old San Francisco apartment, and I still find them pretty delightful.

  • Please do DIY concrete kitchen worktops! http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/diy-concrete-countertops.html

    I would’ve done it in my kitchen but we completely changed the layout so had laminate ones made… would love to see this on ABM.

  • I am in LOVE with the house you chose and can’t wait to see what you gals do to it!

  • My father installed an exterior sliding door for the bathroom in my parent’s attic. It’s a beautiful old door, and it looks really good. But it’s on a wall in a narrow hallway that would be useless for anything else.

  • Hmm good point. It’s also quite cold. But then, I live in the north, and that’s more of a concern up here. 😉

  • I’m soooo jealous!! I love all of the ideas and can’t wait to see the finished project. Planning renovations for a work place must be so much fun!!

  • Wow… that’s a lot of work! I’m sure you will do a fabulous job though. I love the idea of the pocket door. So much classier than any other option. 🙂

  • Good late night:-)

    I cant sleep so I tjeck out for good idees at blogs.
    Very nice kitchen. How did you deside how to create a lovely kitchen like this?
    From there do you get energi and idées?
    My daughter works with kreative and art to.
    If you have the time, try to see at: http://www.mariahoffbeck.blogspot.com

    Hope you enjoy your new kitchen.

  • If the pocket door isn’t feasible with the space, you could also try a sliding barn door! http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-j898gxK8F_I/UTelHqwoSpI/AAAAAAAAFpQ/vWLAq8_tDCk/s1600/sliding+barn+door+inside3.jpg

  • Why would someone do that to a kitchen? Wood even on the ceiling? Good on you for seeing the potential in that cause I would have gotten out of that house saying “hell no” after seeing such horror (I’m sorry for the condescending tone……but wood on the ceiling….who does that???)

  • You truely did a fantastic job! I love yellow for kitchens!

    xo Jennifer


  • Ugh, my kitchen is all wood paneled, spanish tile, navy blue tile, white cabinets. It’s terrible and unfortunately, I am a renter. I need to figure out something to make the kitchen a little more livable!

  • I get so excited during these posts! I love remodeling and changing how things function. That sliding door is amazing!!

  • I was totally imagining all your description as i was reading and observing the photos. Can’t wait to see the after.


  • Gorgeous space, love your blog too <3


  • Can’t wait to read more about the Studio house project – there is so much potential here. I love the pop of color idea with the tiles, particularly yellow. I have never been quite good with incorporating bright yellows into my decorating, but this makes me think it’s a more reachable goal! Can’t wait to see the process/outcome!!

  • LOVE the slider. I saw that on your Pinterest and promptly pinned to my own “Help for my stupid house” board.

    Holy wood paneling…

  • You are absolutely right that someday someone else will want to redo our kitchen choices! I hate to update anything original or with vintage value, but at the end of the day we need to create a space that will inspire us to work in every day.

    I guess that in some ways it would have been easier to buy a brand new tract home to renovate because we wouldn’t have to change anything “original”. We love old homes though, and I believe that our updates will be respectful, add value and create a good sense of “vintage meets modern”. I don’t believe that any interior design is necessarily timeless for everyone, so in some ways we do have to choose what inspires us.

    Anyway- please know that your opinion is heard! 🙂

  • I totally understand! I’m learning that no matter what choices we make in each room, they are sure to disappoint someone. With that said, I think opinions are fun to hear and it would be sad if we all felt the same way about everything. 😀

  • It’s actually a vinyl floor on kitchen floor.
    Thanks so much for the heads up!

  • I love the freshness of the white! The inspirations of yellow & white is so happy! Everyone would wanna always hang out in a kitchen like that. Good luck!
    xoxo, Lindsey Dish

  • I´m sure you´ll come up with a great idea for this whole kitchen project. Especially the fact that you consider a bigger window… The room looks so dark.

  • Is that knotty pine? Was this updated in the 50’s? Sigh. I know you girls are very creative and lean more towards quirky DIY than decade specific, but it breaks my little mid century loving heart every time someone mocks knotty pine and has that gleam in their eye with plans to “make it look good”. Floating shelves and glass back splashes are nice, and in vogue now but one day someone will buy this house and rave about how they can’t wait to update the “gross 2010’s kitchen”.

  • The inspiration photos are so pretty!! I think the door to the stairs in the kitchen is not so nice there cause if You’ll brighten up those steps it’s nice to keep them in sight. I also love the pocket door for the bathroom!
    I can’t wait to see what You actually do to the place!!


  • Like you i prefer to have an awful old style room to do what i want as i want whereas a brand new room i don’t like the style.
    I feel exciting to see what you will do !
    I like the luminous pictures you post.
    Have fun.

  • Wow! Sooo much wood but you girls are going to nail it and can’t wait to see the make over once its done. A lighter/brighter colour would make the kitchen look a lot more open 🙂 Whatever you do its going to look amazing!!

    Lulu xx


  • We’ve just moved into a rented place with a sliding bathroom door! It must be old because it’s very noisy (not had time to oil it up yet). Did you know in uk building regulations say that if you have a bathroom off a kitchen it must have 2 doors?? Only found that out recently but it seems strange to me! Looks like across the pond y’all don’t have tedious little issues like that (or maybe you do but they are different things lol)

  • This house looks just like the one I grew up with.

    Super disappointing that the wood panel would be painted over 🙁 But it’s your project! There will just always be something charming and nostalgic about a dark, wood panelled kitchen in the fall.

    I’m excited to see what you do with it, either way!

  • I love the inspiration you’ve drawn from! What an exciting project. I can’t wait to see how you turn “wooden Pinocchio” into a “real boy” … er, kitchen 🙂

  • Oh lordy, that is quite a kitchen isn’t it?? Can’t wait to see the transformation! As opposed to my opinion of not painting the front stairs I say buy gallons of paint and cover this all up! 🙂

  • I love all of your ideas but I want to add a caution…..if the tiles in the kitchen are 8″ tiles and not 12″ ( they look small) they are probably asbestos tiles and they will need to be professionally removed by an abatement team. Once that stuff goes airborne it will reek havoc on your lungs. Don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer but I would rather you budget the cost in in the beginning than have it surprise you when a contractor tells you or you would do it yourself. Any tile that is 12- 15 years old or older has a large chance of being asbestos. Just lookin out for you!

  • This looks like a huge project but with the right people it can definitely be done! I think the colors and ideas you picked out will definitely liven up the rooms compared to what it is like now. Good luck! I can’t wait to see what it will turn out like.


  • I love floating shelves in kitchens. Get all those beautiful dishes where everyone can see them!

  • My parents put a sliding door in for a bathroom in our house that’s in a similar awkward location, and it works perfectly! It’s a little strange a first to get used to, but not anything too out of the ordinary, and it adds some sleekness

  • Hi Elsie

    First off I agree that the kitchen needs a bit of work (okay maybe a lot) but have you thought of using recycled tile? Or going with brands that have a sustainability factor? Some companies either recycle glass or go through a regenerating processes within their factories that make their tiles and floor boards “eco friendly”. Just a thought! Loving the pops of colour in your inspiration pictures and can’t wait to see more of the progress!


  • I’m looking forward to watching the evolution of the house. Best of luck! Enjoy the process!


  • i am SO jealous of this awesome project you are undertaking! your kitchen inspiration is all so beautiful!



  • If anybody (bodies) can turn that dark old kitchen into something spectacular, it’s you two! I love your style and can’t wait to see what it looks like.

  • Oh my WORD! So much wood! I’m loving that all white kitchen idea you posted. Beautiful with the different hues of glass! 🙂


  • Oh my gosh, that’s so much wood! Hopefully you can pull it all out without ruining it (cabinets included) and donate it to the Re-store or something so someone else can get some good use out of it.


  • I love the kitchen! In a “oh my gosh there is so much potential here” sort of way. Excited to follow the process…

  • I seriously can’t wait to see what you end up doing with the kitchen. Also, my grandma has a sliding pocket door into a bathroom off an awkwardly skinny hallway, and it works perfectly there. Seems like a great solution for you, too!

  • I can’t wait to see what you guys turn this into!!! So exciting!!!!

    Love the floating shelf idea!!!


  • I have a pocket door into my bathroom and there is one between the kitchen and our hallway. I love them! They are so easy to use or not use. The one to teh hallway is nice because we leave it open most of the time but if someone gets up early in the morning you can close it so that there is a little more of a sound barrier between the breakfast kitchen noises and the bedrooms. It may be useful for your door from the kitchen to the stairs as well if you have the wall space for it.
    I say go for it! 🙂

  • At first, I thought the first picture was your kitchen, and I was shocked you wanted to gut it! But seriously, you guys have a lot of work with that monstrosity.

  • wow! so many possibilities for this space! you will do brilliant things.. so excited for what’s to come!

  • A wooden ceiling? I don’t think I’ve seen that before!
    You girls have a lot of work to do.. but it will look so amazing once it’s all done 🙂


  • The very top photo of the white kitchen with the yellow tile is SO inspiring. Yellow is my favorite, and I love how clean and bright that kitchen is. I think it’s great when you don’t have to feel guilty totally rearranging a space, and I know you guys are going to do something stunning in that kitchen, all of your inspiration photos are amazing!

  • how exciting, I love your posts about the house !

    ps: the sliding would DEFINITELY be the best option :D, and I love that yellow too !

  • …I like the sound of a sliding door, but you’ll have to check (hard to tell from your photo) if you have enough clearance for it to slide open under the stairs without cutting into the slope. A sliding door that sat proud of the stair wall might work (so it slide along the outside of wall, rather than within it), but may not be the look you are going for, or a zed/folding door may be your only other option if you want to get rid of the full door.

    Alternatively if you no longer want to have the bathroom under that stair you can open it out all together and not have a door, depending on what other purpose you put it to.

    Love renovation dreaming – lets me flex my architecture design skills 😉

  • Apart from the floor and the panelled walls, I love that kitchen. It’s a total gem and I really love it. wish I could take it off your hands for you!

  • I’m totally with you! I live in a 100+ year old house, but sadly the kitchen was remodelled (not to my taste and pretty cheaply done, I might add!) It drives me crazy when people redo kitchens to sell! Don’t spend your money sellers! Leave it up to the buyer. Ideally I wish my house had the original kitchen…sigh. But your new place is the next best thing – totally justifiable in doing a redo – have fun, I’m sure it will be stunning when your done!!!

  • Can’t wait to see your changes! 🙂


  • I love the idea of renovating!


  • It has so much potential! Can’t wait until I can renovate my own place 🙂


  • Hi Karen! That’s a good note!
    We haven’t picked anything out yet, so I’ll be sure to check out further options. 😀 Thanks for the info. elsie

  • Okay so at first I didn’t believe it was the ugliest kitchen in the history of the world.
    Well, you didn’t exaggerate.
    I like how “let’s burn it all, no guilt!” is on your pro-list 😀

    The Appleberry

  • Would you consider cork or even wood for the floor? Tile is beautiful, but as someone who has worked in professional kitchens standing on tile all day is murder on the back. That might be too much function (although I think both cork and wood can look amazing) over form, but it also might save you from hitting the advil bottle daily. Oh my lord, I sound like an old lady.

  • Wow, it’s very very.. dark! I can’t wait to see what you do with it though! I have no doubts it’s going to look wonderful! x


  • I’m seeing wide striped bright white and yellow painted herringbone! Just a thought. 🙂


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