Kitchen Remodel Ideas


At a loss for what to do with this tiny, cozy kitchen. Any ideas to modernize and update? I'm thinking tear out the "heavy" cabinets and add open shelving to lighten up the small room, but there's so much storage there that I don't know if it would be smart to lose it. Any remodel/upgrade tips?

q kitchen remodel ideas
  27 answers
  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Sep 01, 2020

    Hi Jenna, open shelves are a lovely idea. We put some up in our kitchen and it definitely opened up the space. I do have to dust more often now, probably the one downside  and the stuff on top of the stove gets greasy so we have to be careful what we store there. You could also paint the cupboards? Here's a few more ideas that may work in your space -

  • Lolostar Lolostar on Sep 01, 2020

    You're right, wraparound open shelves painted white, with simple, artful support brackets, will really open this room up, and make it look more light and airy, and add personality...You will have the same amount of shelf space, where it'll be fun to put your cups, glasses, dishes, mixing and serving bowls, & baskets and containers for food items....Leave the enclosed cabinet which is next to the stove in place, and use it for storing cooking oils & spices that need to be kept in the dark to stay fresh.....Since the open shelves will butt up against that window, you'll be able to put a pretty little trailing houseplant in a pot on the end of one of those shelves, where it'll enjoy the light, and be easy to water and care for....For the under-counter drawers & cabinets, and the one by the stove & on the left of the sink, rub on a thin coat of white translucent paint stain, then a clear varnish over it, so that the natural woodgrain shows through, but it'll look paler and lighter.....And new knobs & drawer-pulls would really add some new zing!... I like the vintage repro ones that are white milk-glass, also come in colors & black glass too, probably found on etsy...and there are so many varieties of them these days!... Have fun with this project, hope it all goes smoothly!

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Sep 01, 2020

    I actually don't really like open shelving. That is a personal opinion but it does have some practical problems that you might haven't thought of as well. You will loose a lot of space. The reason being that anything you put on the shelves will be seen so you are apt to not store as much because you will want that clean look that open shelving is supposed to give you. It is easy to clutter them as well since you will be looking for more space.

    I have some shelves in one spot in my kitchen and it gets really dirty as well. Cabinets definitely keep things less dusty and greasy.

    That being said, you could get the same open feeling just by painting your cabinets white. Also, have you thought about removing part of a wall to allow for more walk through space....specifically if you could open the wall where the refrigerator is and relocate the refrigerator. Not sure if that is a possibility just by your pic but its something to think about in a kitchen.

    If you do go about painting your oak cabinets, here are some ideas about that:

    Your end product depends on the prep!!!!!! I know many say that doesn't matter with certain paints....but believe me it matters!!!! You could strip it first. Or if you are just going to paint again, you could sand it smooth and primer it. Then I would steel wool or lightly sand again before you add your paint coats to get that super smooth finish. Since it is oak you may want to fill the grain. Use a product like this to fill the oak grain:

    Check out this video on that.

    How To Fill Grain In Wood. OAK Kitchen Cabinet Makeover. - YouTube

    ALSO...the paints are a huge factor for kitchens and bathrooms. You will want to use something super heavy duty for that kind of traffic! If you are putting the time in to prep them well and paint them well you will want a good paint that will last. Benjamin Moore ADVANCE!! $50 per gallon but it's so worth it!!! That paint is an excellent cabinet paint and you don't need a topcoat. I seriously just wipe it down when it gets dirty. If you can use a sprayer with this paint....even better. Anyway, hope this helps.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Sep 01, 2020


    Why not just remove the solid doors in the centre and add glass ones. Mind you, It will mean more of you stuff will be on view. If you have open shelves, remember there will be extra dusting to be done! I like the look of you Kitchen, but if you wanted it to look a little different, why not invest in some really lovely new knobs, You can buy suck pretty ones nowadays, and or use chalk paint to colour the recessed mouldings, quick, easy and cheap!!

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Sep 01, 2020

    Looking at your kitchen from the long angle picture you kindly provided (we love pictures), the room has a tunnel effect and is very "wood heavy". I would start with adding some color to the walls...a nice teal for example. Try taking off the upper cabinet doors and see what you think. Leave the lower doors in place.

    Just wondering if there is another place you can move the refrigerator to, maybe around a corner? Or next to the d/w? The refrig seems to start the long hallway look. Yes, you have a high cupboard above it, maybe take that down. Might be a good spot for a mini eat-in table and chairs.

    Best to you and I hope I did not hurt your feelings.

  • Personally, I'm not a fan of open shelving. Why not paint the cabinets a lighter color?

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Sep 01, 2020

    Consider painting (at least the upper cabinets) white. That should make a big difference. You can also add lighting in the glass front cabinets and under the cabinets. Anything you can remove from your countertops will also make your room seem larger.

  • You'd be smart to keep the storage. Open shelving, while it looks great in photos, is very impractical and you'll always be cleaning. Try painting the upper cabinets white and the lower a color. You can do something super fun and bright with the backsplash using tiles or peel and stick tiles. See how I painted my cabinets here:

  • Nan W. Nan W. on Sep 01, 2020

    NO! Do not tear out the cabinets! Paint them in a neutral color -- you'll have a whole "new" kitchen!

  • Judy in Canton. Judy in Canton. on Sep 01, 2020

    It's a great kitchen. Very functional and plenty of storage. If there is a cabinet between the refrig and stove consider moving the microwave there and off the counter. Is the light above the sink the only source for light? Change the hardware and cover the backsplash with paint or tiles. The glass in cabinet doors can be made to look like frosted glass or for color, stained glass. I agree do not have open shelves as they are dust collectors and everything has to be neat and orderly. If budget allows, update your counter top and flooring.

  • on Sep 01, 2020

    I’d start with lighting: under cabinet and some in the ceiling. It will make the space seem more spacious!

  • William William on Sep 01, 2020

    You would lose storage with open shelving. Also it would look off in a small galley kitchen. No place to even put some anywhere. Paint the cabinets a lighter color. New door and drawer pulls. A new countertop would help.

  • Pat Pat on Sep 01, 2020

    Reminds me of my galley kitchen. I call it my one-person kitchen. The only advice I have is to put up a pretty colorful curtain and then a pretty rug in front of your sink. I would get under upper cupboard lighting and then put away everything on your counter top that you do not use every day, Looks like you have some nice storage for things used only occasionally. Also keep refrigerator door clutter to a minimum (my problem also). Love your cupboards and will look good with new knobs.

  • Mogie Mogie on Sep 01, 2020

    You could make a rolling cart out of surplus cabinet and heavy duty casters and when not needed roll it to the open slot to the left of the dishwasher.

    Are you able to extend the kitchen into another room? Light colors will help. Paint the cabinets a cream color. Make sure ceiling light is nice and bright.

    Would lazy susan turntables help make cabinets usable? Also, some under counter lighting makes a kitchen seem larger. Amazon sells some lighting that's battery operated, rechargeable and mounted with a magnetic strip.

  • CJ CJ on Sep 01, 2020

    Ok, I think the best type of kitchen is a modern theme with a few things that pop with color. I think that going with a white cabinet and a dark counter top would look nice. Then do a cool black and white back splash and add some nice family photos or something with color! And if you really wanna go all out, maybe do some new floors! A cherry wood perhaps! And maybe add a cool rug to add a little something something! hope this helps! Love all of the other ideas too! Stay safe...

  • Sharon Sharon on Sep 02, 2020

    You could remove the upper doors on the cabinets and put in the glass like the two on either side..... and add some LED lighting inside..

    Another option is to paint the upper cabinets a light grey or off white, and the bottom ones a deep grey or navy.

  • Cathy Cathy on Sep 02, 2020

    I would take out the upper cabinet over the dishwasher and replace with open shelves. That way your window will be more visible. Agree with painting cabinets a lighter color. Is there any other place for the refrigerator? It juts out in the space and really makes it seem smaller. If you have a pantry anywhere put the refrigerator there and make that area a pantry that has less depth. Counter top is dated - you could try painting it. Add undercounter led battery light pucks. Get rid of track light over sink and add a nice pendant. Will need to add some lighting in the center of the kitchen - maybe LED can lights.

  • Catherine Deirdre Rodden Catherine Deirdre Rodden on Sep 02, 2020

    I think just updating the hardware might give the cabinets a new look. You certainly don't want to surrender the storage with the abundance of items already taking up valuable space on your counter. I'd invest in the over the stove microwave. I'd rearrange under the kitchen sink to hide away the dish rack and utilize the dishwasher more often or at least get a rack that goes inside that double sink. I'd ditch the knife block and the bin of utensils into a drawer.

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Sep 04, 2020

    can the cross pieces on the glass doors come off?

  • Debi53 Debi53 on Sep 05, 2020

    As always, it comes down to money so I am going to assume you don’t want to replace appliances or countertops, so paint is your friend. If you are keeping the white appliances, I would paint the upper cabinets a bright shade of white that really blends with them. I would paint the bottom cabinets a dark color-pulled from your other decor. Dark Gray is gorgeous, but dark blue, dark green, or even red would work depending on what colors you use in adjacent rooms. Dark cabinets on the bottom don’t show spots and drips like lighter colors do. Also, keep the tones in your counter in mind.

    Replace the outdated brass knobs and hinges with brushed nickel, or oil rubbed bronze. This is not hard to do and really updates the look.

    Remove all the stuff on the fridge and all the clutter that you can from the countertops. If you must have small items sitting on the counter, find some wooden trays, paint them in either an accent color or the same or a lighter shade of your bottom cabinets and use these to corral everything. Try to only have appliances sitting on your counter that you use daily. If you only use an item once a week or less, try to find a place to tuck it away. I think you will be surprised at how little money it takes to really transform your space.

  • White cabinets do tend to brighten up a space, and would it be possible to tear out the upper cabinets on the ends and leave the cabinets along the back wall? That may lighten up the heaviness of the upper cabinetry. Good luck!

  • Deb K Deb K on Sep 07, 2020

    Hi Jenna, don't tear out the cupboards, paint them with chalk paint!, Do modern colors, like grays and whatever other color you like!

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Sep 07, 2020

    Paint them white and here is a photo of my kitchen without the top cabinets

  • Emilie Emilie on Sep 08, 2020

    I wanted open shelving in my kitchen , my husband did not . Soooo I removed the top cabinet doors, wood putty where the hinges were and sanded and painted them white. We tried that for a while to see how we would like it. I loved it and after about two month we've decided to go with open shelves. Try it without the doors for a while and see if you like it ,that way it's not permanent and you can replace the doors if you hate it.

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Sep 30, 2020

    First thing I would do is change your hardware , remove things from counter and slightly paint walls . if your budget allows I would paint cabinets doors and change a counter

  • Beni Beni on Nov 12, 2021

    Hey Jenna! I feel your struggle. Deciding how to best renovate a kitchen that’s limited when it comes to space isn’t particularly easy. Especially if you want to ensure you have as much storage as possible. Open shelf can work, but if you want storage, it will only provide a limited amount. Afterall, having all your pots, pans and dishes out on display doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing and it will always be difficult to maintain clutter free. Designing your ultimate kitchen needs to focus on functionality, especially in a small space. Make sure you have everything at the ready in regards to fridge, stove and sink. It can be done with careful planning and professional input. Another option would be to go through your cupboards and clear out anything that you don’t need. Might discover that you don’t actually need as much storage space as you have now. In which case, open shelves are back on the table.