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Before & After: Modernizing a 20-Year-Old Kitchen Without Major Renovations

by Noell Jett|Oct 25, 2021
Kitchen bar, barstools

I am incredibly excited to share this recent kitchen update that we did! It is nothing over the top but is a perfect example of how you can modernize a kitchen without undergoing major renovations. While the existing home was very beautiful, the homeowner wanted it to have a more modern and airy feel rather than reflecting the fact that it was almost 20 years old. Located in a quaint retirement village near St Augustine, FL, bringing in a more coastal feel with the grays and whites truly gave the home a “Floridian flare”.

Kitchen bar, barstools, plate setting

To allow you to understand the exact changes that were made, I have included the before images below. Notice the beige, square tile throughout, the countertops and cabinetry that are indicative of a home built in the early 2000s, outdated appliances, a boring backsplash, the raised bar, and the dated, builder-grade lighting. In addition to the kitchen, notice the lack of crown molding, flooring, and builder-grade light fixtures in the foyer and dining nook.

Mint kitchen, brown cabinets

Now let’s dive into the changes we made! Just above and then below you see full shots of the main area we focused on. Let’s focus on the entryway first! We added wainscoting and crown molding as well as updated the flooring to a luxury vinyl plank throughout. We also changed out the lighting from a very undersized, builder-grade light to an amazing, statement piece. Rather than just being functional, this gorgeous light becomes a focal point! Once the homeowner adds her beautiful art and decor, this foyer is going to be such a beautiful, welcoming entry!

Light fixture, entry hallway


Chandelier: Maxim from Capitol Lighting Flooring: Luxury Vinyl Plank

Dining room lights

Dining Nook

Chandelier: Quiozel from Capitol Lighting

Kitchen and dining nook area

Our major focus on this home update was obviously the kitchen! We painted the cabinetry and added modern matte black hardware. Adding a thicker crown to the top of the uppers was an easy way to modernize them. I am often asked if cabinetry needs to be replaced or painted and if your cabinetry is in good shape, painting it is definitely the way to go! With the addition of paint, hardware, and crown, these cabinets look brand new and thoroughly modern! We also updated the backsplash, if you remember, the backsplash was very muted and was not even visible with its very neutral color. Now the backsplash has color and adds movement with a fun, herringbone pattern. Not only did we add new countertops, but we also made the decision to lower the bar. This allows the space to feel open and less disconnected from the living area. Additionally, it was a very inexpensive way to modernize the space and give it the sleek, open feel that is currently on-trend. For under the new, lower bar, we chose oversized, beautifully shaped corbels that serve more as statement pieces than just supporting players. Over the bar, we switched out the small builder-grade lights for gorgeous, perfectly sized pendants. With seeded glass and mixed metals, these pendants add visual interest and beauty. The homeowner also chose to update all of her appliances to sleek, more efficient models.


Backsplash: HouzzCorbels: Ornamental Mouldings and MillworkSink: WayfairFaucet: HouzzPendants: Capitol LightingBar Stools: World Market

Kitchen bar and barstools

Needless to say, our customer was absolutely thrilled with the end product! She is so excited to be retiring to such a gorgeous, airy home that is now full of high-end crown molding, wainscoting, lighting, and a kitchen that is completely modernized with such a bright, coastal feel. All of this was accomplished without tearing down a single wall or any other major renovations. Lowering the bar was the most extensive thing we did, but I feel the trade-off was definitely worth the little bit of extra work! As shown by this project, if you are wanting a more modern kitchen but do not want to deal with the headaches of a full renovation, you can achieve the look you desire without the stress!

This article was written by Noell Jett at Jett Set Farmhouse

Meet the Author

Noell loves finding new homes and sharing what inspires her as she designs and builds her home. She cannot wait to share the DIYs, tips, and techniques they have learned in the past 15 years as contractors.

They are absolutely thrilled to have you along for the journey and hope to inspire, educate and encourage you with the content.

Follow along with Noell on Instagram, Pinterest, and the blog! You won't want to miss out!

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