Home and Garden

DIY Modern Kitchen | Apartment Therapy


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There is style potential even in the bleakest of rooms – and if you are skeptical, let this apartment kitchen convince you. Alyssa Murphy moved into this apartment on short notice after her roommate got a new job and Alyssa was forced to move. “The only reason I’m leading with this is to explain what made me move into an apartment that looked like the ‘before’ picture shown here, which, surprisingly, is actually a flattering photo of the room,” says Alyssa.

The kitchen left a lot to be desired: there was old termite damage, a stove that was thick with grease and “a fluorescent lamp that could have been pulled straight out of an inconspicuous company headquarters in Central America,” says Alyssa. To be very clear, Alyssa had her work cut out for her.

Thankfully, Alyssa wasn’t afraid to dive right into DIY. “In a breathtaking expression of blind trust, I decided to paint the entire apartment AND all the closets myself,” says Alyssa. “I don’t recommend this – especially if, like me, you’ve never painted anything in your life.”

Although it was more difficult than expected, Alyssa’s home improvement job paid off. The new bright white color (Benjamin Moore’s Super White) makes the cabinets look brand new. Alyssa also added some new hardware that gives the sleek housing surfaces a higher look.

“The white cabinets were definitely a major improvement in the kitchen, but I still found the room to be pretty bland and bare,” says Alyssa. In particular, they didn’t quite hide the dull worktops with the “wet dirt” color (Alyssa’s words!); cracked, light purple breakfast bar; or grungy tile floors.

While Alyssa also got a new fridge, the range is actually the same as before. Alyssa sprayed the buttons gold-colored to match her hardware, and made a new handle for the oven door with a curtain rod (also sprayed gold).

To separate her kitchen from the rest of her living room, Alyssa reached for IKEA’s trusted BILLY bookcase. The cupboard is to the left of the refrigerator and has a trailing plant. It acts as a temporary wall – and with its trendy doors with a pipe front it is also a stylish storage space.

Alyssa finished the kitchen with a new light fixture, open shelves, and lots of plants. Now it’s best to be unrecognizable. And the best part: Alyssa was able to do the whole project on her own.

While it can be scary to come across a project like this head first, Alyssa firmly believes that the end result outweighs the risk and fear. “I really want to encourage readers, especially young women, not to be put off by the prospect of doing renovations themselves! I went into this and knew nothing about painting, assembling or using power tools, but it was incredibly easy to learn just by doing research or watching Youtube videos, ”she says. “If I do it myself, I can save a lot of money and learn a lot of practical new skills in the process.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.

Melissa Epifano


Melissa is a freelance writer specializing in home decor, beauty, and fashion. She has written for MyDomaine, The Spruce, Byrdie, and The Zoe Report. The Oregon native currently lives in the UK.



Robert Dunfee