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black shaker cabinets

Though the footprint of the original kitchen in this North Carolina 1930s home was adequate, the space was underutilized, with little more than a single 18-foot span of cabinets on the exterior wall. Not to mention, what was there was barely functional

“The cabinets were originally built on-site, and every cabinet was the same width,” says homeowner and photographer Kelley Deal. “They were all about 12 inches and identical. It was impossible to keep them straight, plus you couldn’t fit anything on the larger side,” she explains. 

The aesthetic was—at best—totally uninspired, too. The counters were penny tile that had been grouted decades ago, says Deal. They not only looked dated, but dirty after years of wear and tear. 

And after years of living with an old kitchen in her previous home, that was something Deal wasn’t willing to work with. “From the start, we knew we’d gut the kitchen,” she says. “I was done trying to squeeze today’s needs into an old space, so the kitchen was first on our list.” 

The top goals: added functionality and storage space for modern conveniences. But the ever-popular stark white kitchen was nowhere on Deal’s radar. “I wanted a space that looks like a family lives there,” says Deal. “Something clean, but warm that could grow with us and be durable enough for our four-year-old.”

Since the actual usable space was largely sufficient, the couple focused their attention on what really needed fixing: the 18-foot span of cabinetry. They tore it all down and, in its place, installed cleverly-planned IKEA boxes with Semihandmade fronts in Supermatte Black Shaker

They decided to forgo uppers, and instead, supplement the storage by adding a big freestanding island in the center of the room. Luckily, they were also able to lean on the existing large walk-in pantry, which they painted with Sherwin-Williams Alaea—a gorgeous dusty wine shade that can be seen popping through the glass upper half of the door.  

For a little extra storage space, they also installed a timeless custom hutch that became one of the kitchen’s biggest design standouts, lending a touch of English country appeal—crucial to tap into the warmth Deal yearned for. 

When you look at the finished kitchen, it’s hard to believe that the room is largely the same, if not for these small, yet highly-effective changes. The built-in appliances, as well as the floors and ceilings are all original, proving that even if your budget isn’t big enough for a gut reno, you can still completely transform a tired and dysfunctional old kitchen—you just have to get creative. 


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