Before and After, Kitchen

Before & After: 70’s Split Level Kitchen Transformation

Hello 1970’s split level!  I like to think that this was a beauty back in the day, but that day was a distant memory when I saw it.  Popcorn ceilings, imitation stone floors, builder grade cabinetry and asbestos riddled walls dominated the main level of the home.

Before kitchen
BEFORE: Small, cramped and hard working.
before ktichen
BEFORE: The dropped soffit here held nothing, which is always a treat.

The clients both love to cook – the original kitchen was a fine size for one cook, but difficult for two adults.  They wanted an island, two sinks, a cooktop, double ovens and a bigger refrigerator.  In order to get the clearance needed for these items we took out the walls that enclosed the kitchen.

before walls
BEFORE: The existing kitchen was tucked behind these walls. Note the popcorn ceiling!

The walls above look normal, right?  Turns out they were riddled with asbestos that involved an expensive abatement that was emotionally and financially painful.  Anyone out there who has a home older than 1980 needs to get their drywall, popcorn ceilings and other suspicious items tested for asbestos before demo.

BEFORE: One more before photo because it’s just too good of a transformation!
After kitchen
AFTER: Removing the walls, popcorn, old cabinets and soffit created a clean slate. (Photo by Jordan Katz and Styling by Kristy Oatman for Laura Medicus Interiors)

The new kitchen sink is placed exactly where the old one was.  The second sink is under the former dining room window.  The sill heights were an almost perfect match for the new counters so we made the countertop the sill – the outlets there are accessed from the countertop.  The floors are white oak with a clear, satin finish.

After photo blue and white kitchen
After: This is my favorite view of the new kitchen. I love that we kept the dining room windows where they were. (Photo by Jordan Katz and Styling by Kristy Oatman for Laura Medicus Interiors)

For me, windows and natural light in a kitchen are more important than a wall of cabinets.  But, I’m a minimalist when it comes to kitchen gadgets. The food pantry is to the right of the refrigerator in case you’re wondering where that’s kept!  The faucets are Delta’s Cassidy in Champagne Bronze.  The cabinet hardware is from Emtek.

It’s hard to tell from this photo, but at the request of the client’s husband, we raised the island up about 2″ higher than the standard height so that he could feel more comfortable cooking.  I’ve done this before in kitchens with taller clients who like to cook.

open shelves
After: This is the only spot we put open shelves in – they are white oak with a clear finish. Because we were limited on wall space, we went with upper cabinets in the other areas. (Photo by Jordan Katz and Styling by Kristy Oatman for Laura Medicus Interiors)
Before photo bay window
BEFORE: I’m sneaking in one more Before photo! This was a cramped breakfast nook that got heavily used for everyday meals. The area on the left goes down to the client’s family room,  the garage and the backyard.  Split level homes were designed to create different levels of privacy for the family and also to maximize the outdoor space on the lot.  They were also designed without aging in place in mind.
After banquette area
After: I added a banquette to the kitchen to create a more intimate area next to the large open plan kitchen. I love how different this area is now. The client still has a dining table for more formal meals and they use this area for crafts and games.  (Photo by Jordan Katz and Styling by Kristy Oatman for Laura Medicus Interiors)

When you have a large open plan space, I think it’s important to create at least one intimate area where you can sit out of the way – either with your back to the wall or on the side of the action.  Not all of us feel comfortable out in the open all the time.  I think smaller spaces like the banquette above are a welcome zone in an open plan.  The cabinets here are from a local, family owned company Sander and Sons who sell a few different American-made cabinets; these are Woodharbor cabinets out of Mason City, Iowa.

After blue and white kitchen
After: This kitchen is the equivalent of a sigh of relief after the painful chaos of the previous space. Two cooks can work without running into one another and children, friends and family can sit and chat together. (Photo by Jordan Katz and Styling by Kristy Oatman for Laura Medicus Interiors)
dog in blue and white kitchen
After: Even though she blends in, I had to include Kaylee, the dog. She posed for us like she was a supermodel.  She worked the floor for treats like it was a runway.  (Photo by Jordan Katz and Styling by Kristy Oatman for Laura Medicus Interiors)

“The sun is up, the sky is blue; It’s beautiful, and so are you.” – John Lennon



11 thoughts on “Before & After: 70’s Split Level Kitchen Transformation”

  1. This is such a beautiful remodel. Where did you find the appliances? They go so perfectly with the look of the kitchen.

  2. I am also in Denver and love this remodel! May I ask the purpose of the second sink? Also, is there still a living room on the back side of the kitchen island chairs? Or is that part of the room something different now?

    1. Hi Katie, thank you! Yes, that’s called a prep sink. I probably have those in about 1/3 of the jobs I do. People like them for the other cook that’s working with them. With clients who have a partner/spouse/child who also cooks, they have this sink for vegetable washing, handwashing, etc. That way they don’t bump into each other at the sinks. It’s a special request, but fairly common for people cook a lot.

  3. Do you have any photos that show the living space that was originally adjacent to the dining room and wall? Our kitchen layout is exactly like this in our split level home, so I’m curious! Thanks!

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