Studio Apartment Renovation | Kitchen Makeover

Studio Apartment Renovation | Kitchen Makeover

For a while now Cali has wanted to make some changes to her studio apartment that she shares with her husband Billy, dog, Wesley, and now son, Liam. We ended up pulling the trigger on her wishlist of improvements a few months prior to baby Liam’s due date, and we finished just in time for his arrival.

The size of the studio is small but it has a lot of character. One of the main features of the space is the beam work that spans along the vaulted ceiling. These beams really give it that bungalow, cozy feel. It has a kitchen, living area large enough for a king size bed, space for a living room/tv situation, and of course, a bathroom. It is just enough space for a her small family without being too cramped.  

The first area of the space we tackled was the kitchen. This was the area that needed the most help. It had honey colored oak cabinets, dark hardwood floors, not much storage, an old cooktop, and dated tile countertop. Below is a picture of the space before they moved in. 

We decided it would be best to tackle the kitchen section by section starting with the floor. You can view the full video of the kitchen makeover below.

The Floor

The floors were too incredibly dark for this space, and for Cali’s taste, so we knew we wanted to refinish them.

The first thing we did was paint the joint lines in the floor. We did this because we wanted a softer look, and leaving these lines as is would have made them stand out too much once the floor was lighter. We really wanted them to blend in. Once that paint was dry, we sanded the floor down until we got back to the natural, lighter wood grain. To finish we sealed the floor with a polyurethane floor sealer. The sealer did end up darkening the floor a shade or two, but all in all it is still much lighter than it originally was and it compliments the beams in the ceiling really well.


Once we had the floor finished, it was time to paint the cabinet boxes and shelves.

Prepping to paint definitely took the most time out of all the tasks we did. But taking our time and doing it right was well worth it in long run. We covered the floors, removed all the cabinet doors and drawers, and covered any large opening and appliances. We did hang plastic sheeting from the ceiling as well, to keep any paint from spraying into the rest of the room.

Cali decided she wanted to paint the upper cabinets the same color white she’d painted the rest of the room, Droplets by Dunn Edwards. And then she chose a light pastel green for the lower cabinets for a soft statement pop of color (Galway, by Sherwin Williams). For both colors we used Enamel Pro paint by Sherwin Williams in a Satin finish. This paint dries incredibly hard and doesn’t require a sealer. Great for cabinets.

We used an airless sprayer to apply our primer and paint. The sprayer is great because it gives a more of a professional, super smooth finish that you just don’t get using a brush or a roller.

After the paint had dried, it was just a matter of putting all the cabinet doors back on and shelves in place. We did update the old cabinet hardware for new stainless hinges as well, which helped modernize the cabinets just a little more.


After the cabinets had been painted we had a new countertop installed. Cali and her husband chose a solid surface countertop from Home Depot, called Ice Queen. It was cost effective for the space and was the look she was going for. The solid surface counters have actually proven to be really great quality and look amazing, an obvious improvement from the tile counters.

We then installed a new cooktop and had the existing sink refinished locally so she didn’t have to buy a new one. We finished the cosmetic updates by installing new outlets, light switches, and cover plates.

Banquet Seating Area

There is a little nook area on the other side of the kitchen. Originally we were just going to put the hightop table that was there before back, but we had a thought mid-project that maybe doing a banquet style dining area would be cool. So we gave it a shot and it turned out better than we had hoped. It makes the kitchen so much more functional, and now there is room to seat more than 2 people. The best part about it is that we incorporated some storage under the booth seating, which makes a huge difference when living in a small space like this one.

We couldn’t find a table locally that was going to work for the size we needed, so we decided that building one was going to be our best bet. We came across a design online and then improvised it a little bit to make it work. We did a white wash on the top and painted the base solid white. The table is the perfect size – it doesn’t stick into the room too much and it leaves just enough space to slip in the bench without hitting the legs.

Sources: Bench Cushions

Final Additions

Next to the pantry, we added a pull out trash & recycling enclosure to conceal that whole situation. We also built another longer cabinet box for more storage along the last blank wall to contain the microwave, silverware, and other kitchenware. We did a butcher block countertop on both of these, which we stained with a light white wash and it came out pretty nice.

One last cool thing we did was retrofit the kitchen door into a dutch style door. So now she can just open the top hatch while leaving the bottom closed.

While this kitchen is on the smaller side, we tried to make the most of the space by incorporating some more storage, updating old fixtures, and suiting it to Cali’s personal taste. We are really happy with the final result and learned so much during this project.

Check out part 2 of this project where we redo the living/bedroom area, bathroom, and add in a nursery too!


  1. Gumbygirl

    18 September

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you are using the word”banquet” when you should use “banquette.” They are two different things!

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