Save My Reno: Raj + Riva’s (Not So) Traditional Kitchen

Raj and Riva may have had traditional taste, but the tricks we pulled to keep this project on budget were anything but.

After living with their boring brown kitchen for 11 years, this couple was itching for change. Ironically, the layout wasn’t an issue and they surely had enough cabinets, but they were mostly doors—no drawers or systemized organization. They craved better function, better appliances, a dining area, stone counters, and a backsplash (because they had NONE).

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This is a busy family who lives by a schedule, and there was only one thing missing from their to-do list I had to add: before demo, feed Seb and Sab. Only rather than sledges and brute force, this was more of a deconstruction because we decided to sell their appliances and re-use their cabinets in the new design to save money.

It may seem unconventional, but replacing this huge kitchen with new cabinets (forget custom, even using pre-fab!) would have blown their budget, and their existing doors and drawers were solid wood and in great shape. They simply needed new life breathed into them in the form of fresh, creamy white paint. Honestly, Riva was not convinced about the paint at first, and I couldn’t blame her. It sounds like a short-term solution which is exactly why I brought her to the source where they get sprayed professionally so she could see for herself.

I’ve already hoarded a few business cards from PaintCore for when I want something painted in my own home because they do it up right! It seriously looks like a factory-finish when they’re done. This is absolutely not a DIY job in my opinion—not only will you get streaks with a paintbrush, but the high-end sanders and sprayers professionals use means they won’t chip after 5 years. And the best part was it only cost us a few thousand bucks whereas even pre-fab non-wood cabinets would have run upwards of 6k. Needless to say, Riva became convinced which was a huge accomplishment for me!

One thing Riva didn’t need arm-twisting on was drawer organizers. With the money saved from reusing their cabinets, we were able to buy a whole bunch of organizers to offer more function. We were also able to splurge on new appliances, new tile floors, a massive island and quartz dining table, a pretty vent hood and this perfectly glitzy diamond stone backsplash.


Once the white was sprayed out, we decided that a soft grey on the island would look amazing and offer some contrast. It was just slightly darker than the creamy white, but made this massive piece even more of a statement item. Initially, on the sides of the island we were going to install shallow cabinets but we forwent them in exchange for some cool architectural detail in the form of molding and bead-board. To our surprise, Raj and Riva felt they had enough storage elsewhere and preferred the high-end look, and we we’re so glad they agreed to this change! We put the cabinets we were going to install on the sides on the front face of the island, tucked away underneath the dining table. Below, you can see where they found a home beneath the soon-to-be-installed table.

We may have reused their cabinets, but painted and outfitted with tons of chunky crown molding and they look brand new! On the floors, rather than buying expensive natural stone, we cut inexpensive slab porcelain tiles and laid them in a herringbone pattern.

We then enlisted design’s good friend symmetry and centered all of the lighting around the impressive island in the middle of the kitchen. With cascading quartz that flows into a dining table, chrome finishes, contrasting counters, and a white diamond backsplash, this space feels both homey and sophisticated. And the former (feeling inviting) is all thanks to undertones! The space could have easily bordered on cold-looking, but by selecting whites and neutrals with warm undertones, this impressive kitchen doesn’t feel untouchable. Rather, it invites you in to cook and eat!

Although it’s a bit more traditional than I personally go for, this kitchen may take the cake for being my favorite of the whole season. I just can’t get over the flow and am still fan-girling over the floating island/table.  *heart eyes emoji*

For all the impressive before and after photos, head to and be sure to browse around for plenty of extras, a 360 degree tour and webisode tips!

Shop The Look:

  1. Chrome Cluster Light
  2. Chrome Pendant Light
  3. Diamond Backsplash
  4. Wood Serving Tray
  5. Grey Porcelain Floor Tile
  6. Ceramic Pitcher 
  7. Gold Cutlery Set
  8. Marble Plates
  9. Wood Cutting Board

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