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Makeover of the Week: The Creator of A Beautiful Mess Gave This Retro Kitchen an Inspiring Update

kitchen after

Photo by Amber Ulmer; Courtesy of Elsie Larson

“Our home was built in 1972 and still had the original kitchen when we purchased it. I can understand how some people would have wanted to preserve the look, but for us, a fresh start was the right choice,” says Elsie Larson, the co-creator of A Beautiful Mess. “We usually re-paint and re-use as much as possible when renovating, but we took this one down to the studs and started from scratch on a relatively modest budget. In the end, it's modern—but not too modern—and can be changed up throughout the seasons by adding color wherever we’d like.”

Meet the Expert

Elsie Larson is a Nashville-based co-creator of the lifestyle blog and brand A Beautiful Mess. She has a love for mid-century bones, white paint, and flea market finds, and has authored three books alongside her sister Emma Chapman.


kitchen before
Courtesy of Elsie Larson

“The kitchen design was very seventies, but not in a way that appealed to us,” notes Larson. “It had a non-functioning original double oven, dated and stained vinyl countertops and floor, a tile-less backsplash, and an unimpressive ceiling light.”


kitchen after
Photo by Amber Ulmer; Courtesy of Elsie Larson

“The space was box-like so we opened up it up by removing the top cabinets and adding four rows of open shelving that connect the back and side walls. Placing white dishes, glass objects, and clear canisters on the shelves keeps things neutral and coordinated looking,” says Larson. “To give the kitchen more personality and a punch of color, we wrapped the stove and refrigerator in a mint green shade of car vinyl. Because it’s not permanent, down the road we can switch up the hue to change the whole look and feel of the kitchen.” 

What Changed:

  • Color theme: An all-white look is punctuated by mint appliances.
  • Cabinets: Standard shaker style cabinets give off a streamlined look.
  • Backsplash: 3 x 6 subway tiles extend to the ceiling and are hung in a fresh herringbone pattern.
  • Shelving: Two-inch custom shelving replaced all the upper cabinetry.
  • Cabinet hardware: Hexagon-shaped brass drawer pulls and circular brass knobs pop against the white cabinets.  
  • Countertops: Gray two-inch quartz countertops provide a break between the white backsplash and counters.
  • Ceiling light: A flush mount mid-century ceiling light, with its twelve opal glass globes, adds a modern element to the space.
  • Sink light: The three globes in this solid brass fixture illuminate the area over the sink.
  • Floor: Gray veining breaks up the 12x12 white marble floor.
  • Sink: A champagne bronze sprayer faucet pops against a white cast iron farmhouse sink.
  • Plants: A mix of greenery are hung from the ceiling and placed throughout the shelves.
  • Range hood: A stainless-steel hood and pot filler are the kitchen’s visual center points.

Shop the Look:

gold light
Lucent Lighting 12 Light Cluster $699.00
gold drawer pull
Rejuvenation Canfield Drawer Pull $18.00