Our very own Editor in Chief, Lauren Purcell, is sharing her experience of being a first-time kitchen renovator. Get an inside look at her trials and tribulations as she overhauls her Manhattan kitchen. Who knows, maybe you'll even get inspired to renovate your own!


Meet the Renovator

It took the breaking down of her oven for Editor in Chief, Lauren Purcell, to finally decide to renovate her kitchen. As a first-timer, she's just trying to figure out how to redesign her kitchen on a busy schedule and a limited budget. Keep clicking to follow her journey from 'before' to 'after!'

Reluctant Renovator

The Kitchen Therapist

Lauren has sought the help of ApartmentTherapy.com founder, Maxwell Ryan, to help create her dream kitchen. "It's just a matter of dividing the process into steps, so you don't get overwhelmed," Maxwell says. His first steps are as easy as 1, 2, 3: Gather ideas from the pros, focus on the floor plan and think about your style.

Maxwell Ryan

The Before

"The best part about my kitchen is that it faces a big window in my living room," Lauren says. However, on the top of her to-do list is fixing a detached microwave handle, a leaking faucet and a nonfunctioning oven!

Lauren’s Kitchen Before

The Entryway Before

"Right now, this wall in my entryway holds the mirror where I check my lipstick on my way out and the table I drop my keys on when I come in," Lauren admits. Click on to see what Maxwell has in mind for her updated space!

Kitchen Before

Potential After

"I love the open feel of this plan, but my perfectionist self is having a hard time committing. Is losing my beloved entryway really the only option?" Lauren says.

Potential After

Budget Blues

Lauren found herself over budget before she even knocked down the first wall! While she can't handle demolition, plumbing or electrical labor on her own, she decided to reconsider her materials. She's sticking to her color palette of greys and blues, and is nixing the nonessentials, like built-in drawer inserts for knives and spices and pop-up electrical outlets. And since she only needs four square feet worth of flooring, she's still willing to indulge herself on tile!

Paint Sample

Steel Her Inspiration

Lauren's taking a stand against stainless steel. Instead, she's looking at sleek, shiny white-glossed steel for her appliances. "[White is] already an accent color in my midcentury-modern-ish apartment, and I love its clean, bright look," Lauren explains.


A Real Reveal!

If there's one thing our Editor in Chief learned during her kitchen renovation process it was that things don't always go according to plan. Construction was slated to take six weeks, but it took more than nine. And she had to wait longer for vital elements, such as her light fixture and sleek stone counter. But she made it! Keep reading to learn her best tips to survive the process.

A Real Reveal!

Visualize How You Cook

"Initially, I resisted this extra-narrow fridge, but it turns out this refrigerator compartment is actually wider than in the old model, which was a side-by-side fridge and freezer," Lauren explains, noting that the freezer is now on the bottom instead. "I entertain a lot, so the small sacrifice in capacity is worth the extra width. Now I can more easily slide in trays of hors d'oeuvres."

Visualize How You Cook

Let Room Size Inform your Floor Color

A tip from my Lauren's terrific architect, Lauren Rubin of Lauren Rubin Architecture: For a small kitchen that's open to another room, choose a floor color similar to the adjoining floor surface. That helps the eye move through the space and gives the illusion of expansiveness.

A Real Reveal!

Flirt with Splurges (You Don't Have to Marry Them!)

Lauren's kitchen therapist, ApartmentTherapy.com's Maxwell Ryan says, "At the beginning of a renovation, forget about budget for a bit. Let yourself consider big-ticket 'dream kitchen' items. When you crunch the numbers, you might find that there are things you're willing to swap out to keep one or two of the expensive pieces."

Flirt with Splurges

Pick Lauren's Stools

She wants your help! Vote for the stools you think she should buy for her new kitchen on our Facebook page.

New stools