Interior designers and plastic surgeons have one thing in common: They both do a lot of facelifts.

Recently, a house belonging to clients Ilya and Pina went under my “knife.” They have a large family and they all live in an old farmhouse where they enjoy cooking and holding family celebrations. But the kitchen was ill-suited to the tasks at hand. The room that should have been the soul of the household was absolutely soulless.

The kitchen was very large with a nice wood floor, but its redeeming qualities ended there. From the dim lighting to the dated appliances, this kitchen needed help. To help keep costs down, I decided to give the space a facelift instead of a total gut. I knew this would be no simple nip-and-tuck, but, rather, a full-fledged operation.


A kitchen facelift typically involves refreshing a lot of the old and injecting some of the new. In this instance, I wanted to preserve some of the farmhouse flavor, but update it with an urban, industrial vibe.

Kitchen facelifts are all about making the most of what you have, so I decided to keep the flooring and most of the cabinetry. But all of the wainscoting and backsplash had to come off, as well as the countertops and some of the cabinetry.

When it comes to kitchen facelifts, paint can be your BFF. I painted the kitchen a bright paper-white, except for one accent wall that I painted butter-yellow. I mixed in some new cabinetry with the old and painted the upper cabinets white and the lower cabinets black, and to all of them I added gorgeous clear Lucite rail-pulls.

Now it was time to bring in the new appliances — a fridge/freezer combo, dishwasher, stove and a range hood — all in stainless steel that instantly modernized the look. I did the counters in soft gray laminate and married them to a Carrara marble hexagon back-splash tile. I also installed a large single-bowl, stainless-steel sink that offers a twist on the traditional farmhouse sink.


In the middle of it all I installed a long, custom peninsula in reclaimed pine. I cladded the front in barnboard, which spoke to the character of this farmhouse. The peninsula houses additional storage and a dishwasher, and I provided seating for three with charcoal stools upholstered in yellow-and-gray floral fabric, inspired by vintage tea towels.

In addition to the beautiful esthetics, a kitchen has to be functional, and part of this space needed to work as a small home office. Against the yellow accent wall, I installed a work surface in the same gray laminate as the countertops, added another stool as well as some shelving and a closed storage cabinet, and voila! — instant office.

But the real wow factor in this room has to be the authentic tin ceiling I installed, comprised of square tiles. I then added recessed lighting and hung the coolest light fixtures — three pendant lights that are actually old Mason jars, tinted in a subtle blue.

By using lots of paint and fabric, in addition to high-impact finishes like reclaimed wood, tin and repurposed lights, I was able to give Ilya and Pina’s tired old space the ultimate facelift kitchen.


And the best part? No scars!

Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s “Candice Tells All.”