Before. After.

There is a FABULOUS 1880s house in Wichita.

It had been restored in the 1980s. And then declined. And declined. And declined. This is not, sadly, an uncommon story with old houses.

By 2018, the house looked terrible, and was listed for sale, cheap. So cheap that my friend, Carl, worried that it would be purchased by somebody to convert into apartments, covered with vinyl siding, with the original windows replaced by vinyl windows, and every cool original interior feature torn out.

So Carl, much to his regret, purchased it. I deny having nagged him to do exactly that.

Carl has been working away, on a $1.98 budget, to flip the house. His hope is that he can make the house appealing enough for somebody to take it on AS IS, or take it on and then commence with a first-class restoration (which the house is worthy of).

The kitchen in the house was a room which, without question, instantly induced one into suicidal thoughts. If you think I am kidding, just look at the BEFORE image:


See? A 1980s horror.


Wanna see the AFTER?

Scroll way down…




























Now, it’s important to fully appreciate what Carl did here.

The HORRIBLE hand-made upper cabinets in the before image? They are still there! Carl painted them, and exchanged some solid panels for glass. He even kept the white knobs!

The lower cabinet was too far gone, so he inserted a 1990s Home Depot cabinet from another project. Cost? $0.

The counter looks like $6,000 worth of marble. It’s not.


The counter is $80 worth of “marble” porcelain tiles, with an attendant porcelain “marble” edge and backsplash. 


Anybody could have torn out the BEFORE horror and spent big bucks replacing it all with $$$$ materials. What so vastly impresses me is that Carl, though the magic of creative alchemy and an innate loathing to spend money, utterly transformed a kitchen from depressing to friggin’ beauty.

I bow to Carl.




  1. Sandra Diane Lee on December 14, 2018 at 10:24 pm

    Carl is an amazing genius & I too bow to him as he is the god of cost effectiveness, stewardship & creativity!

  2. David Franks on December 15, 2018 at 2:10 am

    Is that the Sternberg House?

    • Ross on December 15, 2018 at 8:42 am

      No. It’s another fabulous 1880 house.

      • David Franks on December 15, 2018 at 12:24 pm

        Thank you. The c. 1980 renovation of the kitchen in the Sternberg House was remarkably similar in color and finish. Of course, it’s been over ten years since I saw that kitchen, so there’s that.

        I liked HGTV better when they focused on rooms rather than open spaces, the idiosyncratic, décor rather than demolition, and– mirabile dictu– inexpensive renovation and reuse. That would have been about twenty years ago.

    • Mike on December 17, 2018 at 1:28 pm

      I was hoping for the same thing, David; the Sternberg House has bugged me for the past couple of years, I keep hoping for an update that someone has started a restoration on it. And I agree about HGTV; back in the 90s when I lived in a new ranch style house, I watched all of their old-house shows and dreamed; when we bought our 1886 house in 2001, they immediately cancelled all of those shows in favor of a 24/7 real estate show interrupted by Lowes and Home Depot commercials…

  3. Dan Goodall-Williams on December 15, 2018 at 5:33 am

    That is truly amazing.

  4. Architectural Observer on December 15, 2018 at 10:51 am

    Very impressive transformation! This is a good example of how important it is to be able to visualize. Many people would take one look at the 80’s cabinets and immediately consign them to the dumpster. That’s how HGTV has trained them to think. Carl was able to achieve a current look at a fraction of the expense. Sometimes having a small budget can be a blessing; it forces one to be resourceful!

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply

Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.