The Most Embarrassing Kitchen in America

HGTV Magazine teamed up with HGTV Star Tiffany Brooks and turned this dumpy space into a dream kitchen for the winners of our makeover contest
By: Betsy Goldberg

Photo By: Ray Kachatorian

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Photo By: Ray Kachatorian

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Photo By: Victoria Pearson

Shockingly Bad Kitchen

When we set out to find the most embarrassing kitchen in America, we expected to see some shocking spaces. But Susan and Hansen Lee’s kitchen still took us by surprise. It was not only outdated — cabinets from the ’50s, dingy countertops and (holy cock-a-doodle-doo!) rooster wallpaper — but also dysfunctional.

In Need of Family Time

The dishwasher was kaput, the ovens opened only six inches before crashing into a door frame, there was no space for a fridge, and the family (including daughters Ella, 4, and Brielle, 7) didn’t have a place to sit together for dinner.

Put on the Back Burner

When our contest winners bought the Woodland Hills, Calif., house last December, a kitchen overhaul was at the top of their to-do list. But that plan got put on hold when their leaky roof needed replacing. "For months we ate takeout most nights, with the kids at a little play table and Hansen and I at the counter," says Susan.

The Design Dynamos

A style resuscitation was in order, so after hatching a plan, HGTV Star winner Tiffany Brooks and contractor Jeff Devlin, host of DIY Network's I Hate My Bath, got to work.

From Embarrassing to Amazing

Before the makeover, storage was scarce. "There was barely a place to put a box of cereal," says Tiffany. "So in the old oven space, we built 16-inch-deep cubbies with cabinets underneath." The sliding barn door is from Etsy. Tiffany stained it blue (Wedgewood by Behr).

Kids’ Nook

"All kids like forts, and this is our version," says Jeff of the girls’ space that’s a step up from the floor. The benches and Plexiglas-top table open up to store art supplies and toys. The cushions are made with indoor/outdoor material from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft.

Updated Floors

"I love hardwood floors so much I’d put one in my shower if I could!" says Susan. So out came the old tiles, and in went hickory wood planks. For the kids’ nook, Tiffany cut Flor tiles into 9-inch-by-9-inch squares and laid down a checkered pattern.

Roomy Peninsula

Tiffany and Jeff doubled the family’s countertop space with an 8-foot peninsula topped with marble. The base is painted blue "to inject some fun," says Tiffany. Woven barstools from Pier 1 Imports are more like chairs than stools — great for kids!

Juicing Station

Susan blends fresh juices each morning, but she used to make them in a cramped corner. Now she has a juicing station like one you’d find at a spa. A mini fridge holds fruit and vegetables, and the custom cabinets house glasses. The yellow ceramic tile is from Classic Tile & Mosaic.

Mealtime and Playtime

Chalkboard paint turned the wall into a drawing board.

Gather Round

Where there was once only empty space, the family now has a table from that Tiffany stained grayish brown.

Easy Cleanup

The new Kohler sink with its deep, divided basin and gooseneck faucet.

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