Updating white cabinets with oak trim

The crown molding was the last one to be installed.

On the minus side: "I had no idea how much sanding there would be. His image of the ideal kitchen—"a classic white kitchen with dark countertops, a subway-tile backsplash, and a slate floor"—was taking shape through sweat, grit, and sawdust.

For Aaron Cover, a Web designer who has renovated seven houses in 13 years, the redo of this 1916 Craftsman was definitely his biggest undertaking to date.

And deciding to do all the cabinetry himself nearly did him in. With four Dallas house renovations and two San Diego, California, redos under his belt, he set his sights on the two-story stucco-and-shingle Craftsman with its compelling location—directly across the street from a golf course, overlooking Balboa Park and, in the distance, the San Diego harbor.

Shown: In the foyer, original elements blend with updates.

The existing stairway, wainscoting, and box-beam ceiling were cleaned up with paint and the stair treads refinished.

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"I'm not sure what I was thinking," Aaron says now, with a laugh.

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