Our Modern Kitchen Makeover

You may wonder how many kitchen makeovers can be done in one room and with the word “modern.” How does modern describe a space? Is it trendy, contemporary, minimalistic, bare, industrial? Or how about all of it. I am often asked what is my design style? If I had a name for it, what would I call it? That’s a very good question, I’ll reply. Because to me, “modern” simply means the way we use a space, feel in a space and the overall aesthetic of a space in the moment of today.



So today, I’m going to show you how I changed the aesthetic of our traditional kitchen into a modern kitchen. But first let’s talk just a little bit about me because to know me is to understand me and to understand me is to know where I’ve come from.

When describing my design style to other people, I often can’t. Because that would mean putting a label on myself and as a creative that’s just almost near impossible. Why? Because we’re ever evolving and changing. Friends will laugh at how many times I’ve changed out light fixtures or rugs or decor in our home. My husband dramatically rolls his eyes and I, well, I simply shrug. Now I’m not here to advocate changing out all your lighting in your home every 6 months but I am here to share with you how simple changes can help breath new life into a space and most with little cost or effort.

When we built our home, the kitchen was thought about the most, as I’m sure most families do when planning their home and how they will live in it. I’ve always loved older, classic homes and we often spend Sunday afternoons driving around some of the most beautiful neighborhoods in our city admiring them. There’s something so romantic about fantasizing about fixing up an old gem and restoring it back to it’s original glory. Unless you’ve done it before, you’re probably thinking lady are you crazy?

Ok, I digress. Back to my kitchen. I wanted a classic style, I wanted that feel of an older 1920’s style kitchen but with modern functionality. So I designed the bones about my kitchen to be just that. Next was the easy and fun part. Decorating! My first tip? Live with a space for a good while to get a feel for how your space moves and feels. Ours wanted to be traditional but with a little somethin somethin. So in went beautiful traditional style lighting and gorgeous brass hardware, with layers and layers of pretty traditional decor.


(very traditional style)


BUT…as we lived with it, that “somethin” wasn’t giving me what it needed to give me. Why? Because it wasn’t how we lived. Not truly. We’re not traditional style people, we are  quirky, uniquely ambiguous, all over the place, messy and not messy, simple and carefree. So, no wonder the traditional style didn’t feel right for us. Back to the drawing board I went. I studied the places we visit, what draws our eye, what is beautiful to us, and how do we live. How DO we live?

We eat out, grab take out, order pizza most days and then there are the few and far in between days where I love to cook. BUT, I cook when I’m feeling inspired. We live juuuust on the outskirts of the city and we love it. We’re in the city at local eateries, bars and lounges nearly every day and yet we love to entertain. We shop mostly thrifted and the other parts of our home that are new, need to be timeless. So with all of that wrapped up, I thought we needed a kitchen that felt the way we live.


Lighting was the first to go. Down went the traditional pendants and up went simple and clean lined pendants that gave a bit of an architectural feel of modernism to me. These dome pendants are by Troy linked here. I love the simplicity of them and with the dome shade the lighting focuses on where I need it most which is on the island. The diffusers are a wonderful detail because they soften the light and take the glare away that would be present with other lighting. I also chose the 16″ diameter shade over our 7′ island. We have 9′ ceilings and when hanging fixtures over an island I like to stay 34″-36″ above the countertop.


(before lighting) Very pretty but just not us.


Next was to update the hardware. The brass was beautiful and I still love brass. It’s in the clock in our kitchen by Schoolhouse Electric and dining room light fixture by Hudson Valley Lighting. But in here, I wanted to step back. So I selected simple bin pulls with a classic feel and knobs that nod to a bit of minimalism. Here I chose these classic pieces by Top Knobs in flat black. You can find them here and the knobs here if you’re searching for this look.


I love the classic contrast of black and white.


(This is the before hardware) – Very traditional.


Am I a minimalist? No. Not a chance. Some days I wish I were but that is a true lifestyle of self control that I have no control over whatsoever. I’m like the Japanese word “wabi-sabi”. Perfectly imperfect and that’s what makes this girl tick.

After new lighting and hardware which made a huuuuge difference. Something was still “off”. And like Oprah, I had my Ahah! moment. The counter stools were so off. And badly off. They were cheap and by cheap, I mean it in every sense possible. They weren’t walnut although they were trying to be, they didn’t have brass feet but they wanted to dance in brass’s shoes and they were freaking slippery! Like don’t sit down too fast or you’ll slide right off of them. That’s when I scoured for new stools. I wanted something architecturally unique and interesting but functional. Must be functional. These beauties I found at build.com. They’re stylish and sturdy and for short people like me, the foot rest was a must! I also love the overall aesthetic of them, they’re artfully designed and with a little sculptural beauty to them.


(These were the previous stools – see in the background) extremely not comfortable.


So what’s next on the design checklist when creating a space that’s beautiful AND functional? Because a kitchen MUST be functional. I mean this isn’t Sex In The City and I’m no Carrie Bradshaw here. I really do put pizza in our oven.

One of my design guidelines is, rooms ought to flow from one to the other cohesively. They don’t need to “match” but they do need to complement.

So when looking for the decor pieces to add, I of course looked around our own home first. Dishes and pieces that are pretty enough to stand on their own as decor but useful enough that we can grab them down and well…use them. Everything in this kitchen gets used. And most of it is thrifted!


I love this little conversion chart it comes in handy all the time!


Our home is small so storage space is at a premium. Brooms, step stools and dustpans even go on open display in our house.


This simple little print was gifted to me by my good friend Kathleen, her art can be found here. Almost every meal is cooked in this cast iron pot. I tell my daughter all the time one day she’ll make her family’s meals in here.


More pieces that we use daily but when displayed on an open shelf can be artful as well. Artful storage.



I love a rug in the kitchen too. And this one I admit is a splurge but the beauty and warmth it adds in here makes it sooooo worth it! When you can, invest in good rugs. You can find more of these vintage beauties here. Again, my daughter will thank me one day when she begins creating a home of her own (or so I hope).


I mentioned I love thrifting and as a family we thrift together often which is fun! Another passion is finding small and/or local shops that have a story to tell on their own and who produce or procure some of the most amazing pieces. Here are a couple of my favorites:

  1. Golden Age Design – I love their Danish pieces and their eye for detail and quality is immeasurable! Plus, they’re super fun and knowledgable!


2. Carthage.Co – I love their stoneware and their story of ethically sourced dinnerware      is a must read! You will love their beautiful products.


3. Schoolhouse Electric – I am always and will always be an advocate for their goodies!


I do hope you enjoyed this read. Thank you so VERY much for stopping by and I hope that it provided a couple tips if you’re planning your own kitchen makeover or design as well as a few new resources to check out!


Come back soon!




This blog post could not be possible without the generous help of Build.com!










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