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This Designer Redid a 1968 Kitchen While Maintaining Its Midcentury Vibe

White kitchen with marble backsplash and countertop.

Design: Kristen Mendoza; Photo: Steven Hershberger; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“After spending an extended amount of time in her house, my client decided to update her kitchen after ten years of living in her home,” says interior designer Kristen Mendoza. “The house is midcentury with lots of 45-degree angles throughout, including in the kitchen which resulted in a very tight feel. My goal was to elongate the space but all within the existing footprint.”

Meet the Expert

Kristen Mendoza is a project designer at Four Brothers Design + Build in Washington, DC. She loves to play with Scandinavian and midcentury design all while maximizing storage for her clients.


Before photo of cramped, outdated 1960s kitchen.

Courtesy of Kristen Mendoza

“I was dealing with a late 1960s kitchen design that lacked any serious cabinetry. There was a pantry closet and three cabinets—one being over the refrigerator!” Mendoza shares. “There was also a mix of flooring materials—half ceramic tile, half wood—and a balcony off the kitchen that had structural issues. But, the biggest challenge was this kitchen’s shape, essentially half an octagon with odd angles. I had to figure out how to fit in an island and create more storage.”


Beautiful white marble kitchen with black pendant lamp.

Design: Kristen Mendoza; Photo: Steven Hershberger

“There’s now an island with storage and extensive wall cabinets, creating space for everyday kitchen items,” Mendoza notes. “I added French doors and installed a new iron railing on the balcony so it can be used for entertaining all year long. My client has bold taste and leans towards contrasting tones, so I went with a fun plum cabinet color and paired it with a high contrast Carrara white marble countertop and mixed metal finishes.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Plum, white, gray, black, and brass combine to create a bright and modern palette.  
  • Cabinets: The perimeter cabinets feature were painted in a soft white, while the cabinets flanking the range and island were painted a deep plum.   
  • Cabinet hardware: A brushed honey bronze finish on the pulls ties in with the other brass elements in the room.  
  • Countertops: A polished white and grey Carrara marble complements the cabinet colors. 
  • Backsplash: The marble on the countertop was extended to the backsplash to allow for easy cleanup and zero grout lines. 
  • Stools: A black and brass metal frame supports the stool’s curved and comfy backs. 
  • Floors: Newly installed oak planks were stained in a natural hue to match the existing floors in the house. 
  • Pendant: A black and brass double pendant plays off the room’s midcentury style.
  • Center Island: The island’s flat waterfall edging provides a more utilitarian design and includes two large storage cabinets, a dishwasher, and the room’s only sink. 
  • Appliances: The appliances feature a flush inset installation for a seamless look.
  • Shelves: A picture light over the marble shelving highlights framed art, books and greenery. 
  • French doors: New aluminum-clad French doors connect to the outdoors and feature Roman shades that can be opened or closed for light and privacy. 
  • Wine fridge: Closed storage above the stainless steel wine fridge conceals a coffee bar.

Shop the Look:

Marble kitchen with black modern ceiling pendant.

Design: Kristen Mendoza; Photo: Steven Hershberger

Waldorf Double
Lambert & Fils Waldorf Double $1,500.00

“This asymmetrical pendant is the perfect mix of playfulness and sophistication,” Mendoza shares.

Jagger Counter Stool
Arhaus Jagger Counter Stool $749.00

“The performance fabric on this stool is stain and moisture resistant, great for families with kids,” Mendoza notes.

Wine Fridge
Monogram Stainless Steel Wine Reserve $2,300.00

“A wine fridge not only looks smart in a kitchen, it frees up cabinet space and refrigerator storage,” Mendoza says.