How a Design Duo Transformed a Cookie-Cutter Kitchen Into a Bold New Space

Renovated kitchen with blue tiled backsplash and clear barstools.

Design: Etch Design Group; Photo: Sophie Epton

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.

“Our client reached out soon after purchasing her condo in Austin, Texas and asked for help renovating a bland and basic kitchen, which wasn’t at all in keeping with her funkier personal style," interior designer Stephanie Lindsey says.

Meet the Expert

Interior designers Jessica Nelson and Stephanie Lindsey are owners of Etch Design Group based in Austin, Texas. They strive to design transitional and modern spaces that balance purpose and beauty.

Before:

Before shot of empty kitchen with dark cabinetry.

Courtesy of Stephanie Lindsey

“The pre-existing black, gray, and white kitchen was generic and devoid of color and pattern," interior designer Jessica Nelson notes. "Since we were working within the confines of a small space, there weren’t a lot of major spatial moves to make. The big driver was the aesthetic—the existing look simply did not reflect our client’s affinity for classic design and unique detailing."

After:

Bright white kitchen with clear barstools.

Design: Etch Design Group; Photo: Sophie Epton

“The layout had to remain as is, so we put a lot of emphasis on the materiality, incorporating a colorful blue tile that had a handmade quality to it, creamy off-white cabinets to showcase the backsplash, and a low-maintenance, marble-like quartz countertop,” Lindsey says. “Our client didn’t want a standard island, so we custom designed one that would be just as at home in a formal dining room or even as a desk in an office, adding brass feet to tie into the other metals in the room.” 

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Light blue hues are combined with white and brass elements for a soft yet fresh-looking finish. 
  • Shaker cabinets: Closed cabinets mix with glass fronts and open shelving to create a variety of style and interest.
  • Cabinet hardware: Solid brass knobs and brushed satin brass pulls pop against the cream-colored cabinetry. 
  • Backsplash: A blue subway tile is laid in a crosshatch pattern to give the backsplash a modern edge. 
  • Countertops: Polished white quartz with subtle veining is fancy yet functional. 
  • Center island: Delicate side detailing gives the island a more furniture-like feel. 
  • Pendants: Organically-shaped glass canopies combined with brass stems provide interest above the island.
  • Stools: Transparent plastic stools have a contemporary flair and reveal the detailing on the island. 
  • Sink hardware: A stainless steel under-mount sink is paired with a satin nickel faucet to add contrast to the brass fixtures in the room. 
  • Floor: Natural toned, 5 inch engineered white oak floors, part of the original design, worked well within the new space.

Shop the Look:

Close-up of kitchen sink and light blue backsplash behind it.

Design: Etch Design Group; Photo: Sophie Epton

Savoy Classic Field Tile
Ann Saks Savoy Classic Field Tile $16 per sq. foot
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“I love using this tile because it comes in an array of colors and can be installed in a number of different patterns to suit any style,” Lindsey says.

Tableau Medium Pendant
Kelly Wearstler Tableau Medium Pendant $635
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“These fun pendants really drive home the concept that classic design can be done in a modern way,” Lindsey says.

One More Bar Stool, Set of 2
Philippe Starck for Kartell One More Bar Stool, Set of 2 $950
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“The great thing about transparent stools? They can make any room appear larger than it is," Lindsey says.

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