How One Designer Took an All-Wood Kitchen from Dated to Dazzling

Stunning marble kitchen with gray cabinets.

Design: Karen Wolf

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.

“My clients have a strong sense of style and a great eye for color and pattern and wanted a kitchen that could showcase their design talent,” interior designer Karen Wolf says. “But with three kids, this room needed to be functional as well as satisfy their bold tastes.”

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Karen B. Wolf is the owner of Karen Wolf Interiors in Short Hills, New Jersey. She's known for curating dynamic, livable and personality-driven homes and believes every project deserves a little sparkle along with layers of color, pattern, and texture.


Before shot of all cherry wood kitchen.

Courtesy of Karen Wolf

“The cherry cabinets screamed the '90s, the wood floors were too matchy-matchy with the cabinets, there wasn’t a lot of space for cook prep, and there was an overall lack of good lighting, which included a flush mount ceiling light that did nothing for the room,” Wolf notes.


Bold marble kitchen with black range hood.

Design: Karen Wolf

“We achieved family-friendly sophistication installing brass and leather elements throughout the space, custom gray cabinets, and Calacatta black, gray, and brown marble countertops," Wolf explains. "The large island has storage on the sink facing side and was stained in an oil-based black satin with a matte finish. The X-shaped millwork on its ends reinforces the home’s farmhouse appeal, as does the apron sink. The original shiplap ceiling adds visual interest and texture—it was one of the only things we kept.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Light gray, matte black, white and brass speak to a modern style farmhouse kitchen. 
  • Cabinets: Custom gray cabinets line the perimeter of the open kitchen and conceal the appliances, while acrylic and brass hardware add a touch of glam.
  • Countertop and backsplash: The pronounced veining in the Calacatta marble adds a bold feel to the space. 
  • Ceiling pendants: Statement lighting over the island—a mix of glass, black metal and brass—provide usable light and pulls all the finishes in the room together. 
  • Hood: The brass trim on the hood adds to the posh design of the range.
  • Center island: The large 12’ x 5’ island seats four and contains a task sink for food prep and storage for pots and pans.
  • Stools: Black leather stools add to the dramatic design thanks to their brass frames.
  • Floor: Original wide pine plank flooring went from a cherry to a walnut stain, giving the kitchen a fresh yet ageless appeal.
  • Ceiling: White tongue and groove on the ceiling add to the farmhouse feel. 
  • Sink: A classic farmhouse-style apron front sink is accessorized using gold and brass fixtures.
  • Workspace: A cork bulletin board with children’s artwork hangs over a desk hidden behind barn doors.

Shop the Look:

Kitchen nook with children's artwork hung up.

Design: Karen Wolf

Black Range Hood
CopperSmith Black Range Hood $4,500.00

“The hood is edgy and elegant—like the vibe of the kitchen, it speaks to luxury,” Wolf shares.

Rake Brass Counter Stool
CB2 Rake Brass Counter Stool $449.00

“A brass-plated brushed steel frame is covered in a black leather sling that slips on and off depending on the look you’re trying to achieve,” Wolf says.

Calacatta Manhattan Marble
Artistic Tile Calacatta Manhattan Marble $70.00

“I love that this Calacatta marble is bold yet timeless,” Wolf says.