How One Designer Gave a Traditional New England-Style Kitchen a Fresh New Look

Bright and sunny kitchen with black counter stools and white cabinets.

Design: Kalah Talancy; Photo: Michael J. Lee; 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.

“This kitchen is the workhorse for this family of six and with many extended family members living nearby, and it’s also a meeting spot for regular gatherings and holidays,” interior designer Kalah Talancy says. “It needed to work better for a larger crowd.”

Meet the Expert

Kalah Talancy, owner of KT2 Design Group in Sudbury, Massachusetts, has a visual arts background and approaches each project with an artistic eye.  

Before:

Dark kitchen with cherry wood cabinets.

Courtesy of Kalah Talancy

“Besides the poor flow, there was a lot of dark wood in the kitchen—on the cabinets, floors, island, and kitchen table,” Talancy notes. “My goal was to lighten things up while staying true to the style of the house.”

After:

White kitchen with green gingham accents.

Design: Kalah Talancy; Photo: Michael J. Lee

“The tight kitchen used to run along the back of the house, so we opened up an interior wall, allowing it to now run front-to-back and have lots more space,” Talancy shares. “I used classic finishes that would age gracefully, including white cabinets, black soapstone countertops, and a white subway tile backsplash. I didn’t want to ignore the home’s New England roots, so I opted for traditional lighting along with a double-sided fireplace that connects the kitchen and great room, unifying the spaces without going full open concept.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Hints of green and white pop against classic white and black hues.
  • Cabinets: The unfussy shaker-style cabinets are painted in Benjamin Moore White Dove for a clean look and paired with polished nickel hardware. 
  • Pendants: Globe lights skew traditional with their finial bottoms and candelabra style interiors.  
  • Countertops: The black soapstone countertops will age beautifully over time.  
  • Fireplace: The gas fireplace makes for a cozy spot and features a soapstone surround and bench with storage drawers. 
  • Light over table: A linear double shaded iron pendant is both contemporary and traditional. 
  • Window treatments: The Roman shades add softness to a room built around hard surfaces. 
  • Range hood: Custom metal strapping and rivets highlight the hood. 
  • Island: Storage cabinets can be found on one side of the island and a cutout for the four black X-backed stools on the other. 
  • Backsplash: Classic 3” by 6” white subway tiles add brightness and will never go out of style. 
  • Rugs: A lime striped rug livens up the fireplace area while a textured jute rug under the kitchen table disguises spills and mishaps.
  • Kitchen table: The wood-topped table pops against the lime spindle back chairs. 
  • Blackboard: The magnetized blackboard provides a space for the kids’ art and family notes. 

Shop the Look:

Dining nook with lime green chairs.

Design: Kalah Talancy; Photo: Michael J. Lee

Catamaran Stripe Outdoor Rug
Dash and Albert Catamaran Stripe Outdoor Rug $1148
Shop

“This indoor/outdoor rug is durable and great for high traffic areas,” Talancy shares. 

Blake Counter Stool
Ethan Allen Blake Counter Stool $500 $400
Shop

“Cushion-free wood stools are easy to clean when you have children,” Talancy notes.

Lawler Orb Pendant
Burke Decor Lawler Orb Pendant $399 $339
Shop

“I love this version of a globe light because it leans traditional, yet it’s not stuffy,” Talancy says.

Related Stories