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How This Designer Added a Nordic Vibe to an '80s-Era Kitchen

makeover of the week - Natalie Myers kitchen after

Design: Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs, Photo: Jessica Alexander

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.

“The kitchen in this Santa Monica Craftsman bungalow had been updated in the '80s, using dark shellacked oak wood cabinets and laminate counters,” interior designer Natalie Myers says. “The new, present-day homeowners wanted to create a brighter and lighter space, one that would include a dining area and a connection to the living and outdoor areas.” 

Meet the Expert

Natalie Myers is a Los Angeles-based interior designer and the owner of Veneer Designs. She is known for the casual, luxe aesthetic she coined called “Scandifornian style”—a mix of minimalist Nordic influences, playful natural textures, and modern indoor-outdoor living concepts.


Makeover of the Week - Natalie Myers kitchen design before

Photo courtesy of Natalie Myers

The room had matchy-matchy oak floors and cabinets, a dark countertop that doubled as a backsplash, dated skylights, and an oversized refrigerator,” Myers notes. “To create more space, we pushed the kitchen out further into the backyard and raised the ceiling height to give it a grander feel.”  


Makeover of the Week - Natalie Myers Kitchen After with light blue cabinets and uppers

Design: Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs, Photo: Jessica Alexander

“We began by breaking down the wall between the kitchen and the living room to create a better flow," Myers explains. "Raising the ceiling height to make the small footprint bigger was no easy task, but the owners were willing to make the investment. Higher ceilings increased storage options because we were able to incorporate taller cabinets. The architect had specified interior black metal windows and door frames, but I convinced the client to go with wood to bring in a natural element and warm up the walls. Contrast is great, but black interior frames would have felt too stark.” 

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Light marine gray is paired with crisp white shades of neutral. 
  • Cabinets: Shaker-style custom cabinetry is accented with luxe-looking satin brass and leather pulls.
  • Countertops: Family-friendly Caesarstone has the look of marble but the maintenance of an engineered stone; its 20” white backsplash meets up with vertical white shiplap to give the wall more texture.
  • Lighting: The long drop down of the Nordic-inspired pendants are scaled to the ceiling height, while a brass double sconce over the sink ties into the cabinet hardware.
  • Dining table: A minimalist-styled, white oak table provides both chair and kid-friendly banquet seating. 
  • Dining chairs: Scandinavian-inspired woven wood chairs add texture and visual interest to the space. 
  • Banquette: A cabinet under the banquette contains drawers for storage, while a faux caramel leather cushion makes it easy to wipe spills.
  • French doors and windows: Douglas fir framed interior doors and windows complement the wooden table and chairs. 
  • Floors: The white, wire-brushed engineered oak floor offers the appearance of an oil-finished floor with the protection of a polyurethane finish. 
  • Hood: The unusual hood insert is built into a wood frame and wrapped with shiplap.
  • Rug: An antique rug adds an old-world charm befitting of a 100-year-old house and fills the wide walkway between the two sides of the kitchen. 
  • Floating shelves: Providing a warm contrast to the painted cabinetry and a counter balance to the closed upper cabinets, the wood shelves offer a place to display dishes and ceramics. 
  • Window treatments: Classic linen-blend white Roman shades provide privacy from street foot traffic.
  • Sink/faucet: A stainless-steel faucet takes a break from all the brass in the room. 
  • Accessories: A minimal amount of vintage ceramics combined with everyday dishware keeps the space from looking and feeling cluttered.

Shop the Look:

Makeover of the Week - Natalie Myers Kitchen after banquette and nordic table and chairs

Design: Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs, Photo: Jessica Alexander

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