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This Designer Took a Dated '90s Kitchen and Created a Midcentury Modern Haven

Retro modern kitchen with blue pendant lights over island.

Design: Lydia Blanton; Photo: Steve 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.

“My client’s kitchen—centered between a cramped breakfast room and an unused formal dining room—lacked space and functionality," interior designer Lydia Blanton says. "The family tolerated the issues until prolonged periods of work and school from home pushed them to seek a better, brighter space. The original layout also completely cut off the screened-in back patio that was an ideal spot for extended entertaining.” 

Meet the Expert

Lydia Blanton is an interior designer at Four Brothers Design + Build in Washington, D.C. Originally from the Plains, she often gravitates towards spaces that mix lived-in comfort with antique furniture and bold textures.


Dark brown outdated kitchen.

Courtesy of Lydia Blanton

“The kitchen had dated red cherry cabinets, sterile overhead lights, and very little natural light, resulting in a dark, unattractive space to cook and entertain guests,” Blanton shares. “Plus, there was no feel for the homeowners’ personalities—contemporary anthropology professors who’ve traveled the world.”


Large wooden island with black marble countertop.

Design: Lydia Blanton; Photo: Steve Hershberger

“My clients have a bold, funky, midcentury style that I wanted to bring out in this kitchen," Blanton notes. "The first step was the biggest: moving the kitchen and absorbing the existing formal dining room to create a more casual and flexible cooking/eating/living space. This resulted in a much larger kitchen and allowed for more prep space and a large pantry. But, the best part was creating a cool pass-through serving window onto the screened-in back patio for year-round outdoor entertaining.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Black and white hues mix with walnut wood to reflect a modern and midcentury tone. 
  • Cabinets: Black walnut flat slab cabinets have striking wood grain and feature matte black hardware for a cool, modern touch.
  • Countertops: Caesarstone countertops run around the perimeter of the kitchen and onto the back patio bar. 
  • Backsplash: A textured white ceramic subway tile was laid on a stack bond for a modern take on a classic tile. 
  • Center Island: The oversized island is made in the same black walnut cabinetry and topped with a black granite countertop. 
  • Chairs: Industrial barstools tie into the stainless steel appliances and black tones throughout the space.  
  • Lighting: Three sage green industrial pendants are a nod to the homeowner’s favorite color while a black geometric sconce over the sink provides task lighting. 
  • Breakfast bar: The breakfast bar allows for outdoor dining while creating additional entertaining space. 
  • Floor: The original oak wood floor was stripped and stained in a natural finish. 
  • Sink: The sink area has views of the outdoors while its matte black faucet ties into the other black hues in the room.  
  • Stove hood: A plaster hood creates texture and is flanked by simple and modern black walnut floating shelves. 
  • Bar: The entertainment center has black walnut cabinetry to match the kitchen, along with open shelving to display bottles and a beverage fridge to chill drinks. 
  • Pantry: The pantry is made up of multiple dark gray cabinets while the nearby white cabinetry provides storage for serving dishes and linens. 
  • Appliances: Stainless steel appliances stand out against the wood cabinets.
  • Plants: Greenery was placed throughout the kitchen to compliment the outdoor view.

Shop the Look:

Bar stocked with bottles.

Design: Lydia Blanton; Photo: Steve Hershberger

Unfold Pendant
Lumens Unfold Pendant $254.00

“These pendants are actually rubber and come in seven great colors!” Blanton shares.

Alden Bar Stool
AllModern Alden Bar Stool $337.00

“These chairs are the perfect mix of industrial-meets-midcentury style,” Blanton notes.

Purist Pre-Rinse Kitchen Faucet
Kohler Purist Pre-Rinse Kitchen Faucet $664.00

“The square shape of this faucet is just the right mix of playful and industrial,” Blanton says.