before & after: clean + simple kitchen redo

There are many rooms in the home where I tolerate, and even encourage, artful clutter: collections of knickknacks, walls covered with art, neat piles of magazines and books. But not so in the kitchen. For whatever reason, I love maximalist decorating in other rooms, but I’ve always dreamed of having a simple, clean, bare bones, monochromatic, minimalist kitchen, something a lot like this lovely version from Jackie Lenox. With some very smart curation and material choices, Jackie’s managed to create a space that has a lot of personality with very few objects, or at least very few exposed objects. I love the color play between the dark gray cabinetry and the light wood open shelving; in fact, the basics of the room play off one another so nicely that a little bunch of flowers or branches is all it will ever need for a finishing touch. Awesome job, Jackie! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

See more of Jackie’s kitchen redo after the jump . . .

Time: 5 months

Basic Steps: I did tons of research and created moodboards to really hone in on the feeling I was going for, which is clean, yet warm, slightly industrial with added touches of color and whimsy with accessories. This really helped me, especially since both my husband and I are graphic designers and can debate a shade of gray for hours. Then our architects (my dear cousins) Abruzzo-Bodziak showed us tons of different layouts and material options until I drove them crazy, but eventually we all agreed on a general look and feeling. What really clinched it all was seeing their amazing 3D renderings. It was sometimes difficult to imagine some of these materials together, but that rendering really brought it all home.

We also spent a ridiculous amount of time figuring out our storage options and where every item would go. We really didn’t want to have all kinds of small appliances all over the counters, so they’re all tucked away in the storage cabinets. And who wants to have a garbage can out in full view? Hide that in a pullout drawer! Even our cat’s litter box was built into the vanity in the renovated bathroom (this litter box was discussed and sketched to death . . . it was almost comical!).

Our advice is to do lots of research, find good yet nice people to work with and then stay on top of your trades and contractors. Don’t ever be afraid to tell them you’re not entirely happy with how something’s going . . . this is where the “nice” is particularly important. Our contractor was such a nice man; it makes all the difference, especially when you have to ask to re-do something. — Jackie

Cabinets: Scherrs (ready to assemble)
Cabinet colors: Sherwin-Williams, Repose and Dovetail Gray
Appliances: Bosch range, microwave and dishwasher, KitchenAid fridge
Countertops: Organic White by Caesarstone
Sink: Extra Deep Kraus sink from Overstock
Faucet: Danze, Parma collection in brushed nickel
Backsplash: extra large satin white subway tiles from Cancos
Bar stools: black Tolix knockoffs from Overstock
Kitchen peninsula/worktable: Custom made at a restaurant supply in the Bowery, NYC
Cuckoo Clock: Ingolf Haas modern cuckoo from DWR
Pendant lights: Titan1 pendants from DWR
Open shelves: Doubled up furniture-grade plywood made locally in Brooklyn
Flooring: DuroDesign cork tile

  1. Oh my goodness, I love this! Especially the bar area, in the sunny spot of the kitchen. The perfect place to sit with a cup of coffee and a good book on a Saturday morning. The improvement is amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Emily Running says:

    Love it! Thanks for sharing

  3. emily says:

    divine! obsessed with the open shelving, where in brooklyn were they made?

  4. Amanda says:

    Gorgeous! I’d like to request photos and sketches of said litter box solution :)

  5. Linda Pelaccio says:

    Amazing; hard to believe it’s the same space. Simple, yet sleek and elegant.

  6. Diana says:

    I love the accents in the room! Especially the vase of flowers, it really makes the all the neutral colors have some pop.

  7. MelissaT says:

    What?! No pictures of the fabulous cat cabinet? I was curious to see how it turned out.

  8. Marlene says:

    Beautiful transformation! I like the neutral tones with just a punch of color here and there.

  9. A very nice redo, but it does look a little like a restaurant, with the exposed plates and bowls….

    Still love it though!

  10. RossLab says:

    Just perfect! I love the splash of color of the red A letter and those yellow cups.

  11. So simple but so inviting… Personally, I like the open shelving, it opens out the space instead of having wall to wall cabinets, which can close a space in. I also love the industrial touches and the bar is a stroke of genius, I’d never have thought of using the space in that way!

  12. Mariela says:

    Beautiful renovation, simple, clean and bright is perfect! x

  13. how2home says:

    Wow. with the new makeover, this kitchen is looking smashing! I like that you moved the ‘seating’ area by the window. The new cabinetry is perfect! Great job guys!

  14. Cara says:

    What a fantastic mix of materials! The new layout is so functional and visually appealing!

  15. J.S. says:

    WOW. what a beautiful kitchen!!!

  16. Rebecca says:

    love it! can you do this at my house?!

  17. Jen O says:

    This serene makeover is gorgeous, but I may be confused: it looks like the sink wall and the stove/fridge wall arrangements were flipped. If so, what was the reason for this? That’s such a huge expense for what is probably the same ‘look’.

  18. Eileen says:

    Love the clean, fresh look of your kitchen.

  19. Vanessa says:

    Beautiful. The cabinets really clean up the room’s “look.” I like that you used a darker color gray on the bottom cabinets and a lighter one up above, it gives you a chance to expand your color choices a little bit.

  20. Cade says:

    Where did you get that fantastic little bench on wheels! Love it.

  21. Meredith says:

    Where is that rolling bar from?! Been looking for something like that for a while…

    1. carol says:

      Would I be able to get the name of the company that made the kitchen island. My son is in a very small apartment in NY and this would be perfect.

  22. Heather says:

    I soooo want that kitchen. Just beautiful. Love it!

  23. Celine says:

    lovely kitchen. i love the new lamps!

  24. Kim says:

    Love this reno! And would love to see a pic of you cat litter/bathroom cabinet too

  25. Delicija says:

    It is nice , bright and spacious.

  26. Marna Herrity says:

    beautiful – so light and airy, yet functional at the same time

  27. jackie says:

    Hi all- Thanks so much for all of the wonderful comments!
    To answer a few questions:
    -The open sheving was made by the guys that did our bathroom cabinets…it’s really just a few layers of furniture grade plywood glued/screwed together (KF kitchen cabinets in gowanus, brooklyn).
    -The rolling cart was made at a restaurant supply place in the Bowery in NYC….but i’m sure a similar kind of business in another area could do this too.
    -Yes the sink wall and fridge/stove wall were flipped so we could have the open shelves above the sink/dishwasher AND since we redoing all the plumbing in the bathroom as well it wasn’t such a big deal.
    -I don’t have a great image of the litter box/bathroom vanity cabinet (who knew there’d be so much interest?) but will be sure to get one up on my blog asap (just click my name in the article above…it’s linked)…so stay tuned.
    thanks everyone!

  28. Suzy8track says:

    Very nice update! Really looks so much lighter and brighter in there now. Nicely Done!

  29. Your kitchen transformation is AMAZING!!! Love every inch.

  30. Sarah says:

    Great taste! Love the open shelving. Is it hard to maintain though?

  31. Kenny says:

    A beautiful transformation. Modern, yet period sensitive. And it won’t need to be renovated again for another 100 years. Unless “California Avocado” comes back into vogue : )

  32. lexi says:

    Gorgeous cabinets and very clean looking. But it’s basically a tragedy to get rid of those great tin ceilings! I’d rather have tin ceilings than recessed lighting any day. Not a fan of the design-blog cliche “EAT” sign but such decor is temporary.

  33. JojoPCoco says:


  34. insightful and innovative post.really shareable.thanks for the posting.

  35. Sandra says:

    I’m waiting for an invite Jackie. This looks so beautiful! Amazing transformation.

  36. I AM Carlos says:

    Too bad they changed the radiator……..

  37. ursonate says:

    what is actually supporting the shelves and how much weight can they hold?

  38. A rose W says:

    Terrific ! Love that you switched sides with major appliances. Better Feng Sui .

  39. Rachel says:

    I love this before and after! So simple, clean, and cozy! I want my NYC kitchen to look like that. I want those lights. We have a start-up called where you can hire trusted people to help you remodel your home. In case you need the extra help…

  40. la nacotraficante says:

    where are these lamps from?

  41. Stephanie says:

    I’m a fellow New Yorker making a move back to Brooklyn in a house that could benefit from a kitchen and bathroom renovation. I am also a commercial interior designer, so I’m about to embark on my most difficult project since the personal ones always are. Your kitchen and bathroom are beautiful, so congrats! Wondering where you sourced your kitchen hardware which is so simple and elegant. Your blog is a source of inspiration as we prepare for our renovation. Many thanks!

  42. Carmen says:


    I’d love to know the name of the restaurant supply store in the Bowery that made the workstation countertop. Can you please share the name?


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