Old-fashioned, polished chrome sink and marble counter tops
Stephen Karlisch

Create a Custom Look

Carefully chosen finishes, an eye for detail, and a little creativity set these inspiring kitchens apart from their cookie-cutter predecessors. Take a cue from these innovative homeowners and update your kitchen with style.

Open but inefficient kitchen before the remodel

Before: Inefficiently Open

This wide-open kitchen was reworked to be more efficient. A large island could have made the space feel cramped, but 12-inch-deep base cabinets installed along one wall maintained flow.

Oak cabinets and kitchen island

After: Clean and Modern

Unique custom cabinet doors are veneered with stacked pieces of oak to have a texture similar to that of a roll-top desk. The same oak appears on the island, and limestone counters and stainless steel appliances complete the kitchen's clean, modern design.

Wooden shelves mounted in front of a new window provide display space and make an architectural statement.

Cramped spec kitchen before the renovation

Before: Cramped Kitchen

This kitchen needed simplifying. The workspace at the end created a bottleneck, and the L-shaped cabinets limited the workable surfaces.

"I wanted to make everything simpler, plainer, and fresher," says designer Carol Glasser, who is adamant about losing upper cabinets. "It forces you to edit -- to get rid of all the jelly jars and plastic cups, to find more space."

Blue-green cabinets under marble counters
Stephen Karlisch

After: Light and Bright

"Simple, clean, and organized" is designer Carol Glasser's mantra. She chose to lose a counter and L-shaped cabinets, remove the wife's office, and accentuate the new galley shape by adding two rail-straight runs of cabinets.

A pair of refrigerators, one at each end of the counter on the right, hide behind paneled doors. Sunlight pours through three casement windows, setting the pale blue-green cabinets aglow.

To compensate for the loss of upper cabinets, Glasser included floor-to-ceiling pantries -- one for small appliances, one for dishes, and another for food.

Dark kitchen with insufficient storage

Before: Insufficient Cabinets

This outdated kitchen was remodeled to take full advantage of sunny southern and western exposures.

White Shaker-style cabinets and a mosaic back splash

After: Light and Cheerful

Avoiding finishes that might become dated, the owners of this kitchen paired classic -- but not costly -- Shaker-style cabinets with a mosaic of frosted-glass tiles that frame the home's original window.

The counters are SlateScape, a fiber-cement product that resembles concrete but is sold in sheets.

A light-filled kitchen before the renovation
Erik Kvalsvik

Before: An Awkward Layout

With the home's open layout, the stovetop on the island was the first thing visitors saw when entering the foyer.

Architect Mark Maresca flip-flopped the stove for the sink and replaced a Palladian window with cabinets and a hood.

Dark cabinets with white marble counter tops
Erik Kvalsvik

After: Sensational and Subtle

Architect Mark Maresca gave the kitchen a pleasing verticality by removing the soffit above the old cabinets and extending the new cabinets to the ceiling. Dark cabinets with cinnabar-red interiors give the kitchen more character.

"Kitchens are the rooms that become dated the quickest," Maresca says. "Nothing in this kitchen screams that it's the latest and greatest. That timelessness is more pleasing, more sophisticated, and elegant with a sense of reserve."

Drab wooden kitchen cabinets before the remodel

Before: Lacking Character

This kitchen lacked the architectural distinction the homeowners craved, but they were able to see potential in the space.

White kitchen and ocean blue barstools

After: Open and Airy

The new kitchen gains cottage style from cracked subway tile, "rolled glass" door fronts, and raised panel doors that hide the refrigerator. The hardware and plumbing fixtures replicate authentic 1920s designs.

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