Midcentury Modern Kitchen Refresh

6 Materials
1 Month

Yep, we painted our cherry cabinets and tossed out our traditional granite countertops to transform our kitchen into a bright, modern oasis!

If nothing about the kitchen in this photo excites you, you’re not alone. Well, if some freshly made banana pudding was on the counter, then maybe… nah, forget it. Everything about this kitchen is dismal. And this is what we inherited when we bought our beach condo in Florida this year. A sea of beige.

Beige floors, beige walls, beige countertops. Time to pull out the beige hammer and do some remodeling!


The biggest project we took on was replacing the beige tile throughout the condo. I selected a beautiful Italian porcelain plank tile with the look of driftwood colored hardwood. I decided to buy the tile myself and to pay a contractor for labor only to install it. You can find this wood plank tile in a variety of price ranges, but I ended up discovering some at Floor and Décor, a discount flooring chain, that I absolutely loved. I narrowed it down between 2 selections – Birch Forest Gray for only $1.99 per square foot or Tabula Fog for $3.39 per square foot. I felt a bit more confident with the one made in Italy rather than China, so I went with Tabula Fog. Still an awesome price!


Obviously, a coat of fresh paint gives you the biggest bang for you buck and can completely transform a space. Because I was going for a retro modern feel, I painted the walls white, with just a few accents of color. I chose a soft gray for the ceiling and a deep blue for one wall in the dining area.


Next, on to the granite countertops. I know, I know. What’s wrong with granite? Nothing, really. But this granite is (you guessed it) beige. And it doesn’t jive with my modern updating. I wanted a cleaner, brighter look. I’m not a granite hater, I promise you. But (as I tell my husband frequently), I am right. Just take a look… 


I better warn you now. If you didn’t sympathize with my decision to nix the granite, you’ll probably cringe at my next decision, too. Beautiful cherry cabinets – yep, I painted them gray. Remember, I’m going for a brighter, more casual look.

Replacing cabinets can be exorbitant, so I opted to just paint the existing ones and replace the hardware. I selected the color Gauntlet Gray from Sherwin Williams.


The wonderful thing about lighting is that you don’t have to break the bank to buy some trendy, fun fixtures. And with online stores like Lamps Plus and AllModern, the shopping is stress-free. 

Just to refresh your memory, there were 3 major concerns with lighting in the former kitchen: a boring, undersized fixture in the ceiling inset; too many recessed lights; and an outdated chandelier.

The dining area was easy. I found this iconic Sputnik chandelier from Lamps Plus for under $300. It screams Midcentury Modern. (Check out this guide for proper chandelier size and placement.)

For the recessed ceiling in the kitchen area, I selected a semi-flush 4-light fixture to accentuate the length of the ceiling inset. 

Finally, I converted the recessed lighting over the bar area into small hanging pendant lights. I fell in love with these cork pendants from AllModern. (Check out these tips for hanging pendant lights.)  


Now it’s beginning to get fun. Say hello to my chartreause backsplash. I knew I wanted this pop of color to help create a midcentury modern mood, but it was difficult to find. I finally found the perfect shade from Heath Ceramics, which creates their handmade clay tiles in San Franciso’s Mission District. The folks there were friendly; and when the tile arrived, it was even more beautiful than I expected. 

And this brings me to my next point… accentuate focal points!


Although open to the family room (which I love), our kitchen is long and narrow. The island seems endless, yet it was completely overlooked by the previous owner. (Too few bar stools, no accent lighting.) Instead, a generous feature such as this should be accentuated! Not to mention, its size is ideal for entertaining friends. 

To play up the island bar, I first added a few inches in depth to the new countertops. The previous depth was extremely narrow. Secondly, I painted the front of the island the same gray shade as the cabinets. Thirdly, (as mentioned earlier) I converted the recessed lights to 5 small hanging pendant lights.

And lastly (my favorite) I splurged on some killer modern bar stools from Hive in a cognac colored leather to compliment the warmth of the cork pendants.

Oh, I just can’t wait any longer! My kitchen refresh:

Suggested materials:
  • Porcelain plank tile   (Floor and Decor)
  • Paint   (Sherwin Williams)
  • Quartz countertops
See all materials
Wendy at myfrenchtwist.com
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 7 questions
  • Betsy Berman Betsy Berman on May 03, 2017
    What brand and color of quartz?

  • Jbs10446060 Jbs10446060 on May 21, 2017
    Where did you purchase the chairs at the counter ?

  • Olga Klyansko Olga Klyansko on May 28, 2019

    Hello Wendy, you did a really great job with kitchen renovation. I like an idea to paint an old cabinets. my question is how did you do it? did you paint by yourself or contractor did it for you? thank you and good luck with your future projects!

Join the conversation
3 of 113 comments