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A Dramatic White and Gray Modern Kitchen Remodel

Today I’m very excited to share the before and after photos from a dramatic makeover that transformed almost the entire main level of this traditional West Des Moines home. The result is a stunning white and gray modern kitchen design and bold new look for their fireplace wall.

My client and her husband built this home for their family twenty years ago, and their taste and style had evolved in a different direction. They loved more contemporary design, and they wanted to lighten up the house while giving it a fresh and modern feel.

The scope of the project included their living room fireplace, kitchen, back entryway, and laundry room, as well as converting their deck into a covered porch.

Kitchen Before

When we first met, they were considering giving their kitchen a face lift instead of a full remodel. After I listened to their wish list and evaluated the space, I knew they would be much happier if they truly went for it. Painting or refacing the cabinetry would have brightened up the space, but it would have still felt cramped and crowded.

Kitchen before

The layout of the kitchen was functional but it felt small for the size of the home. As we worked through the conceptual design phase, we realized we could make the kitchen feel much larger by stealing room from the back entry, which is behind the angled wall with the fridge and ovens.

Kitchen before

The two photos below show the entry from the garage into the mudroom. In addition to the lockers, there was a small coat closet behind the entry door. When my clients originally added these cabinets, they had a young family and needed lots of storage. Now that the clients are practically empty nesters, they don’t need as much space for coats and shoes, and they were happy to have that space incorporated into the kitchen.

Living Room Before

The living room is open to the kitchen and eating area and defined by arched headers and paneled columns on two sides. Before I first met with the clients, they had already decided to makeover the fireplace. They wanted to create a contemporary look by using solid marble slabs for the surround, but they were unsure how to handle the built-ins.

Living room fireplace before

So many – in fact, almost all – of my clients are telling me they want less stuff and less clutter, so they don’t need or want built-ins that need to be filled up and styled with objects and books. We knew we wanted to keep the design of the fireplace wall as simple and streamlined as possible.


The Plan

The clients had engaged K & V Homes, whom we worked with previously on our Winston Circle project, as the general contractor for their remodel. We developed a conceptual plan for the kitchen layout, back entry, and laundry room based on the client’s needs and wishes for the remodel. With a few tweaks to certain walls in each area, we knew we could optimize the space and make it feel much more open.

By removing the mudroom built-ins, we were able to shift the kitchen wall towards the garage door, creating one straight run of cabinetry with the cooktop, ovens, and refrigerator.

We eliminated the small closet in the mudroom and moved all of the coat and shoe storage into the laundry room. This allowed us to create a drop zone for mail, keys and cell phones right inside the door.

In the laundry, we borrowed space from the garage, which allowed us to push back the washer and dryer and add a new pocket door. Once our general plan was set, the contractor verified that it was feasible from a structural perspective.

Kitchen Classics in Urbandale provided the original cabinetry for the home, and we partnered with them again for this makeover. They took over from this point, further refining and tweaking the details to the cabinetry design.

We explored several ideas for the living room fireplace wall, but ultimately settled on the design concept shown above. We designed the marble surround with an inset fireplace, 11′ tall. On either side, we framed out drywall niches and designed floating inset cabinets, custom built by Waukee CabinetWorks, painted to match the trim color with marble tops.


Kitchen Before & After

Drag the arrows to compare the before and after of the kitchen.

White and gray modern kitchen remodel with high gloss white cabinets by Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer

I can’t believe the difference between the before photos and the afters. It’s like a completely different house. Once the project was demoed, we decided to open the kitchen to the back entry even more and completely removed the header between the two spaces.

White and Gray Modern Kitchen Remodel with high gloss white cabinets by Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer

For our finishes, we selected high gloss, slab front frameless cabinetry and paired it with Caesarstone’s Calacatta Nuvo in a honed finish. The backsplash is a pale gray beveled ceramic subway tile that we chose to install stacked rather than offset for a more contemporary look.

White and gray modern kitchen remodel with high gloss white cabinets by Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer
White and Gray Modern Kitchen with high gloss white cabinets by Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer

The floors are a huge design element throughout the entire first floor. Rather than replace the existing red birch, we worked with Barnum floors to develop this beautiful finish that is lighter and more neutral than the original color.

White and Gray Modern Kitchen with stainless steel farmhouse sink by Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer

At the same time this remodel took place, K & V was also building a new covered porch off the back of the house. We took advantage of this opportunity to enlarge the kitchen window substantially. Now it lets in so much more light. 

Beveled gray subway tile backsplash, Jeffrey Court subway tile

We reused the existing Haefel drawer pulls on the lower cabinets and added minimal tab pulls on the upper cabinets to keep the overall look very clean and uncluttered.

White and Gray Modern Kitchen Remodel, Contemporary kitchen remodel, high gloss white cabinets
White and Gray Modern Kitchen Remodel with high gloss white cabinets by Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer
Bay window dining nook, Sherwin Williams SW9165 Gossamer Veil

Laundry Room Before & After

We really wanted to carry the look and feel of the new kitchen into the laundry room so that they would feel connected. We also wanted to make the laundry feel less cramped. We achieved both goals even though we made the room slightly smaller.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any before photos of the sink side. The sink stayed in the same location, but we added shoe and coat storage on one side and made room for a kennel under the countertop. The finishes are all similar to those in the kitchen yet slightly more budget friendly.

Modern white laundry room, gray subway tile backsplash
Modern white laundry room, gray subway tile backsplash

Living Room Before & After

Drag the arrows to compare the before and after of the fireplace.

Modern marble fireplace with built ins on each side, linear fireplace with Samsung Frame TV by Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer

The minimalist design of the fireplace surround really allows the beauty of this natural marble to shine. Of course, we needed to upgrade their television to the Samsung Frame so that it didn’t detract from the gorgeous stone.

Modern marble slab fireplace, linear fireplace with Samsung Frame TV by Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer
Modern fireplace makeover by Jillian Lare Des Moines Interior Designer

I love how the design for the built-in nooks turned out. The marble tops still provide an opportunity for styling without giving way to clutter. We had the silver leaf mirrors custom made.


I hope you enjoyed this tour of a contemporary makeover for a fairly traditional home. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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