Fresh and Modern Kitchen Makeover

Designer Laura Umansky transforms a kitchen by updating the existing cabinetry and floor for a fresh, airy design.

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CI-laura-umansky-modern-kitchen-lead-image_s4x3 Photography by Julie Soefer

Looking at this modern kitchen, you'd never guess the cabinets once had a natural cherry finish and that the floor was orange concrete. Design firm Laura U, Inc. transformed this space by refinishing the surfaces and adding modern accents to create an airy open kitchen.

Designer Laura Umansky shares how she adapted her design to the unique challenges this space presented.

Describe the homeowner's wish list.


The homeowner requested an update to his kitchen using the existing cabinetry and appliances. He wanted a light, bright and airy space for his family as well as seating at an improved kitchen island.


Browse Pictures of this Kitchen Remodel

What was the biggest issue the design addressed?

The original finish on the cabinets was a natural cherry, the floors were an orange-stained concrete and the island was large with black countertops. The homeowner immediately let us know that he was not at all fond of orange, which was everywhere in the space. We resurfaced the stained concrete floors with gray concrete and refinished the cherry cabinets in a cool whitewash.

Describe an obstacle in the space.

The biggest obstacle was the colossal kitchen island. It was all one level, didn’t provide a backsplash for the cooktop, and had a heavy black granite top. We reworked the layout of the island using the existing base cabinets and appliances. A waterfall bar in Calcutta marble was the perfect way to break up the huge expanse of the island, lighten the space and create a backsplash for the cooktop at the same time.

How did the end result match your original vision?

We had planned to keep the existing backsplash at the perimeter cabinets, but once we began the work, it didn’t hold up. We replaced it, which was a big improvement.

What lessons did you learn from this project?

What surprised me the most was how difficult it was to refinish the concrete floor. The orange stain could not be changed and we had to float a new layer of concrete over the top to achieve the color change we desired.

What are the hidden gems that make a big difference?

I love using the acrylic and chrome pneumatic stools from Janus et Cle. If you have a counter that is not quite bar height and not true counter height, these are the perfect stools for you. They adjust to any height and look beautiful.

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