Home renovation stories are among our favorites to tell. We love to uncover projects where careful planning and smart, creative design transform existing living space so that it fits the tempo of the family who dwells there. Today’s kitchen makeover does exactly this, as you’ll see. With the homeowner’s clear vision and well-honed aesthetic, combined with the creative talent of designer Gen Sohr, of Pencil and Paper Co., and builder Josh White of Joshua Builders, a space that was formerly cramped and dark is now filled with light and energy for the Nashville family who call this beautiful place home.

Photography courtesy of  Leslee Mitchell.

Modern Kitchen Redo
Bright. White. Full of light. What’s not to love about this space?
A Modern Kitchen: Before the Renovation
Here’s a shot before the renovation.
Another before shot. To get to the finished product, an existing wall (to the left of the island here) had to be removed and the floor leveled.
Modern Kitchen: Before
Here, you can clearly see the bay window that was the primary light source for the kitchen prior to the renovation.
Modern Kitchen, Fresh and White
Here’s the same area of the kitchen post-renovation. The new layout and bright, white color scheme make for a dramatic change and help convey a modern point of view in this space.

Both the homeowner and Gen share a love of modern design and decor. Having come from the West Coast originally, Gen says it’s a pleasure to work with people who want to mix things up and take a traditional footprint, like this great older house, and add a contemporary feel — it’s a challenge to merge the two philosophies, but a worthy one that reminds her of the design elements she was so drawn to in San Francisco. Collaboration was the key to this project’s success, and the end result is a kitchen that is warm and inviting, that uses classic materials, like Carrara marble, in a clean, modern way.

Modern Kitchen: Fresh and White
Custom-fabricated brass open shelving was a main “want” for the homeowner. It’s a beautiful way to display kitchen wares, but I was curious about storage for all the plastic cups and utilitarian necessities that seem to be a part of family life. Cleverly, many of the cabinets are pull-out drawers, which serve as home for the “ugly necessities.”
Modern Kitchen: Fresh and White
The subway tile used here on the backsplash, as well as floor to ceiling on several of the walls, is practical and efficient. It’s easy to clean with young children in the house and enhances the modern feel of the space.
A Modern Kitchen, Fresh and White
The brass lanterns from Visual Comfort and large island anchor the room, and the wooden-topped bar stools add warmth, along with plenty of seating for family and guests.
A Modern Kitchen, Fresh and White
Washing up after supper at this sink would seem like less of a chore, I think, especially with casement windows that can be easily opened to enjoy spring weather.
Modern Kitchen: Fresh and White
Flat front cabinets and sleek brass hardware offer a modern take on the butler’s pantry area of the kitchen. The homeowner didn’t want to see a lot of appliances, opting to put coffee maker and toaster behind doors, just to the left of the glass-front cabinets.
A Modern Kitchen, Fresh and White
Notice the mitered edge on the island’s top. It gives the impression that the marble is one giant, thick (expensive) slab, but it actually allows for a dramatic look without the extra weight.
A Modern Kitchen, Fresh and White
What about mixing metals? It’s ok with jewelry, but what about in the kitchen? Gen says absolutely yes: mixing stainless and brass is desirable and adds warmth.
A Modern Kitchen, Fresh and White
The cornflower blue geometric rugs also add warmth to this space and provides a nice contrast to the orange elements in the kitchen.
A Modern Kitchen, Fresh and White
The rugs are a soft resting spot for the family’s beloved furry friend, Max, as well.
A Modern Kitchen, Fresh and White
Bright pops of orange offer some visual contrast in numerous places throughout the kitchen, like on the island here.
A Modern Kitchen, Fresh and White
Good boy, Max! You look like you need a treat for being on your best behavior during the shoot. Maybe that’s why you’re waiting patiently by the pantry door.

As the homeowner says, “In the end, we wanted our kitchen to be a place where we could enjoy being together — with each other and with friends. All of the decisions we made during this project were influenced by the way we live. We’ve only been using this new space a few months, but it feels like it’s the way it always should have been.”


Many thanks to the homeowner and to Gen Sohr for today’s tour. To see more of Gen’s designs, visit her website: pencilandpaperco.com

About the Author
Amy Norton