Lightened Up

Linda Banks of Simply Home and Banks Design Associates updates her kitchen without changing its structure

“Twelve years ago, when I renovated my newly acquired ranch, the kitchen was one of my most exciting challenges. Back then, it was bold to have rich, chocolate-brown waxed floors, and I was tired of what I call the “bowlingalley blonde” look—those yellowish natural oak and maple floors that seem to belong in a bowling alley. I wanted to pair light marble countertops with the new dark floors, but my family persuaded me to choose black honed granite instead. The result was rich and elegant, and we enjoyed it for many years. By the time I became an empty nester, though, I was ready for a change.

Recently I decided to give the room a face-lift to lighten it up. Without changing my signature blue cabinetry or the architecture, I completely refreshed the space with three simple updates: new lighting, countertops, and floor finish. No structural work—no plumbing, electrical, or construction— was required. When I finished the floors, it felt like magic, how the room became instantly pale and serene. The transparent stain is like a layer of lightgray tissue paper, translucent and watery, allowing the grain of the ash wood to come through.

With a new floor finish, the space felt lighter than air. I decided to take the next step, even though I had originally planned to change only the floors. I shopped around and chose statuary white marble for the countertops, a marble with gray veins and a clearer white background than Carrara marble. I replaced the island top and sink area with the new stone. For the final touch, I chose two pleated, frosted-glass pendants by Artemide that are simple and transitional in style, and they create an ethereal glow in the room.

Everything I did was superficial, yet it transformed my kitchen. When I entertain now, the island is like a magnet—guests are attracted to it—and when I’m home alone, I use it as my personal workstation. Homeowners today want light, airy, and clean spaces, like my kitchen. Updating the space was like choosing a new hairstyle or shortening an evening gown into a minidress. The kitchen still feels like it’s mine, but it also feels brand new, no major renovation required.”

—Linda Banks, owner of Simply Home and Banks Design Associates

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