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Before and After

How skylights enhance a mid-century modern kitchen

Discover how an Atlanta-based designer renovated her dated kitchen with skylights and created a uniquely textural and colorful open concept.

Modern kitchen with natural wood cabinets black drawers and a skylight over the island

From Brooklyn co-ops to Los Angeles Tudors, interior designer Jessica Davis lived the gamut of architectural curiosities before settling down in a mid-century modern home in Atlanta with her husband and children. The couple knew they wanted something with a modern design flair and strong connection to the outdoors when they embarked on their 2019 house hunting journey and immediately recognized the potential of this Buckhead home to fulfill their wish list with its lush landscape and plentiful windows. Surrounded by trees, the property provides a strong connection to nature while also enshrouding the home in privacy.

Kitchen before2

While much of the home required basic renovations such as new paint and flooring, Davis knew the kitchen and dining room space would need more than fresh finishes. The original floor plan separated the dining room and kitchen into separate rooms and featured large but awkward pantries. In the kitchen, the original finishes included a lot of wood: brown wood cabinetry over magnolia-wood paneled walls and white wood paneling across the ceilings. The floors were a dated beige tile. Between the top cabinets and the counter tops on the outer wall, there was a row of windows that provided some natural light, but inefficiently.

In effort to create a space they could both live in long-term and use as part of Davis’ design portfolio, Davis took on a full gut renovation to instill clean, modern lines throughout the space and open it up into the dining room. To protect its structural integrity, she enlisted an architect to help solve the challenge of removing a wall and brought in VELUX Solar Power Fresh Air Skylights to flood the space in natural light and help ventilate the room when they cook.

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Overall, the home has beautiful access to natural light. However, due to its awkward layout, the room felt relatively dark. Additionally, Davis noted some initial worry that removing the windows between the countertops and top cabinets on the outer wall would turn the space into a cave, but she pursued her vision for removing the windows and installing a tiled wall anyway. By opening up the space and adding skylights overhead, the kitchen is even brighter than the original.

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Davis’ style is modern and eclectic, marked by creative use of color, texture and material. While she strayed from the original wood look by adding in navy cabinets, a green/grey brick tile wall and gold accents, she repurposed the original magnolia-wood wall paneling for the new pantry cabinets and detailing. To give the paneling a more modern edge, she added matte black pulls from the same Deco collection (which Davis designed) as the gold pulls on the black drawers. A fire engine red stove draws the eye without feeling out of place.

The additional light allows that more playful contrasting of color and texture to work by reflecting up from the light terrazzo floors, down from the white paneled ceiling and preventing dark décor like the black cabinets from appearing too shadowy or heavy for the space.

Looking for more kitchen design inspiration that goes beyond white and grey? Check out how these homes pull off orange, navy blue, pink and more.

Schedule a virtual consultation with a VELUX daylight designer to find out how skylights could help you make bold color selections for your next room renovation.

Next: 10 Skylight Placement Ideas to Create a Design Statement

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