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Updating an ’80s galley kitchen in a Southie condo

Removing a wall separating the kitchen and living room was the first step toward a more modern design.

Sarah M. Winchester

Located in a 19th-century building that was converted to condos in the 1980s, this South Boston kitchen was originally a galley. “It had the typical 1980s aesthetic, laminate counters — it was very dated,” says interior designer Sarah Scales, who was brought in by the homeowner to update the space. The first step was to create a more modern layout by removing a wall separating the kitchen and living room, resulting in an open, airy space. Adding to the fresh feel are walnut cabinetry, white walls, and simple stainless hardware. “A single guy lives here, and in general, men don’t like a lot of fuss when it comes to decor,” says Scales. While the design is simple, she adds, there are accents that contribute splashes of color and distinction.

1 Oil-rubbed bronze pendant lights from West Elm feature glass globes with old-fashioned filament-style bulbs, providing visual interest as well as illumination.

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2 To make the small band of upper cabinets a focal point, Scales raised their height. “Typically, cabinets are about 18 inches” from the counter, she says. “By raising the height to 30, they are much more prominent.”

3 The backsplash is made of oversize white subway tile. Above, the white cabinets lend a contemporary touch.

4 Molded plastic stools scored on Overstock.com emulate those designed by modernist Herman Miller. “The blue adds a little color that we felt was necessary at the end of the project,” says Scales. Since they were reasonably priced, the owner can easily replace the stools if he tires of them, she adds.

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5 The island offers an ample casual seating area and plenty of prep space.

6 Durable white quartz counters contribute a sleek, refined aesthetic.

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7 The rug in the dining area incorporates varying blue tones. “It’s confetti style, which has a very contemporary look,” says Scales.

8 For continuity, Scales had the cabinetry and shelving in the dining area made of the same walnut used in the kitchen. To distinguish the two, the quartz counter here is shallower. “The dining area feels more like its own space this way,” says Scales.

Sarah M. Winchester

9 The oversize pendant light from Rejuvenation features a deep blue dome and stainless steel hardware. “Using different metal tones throughout the space makes the area feel more dramatic,” Scales says.

10 The round Room & Board table is made of ebonized wood. “It has a very contemporary appeal,” says Scales. “The black relates back to the oil-rubbed bronze pendants in the kitchen and also is a nice contrast with all of the walnut.”

11 Chairs, also from Room & Board, are upholstered in heather gray boucle, injecting a bit of softness into the space.

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