As children grow up and move out, many parents find themselves with extra space in their homes that feels empty without the hustle and bustle of family life. While this transition can be difficult, it also presents an opportunity to re-imagine your home’s design. This week’s featured kitchen is a stunning example of how empty-nesters transformed their space into an elegant and inviting area for entertaining and enjoying their newfound freedom.


The owners of this light-filled kitchen were ready to say goodbye to the chaotic days of cooking for a full house and create a sophisticated space suitable for adults. However, they didn’t want to fully lose the warmth and character of their long-time family home. Working with designers, they found the perfect balance between sleek, contemporary elements and traditional features that honor the home’s history.

Aesethetics – Seamlessly Blending Old and New

The kitchen’s fresh, open layout and minimalist style belie the home’s age, yet nods to the past prevent it from feeling too stark or modern. Crisp white cabinetry paired with marble countertops and backsplash tiles create a bright and airy aesthetic, while dark wood flooring and bronze hardware on the cabinets add warmth and keep the room grounded. The backsplash features an abstract pattern reminiscent of fish scales, a unique texture that prevents the white-on-white palette from appearing flat or monotonous.

Though the cabinets have a sleek, uniform look, some extra thick framing around the perimeter pays homage to traditional kitchen design and craftsmanship. The homeowners brought in several antique furnishings, including a carved wooden island that provides ample seating and an ornate lighting fixture suspended above the breakfast nook. These key elements infuse rich character.

Optimizing the Layout

One of the biggest changes was relocating the kitchen to the back of the home and creating an open-concept floor plan. The previous galley-style kitchen felt dark and disconnected from living areas. By opening up the walls and shifting the configuration, the space gained a light, airy quality with easy flow between cooking, dining, and lounging zones.

The work area occupies one wall with a streamlined layout. Appliances are concealed behind cabinetry for a hidden “dirty” workspace that doesn’t distract from the clean lines. A sizable island serves as a casual dining bar on one side and a spacious food prep zone on the other. Just beyond sits a cozy breakfast nook bathed in natural light from a bank of windows.

Doors leading outside were also added to allow easy access to the deck and backyard, expanding the kitchen’s entertaining capabilities. The open design lends itself well to hosting festive dinner parties, while maintaining an intimate ambiance for everyday meals.

Highlights and Features

Sleek Surfaces – The homeowners opted for easy-to-clean marble on the countertops and backslash. The seamless look creates a refined impression without harsh edges. While prone to stains, marble’s vulnerability brings an element of elegance from the need to care for its finicky nature.

Top-of-the-Line Appliances – Instead of wall ovens and a cooktop, built-in Miele speed and steam ovens allow for specialized cooking techniques. They chose an airy, minimalist range hood and sleek Miele dishwasher that fits flush with the cabinetry.

Oversized Island – In addition to providing acres of counter space, the 9-foot island enables multiple cooks to comfortably work together. Designers customized it with extra thick edges inspired by old-fashioned farmhouse style islands. The warm finish of its reclaimed wood softens the space.

Breakfast Nook – Situated in a bump-out bay area with surrounding windows, the casual dining nook bathes in natural light. A vintage blown-glass chandelier hangs above an antique table and chairs discovered at a local flea market.

Built-In Wine Refrigerator – Positioned near the dining area for easy access, the 18-bottle wine cooler keeps white and sparkling wines crisp and refreshing for impromptu entertaining needs. Its integrated design maintains the clean lines.

Q&A About Empty Nester Kitchens

What size kitchen is best for empty nesters?

For empty nesters, a medium or small kitchen around 150-200 square feet is ideal. With less demand for storage, you can minimize unused space. Focus on an efficient layout with enough room to cook and entertain.

Should empty nesters remodel their kitchen?

If the layout or aesthetics feel outdated, a remodel can help empty nesters reinvent the kitchen to suit evolving needs. Open concept, bright colors, streamlined storage, and luxury finishes make excellent choices.

What amenities do empty nesters want in a kitchen?

Empty nesters often desire higher-end appliances, comfortable gathering areas like a breakfast nook, easy outdoor access, wine storage, minimalist styling, and low-maintenance materials.

Should empty nesters keep upper cabinets?

Upper cabinets can make a kitchen appear dark and cluttered. For a lighter, airier look, empty nesters could remove upper cabinets and install a few choice glass-front cabinets, open shelving, or floating shelves.

What colors and finishes work best for empty nester kitchens?

Neutral, monochromatic color schemes with contrasting metals or wood finishes create a refined yet warm aesthetic. Bright whites, beiges, graphite, bronze, marble, and wood offer sophisticated options.

How can you make a kitchen feel cozy for empty nesters?

Incorporate items with sentimental value, antique lighting fixtures, reclaimed wood elements, comfy banquettes, warm materials like wood or marble, and plants. Keeping the dining area near cooking zones also lends an intimate feel.


The gorgeous kitchen featured this week provides endless inspiration for empty nesters seeking to reinvent this important space in their home’s next chapter. By blending sleek, contemporary features with traditional accents, the homeowners found a perfect balance suitable for relaxed adult entertaining without losing the home’s long-standing charm. For empty nesters, the kitchen can evolve to reflect changing priorities and aesthetics while preserving truly timeless aspects. With careful planning and design, it can become a stylish, efficient, and inviting space to embrace your new lifestyle.