A Little Black Paint and Plenty of Copper: Go Inside Martha's Modern Kitchen Makeover

When Martha updated a kitchen on her farm this summer, she opted for a few impactful changes over a gut renovation, adding fresh coats of paint in new colors, smarter appliances, better organization, and striking displays for some of her favorite collections. Read on to see what she cooked up.

For years, I have been an avid fan of restoration and renovation. Whether it is a house in need of minor alterations and redecoration, or an entire farm needing an overhaul, I find these projects fascinating and rewarding. In the past few months, I undertook one in the Maple House, a two-story, 1970s ranch-like home on the northernmost part of my property.

martha standing in kitchen with copper pots and pans
Paola + Murray

After creating a cookbook library there with California Closets a couple of years ago, I decided to tackle the large kitchen and adjoining hall, which I use for shoots. The existing cabinets, which came from my very first television studio in Westport, Connecticut, were painted creamy yellow and paired with old soapstone counters and sinks. On the floor, I used my own faux-bois ceramic tile, which I designed for the Home Depot. The space (see the before, directly below) worked well for many years, but it needed a new look.

cream colored kitchen before redesign
Paola + Murray

Out came the old stove, wall ovens, and doors, and in went lots of sandpaper, gallons of primer and custom satin-finish paint, and updated appliances. I extended the center counter to hold a stovetop for TV demos, added an ice maker under it, and replaced the ovens and stove. I painted the cabinets and wood-work black and the walls white, which I think makes the room feel bigger and more modern. Last, we happily brought in my collection of copper from my home kitchen and basement prop library, and the whole place was transformed!

The new kitchen is both beautiful and functional, and I love that I was able to reuse the old cabinetry with just a few additions, which was both economical and easier to accomplish. It took about a month and a half to complete, and cost a fraction of what it would had I gutted the place. I hope you like it.

black, white, and copper kitchen
Paola + Murray

Key Elements

In addition to a new Viking stove and ovens, Martha added a Viking six-burner cooktop to the island, where she enjoys cooking omelets and crêpes. She kept her storage system in place: She prefers open shelving because items are easy to see and access. Crocks hold her frequently used utensils. She also left her original soapstone countertops untouched, extending one section on the island. An old marble-top biscuit table by the main stove is great for rolling out dough. The deep sink is handy for filling and washing big pots and lots of dishes. Martha stores her copper pots and pans on an overhead rack near the stoves, where they are always easy to reach. On a recent trip to Miami, Martha spotted a pair of copper-plated stools (seen far right in above photo) at an antiques mall on her way to an event. She bought them, popped them in the back of her SUV, and flew them home to Bedford.

viking oven with french doors
Paola + Murray

Sensible Appliances

Martha loves the sensible design of the Viking oven with French doors. It opens easily with one hand—and prevents any chance of burning her elbows on a pulled-down door.

black pella french doors from kitchen to back porch
Paola + Murray

Black Doors, Brass Knobs

New Pella doors lead to the back porch, which is outfitted with a large dining table. Martha added Baldwin Hardware brass knobs to the cabinet doors and drawers.

black shelves lined with yellow dishware
Paola + Murray

Deep Shelving

She lined the hallway between the kitchen and library with deep shelves for her yellowware.

plate rack with antique copper dishes
Paola + Murray

Oak and Copper

An antique oak plate rack she had in storage fits nicely above one of the two sinks; antique copper dishes brighten the area.

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