Busy with three little ones in suburban Minneapolis, Joanna Vielguth finds quick, stylish ways to customize her blank-slate builder kitchen.

In the red  Darker stain and cheerful paint personalize an inexpensive step stool and wall clock from Ikea.

Shelf awareness Joanna traded upper cabinets for simple maple shelves that match the warm wood tones of the stools and floor. Black brackets bought on Etsy match the counter and punctuate the ceiling-high backsplash tile she added.

Light in sight Rather than rely entirely on plain recessed ceiling fixtures, Joanna added a pair of pendants that complement the white cabinets, subway tile and stainless-steel appliances.

See-it storage The open shelving puts everyday dishes and glasses in an easy-to-reach spot and displays pretty pieces that pop from the backsplash.

Counter agent The high-contrast combo of black countertops and white cabinets is dynamic but leaves room to play with colorful accessories.

Great seats Curvy mid-mod stools echo the floors and warm up a cool and angular space.

Beauty by Baby Steps Kitchen
Beauty by Baby Steps Kitchen


Hardware Tyda pull. Ikea (ikea.com). Wall clock Pugg, hand-painted. Ikea (ikea.com). Step stool Bekvam, hand-painted. Ikea (ikea.com). Island stools Norman Counter Stools in Natural Oak. Rove Concepts (roveconcepts.com). Shelf brackets Industrial steel shelf brackets, Branches Furniture (branchesfurniture.etsy.com). Refrigerator WRF555SDFZ, Whirlpool. Lowe's (lowes.com). Range hood 30-inch hood, Whirlpool (lowes.com). Range WGG755S0BS, Whirlpool (outlet.whirlpool.com). Rug Herringbone cotton rug, color: indigo. Dash and Albert. Wayfair (wayfair.com). Pendant Charlotte three-light small inverted foyer (3523BC), Hinckley Lighting Experts (hinkleylightingexperts.com).