Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Make-Me-Beautiful Kitchen Project

These days I am working on yet another white kitchen project.  What can I say?  I love a classic, all-white kitchen!  This one is particularly fun because the room is bright and airy, with huge windows and water views, and high ceilings that make you feel like you are floating.  Not only is this project great in terms of the design possibilities, but the client is an absolute sweetheart, making the whole process a real treat--from developing the new space plan, to selecting the custom cabinetry, and shopping for finishes and fixtures.  Designing a custom kitchen can be challenging, but sometimes the work feels more like play when you are inspired by the details and you enjoy the company of the people around you.  Such is the case on this one!

For this post, I thought it would be fun to share a sneak peak into our progress, so that you can see where we started and where we hope to land when the project is done.  To begin, my client came across an image of a  kitchen that she absolutely loved on  This kitchen has served as inspiration for a lot of our design decisions.  Here is that kitchen:

white kitchen, dark floors: 

We both like the white, raised-panel cabinetry, the dark hardwood floors, the farmhouse style sink, and the elegant niche created around the range, with above-counter spice storage pull-outs and the full panel wrap on the upper hood.

And here is what my client's kitchen looked like, pre-construction:

Our "Before" shot, looking through the kitchen to the family room beyond.
Looking the other way, towards the water and the formal dining room.  You can't see the breakfast nook here, but it is off to the right.  The breakfast nook has wrap-around and (nearly) floor-to-ceiling windows so that you can enjoy the views.  Stunning!

 As you can see the house has an early 90's feel to it and the kitchen is practically begging, "Make me beautiful!"  With it's Maple, slab-front cabinetry, this room is trying to be contemporary, but at this point just feels dated and uninspiring.  The room has two open pass-through windows which I'm not crazy about design-wise.  While they do contribute to increased "openness", they feel rather cheap and stripped down.   And there is so much empty wall space between the tops of the cabinets and the ceilings.  What a waste!  We intend to fill this space will full-height uppers and a rich, built-up crown molding.  The pass-through window opening that you see in the second photo will disappear, as the doorway into the dining room is being significantly widened and properly trimmed out with a wide, handsome casement.  If there is one thing this house lacks, it's properly-scaled molding.  Lucky for us, it's going to be added back into the equation!

Once I had developed a proper kitchen layout--one where our new sink and range are deliberately situated to take advantage of the gorgeous water views, as well as provide visual contact with the adjoining family room and formal dining room--the next step was to select cabinetry and finishes.  We went with a raised-panel door style, similar to the initial concept photo, with glass-door uppers on two walls.  The range, which will sit where the old refrigerator was in the "Before" shot, will have a paneled surround, much like the one in our concept photo.  Here is an early sketch I did of our own design:

I am hoping it will look and feel similar to this when we are done, but with the addition of a little more built-in storage:
Cabinetry, range nook, marble:
Another great kitchen found on Pinterest

To pair with the white kitchen cabinets, the client has been going back and forth between Calacatta and Carrara marble countertops.  After much debate, I think she's finally landed on this one:

The counter top slab we are in love with: Calacatta Statuario Polished.
She and I both love the highly polished finish and the beautiful, milky-white background.  I think it will look amazing!  Then for the backsplash, we want to keep it pretty simple, matching the tile to the countertop.  I like a Calacatta beveled-edge subway tile, as the beveled edge will add a little texture to the walls, making the whole composition a bit more interesting.  This one looks just about perfect to me, being slightly more matte than the countertop. 
Calacatta Gold Marble Beveled 3x6.  This beveled marble also has chair rails to match.  Please inquire.:
Calacatta Beveled 3x6 Subway tile, sold by

Then for the wall space just above the range, we want to do something a little more bold.  With all that white, it would be nice to establish an focal point by applying some pattern and contrast.  The cooktop area is a logical place, so I thought we could do an inset tile detail inside our range "niche".  This is a water-jet cut marble mosaic that we are considering for that purpose:

Tile through Oregon Tile and Marble

It's a pricey little number, at over $100/sq ft, but we don't have much backsplash in the kitchen, so I am hoping we can justify the extra cost.  One of the things I like most about it, is the little blue-gray outline.  The client already has a beautiful, high-quality rug in her living room, which has blues and grays in it.  I always like to find a common color to tie all the rooms together, even if it is a small, subtle detail.  Here is a close-up detail of that rug:

Tile is probably my favorite design element to play with in a kitchen, but lighting has to be a close second.  There are so many great fixtures to choose from--the problem is always narrowing down the choices!  We've gone back and forth between a more rustic look (iron lantern pendants over the island) and something bright and shiny, but finally settled on the later, in the form a bell jar pendant with polished nickel accents.  There will be three of these over the island and I think they will go beautifully with the home's light and airy vibe.

Hudson Valley Hampton 4-light Pendant, Polished Nickel:
The Hamptons pendant by Hudson Valley Lighting
Another room that needs help in the lighting department is the formal dining room.  The current chandelier is too contemporary (and a dated version at that!) to suit the tastes of my client and will feel very out of place once we add all the traditional design features to the kitchen and adjoining rooms. 

Formal dining room, which opens up to the deck (facing water) and the living room.
My client wants the space to be elegant, but also warm and inviting...not overly fussy or formal.  At the moment, the dining space, while nicely scaled and beautifully situated, fees rather ho-hum.   We need a healthy dose of style and personality and I intend to add that with a lovely chandelier, a new table to go with the client's existing Chippendale-style chairs, darker (re-stained) hardwood floors, and some proper window treatments.  This should be fun!  To get us started down that path, here is a dining fixture that I think gives us the feel we are after:

Karolina chandelier by Aidan Gray Lighting.  Found at

I also see great potential in those chairs of hers.  While the Navy upholstery works well-enough with the overall color scheme, the pattern could use a little boost.  I saw this image on Pinterest and it got my wheels turning:
Decorating for spring can simple as putting a few bouquets of spring blooms throughout your home.:
Seen on Pinterest, originally from

I don't know yet if I am going to be able to talk her into a pleated skirt, but something along these lines sure would breathe new life into those chairs!  The Chippendale style, while classic, can sometimes feel a tad stogy or stuffy, unless you find a way to put a fresh spin on them.  Even if we just did the pleats on the two end chairs that have arms, I would be thrilled.  That little detail nicely compliments the slightly frilly chandelier and the whole slip-covered approach lends a relaxed air.

There's lots more to talk about, but maybe I should save that for another post.  For now, it's back to work.  There's still a lot to be done and not a lot of time to get it all accomplished.  Did I mention that my client has a baby on the way???  Nothing like a baby's due date to kick a home remodel project into high gear!