European Fresh


Sometimes a renovation story isn’t just about prettying things up. Often, the story starts with eliminating architectural elements that create a “moment in time,” are dated, or hold back the look of a space. In the case of this kitchen renovation, the client wanted a new kitchen with a traditional, timeless look. They had purchased the home brand new in the late 1990’s. The major obstacle was a dropped ceiling detail in the kitchen area that opened to a peaked eat-in area. It was awkward, at best, and a bit of an eye sore from the family room vantage point. I felt that it needed to be addressed in the renovation as we wanted to alter the floor plan and open things up. There was concern that it may be structural and costly to eliminate. My favorite structural engineer was called in to take a look. Fortunately, for the project and this client, it was not structural and was not a problem to remove. This alone created huge impact for the visual transformation of the entire living area.

With the good news from the engineer, I created a floor plan that rotated the direction of the kitchen to the back wall with the existing sink. This presented the kitchen focal point at the widest view which created the impression of a much larger space. We traded the eat-in area for a large island addition with seating for five. The dropped ceiling was removed and the adjoining wall was taken back to open up the kitchen to the family room. This added natural light, which was lacking in the living space, and created more of a great room feel.

Before and After Floor Plans

Manni after reno.png

I think that this story is a great reminder to have a good plan for what you want to accomplish, bring in the experts to answer structural questions early and get a true, hard “No” before giving up on a design idea that is vital to doing the job right. Sometimes, things look harder than they truly are. Get the answers first, and then you can make decisions to prioritize your design plans.

Our next step was to determine the overall aesthetic. The client wanted a clean, comfortable, traditional feel for the space. We chose flamed black granite for counter tops and Calacatta Gold subway tile with a beveled edge for the backsplash. The splash has a big personality, with a lot of veining and adds a bit of tension to the space. The cabinets are a beautiful, warm off white with a collection of oil rubbed bronze hardware and we added lighting with black and brass above the island. It is a classic take on black and white with a bit of warmth thrown in for good measure.

Old ceiling detail

Old ceiling detail

The paint palette was tackled next. It was a perfect opportunity to address the lack of natural light. The more saturated yellow paint tone (shown in the photo above) needed to be lightened up and cooled down a bit in order to add space and elegance, and create a more open feel complimenting the new floor plan. I like to use a variety of paint throughout a house and project, but in a way that does not appear obvious and choppy. We used four different selections in this paint scheme which all worked well together to distinguish separation but create a sense of unity.

The client had existing hardwood floors that were in good condition but just needed refinishing. We added the necessary flooring to the new kitchen area and refinished in a warm, rich tone to work with our other selections.

We added a few Dash and Albert rugs, a new chandelier, re-worked a few good furnishing pieces and added some new ones to the adjoining dining and living room. I am really pleased with the results of this project and, more importantly, the clients love it.

Take a look below at the after photos of the new kitchen and re-designed living space. Quite a transformation and one that will let these owners enjoy this home for another twenty years or more!