Combining two rooms together and yet keeping the integrity of each is the secret to opening up this space.
I met the homeowner a year or so after moving to Atlanta from the Tampa Bay area. I had been contemplating a move to Atlanta for years because I have three sisters who live here and fell in love with the area throughout my many visits. In Tampa, I cut my teeth in the design world while working for a Custom Home Builder for years before eventually going into business on my own and it was the crash of the economy in 2008 and subsequently, the building and design business that dried up along with it, that got me motivated to make the move.
The Homeowner had actually heard about my sister Judi and the many design projects she had worked on over the years in the Inman Park and surrounding areas of Atlanta. So, Judi (who had moved on to creating her company designing web sites) and I went over to meet with Joyce and pulled a friendly bait and switch. The three of us talked through the project and what Joyce was looking for, I took all the measurements I needed and told her I would come back with a preliminary plan that we could tweak together.
Besides changing the tired and cluttered look of the dated kitchen, her main objectives were:
- Better organization
- A cleaner more cohesive look that complimented the history of her bungalow style home
- Getting rid of the tile floors
- She loved the kitchen island but thought it took up too much space
- Better flow between the rooms
- Changing the Butler type pantry between the two rooms back into a pantry like it had been in the past
- Complete the project by February 6th which was the date of her yearly Super Bowl party
As with all of my design work, I like to start with an existing floor plan so I get an idea of the flow between the rooms and how they relate. With this kitchen I started with what would create the biggest change and that was to open up the space by removing the non load-bearing wall between the dining room and kitchen. Both rooms seemed small on their own but by removing that wall each room would appear much larger. I was able close off the second kitchen entry door and that gave me more wall space to play around with for positioning cabinetry. Because it was centered on the only window in the kitchen, the sink had to remain where it was which also saved on plumbing costs. The cooktop could be moved so I ended up putting it on the opposite wall from the sink where there was plenty of room to make it a beautiful statement piece by adding a lovely custom-made hood above it. There was just enough room between both sides of the kitchen to squeak out an 18” wide island in the middle. I created the island to look more like a piece of furniture than cabinetry so it would stand out. In order to bring the two rooms together so they related as two separate rooms within one large space, I designed a grid work of boxed beams in the ceiling that created a separate pattern over the dining room and a simpler pattern over the kitchen. The lengths of the beams were centered on the fireplace so that then became one of the focal points, as did the dated burnt orange and cream marble surround that was on it.
(Photo- Floor plan)
Now that I had the floor plan and basic design down, it was time to start pulling together the rest of the puzzle pieces. When you are beginning a design project I like to start with all the pieces that are a given, such as existing wall colors in adjoining rooms, existing art, pottery or dishes the homeowner loves and then with each additional design decision made other options become obsolete. So, because we chose to take out the wall between the dining room and kitchen we had no choice but to match the gorgeous antique heart of pine flooring using a transitional board between the two rooms.
We also ended up keeping the existing wood flooring in the small breakfast nook area which was not heart of pine deciding that the wood flooring could be different in there because the small wing walls separating the space made it read as a separate room.
Again, because the kitchen was such a small space I did not want it to be too crowded with upper cabinetry so I designed a bead board wainscot on the wall at the range area and the sink area to include wood shelves on either side of the window. This added another layer of design and it is also something you would typically find in a period style kitchen.
Joyce wanted to close off the butler’s pantry that went between the kitchen and a bedroom and return the space to how it was originally designed which was a pantry and a bedroom closet. Because the kitchen was so small, I designed the new pantry door to have double doors with clear glass panels. The door will take up less space when opened and also visually creates the illusion of more space.
Sometimes it also helps to start with a design element such as the range backsplash. While shopping at the Scott’s Antique Market, I came across an artist who was painting on distressed antique tin tiles and fell in love with one of the his pieces. I immediately texted the homeowner a photo to see what she thought and she loved it too. Sold- to the new kitchen!
I chose a lovely neutral BM Elephant Tusk for the wall color in the dining room, kitchen and the breakfast nook to bring a cohesive flow to all three rooms. I found the pretty blue-green shade of color for the main kitchen cabinets picking up a color in the antique tin panel and had it color matched. The color also complimented other colors she had in the house. Joyce preferred to go with a manufactured quartzite material for the counter tops and we decided on a dark grey brown that also picked up the bronzy color of the back splash. I wanted the island to be different and stand out and I went back and forth for weeks on color choices but because the fireplace surround was a marble with shades of burnt orange and creams, not many colors were working with the it. Joyce did not want to replace the marble surround and so with the decision to keep the surround, orange was the best color option for the island. It also picked up a bit of orange in the two lovely prints in the dining room.
Renovating the kitchen was a big project for Joyce and we tackled it together. At one point she freaked out about her colorful kitchen and was all set to take it back to beige. I had to call my sister, Judi, back in to talk her down off the ledge. Judi used to have a Phycology practice and is very good at what she does. We explained to her that by adding a brown glaze to the orange color, it would toned it down a lot. To soften the island more we decided on using the same materiel as the perimeter counter top but in a white Silestone called Crystal Ash.
I love working with an Inspiration board when I design and I put this one together for this project. There are a couple of beautiful little pottery bowls and a Chinese spoon that Joyce has collected, the two Silestone samples we liked for the island top and counter top, swatches of wall color from adjoining rooms, the color palette for the cabinetry and island and a square of an oil rubbed bronze color in the lighting fixtures and dinner napkins from one of my favorite stores for inspiration, Anthropologies.
It is always fun for me on projects to mix in unusual elements with traditional pieces and sometime when I can’t find exactly what I need I’ll have it made by local artisans. On this kitchen project, besides the range backsplash, I had a carpenter create the custom hood piece that I designed. Joyce’s brother who lives up north and is an artist that dabbles in welding and ironwork created the most amazing towel bar for the island and a bar for both sides of the hood where you might hang a small pot or cooking utensil. I found the lighting fixture over the island from an artisan at Scott’s antique market. The flooring in the new pantry was the same wood as in the breakfast area and so I opted to paint the floor as you sometimes see in older bungalows except for this floor I added a hand painted rug by me, an artisan.
Joyce was thrilled with her new kitchen. She told me the architect who lived next door and originally designed the home was very impressed with the kitchen and looked as though it had always been that way. The remodeling project was in budget and completed a whole week before her Super bowl Party even missing a week of scheduling because of a snowstorm. With the unveiling of her kitchen at the big Super bowl party a week away, I really wanted to make her new kitchen shine. One day while I was out shopping, I found the large mirror over Joyce’s fireplace. I new it was perfect and would act as an anchor for the dining room because in it would reflect back the rest of the kitchen.
When I brought it to the house and put it up over the mantel to preview, Joyce said she hated the mirror but agreed to keep it up until after her party. I was really disappointed and so I was surprised when the day after her party, she called to tell me that everyone raved about her new kitchen and they all loved the mirror and that it was growing on her, too. We ended up removing the stand and having a metal piece welded on so it could hang a little bit higher. I just fell in love with how this kitchen came out. It’s my new favorite kitchen…. but then, I say that after every project.