In review of a Kitchen Design.

One of the first projects, and favorites, that I designed when I first was completely Jamie House Design is this full house remodel in a great inner Houston neighborhood. Right near everything. A Houston Rocket next door. Great neighborhood. And the house is original to it. The owners didn't want to tear down and build giant, like nearly every other house on their street. And you know I loved this. I love an old ranch house. The rambling floor-plans are of my dreams. I never professionally photographed this project sadly. But I'll walk you through the kitchen design with my phone shots. 

Here's basically what we ended up with. Now I'll get into where we started and my plans. 

There's not a thing charming about the Before of this kitchen. The plan lends itself to a table in the back, possibly a banquet would have been cute, but who wants to eat in the dark end of the kitchen. Originally my clients were just going to paint this and call it good for a little while, I talked them into going for it. The quality of the cabinets was terrible. The tiles were dated. The floor didn't blend with any other floor in the house. 

The plumbing locations needed to stay. The kitchen needed to function for a busy young family. The dining room is adjacent so there isn't a need for a spot to eat in the kitchen. My goal is always form then function. "Form follows function". So first I lay out what is absolutely necessary. Then we add the pretty, the luxury. If a kitchen is gorgeous but is hard to cook in or hard to keep clean then it's not successful. I love to cook so I understand how to make a kitchen work. 

 Floor-plan of the original kitchen | Jamie House Design

The space for the kitchen is big. But the plan as purchased did not use it efficiently. The plus is there's AT LEAST a tiny pantry. Behind & beside the pantry is a fireplace in the living room so there is no expanding it outward. The opening behind the sink is also small, weirdly small. We enlarged that. 

The new floor-plan uses all of the space. The sink wall bumps out to make washing dishes easier but also because my client dreamed of having a Shaw farmhouse sink. To make it fit appropriately bumping out the cabinet was necessary. The opening behind the sink is much bigger and we added a concrete counter in the family room side for barstools. The far left side by the window is a walkway between the dining room and family room. But there's enough room for a cafe size table & chairs. Just enough for someone to sit down and chat while someone else cooks. The biggest plus to the redesign is how I was able to enlarge the pantry. After living in Europe I know Europeans will not get it. But Americans buy huge amounts of food to store at home. It's a different way to live. The lifestyle dictates a larger pantry. Especially for a family with children. The back wall is display for the client's collection of beautiful dinnerware. 

BEFORE. View from the family room to the kitchen.  

DURING. In widening the kitchen peek through we realized that there is NO drywall behind that paneling. You can see the backside of the fireplace next to the original pantry also. 

DURING. New tile is in, cabinets in the kitchen are being built. 

DURING. Concrete counters, tiles, plumbing, paint is all in. 

Here you can see how the bump out works in practice. The bump out keeps the stunning Hans Grohe faucet from being bumped up against the backsplash. In order to keep the style of the kitchen fitting with the house, but remain youthful, we used concrete counters in the kitchen, utility room, and powder bath. The texture of concrete counters plays off of the other textures beautifully. 

The floors are a gorgeous slate. They add some color without being a thing. They act as an accent to everything else. Wood could not be added because of how the foundation of the original house meets the foundation of the addition. The front half of the house has beautiful wood floors.

I want to point out a detail. The under-cabinet lights are hidden behind the cabinet doors. I'm not sure why the standard is to add molding to the bottom of the cabinet when it's a much cleaner look to hide the lights behind the door. 

Another kitchen design trick is to use drawers on the lower cabinets. There is not much more less elegant than being on your knees frantically digging in the back of the cabinet for a special dish before a dinner party. Drawers solve that. Drawers save your back and enable you to live in your kitchen longer, age wise. 

Also notice the interior of the cabinet is NOT painted to match the exterior. If you have a choice always always specify a clear sealed birch for the cabinet interiors. It holds up against every sort of damage that occurs to the inside of your cabinets. Another trick, if your budget is expansive, is to apply laminate to the interior of the sink cabinet. That way if a leak happens, no damage to your cabinets. Seriously a game changer if you can swing it. 

The back wall of cabinets is not as deep as typical lower cabinets. {Which is 24" btw}. These are more like 18" deep. They are less deep in order to have more storage and a bigger door in the pantry. 

The glass doors are textured, for interest and to help them feel original to the age of the house. The pantry has the same glass texture. We did glass doors on the pantry to help it feel bigger when you're standing in there. 

Creating the back wall of display causes the kitchen to feel larger than it is by pulling the eye directly to the back of the room. While one could argue various elevations are the focal point, the eye always rests here. The display, with the darker paint inside the cabinet, is the focal point of the kitchen. While it's pretty, it's also enormously useful for this family. Not only do they get to view and appreciate their pretty dishware, they are able to remember and easily use what they have.

The range remains in the same location as previously. Same as the pantry. Both are elevated. The cabinets that rest on the counter is where the microwave, toaster, Vitamix, coffee items, etc live. This helps keep the counters, day to day, cleaner and less cluttered. By taking the cabinets all of the way to the ceiling the ceiling feels higher than 8'. 

One big issue we had during the install of this kitchen is the wall behind the stove. Notice the Pratt and Larson tiles are all cut. THEY'RE CUT! I had to take a minute when I saw that. The contractor insisted that he couldn't cut into that wall, because of the fireplace, for my planned spice niche. So he took it upon himself to plan for a sheet of steel behind the stove. You guys. This stuff makes me crazy. 

Just look at those beautiful, huge lead time, handmade, cut tiles.

Here's with the stainless on the wall. It's fine. FINE. But I don't settle easily on fine. Client's don't hire me for fine. 
Also notice the beautiful under-cabinet lights! So clean without extra molding on the bottom of the cabinets!

Here's a better view of the microwave cabinet. Admitadly the doors will be open most of the time. BUT you can close them real quick when company comes over & look how clean & together you look! 

Oh look! My spice niche! I brought in my contractor, the rest of the remodel to this point was by the client's contractor. I knew we could cut into the wall. The fireplace is nearby but not directly behind the stove. Luckily I have the best clients and they understood why this was important. When you're sitting in their family room and look towards the kitchen, this is what you see. It was such a shame to have such a beautiful kitchen and focus on stainless steel on the wall. 

Lets take a minute for those counters. Concrete counters. Such a great texture and profile yet just a backdrop for the rest of the kitchen. 

I'll give you the paint colors used with the disclaimer that you must sample them in your own space before committing to paint a room or cabinet with them. Lighting in different parts of the world changes how paint looks in a space. What looks beautiful in this kitchen could look like a muddy gray in yours. 

Here are the paint colors:

  • Walls & ceilings: Benjamin Moore White Dove
  • Cabinet uppers: Benjamin Moore White Dove
  • Cabinet lowers: Benjamin Moore River Reflections
  • Interior of glass & open cabinets: Benjamin Moore Gray Cashmere

Jamie House Design offers kitchen design both locally in Houston & Berlin and elsewhere around the world. We have packages so we design & specify everything & you handle the implementation. Or, like this project, we offer hourly services where we handle every detail from the design, troubleshooting, showroom & vendor visits, shopping with the client, and installation. Contact us for more information. 

Cheers!