Written & Designed by: Olivia Schmitz, Senior Interior Designer, EMID
Photography: Ellie Koleen
Let me start by saying that I love my house. I love my house, but I HATED my kitchen! I purchased this house for the neighborhood, the open floor plan (which is nearly impossible to find in an old house), and the light. I have windows, windows everywhere. It was the best of the worst, because as we all know, along with the charm of an old neighborhood is the weirdness of an old house. It’s not the house’s fault that three previous families had entirely different opinions on design, but the result is a hodgepodge mess of discrete projects that really just don’t go together. The kitchen was our biggest obstacle. It was the room that reminds me of the Sesame Street song…”one of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” So, when we moved in, my goal was to give the house an identity instead of a split personality. Follow along to see the transformation.
My house was built in 1950, so its architecture has a strong mid-century modern perspective. Unfortunately, the before kitchen was straight out of the 90’s or 2000’s, and really paid no homage to the architecture or style of the house. It had cherry cabinetry, brown, mosaic glass backsplash, and travertine tiled countertops. If I could insert vomit emoji here I would, and that’s exactly how I felt about my kitchen. The good news was that the island had a great butcher block top, with a copper prep sink, the layout was fab and the cabinetry was good quality and had a simple shaker door style.
Six weeks of construction later….(not including LOTS of planning)…
If I had unlimited funding, I would have reworked the floor plan to give a single island and removed the outdated peninsula, but I’m a miser and I wanted to create the coolest kitchen for the least amount of money. Lol…don’t we all?!?
So, here’s what I did. Demoed the horrible backsplash and countertops and replaced with slabs of Super White dolomite. Dolomite is not a marble or technically a quartzite, but something somewhere in between. Essentially it looks like a marble but performs closer to a quartzite, which is why some slab yards will call it a “soft quartzite.” In actuality, its a natural stone called dolomite…but I digress. I took the slab up the backsplash on the range wall and created a shelf from the same material where the backsplash terminates. I removed the range hood and replaced with a hood insert that was framed, drywalled, and painted the same as the wall color (Benjamin Moore Winter White OC-21) to give a clean, Scandinavian feel. I was lucky to have tons of storage, so was able to remove all of my uppers without sacrificing much! Removing the uppers was a total game changer. Decorative sconces from Cedar & Moss flank the hood and also flank the sink so that both sides of the kitchen communicate. The island stayed exactly the same, which saved a ton of cash and breaks up the rows of horizontal countertops to give an added layer. The only modification to the cabinets was new paint (Benjamin Moore Anchor Gray 2126-30) and new matte black hardware.
Now to the finishing touches. When I’m styling, I like to choose 3 colors and pull them throughout the space. For instance, in my kitchen, I have matte black decorative lighting, pot filler, and cabinet hardware. I added a black bowl to communicate with those elements and tie in the styling. Also on the shelf, I chose white ceramic vessels in different shapes and sizes to provide texture, but visually blend with the white wall. Wood tones provide the third color element and the yellow-brown tones are pulled through the dried flowers to again add texture without becoming visually distracting. The walnut frames bring wood tones to the opposite side of the kitchen to tie everything together.
Last but not least…even the dog is part of the action. And, luckily she’s black, brown and white so she goes perfectly with the decor. I did that on purpose!