Project Dream Kitchen Before and After

Last year we designed and built this amazing kitchen in North Ardmore.  This was our second time working with our lovely client, having done two bathrooms and a few decorative projects the year before.  Most of our clients are repeat clients (or referrals) and we find the more we work together, the easier the process is and the more beautiful the result.

Hopefully by now you have seen the feature in Lonny Magazine from last week.  (Thanks to all who left sweet and supportive comments!!)  Today I wanted to talk a little about the design process behind the kitchen and share before photos.

The before kitchen wasn’t so bad, but the cherry cabinets were about 20 years old and had started to come apart.  We took the opportunity to refresh, tweak the layout, improve the quality of cabinetry & appliances and make the space better suit my client and her family.  When you enter from the dining room you see long back wall of the kitchen and kitchen island.

cooktop and island

Before there was no real focal point.  We decided to add an industrial range and statement range hood.  We also moved the sink from the corner into the island and added pendant lights and seating at the island.  The back wall felt very boxy with all of the those wall cabinets, so we broke it up with some open shelves.

design manifest kitchen in lonny magazineimage via Lonny Magazine

Design Manifest Kitchen Black and Brass Hood Lucite Pendantsimage by Design Manifest

After careful research we selected a 48″ blue star range.  My client loved the powerful burners and I loved that we could do it in black and brass.  We both agreed that we were over the stainless craze in kitchens (hello finger prints!) so we used very little in this kitchen.  Vogler Metalworks made us a custom black hood with brass strapping.  It definitely sets the tone for the kitchen- classic yet bold and updated at the same time.

black and brass hood by design manifest image via lonny magimage via Lonny Magazine

design manifest kitchen hood

image by Design Manifest

Functional storage is even more important than looks in the kitchen, so we made sure to fill this space with all the necessary bells and whistles.  A pot filler in matte black finish means my client doesn’t need to carry her heavy pots from the sink to the range.  We built in two “garages” to hide away small appliances to keep the countertops clean.  We also placed a spices, cooking utensils and pots and pans conveniently close to the cooktop.

design manifest kitchen spice drawerimage by Design Manifest

BEFORE- The sink was in the corner (I rarely like that,) the eating area was raised to bar height (I never like that) and an awkward structural post sat on the counter.

kitchen with post

AFTER- Sink moved to island, counter height lowered to open up the space and we were able to move and conceal the post into cabinetry.  I don’t usually love countertop garages, but in this case it was functional for storage and to hide the post, so it was definitely a win.

design manifest kitchen with corner garage concealing postimage by Design Manifest

To balance out the heaviness of the black range and hood we opted for white cabinets (painted in BM Decorators White.)  The base cabinets are a standard shaker with ogee bead at the inner edge.  For the upper cabinets, I wanted a something a little more special.  I sketched out a clean, yet more intricate pattern and Christiana Cabinetry brought them to life.  I call it the Design Manifest Door and I love it.

Design Manifest Cabinet Door- Detailed stepped shakerimage by Design Manifest

We searched high and low for a backsplash tile that would compliment the soft blue gray accents in our quartzite counters.  We ended up Quemere subway tile in the Ash color.  It’s subtle and so pretty.  The 2×6 size is classic yet also a little different.  The quartzite is Namibian Sky.

lonny shootimage via Lonny Magazine

BEFORE– the kitchen counters wrapped the corners at the end of the kitchen.  I hate short stumpy corners.  No one uses this area to work in and they become junk collectors.

kitchen before 2

AFTER–  We eliminated the corners, allowing for a longer island and more straight counter space.  Note the second storage garage on the left.

lonny shoot horimage via Lonny Magazine

BEFORE– To the left of the dining room door were the double ovens and a stupid little corner.   This area was neither very functional or pretty.


AFTER– Our double oven is now part of the range, so this wall was turned into the refrigerator and snack zone.  I always like a dedicated section of the kitchen for the toaster, microwave and coffee maker to live.  They should be out of the main work area.  We used a 42″ Kitchen Aid Refrigerator and added panels to make it a little softer.

design manifest kitchen paneled refrigerator and snack zoneimage by Design Manifest

This area also has a bread drawer and baskets for snacks!

design manifest kitchen snack zone

image by Design Manifest

You may have noticed the soffit on the left side in the image above.  This kitchen had several structural issues we had to work around.  Besides the post I mentioned earlier, there was also a structural soffit we could not remove and the roof line cut into the ceiling of the kitchen.  We concealed the issues with cabinetry the best that we could.

BEFORE–  The previous kitchen designer kept the wall cabinets short to avoid the sloping roof line.

kitchen before with roofline

AFTER– Dad and our carpenters took those cabinets up to the ceiling.  This was no easy task as we had to cut out the backs of the wall cabinets to cope them to the roofline.  Note that the hood had to be cut on an angle too.  These details might not be as glamorous, but I feel like they really help the kitchen feel finished and luxurious.

Design Manifest Kitchen with black and brass hood and industrial rangeimage by Design Manifest

The island was a fun moment. You may have noticed the black and white doors.  Christiana Cabinetry hand painted the white accent on the inner trim of the doors.  I love how its tailored and bold yet still feels classic.  Notice a theme here?  We really wanted to do something different in this kitchen yet not have it be too outlandish.  It’s tough to take risks in kitchens.  They are very expensive, so most people don’t like to overly personalize the space.  I’m so proud of my client for taking a few design risks.  I think it paid off well in this space.

design manifest kitchen island doorsimage by Design Manifest

The hardware on the island is vintage and was found on ebay.  My client polished each piece herself.  We did a double laminated counter on the island for extra thickness.  It’s a single eased edge elsewhere.

lonny cabinet detail

image via Lonny Magazine

Sorry for the terrible pic, but I wanted to show the foot detail.

I love little things like this… they add so much to the cabinetry.

island foot detail

The faucet at the sink is the one place we chose to do stainless.  It was practical, durable and just felt right.  Not everything in a kitchen needs to match.

design manifest island sinkimage by Design Manifest

Besides the sink, the island also houses the dishwasher (its paneled,) a pull-out trash and recycling bin,  a bookshelf and additional bonus storage.  But let’s be real, the real star of the island are the statement pendants- the Alpine by Hudson Valley.  They were a bit of a splurge but they provide excellent light and are so stunning in person!

Black and White island doors by Design Manifestimage by Design Manifest

Now instead of that stupid raised bar outside the kitchen proper, the island has seating for two!  People actually sit at islands.  I feel like no one sits as raised bars.  That’s why I’m such hater about them.  PS- I love these stools from Ballard Designs.

design manifest kitchen island stoolimage by Design Manifest

BEFORE- The refrigerator was cramped to the right of the dining room doors.  There was also NO dedicated pantry in this kitchen.

ovens frig

AFTER– Since we moved the fridge to the left of the dining room doors, we were able to make the right side be a full pantry.  This kitchen is a dark space and we wanted to bring light however possible, so we opted to add mirrored fronts to the pantry.

design manifest kitchen island with mirrored pantryimage by Design Manifest

lonny pantryimage via Lonny Magazine

We also updated the eating area which is open to the kitchen.  Before, the table was a little large for the space and it felt crowded.


eating area

We lightened up the walls with Ben Moore’s Horizon, removed the window treatments and started fresh with furniture.  A 48″ round table fit best in the space and was big enough to fit the family.  We mixed a cozy tufted banquette with french Louis XVI square back chairs.  The floral pattern on the chair backs provides a nice hit of pattern in the otherwise neutral room.


Design Manifest Breakfast room with banquette and pattern backed seats

image by Design Manifest

design manifest kitchen chair detail

image by Design Manifest

BEFORE– Dad taking notes on the first day of our design interview.

from eating area


design manifest kitchen 10

The Floor Plan

dream kitchen floor plan by design manifest

And THAT is project Dream Kitchen.  What a dream it was to design and build it!

I want to thank my client for trusting us with her home and allowing me to share the results.

Clare, You are awesome and I hope you continue to enjoy the space.

  1. Marisa

    Kitchen is gorgeous. Love the customized BlueStar range. Is the trim their regular brass or their “antique” brass?

    • Naomi

      I believe it is the regular brass.

  2. Beth

    This is a stunning remolding! I love everything. You are an amazing team.

  3. I am so happy I found your blog and this amazing project! What a transformation! Loved every selection you made!!!

  4. Tamara

    WOW! This kitchen is really something special and I loved reading through your thought process and how you came to make the decisions that you did. Thanks for sharing this beautiful project.

    Tamara x

  5. Nancy

    I was just thinking I gotta see what Naomi’s been up to! I’m so blown away by this incredible kitchen! Congrats on the feature, so well deserved 🙂 One of the first things that popped out was the design of the upper cabinets, so when I read you designed it I was like WHAAT?! AMAZING, I seriously expect to see you doing celebrity homes soon!

  6. I have never seen a more fabulously glam kitchen in my life! In love with your talent

  7. meredith levy


  8. Holly

    DANG!!!!! It’s incredible Naomi. You and your father and your team did such a fantastic job with this. I appreciate you taking the time to explain the “why” behind so many of the decisions and huge huge credit to your client for going for it on this. It’s really really stunning down to every last detail. I saw a sneak peek of the eating area and was hoping you’d give more images and info and you did (I didn’t get a chance to look at the Lonny article yet) but I’m so glad I started here to see it all. The Before and After is really dramatic. You had done a craftsman/bohemian kitchen maybe a year or so ago and that’s still my favorite just because it speaks to my style, but this is really beautiful. Roll around and soak up this one for a while because you all did a phenomenal job on this. Thanks for sharing all of the details, images and sources.

  9. Holy mother….that kitchen is killer! I love every thing but my favorite is definitely your cabinet design!

  10. The tile suites your design in an elegant way. Your choice of color was so perfect and matches the counter top so well. Thank you for choosing Quemere International.

  11. Just a quick note to say how divine. Great Work. I think the contrasting island may be my favorite part.

  12. Kelly

    Naomi,Thanks for your dedication to the complete package of care to detail. I am quite amazed at what you have brought to Design Manifest. Your thoughtful care of the presenting the family business is an understatement to the your work as designer and your Father’s craftsmanship. It is always a pleasure to visit your blog and updates. Kelly

    • Naomi

      Thank you, Kelly!!

  13. Rachelle

    Just want to say I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS KITCHEN!!! Amazing job by you and your team.

  14. Vel

    OMG Naomi this kitchen is super divine!!!!!! I am absolutely blown away, there’s nothing I would change and I love everything – those pendants are fantastic and the cabinetry design and lay-out, superb!!!!! LOVE IT!

  15. Naomi just wow… I mean, WOW! I’m so glad you highlighted some of the challenges and details of this kitchen. Fascinated with the solutions you came up with to deal with the sloping ceiling and to just open up this space. Particularly love the cabinet details you incorporated – style, paint and that little foot at the base. I can’t imagine a more beautiful result.

  16. Leslie

    Truly spectacular! I want to move in! Kudos to you for yet another fantastic transformation. I love your style!

  17. T. Anthony Curtis

    GREAT kitchen! What a chic feel! The range hood is indeed a statement piece and I was excited to see who made it, as we also just installed a custom range hood by Vogler Metal Design! The handmade tiles are also a great find and the cabinetry looks well-executed with just the right amount of detail. Keep up the good work.

  18. Rosie

    Totally wow. Excellent work.

  19. Nancy

    Perfection in my book- this has become MY dream kitchen! xo Nancy

  20. MAC

    Love the space – well done! Especially love the custom Design Manifest cabinets – beauties! Wish you worked in Boston or could consult me before I embark on a kitchen reno!

  21. This is so incredibly beautiful. I’ve loved all your makeovers/remodels but this is by far, my favorite! You are super talented, girl!

  22. Congratulations on the Lonny feature – sorry I missed that yesterday! Naomi, this transformation is just phenomenal. Everything about it is STUNNING!


  23. i am so embarassed that i missed this. my jaw needs to be picked up off of the floor. whoa. times 100. i love this. you SO deserve Lonny cred for this. AMAZING job Naomi. PS – i cannot seem to get over that darling ‘branding’ that says your company name on the inside of the cabinet drawer. dang, that’s good.

    • Naomi

      Thanks, Bethany! I Know, I love our little drawer stamp too. The customer always knows who to call if a door hinge comes loose! 😉

  24. Sheri

    What a gorgeous kitchen – well done, you! Would you mind sharing the source for the new round kitchen table? I looked in Lonny and didn’t find it there, either. Thanks in advance!

    • Naomi

      HEy Sheri- It’s definitely on the Lonny source list- the exact table too. Check again. The brand is Bausman. Thanks for your compliments!

  25. I mean I just can’t even really come up with the right words for this. Absolutely INCREDIBLE work. This kitchen is beyond stunning. I’m obsessed with the black island with white edging and those cabinet profiles…ridiculous. Oh and the pale grey subway tile….and the range hood…and the panelled fridge…and the island lights. It’s all just magic Naomi…total magic.

  26. Kelli

    Amazing transformation!! You really know how to rock a before and after! Wow….

  27. Sarah

    This kitchen is KILLER! I love the black, white and brass. Pinning for sure!

  28. I recently had an architect over to look at our kitchen. I should have just flown you out.

    Not really kidding. It is a tough space — soffits and dramz like this kitchen. I have knocked out every wall, moved the corner sink, spend 100K fantasy dollars and I still don’t like the design. Pffffft.

    This is amazing work, and it comes off as totally effortless. Well done!

    • Naomi

      Well I don’t need much of an excuse to visit….

  29. I have so many thoughts on this kitchen – and resonate with so many of your decisions. We recently redid ours, and I dreamed of greige cabinets with black and brass accents. I was looking at the 30″ blue star, but the appliance guy talked me out of it. After that, it was straight to stainless. Which, I’m still OK with, as most people (potential buyers that is) would want to “check that box” in a remodeled kitchen.
    Still, it makes me kinda sad I wasn’t more confident in my design plan.
    Like your client, I found vintage hardware on Ebay – saved a bunch of pennies, and am proud to have something with a little character in an otherwise new kitchen.
    The change is here is so remarkable. You’d never know it’s a dark kitchen.
    Beautiful work, Naomi!

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