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.

Design Manifest in Lonny Magazine!

Pinch Me.

Today one of my dreams has come true; a Design Manifest project is being featured in Lonny Magazine.  Last year Dad and I had the pleasure of designing and building a beautiful kitchen for the sweetest family ever.   Custom touches were used throughout and each detail was planned with care.  From the black and brass strapped hood, to the two-tone island to the custom cabinet doors, working on this space was truly a dream.  In fact, I shared a few peeks last year on instagram which I dubbed #projectdreamkitchen.  Today, finally, I am so thrilled to share the results.

You can see the article HERE.

design manifest kitchen in lonny magazine

(image via Lonny Mag)

I want to thank Lonny Magazine for the pleasure and honor of gracing their online pages.  Working with photographer, Genevieve Garruppo, art director, Wendy Scofield and writer, Mackenzie Schmidt was such a thrill.  I’ve never had one of my projects shot by magazine before so it was very very cool.

I hope you all love the space.  Kitchens are my absolute favorite rooms to build.


Project Craftsman Kitchen Reveal

I’m so excited to finally share finished shots of Project Craftsman.  This was such a great project to work on because the clients are just the nicest people ever and they were down to try something a little different.  I’ve long wanted to try a “two-tone” kitchen with wood base cabinets and white wall cabinets and I think the results turned out so great.  It’s a great mix of practicality (stained wood base cabinets are more forgiving) and aesthetics (white uppers really help brighten up the space.)  We designed a custom 3 panel door for the wall cabinets.  I love that it dresses up a simple shaker door but is still clean and classic.  The DM team did a great job executing all of the finishing details and turning this once ugly duckling kitchen into the happiest spot into the home.

design manifest kitchen stained wood base white wall cabinets


7 Essentials for a Kitchen Banquette

Today is dedicated to one of my favorite tricks in the kitchen- the banquette.  I’ve talked about this before.  We know it’s a great space saver, plus a way to add style and comfort to the kitchen.  But do you know the right depth, or fabric, or shape that could work in your space?  Read on!

1. A corner banquette is the ideal space saver.  The table can tuck much closer to the corner than it could with chairs.  
Since two sides of seating are so cozy, you can have a little fun with the loose chairs.

Windsor Smith
2. A round table is best with corner banquettes for easier maneuvering in and out of seating area

Better Homes and Gardens

3. Don’t skimp on seat-depth.  Do a full 24-30” for maximum comfort.  You will not be able to sink into an 18” deep banquette.
4. Banquettes are great in spots where the windows are too low to accommodate kitchen cabinets.

Kate Spade
5. Choose the right material- Many fabrics can be laminated for easy wipeability.  Sunbrellla/Outdoor fabrics are another smart way to go.  
If you go for a standard fabric and there is a stain, don’t fret, and don’t clean it!  
Call a professional service- they can get most stains out as long as you haven’t messed with it first.

Mona Ross Berman/Trad Home

6.  Play up the drama!  If there is room for a back to the banquette, make it a little higher than standard or introduce an interesting shape.  
The banquette is sure to be a focal point in the room, so make it really special.

7.  Attach your banquette to your kitchen island.  Some kitchen layouts do not have room for both an island and a kitchen table. 
By attaching a bench to your island, you are eliminating an aisle for traffic flow (and no seats will be pulled out, obstructing traffic either.)

Brynn Duggan
Tobi Fairley

10 Tips for a gorgeous Transitional Kitchen

This month’s Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles features a gorgeous transitional kitchen by Matthew Quinn of Design GalleriaKitchen & Bath Studio.  I have to say that Design Galleria is my favorite kitchen design firm in the country right now.  They are classical, stylish, modern yet timeless and great at mixing finishes and styles in a work space. I’ve culled 10 tips from the kitchen below that you should consider for your dream kitchen.

1    1.  A statement Hood is essential.  I’m just mad for curvy hoods with strapping right now, so this number by Francois & Co is right up my alley.

2    2.     The sink does NOT need to be under the window.  Note how here the second sink is in between two windows and the range is in between the other two.  This creates a sense of symmetry, allowing both the hood and the shelves above the sink to be a focal point in the kitchen.

3    3.    Two islands are better than one in a large kitchen.  Quinn says the original single island “split the room in half.”  If you have the space for it you should consider a work island and eating island with plenty of room to navigate in between.

      4.  Mirrors aren’t just for wall cabinets.  Decorative mirrored doors on the island dress up the end that faces the family room.  I love mirrors in a kitchen- they visually expand a room of any size!

5    5.   Extend short windows with mirrors.  I love this trick: Quinn extended the casing of the windows and created “mirrored transoms.”  This makes the windows feel much more proportional in the room.

.     6.  A large single light fixture over the island makes much more of an impact than two (or three) small fixtures.  How chic are these chandeliers from Urban Electric Company?

      7.  Turn an island into a furniture piece.  How divine are these custom island legs with brass ball detail?  Going custom on key pieces takes the whole kitchen to a higher bespoke level.  You could even mix stock cabinetry with custom legs- just make sure to match the finish!

      8.  Mix hardware.  Quinn mixed brass and stainless and matte black hardware and fixtures.  I love the pulls he used on the refrigerator.  They look like big knobs and make the piece feel more like an armoire.


      9.  Make a statement with shelf brackets.  These custom brass shelf brackets just may be my favorite detail in the kitchen.  They are a little industrial and a great unexpected touch.

      10.  Use sconces over windows.  I love that they placed sconces in the mirrored transoms over the windows.  All kitchens should have a mixture of task and ambient lighting.

And I can’t sign off without saying THANK YOU.  What thoughtful, kind, compassionate and wise readers I have.  All of your comments really warmed my heart and reminded me that I’m not alone in my feelings.  It’s my goal to write a personal post every month.  Perhaps not always as gut-wrenchingly personal as Friday’s post, but a bit more about Nay.  So thanks again.