Dream Kitchen- Lauren Liess

I”ve been a fan-girl of Lauren Liess‘ for as long as I”ve been reading blogs (5+ years.)  I admire her style, her personality, her adorable family and the way she has expanded her business from interior design firm to creating a textile line to now having a beautiful studio/store.  She comes across as honest, down to earth yet elegant, effortlessly beautiful and I would say her interiors are the same way.  I’ve learned so much from reading her blog and strive to embed some of her approach into my own designs- simplicity, patina, imperfection, casual elegance and natural beauty.

When her big home renovation was revealed in Domino Magazine this month I was all over that shit.  The entire space is gorgeous (you must pick up a copy to see the whole spread,) but I was particularly smitten with her kitchen.  As a kitchen designer, I often struggle with mixing practicality and beauty in such a utilitarian space.  She created a space that is modern and rustic and blends seamlessly with the rest of her home.  So often kitchens feel like a stark departure from the rest of your house!  Why not incorporate art, softness and style into the heart of the home?

Lauren’s kitchen as seen in Domino Magazine…

lauren liess kitchen 1

My favorite element in the kitchen is the island made of reclaimed lumber and topped with marble.  The matte finish of the wood and the vintage hardware make my heart pitter patter.   New wood just doesn’t have the same soul.

Liess Home

Instead of your typical tile backsplash or wall of cabinetry, she opted for an art wall over her sink.  I’ve tinkered with a gallery wall in my own kitchen and will be looking to this space for great inspiration.

Liess Home

Can we go back and talk about the rusted iron etageres that she used instead of your typical wall cabinets or open shelves?  I die.   It’s so un-kicheny (cause that’s a word) yet functional at the same time.  I love that everything is within easy reach in this kitchen.

A view from the family room shows how the kitchen really ties in perfectly with her aesthetic for the rest of the home.

Liess Home

You can spy the refrigerator on the left wall there.  Just a few steps away from the main work area in the kitchen.

Liess Home

For more information on this kitchen and to hear about the design in her own words, you must check out this post.

All images by Helen Norman for Lauren Liess.

(Except the first which is from Domino Magazine.)

Modern Wood Kitchens

Maybe it’s in reaction to the world being so saturated with all WHITE KITCHENS, but I find myself attracted to EARTHY STAINED CABINETS recently.  When doing stained wood in a kitchen I love it rich: not too dark (espresso) not too light ( bleached)  Those looks, while lovely, seemed more trendy to me, and thus prone to lookin dated down the road.  I’d rather have a natural stained walnut or weathered reclaimed wood.  Something organic and natural.  The stained wood cabinet looks best on a modern door- slab or something with minimal embellishment. Pair it with a light counter, modern fixutres, perhaps an unexpected pattern and you have yourself one chic kitchen.


modern wood kitchen, light counter patterned splashvia Design Files

modern wood kitchen with arched window wall

McAlpine Tankersley

modern wood kitchen mid century tribal rug

modern wood kitchen with white subway patterend floorAbramson Teiger

modern wood kitchen dark counter herringbone floor

wood and metal island mixed open and closed

That island!  I love a mix of wood and metal.

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


Cottage Update: Kitchen 90% Done

Ugggg.  I pulled my back out this weekend.  I think the universe is trying to tell me I’m taking on too much.  In preparation for my first house guests next weekend, I’ve been furtively trying to finish up the One Room Challenge early AND pull together the entire house.  Too many rooms, too little time, money and physical strength.  It ain’t gonna get done.

The idea of entertaining without things being perfect kinda tweaks me out.  It’s hard sharing a design mid-process, whether it be on the blog, or in person.  I’m fully aware that it’s my own expectations that are too high and my friends will not judge me so harshly.   Ultimately, come Friday, I’ll let out a big sigh, pour a glass of wine and relax with my besties.  But until then, its obsess, work, and spend my evenings making magic happen.

The good news is the kitchen is functional and 90% complete.  My old cabinets are painted and in place, my island is assembled, my countertops are down and tools and food are put away.   The dishwasher is broken, (thanks a lot, previous owners,) but at least the sink is working.  I still have some finishing touches to do: lighting,  hardware, stools, shelf styling,and the whole back wall.  Overall though, it’s looking good and functioning well.

 kitchen- blue cabinets- open shelves- microwave on refrigerator

I did this kitchen on an extreme budget.  The cabinetry, appliances, sink and faucet were re-used from the original kitchen.  I hope to be able to upgrade in a few years, but at least I don’t have to live with ugly in the meanwhile.  Isn’t it impressive what a coat of turquoise paint can do 80’s laminate cabinet doors?  The paint is Benjamin Moore Deep Ocean.   

kitchen before

Need I remind you what this wall used to look like?

PS- all you need is a good primer.  Ask your paint specialist.

I did a mixture of open shelves and closed cabinetry on the sink wall.  I have a great collection of glassware- mostly from my Nana- and I wanted to enjoy seeing it.


The shelf brackets are Ikea, sprayed gold.  Still need to fill the screws.

The shelf below my wall cabinet is my mug shelf.  I plan to only stock it with blue and white mugs.  More on that soon.

For countertops, I did the cheapest thing possible; White Laminate.   I like that its clean and simple- it’s not the focal point in this kitchen.  Obviously laminate is not great function-wise.  I can’t put down hot stuff and its not good to let water sit on laminate counters.  Eventually I’d love to have quartzite counters, but for now, it’ll do.

The microwave looks a little lonely hanging out above the refrigerator.  It was the best place for it as I definitely didn’t want it on the counter or above the stove,  Still, I think I may need to add a shelf above it or utilize the height some how.  Also, the dish strainer… the bane of the kitchen.  Hoping to come up with something more chic, but at least it functions.

kitchen- black island- blue cabinets- open shelves

While my perimeter cabinets are blue, I decided to paint the island black.  I think it helps the kitchen feel more classic and not too saturated or juvenile.   The cabinet and the wood top are stock Ikea pieces.  The feet are supposed to be stainless, but I spray painted them gold.  The hardware will be brass.  No stools yet, so I’ll share them on the next update.

kitchen-black island

I love this island!  This is where I do the majority of my prep work.  It has great storage.  The wood top sucks though.  It needs about two more coats of polyurethane.

kitchen-tribal rug

 From day 1 I knew I wanted my favorite pink and blue tribal rug (a vintage find at a local thrift store) in the kitchen.

Here’s my new range wall.  I re-used all of my appliances but I did buy a new hood from Ikea.  I love a black hood.  Stainless was never an option for me.  I don’t mind it for a range or even a refrigerator, but for the hood I wanted some clean and classic that didn’t compete with my brass and gold accents.  Black is forever.  Plus it goes with my island.

kitchen-black range hood- black island- tribal rug- blue cabinets

Did you notice there is no backsplash tile, just drywall.? Of course I’d love subway tile here, but it doesn’t make sense right now.  Since this is a cheapo-temporary kitchen, we didn’t want to put it up and then rip it down in two years…and take all the new drywall down with it!

The DM team hung shelves in the deep window well.  I haven’t organized this area yet.  I think it will be a mix of snack in glass canisters, cookbooks, and a few plants. I love that everything here will be in easy reach, but won’t junk up the counter.

kitchen-shelves in window


I have something special planned for the back wall, but right now its naked.  I’m also saving my pennies to replace this door with a 15-lite glass door.  This is the south side of the house and it gets great light.  I want to brighten up the first floor and enjoy the view of my little back yard.

kitchen wide shot in progress

And that is the kitchen, so far.

I’m planning a post on storage  and function soon.

 What do you guys think?

See the floor plan HERE.

And full before shots HERE.


Hood / Island / Wood Countertop / Cabinet Color (Blue)