New Kitchen Project

Thought I’d share a little before and after today of a kitchen we recently completed.  This job was of note because it wasn’t a full renovation.  95% of the kitchens we do are full gut jobs.  Usually they are old, cramped, and need a major overhaul.  In this case, the kitchen was pretty functional except for a broken range and a few dated materials.

Due to the extra depth of the range, we needed to re-work things a bit, so we decided to improve this whole side of the kitchen.  Cabinets and a custom hood were built to match the rest of the kitchen.  Florata granite, a new tile backsplash and updated hardware complete the makeover.

dm kitchen 3 range and hood

Unfortunately my before pictures are kind of lacking.  The old range jutted out from the wall on an angle.  There was a downdraft hood and not a lot of counter space on either side.

old range

Off the range was a raised eating counter that jutted further into the room on an angle.  It ended up created a bottleneck of traffic getting in and out of the room with stools constantly in the way.

old peninsula

We decided to rework the area, keeping it clean and simple.  The range is now straight against the wall with plenty of prep space on either side.  The eating peninsula comes out straight into the room, creating more space and easy flow.  We also kept the eating area at counter height.   Now it can double as an extra prep zone.  I happen to hate raised counters for eating.  I think they are uncomfortable, unsightly and break up counter space.

dm kitchen peninsula and hood

Open shelves are a nice place to store cookbooks and vases.  I like how the open space allowed us to take the tile all the way up the wall.

dm kitchen open shelves

Speaking of the tile, I Love the detail we created above the range.  Tone-on-tone with a pattern change is subtle, pretty and sophisticated.  This isn’t some trendy tile accent my clients will tire of in a few years!  (Such a common mistake in kitchen renos.)

dm kitchen 2 curved hood backsplash detail

Lighting is always a place to have a little fun in the kitchen.

dm kitchen black capiz shell pendant dm kitchen peninsula

Really happy with how this one turned out.  I hope my clients’ enjoy it for many years to come!

dm kitchen 1 white knotty pine floor

Brass in the Kitchen

Brass has been a growing trend the past couple of years and it seems it’s finally come around to the kitchen.  I do feel that kitchens and baths are a little slower with trends as most of the finishes are permanent and cannot be changed out on a whim.  Whether its cabinet hardware, lighting, a gorgeous hood, or faucets and fittings, I love the mix of warmth and glam brass brings to a room.

photo by Matthew Williams for Dwell


With stainless being such a standard in the kitchen, I know many of my clients hesitate to add brass to the space.  First, I have no problems mixing metals in a kitchen.  Just as we mix colors, wood and white, there is no rule that says all metals must be the same.  Also, I think we all need to think outside the “stainless box.”  Stainless has become the standard, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best, or the luxury choice.  Note in the kitchen above, the homeowners opted for a white refrigerator to blend with their kitchen and allow that gorgeous hood to pop.


Images via Canadian House and Home

Image via Bijou & Boheme


The easiest way to dip your feet into brass is with cabinet hardware.  I love how the first kitchen above combined long architectural brass pulls, with delicate brass cross handles of their faucet.   Note, this kitchen mixes brass and stainless and it looks great.  (They also mix black and white cabinetry and warm the space up with wood counters- all of which I adore.)  

As for Christine’s brass campaign style hardware… I just about died and went to heaven when I saw that one!

Image via Life in Grace

Image via Cococozy

Brass Light fixtures are another great way to add brass into your kitchen.  It’s a cliché to say lighting fixtures are the jewelry of the kitchen, but when you uses pieces like above, it’s certainly true!





via Remodelista


Image via Cococozy


Brass faucets have become increasingly more popular in the kitchen.  The preferred finished is not your 80’s decorator brass, but rather unlacquered brass.  This brass, as denoted by the name, is not protected by a lacquer finish and will change over time.  I’ve heard many designers say they love the patina and aging of the brass.  I’m not opposed to the idea, but I’d prefer to see a 5-10 year old unlacquered faucet before to committing to one myself.  If you aren’t OK with “patina” this isn’t the finish for you!





Image via Cococozy


The brass hood is a bolder step, but it sure can be stunning!  A full brass hood says you have class in spades and aren’t afraid to flaunt it.  I’d be more inclined to do the second hood myself; black hood with brass strapping.  Yes, please.



My favorite brass detail in the kitchen?  The brass toe kick.  I love that it’s unexpected.  The it brings a bit of bling to a usually drab area.  It’s just such a nice finishing touch to a kitchen!


So there is your brass fix for the day.  Would you consider brass in your dream kitchen?  And the big question… when will we see brass appliances?  A big brass refrigerator?  Will this be the new luxury, or is it a passing fad?

Before & After: A DM Kitchen Remodel

Mornin’ friends!  I have another Design Manifest kitchen before and after project to share with you today.  This kitchen project could also be called the tale of the big, bad bearing wall.  The original kitchen was divided into two spaces; the front kitchen had narrow storage, a kitchen table and wall oven, while the back kitchen had the refrigerator, sink and cooktop.  Standing in between the spaces?  A very thick bearing wall. 



All of the activity was crowded into back section of the kitchen.  There wasn’t enough prep space or storage.  Meanwhile, the front part of the kitchen was dark, sad, and underused.  The table was too big for the room and made a small space feel even smaller.




We brought in our architect, Gary Bogossian, and determined that we could remove the big, bad wall and replace it with a support beam.  Suddenly a world of possibilities opened up in this kitchen.  The floor plan took a little finessing to create an open concept that worked well for the family. 


We moved lots of walls and built new stairs down into the family room.  The old family room was never used and felt very separate from the kitchen.  In the new plan, it’s all one open space, and now houses the family’s kitchen table.



Now with the walls gone, the kitchen is so much brighter and happier.  My client never believed she had enough room for her dream island, but we made it happen.  The new kitchen, is functional, updated, and truly a great gathering space.





One detail that I like is that we ran crown moulding around the whole kitchen to create a finished look.  The front section has a standard ceiling (8’) and the back section has a vaulted ceiling, but the crown makes it all feel cohesive.  We also did subway tile all the way up the wall for a clean, crisp look.  This area feels so much brighter now!




The X-frame ends to the island are another favorite element for me.  Just a simple detail we added on that takes the island from run of the mill to custom.


I really enjoyed working with these clients on all aspects of the kitchen design, but my favorite part was creating the new space plan.  I’m really glad my clients’ “went for it” and decided to invest in taking out the bearing wall.  I think a lot of people are afraid to tackle such projects because they think they are prohibitively expensive.   That’s not always the case and often times the transformation is worth the cost.

I often suggest people look at their kitchens as an investment.  What will the dollar cost translate into value for your home and value for your life?  Taking the wall out was a cost item for sure, but the new kitchen they got in return improves their lives SO much more plus has made their home MUCH more attractive for resale.

I love projects with difficult challenges like this kitchen!  Do you have a project that my father and I could transform?

Anatomy of a wood hood

I’m designing a kitchen right now where my clients have purchases a huge 60″ industrial range.  Above it we need at equally large range hood.  We’ve decided to build a wood hood to match the white kitchen cabinets.  …Or do we do a gray hood to coordinate with the island? Decisions, decisions.  Irregardless of the color, I need to figure out the best shape and design for the hood.  Five feet of hood can get overbearing quickly and I’m hoping for soft and seamless.  Here are a few wood hoods that have caught my eye recently:



Straight across with side pillars going down to the counter.  Unfortunately we don’t have room for this as we are very limited for counter space on the right side.

Simpson Design Group

This is a look I like; sloping hood with crown detail and slight arch at base.  My client didn’t originally like the sloping look in elevation, but I may need to show her this image again!


This one would be easy for my cabinet maker to build: three panels, crown shelf with curved bottom.  I was originally thinking of a design like this, but I just don’t find it as exciting.

Shapely and tapered.  I think this is a nice look, but my client doesn’t like the corbels.  Plus we have wall cabinets flanking it on either side, so that totally changes up the look.
How about straight across and broken up by a mantel?  Unfortunately we don’t have this much ceiling height, so our hood would be much more stout.
And one last one that I thought was really interesting; a mixture of clean with a touch of ornate.


Dan Carithers/ Traditional Home


I’m off to work on the hood designs.  

What style is your favorite?  Would you consider a wood hood, or do you prefer another type?