Designing a kitchen for yourself AS A DESIGNER is equal parts anguishing self doubt/indecision and exhilaration. Finally, you get to do this for yourself! Surely you know exactly what you want, right? RIGHT???? As absurd as this sounds, for me, designing our kitchen has been an exercise in creative self discovery – a balancing act of desperately wanting to do something interesting that is photo and portfolio worthy but also practical, functional for me and my family and that is true to my overall design aesthetic. That last part right there…that’s the kicker. Identifying that allusive “what is it that makes me me?” in a design sense. I could sit here all day long and pick out kitchen finishes that together make one amazingly fabulous space but has it been done before? Have I seen it 1 billion times? Do I like it because I like it or do I like it because I’ve seen it so many times? This is the record that plays all.day.long in my head.
With my Metropolitan Cabinets kitchen designer Wendy’s help, I felt really good about the functional layout for the kitchen (covered in this post) but the finishes…that my friends is a whole different story. For a long time, this Andrew Howard kitchen was my vision of the ideal kitchen space and I talked about my love of navy blue kitchen islands and even had it all planned out with our former kitchen layout here.
And then y’know what happened? Navy blue islands were EVERYWHERE! For a while I thought I was just hyper aware of them and therefore was noticing them more but no…by the time I worked with my 3rd client who wanted a navy kitchen island I knew I couldn’t do one for myself. This is the weird part of being a designer. I still LOVE a navy blue kitchen island and Hicks pendants, etc etc and I want to do something I love but I also want to do something that’s different. Perhaps unlike some other designers though, I’m not willing to be SO different just in the name of getting Instagram likes or whatever. I mean yes an orange Hermes kitchen would be “different” and would look fantastic for photos but I have to live in this kitchen for the next 20 years! So different, not weird but still true to my casual, New England vibe. Did you get all that?
I started by treating myself like I do all clients – looking back at the many kitchen images I have saved over the last few years and narrowing down to my favorites. Here’s what I came up with.
After I gave up on the idea of a navy island I actually was headed down the road of an all white kitchen – all white everything and just having some awesome lights and interesting stools. But then this gorgeous thing walked into my life and I knew it was right.
The trend in kitchens has been painted cabinets for a while now but I am really feeling like wood is poised to make a comeback. Not like that super dark red cherry wood we all saw 20 years ago but softer, more natural wood tones. This is a rift cut oak with white glaze applied. The effect is such a pretty, soft, gray toned driftwood-like finish. It’s casual and a little distressed and just screams “me”. I had imagined that if I did a wood, it would have to be something like this but I really didn’t know if it existed. And then the geniuses at Metropolitan made it happen. Of course I hemmed and hawed over it for a few more days – is it too beachy, is it too casual, etc etc but in the end, I kept coming back to this finish and decided to just trust my gut.
The next big element I wanted to get down was lighting. Perhaps no lights are more front and center in a home than the kitchen island pendants and for a self professed light junkie like me, I knew I had to find something really unique. When you want unique and special the only ticket is vintage in my book. I searched for a while and everything was either too modern or too industrial – until I found these.
Those, friends, are 1940’s copper and brass lights that came off a fishing vessel out of New Bedford harbor. For a Southeastern Mass gal like myself, it doesn’t get much better. They had to be retrofitted for residential use of course but that was pretty simple for my electrician.
Here they are in the back of my car after I met the seller – in the parking lot of a McDs where all good transactions take place, I guess. I love that I’ve never seen anything quite like them with the brass and copper combination and they are the perfect tie in to my collection of vintage copper pitchers that I’ve always wanted to display in the kitchen but didn’t really know where or how.
I have a few other things to finalize – back splash material, island counter material and stools but generally here’s how it’s all looking.
That elongated subway tile above is plan B after plan A below. I fell in love with this insanely beautiful marble mosaic material and I know it would be a total focal point in the kitchen but at $95/sq ft and me wanting to do it everywhere (over range, up and around windows, etc) the math makes me want to vomit. I need SEVENTY THREE square feet! The scale is incredible though – each one of those big circles is 12″ across. Isn’t the mosaic color perrrrrfect with the island cabinet material? Ugh…it’s just awesome. I’ve debated doing it just over the range and something less expensive everywhere else but frankly at that point I feel like it loses it’s impact. And then you consider the fact that a really nice hand glazed subway is like $8/sq ft and it’s hard to justify.
On the counters, I’m definitely going to do a pure white quartz on the perimeter but I want something really special for the island. The frustrating thing is I know exactly what what I want because I’ve put it in a few client’s kitchens – honed Olympian Danby. But wouldn’t you know it now that I need a slab, I can’t find a good one anywhere! Below is a really fantastic piece of Cararra Mr. H+F and I saw though so if I really get down to the wire and can’t find Danby I guess I’ll just go with good ole’ Cararra.
And the last piece that’s up in the air is the kitchen island stools. With the rest of the kitchen being pretty neutral, I really want to use the stools to bring in some color and pattern. I just haven’t quite decided if I should do an upholstered stool, a painted one or a fun, bright metal stool. Each has their benefits…I think I’ll just have to wait and see how it all comes together!
Here’s the overview – I do these for all my clients so it was pretty fun to do one for myself finally. I’ve shared some links below for sources.
Backsplash: Similar to these
Stool options: Upholstered stools (which I’d reupholster in my favorite Christopher Farr fabric which now comes in an outdoor version!), Bamboo Island Stools (which I’d have painted blue) or inexpensive, kid friendly but definitely more casual (and industrial?) Metal Stools in Blue
(if you have an opinion on stools, let me know below!)
So there you have it. My kitchen is well under way. I put the order in this week so it’s officially in production! Install won’t be until late September but that’s ok…there’s much to be done between now and then. Lights, tile, paint, wallpaper…I guess I just won’t sleep until the holidays!
*This post in in partnership with Metropolitan Cabinets. Thank you so much to all the fine people there for partnering with me on this project. I am so grateful for their support and expertise in creating my dream kitchen. As always, all thoughts, designs and opinions are my own.