Here’s a good article on kitchen style by Jeannie Matteucii for Houzz.
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A designer helps an Illinois couple create a bright, fresh kitchen with subtle texture, custom details and a new layout.
Rob and Jade Cook love the fresh and clean look of a classic all-white kitchen. But after eight years, the existing white elements in their 1990s kitchen no longer felt very fresh or clean. The aging white laminate cabinets, failing white appliances and white square tile backsplash had seen better days. It was time for a major makeover.
The Cooks looked at inspiration photos on Houzz and hired designer Stephanie Frees to help them create a more functional and inviting white kitchen with classic detailing, soft layers of texture, improved flow and better storage. “Every little detail gives it that wow factor,” Frees says.
Before: This photo taken during demolition shows the previous L-shaped kitchen with aging white laminate cabinets that stopped short of the ceiling, which the Cooks felt wasted potential storage space. The dishwasher had stopped working, and so had the oven in the slide-in range. Jade cooked out of a toaster oven for over a year. “We maximized our use out of the kitchen as much as we could,” she says. “But as the kids became older, we wanted a space that was livable for them.”
A short peninsula on the left barely offered seating space, and the couple dreamed of an island. They also wanted to incorporate mudroom storage because the kitchen has a door leading to the detached garage.
After: Frees worked with design-build pros Jim and Lisa Sullivan to strip the previous kitchen to the studs, but they didn’t move or knock down any walls. “We liked the cozy feel the kitchen had, so we didn’t want to take down any walls,” Jade says.
But they did add a custom center island for extra storage, counter and seating space. Frees designed legs to make it feel like a piece of furniture.
She also took the new custom solid wood cabinets with inset doors all the way to the ceiling to expand the storage capacity. A crisp, clean white on the cabinets (Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore) kicks off the fresh all-white scheme. Satin nickel knobs and pulls in five different sizes add visual interest and character to the large expanse of white. “Because the kitchen was going to be white-on-white, we wanted to make sure it wasn’t a cookie-cutter space,” Jade says.
The elegant crown detail on the cabinets has a similar effect. “I was blessed with 9-foot ceilings here, so I had room to play with the height and soften the room with that beautiful crown,” Frees says. “The idea of softening lines in this white kitchen, that’s what makes everything more cohesive and pleasant.”
The walls are painted a creamy white with a greenish-gray undertone (Nurture by Behr). The backsplash is white beveled subway tile with white grout.
Glass-front cabinets also help break up all the white. “We played with the idea of going with glass cabinets flanking the sink, but it would have been glass-on-glass with the windows there,” Frees says. “By putting glass to the left and right of the range, it makes the hood jump out at you.”
The custom range hood, the design for which Frees drew by hand, coordinates with the surrounding cabinetry. “I wanted it to be a statement, because previously they had the microwave there,” Frees says. “But I didn’t want it to feel weighty, so I softened all of the lines.”
A new stainless steel six-burner, double oven, dual-fuel range sits below.
The couple thought about going with classic marble countertops for the perimeter and island, but after talking with Frees they decided to install durable ivory-white engineered quartz with subtle, powdery gray veining. “I feel my number one job besides giving you a beautiful kitchen is making you understand what you’re buying,” Frees says. “Marble would be a lot of maintenance for a family with young children.”
Jade says they’re glad they chose the quartz. “We wanted this kitchen to be kid-friendly,” she says. “We just wipe the counters and pen marks and other things just come right out.”
The inner side of the island contains a flat-panel microwave drawer. Below that, a drawer holds kitchen linens. The tall cabinet in the middle has pullouts for a mixer and other small appliances. The three drawers store kitchen essentials as well as school supplies for the kids.
The counter stools are solid oak with woven rattan. “I had seen another kitchen that was all-white, and they added some rattan stools,” Jade says. “I loved the warmth and texture they brought to the kitchen.”
The Cooks refinished their existing red oak floor in a medium brown. “That, for me, is the most timeless finish you can get on a wood floor,” Frees says.
A new paneled 36-inch refrigerator and freezer now stands to the left of the range. “That was the big splurge in the kitchen,” Jade says. “I really wanted that paneled refrigerator, and it’s completely inset. This isn’t a large space, and I wanted it to feel seamless.” Frees moved the fridge from its previous location to the right of the dishwasher.
The glazed 3-by-6-inch white beveled ceramic tiles have a subtle crackle finish. “These are simple, easy to keep clean but still beautiful,” Frees says. “They add one more layer of texture to the kitchen, and they’re almost a perfect match to the cabinet color. They’re taken all the way up to the ceiling around the windows to purposely make everything feel taller, and also not to have a break point.”
“I was making pasta sauce [one] night and had the pan too hot and it exploded,” Jade says. “But I was able to just wipe it right off.”
A pair of adjustable-arm sconces in an antique nickel finish add some adornment over the sink. “We have brushed and satin nickel elsewhere, but these are antique nickel that has some depth,” Frees says. “They’re not too heavy, gives them another decorative accent and they light up the work surface below. It’s one more layer of texture.”
LED ceiling lights and LED undercounter strip lights round out the lighting design. “We didn’t do anything over the island because we have chandeliers elsewhere on our first floor and didn’t want another hanging light,” Jade says. “I think it helps the kitchen feel open too.”