Three couples share secrets of their kitchen renovation success.
Leland VanDeventer and Tommy Barzilla
Leland VanDeventer's and Tommy Barzilla's kitchen renovation plays off the Mission architecture of their circa 1890s Marigny home. "Kitchens have to respond to the architecture ... or you have to have a great contrast," says VanDeventer, an award-winning designer who has renovated more than 100 homes and specializes in kitchens and baths. "This kitchen rhymes with the architecture in a contemporary, cleaned-up way."
VanDeventer gutted the existing kitchen, which he said was "in deplorable condition," extended the house to add a living area with a television and fireplace adjacent to the new kitchen and drew from significant architectural elements that remained.
Arched transoms over the doorways relate to arches elsewhere in the home. The unpainted finishes of the transoms, the heart pine hood over the stove and the overhead beams echo the doors' warm wood. The rustic wood over the stove also visually anchors the room by contrasting the pale palette of white walls, whitewashed floors and quartz counters. Modified Shaker-style cabinets complement the dining room's original glass-front cabinetry.
The backsplash tiles' arabesque pattern is a subtle reference to Mediterranean architectural motifs found in the Mission vernacular. Modern details — stainless appliances, commercial-style faucets with clean lines, chrome drawer pulls (for "a little sparkle"), multiple levels of LED lighting and minimalist counter chairs — finish the kitchen.
Elesha and Albert Kelleher
Elesha and Albert Kelleher's first kitchen renovation project fell short of their expectations. The couple loved the existing layout and sunny alcove. They were less fond of the travertine floors and maple cabinets.
"I like contemporary kitchens, even if a house is more traditional," Elesha says.
In a second phase of renovation four years ago, the Kellehers went for the contemporary look they prefer, opting for high-gloss acrylic cabinets from the Cabinet Shoppe and marble floors from Palatial Stone & Tile. Unexpected, on-trend elements such as an azure chandelier from Perch, painterly drapery fabric by artist Amanda Talley and fabrics with Asian motifs (also from Perch) invigorate the space with color.
"Most people put a glass chandelier in the dining room or living room, but I thought it would be so cool in a kitchen," Elesha says. "We did the walls all white to make the chandelier pop."
Elesha and designer Alix Rico gave a fresh edge to the breakfast area's antique chairs by reupholstering them with white patent leather.
"Alix is great about steering you toward fabrics that look fabulous and stylish but are family friendly and practical," says Elesha, who also worked with Caroline Robert of Perch to bring together what she describes as an "eclectic mix of vintage, contemporary and traditional" punctuated with color.
"The color ties it all together," she says.
Barbara and Clark Fitzhugh
A clean, spare kitchen with a view and lots of light was the imperative Barbara and Clark Fitzhugh put forth when renovating their kitchen with Michael Carbine of M. Carbine Restorations Ltd. and interior designer Ann Holden.
"We wanted it to be basic and streamlined without a lot of stuff in it," Barbara says.
A striking combination of design elements achieves that goal. A dark metal window from Crittall Windows provides a view of the Fitzhughs' side yard and serves as an architectural focal point amid the light palette of walls, counters, cabinets and floors. Dual islands — one for food prep, the other as a place to eat and home office station for Barbara — work as an unusual and smart solution to clutter.
"I have recommended two islands to everyone I talk to who is renovating," says Barbara, whose favorite thing about the kitchen is its other double feature: two dishwashers. "It makes a lot of sense," she says. "You're not constantly loading and unloading a dishwasher."
Dark wood cabinetry adds interest by repeating the windows' dark outline and lending contrast to the light-colored surfaces. "I'm so happy with the design," Barbara says. "The kitchen is where I start and end my day."