This kitchen renovation from Lauren Zerbey of proves a very valuable design lesson in my mind: “All-white” does not always necessarily mean “all-light.” The decision to vault these ceilings and add a sky light must have been a huge commitment, even for a couple of architects, but it completely opened up and lightened this space. Bravo! Even with the rich, dark woods and charcoal cabinets, this space has ten times the amount of light and air than it had before, and that alone seems worth every penny. There are many things to love about this new kitchen — the teal sliding doors (RAD!); the clean, open shelving; the cork floor — but I’m going to go ahead and say that the inset dog bowl area clinches it for me. It’s clear that so much love and consideration went into every detail of this kitchen, and it clearly paid off. Well done, Lauren! —
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Time: about 6 months
Basic Steps: Our old kitchen was inefficient, outdated and in poor condition. Since we’re both architects, we spent a lot of time brainstorming and sketching different layouts before landing on a solution that worked for us and our budget. After gutting the space, we reconfigured the layout to achieve better flow and connection to the backyard. Living in Seattle, natural daylight was also a high priority. To achieve this, we installed larger windows, a skylight, light-colored counter tops and painted the walls white. Dark cork floors and base cabinets balance out the white, while the fir shelves and lyptus butcher block add warmth to the space.
Our kitchen is still modest in size, so we also had to be creative about ways to boost its efficiency. Light colors and a vaulted ceiling make it feel more spacious, while small moves like recessing the microwave and dog bowls into the side of our island help to reduce visual clutter. To get a custom look without the hefty price tag, we combined DIY vertical grain Douglas fir shelving and end panels with IKEA cabinets. The backsplash at the range is a piece of back-painted glass, and the spice rack is a steel ledge shelf from West Elm.
Our advice: Be patient and expect that it will take longer and cost more than you originally anticipated. Try to live in your space for some time before making any big moves. We did this, and it really helped us determine the best solution for our house and budget constraints. Do your research and look for bargains, but don’t cheap out on things that get used daily (like the sink, faucet, countertops and flooring). Finally, if you plan on living in your house during the renovation (like we did), set aside a space for a make-shift kitchen (which for us included a microwave, fridge and small shelf and counter). A few weeks of take-out can be fun, but after that, you’ll want to be able to put together a quick and simple meal between work breaks! — Lauren