A list of the greatest compliments you can receive, in no particular order:
1. Someone tells you that you look younger than you are. This never gets tiresome.
2. Someone who never gives compliments gives you a compliment. Then you know it’s really genuine.
3. A client comes back to work with you for a second project!
You may remember a few years back our Caulfield bathroom which was one of the Houzz Top 10 Bathrooms of the Year. In that initial phase we updated our clients’ Master Bathroom and Kids baths, turning a jack and jill bath into two separate bathrooms for their teenage son and daughter.
At the end of that project, we always ask our clients about their experience, what they loved, and what we could be doing better. After this project, our clients told us: “We loved working with TLD! We are already brainstorming our next project and you will be our first call!”
Two years later, they did! It was time to renovate the kitchen, family room, and dining rooms to fit the new aesthetic that we’d begun with their bathrooms.
Our clients design style leans contemporary, lightly mid century, colorful, and fresh. Their existing kitchen...wasn’t any of those things.
As with many 1970’s Dallas homes, the layout was a bit awkward. A peninsula separated the kitchen from the breakfast area and living room. The cabinets didn’t go all the way to the ceiling (though the furr-downs had been covered with faux doors at some point to make it look like they did), and overall the space was isolated and dim. Also weirdly antiquey yellow.
Our clients wanted more connection between the kitchen and the family room.
The main goals:
To be able to cook and interact with the family
A large island to replace the breakfast area
A more modern looking kitchen that would follow the same design style as the renovated bathrooms.
On most of our projects, we create a few layout options to show how we can maximize the space. Usually there is a low-impact option and a high-impact option. Sometimes we can just widen an opening between the two rooms to achieve that goal. In this case, to get the connection they were longing for between the kitchen and living room, we had to go BIG and remove the wall between those spaces.
You can see in the before plan and photos, there were a pair of closets on either side of the TV in the
Living Room. The one on the left was the main coat closet, and the one on the right was the pantry (pretty inconvenient to have your pantry in the LIVING ROOM if you ask us).
We removed those closets and stole a few feet from the dining room (it was really large and wouldn’t miss the space at all) to open things up. This required adding a mega beam to carry the weight of the second story.
A happy surprise – in doing this, our contractor found that we could raise the ceiling from 8’ to 9’ in this area! It was an extra cost, but friends, if you learn NOTHING else from this blog post – if you can ever raise the ceiling in your space, DO IT. No single thing (possibly other than adding daylight) can change the experience of a space more than lifting above a normal ceiling height. It makes alllllllllll the difference.
Now we had the extra space we needed in the kitchen to add a large island, create a true pantry where the odd butler’s pantry/hallway had been before, and maximize the functionality of this kitchen.
THE FINAL PRODUCT
With the pantry gone and wall shifted, the kitchen is now open and connected to the living room.
We removed the sliding patio door and opted for a single swinging door. This gained us 3’ of precious cabinet space and allowed us to relocate the refrigerator to a better location.
To compensate for the loss of daylight, we enlarged the window over the sink to a modern extra-wide size.
A specific (and somewhat unusual) request from our clients was to locate the cooktop in the island. Usually it’s the kitchen sink that goes in the island, but he really wanted to be able to chat with the family and interact while cooking on the stove. We are big believers in "do what works for you and not what everyone else does" and this is the perfect example.
It was important to us that we didn’t have some mega-large eyesore of a vent hood coming down over the cooking surface and impeding the view that we’d spent so much effort in creating. A downdraft vent hood (which pops up from the counter and exhausts down and under the house, and eventually outside) wasn’t a great option since we had a slab foundation. After a bit of research the Team found a flush ceiling mounted exhaust fan that was powerful enough to exhaust the cooktop and not impede the view at all. Huge win.
Without a giant vent hood to contend with, we were able to add these cutie blue modern pendant lights over the island. They are a perfect compliment to our blue island.
Let’s talk about these finishes! We wanted a modern feel, and like the Master Bathroom, still wanted the space to feel warm. We made the majority of the perimeter cabinets white and “bookended” those runs of cabinets with white oak cabinets. The island is a soft greyed blue to bring in color and personality.
We used the same white and wood combo in the new living room built ins. We needed to replace the coat closet that we removed. Rather than building it out of drywall, we created a floor to ceiling cabinet that can house coats, plus so much more with the extra drawers and doors in the floating media cabinet.
All of the cabinets are a modern slab front (so unlike a Shaker Cabinet, there isn’t any additional trim or rails on the cabinet) for a sleek, European look. In our signature TLD move, the microwave drawer is tucked on the working side of the island and out of sight from the living room.
A durable, modern kitchen runner incorporates our blues and wood tones with a bit of pink, connecting the color palette to the living and dining rooms. Also, this is Milo. He’s the real star.
In the original plan, the counter stools were going to be at the opposite end of the island, closer to the living room. In a last minute design change, our client asked if we could flip that and have the stools on this end so there could be visibility to the TV in what was the breakfast area. Works for us!
These cabinets sit in the exact same location as the previous breakfast area cabinetry, but are maximized with more drawers, some glass fronts for display, and upper cabinets for tucking away rarely used or seasonal items.
You typically see counter stools all in a line, but it’s nice when it makes sense to group them around a corner so that people can actually talk to each other rather than eating in a row.
Also, we need to talk about these counter stools. They are in a lovely shade of blue that compliments our island perfectly, and the rattan back connects back to our oak cabinets. A bit of design magic.
With 3 different finishes of cabinetry happening in the room, we needed a backsplash that was interesting but wouldn’t compete. This white geometric tile brought the right amount of visual interest without overpowering the room. The grout is actually a slate blue/gray (a very unusual choice!), which picks up on our blue tones.
We had long discussions about what to do with the wood flooring. In a dream world, we would have gone lighter, but this darker floor runs through the entire house and would have been a HUGE expense to replace. We extended the darker floors and using the magic that is mixing wood tones were able to use a lighter wood on the cabinets that would complement it.
For countertops, engineered quartz was the clear winner. This is a busy family with kids who loves coffee; not the time for precious marble that would stain or etch. If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of all of your options, check out this post for our guide to choosing the right countertops.
At the far end of the kitchen we located the double oven. To give ample clearance when opening and closing, we added a tall floor to ceiling cabinet to the left which is a great spot for housing cooking essentials in arm’s reach.
Look just to the left and you’ll spot the new pantry. Let’s peek inside!
It’s a dream! Drawers below to house bulk items and vegetables. A countertop with plenty of power to run small appliances. And open shelves above to house every last thing.
Turn the corner and we’re in the dining room. The opening was moved (to allow for that new pantry) and widened for more connection between the kitchen and dining room. You know, so that people will actually use it.
A new burl wood table in the same color tone as the floor and new velvet and brass chairs add a hint of sophistication to this room and help it feel special.
Blue and brass run throughout this space to connect it to the kitchen’s color story.
Thanks for joining us on this tour! If you aren’t already, we’d love for you to follow us on Instagram for more inspiration, tips, and behind the scenes looks at our projects.
If this has you dreaming up a new project for your home but you’re a little unsure where to start, we’d love to invite you to use one of our free resources:
If you need help with honing in your design style check out our free Signature Style mini-course!
If you need more nuts and bolts help with how to plan for an approach to renovation here's our free Project Planning Guide to help prepare you for your next big project.