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From Boring Builder-Grade Cabinets to Custom Chef's Kitchen

WELCOME! I'm excited to share a gorgeous kitchen reveal with you today!

This stunning space is in our Ada House on the Hill project, and it was one of those unfortunate projects that was in-progress when the March covid-19 shut-down hit. Fortunately, our clients had a full kitchen in their basement, so while it wasn't ideal, they faired better than some!

The original kitchen in this Ada beauty was a classic case of boring brown builder-grade cabinets. There was storage for days, but it lacked any sense of artistry—especially the island!

The kitchen also contained one of those oh-so-functional (just kidding) kitchen desks that, other than acting as a place for junk to pile up, simply make no sense to me whatsoever!

(If you're just here for the dreamy before and after photos, scroll down a ways!)

Our clients loved the Midcentury Modern styles, but wanted it to blend nicely with their transitional style home, so we went to work designing something that would feel timeless, but funky, and much more inspired.

Take a look at some before photos here:

// BEFORE //

Below is what I'd call a funky little mini butler's pantry that you'd walk through to get to the dining room. We decided to lose one of them (this one) in order to make room for a larger paneled fridge, as well as gain a tiny bit more counter space.

I have to give my cabinet draftsman the credit for figuring this one out! We were both stumped for the longest time because we weren't planning to move any walls, but this little jut out would actually be fairly easy to remove, and wasn't anything structural, so away it went!

The couple new they loved deep blue and white, and also threw in the idea of milti-toned cabinets. We were going to be using some super-high-end custom cabinetry built by our friends at Erhardt Construction, so we knew we could get a little funky if we wanted to! Here were a few of their initial inspiration images:

In my first rendition of the kitchen (below), I had three cabinet tones, which I do still sort of love, but in the end we decided to go with all blue on the perimeter and a gorgeous wood stain on the island. It definitely lets the blue shine!

Below were after we had the cabinet boxes installed. Taking the cabinets all the way to the ceiling—even if you have very high ceilings, like in this case—is a great idea if you have the budget to do so. It makes the space feel grand, custom, and cohesive, like it was built exactly to fit this space (because it was!).

And here's a shot after they got their first coat of BLUE. Feels completely different, right? So much more DRAMA. now let's dive into some yummy before & after shots and I'll point out some of my favorite details along the way...let's do it!

// BEFORE //

// AFTER //

In this first shot, notice how we took our cabinets all the way to the ceiling. When you've got high ceilings, flaunt it, I say, and this kitchen definitely had height!

Also notice how we varied the height of the cabinets above the counter. Before, all the cabinets were exactly the same shape and size, which leads your eye in a straight, uninteresting line.

Here, we've varied both the height and style of the doors: you have the tall mirrored doors on the angled cabinets, and doors with smaller cabinets above around the range hood and beside the fridge. So much more interesting!

Additionally, we moved the microwave from above the range (never my first choice if you can swing it elsewhere), and used a beautiful under-counter built-in microwave instead (you can't see it here, but it's just below the toaster oven).

We also added in a major focal point with the oversized brushed-gold pendant lights. Previously, the island just sort of floated out in the middle of the kitchen with nothing to ground it. Now, it feels intentional and anchored.

// BEFORE //

// AFTER //

In the above, the real game changer of this kitchen was to remove the small wall the jutted out beside the existing fridge. Taking that out allowed us to go with a larger paneled fridge, and made it so that the perimeter cabinetry aligned with the island, which makes the island feel proportionate the the perimeter cabinets rather than too big.

We did maintain the second small nook space to the left of the fridge. This is the only cabinet where we used a transparent glass door, which works well since it will be to display their bar items (see a closeup of this cabinet at the end of the post!).

Where the desk used to be, we brought the surface back up to counter height and added a small bar sink and wine fridge. We raised the uppers up to a more appropriate height above the counter, and repeated the same antiqued mirrored doors from the angled row of cabinets across the kitchen.

Because there are no windows in the main area of the kitchen, the mirrors give the space depth and also reflect light from the sliding door in the breakfast area.

// BEFORE //

// AFTER //

In the breakfast nook, we took advantage of a previously empty wall to create a beautiful custom hutch that would display cookbooks and kitchen items, as well as act as additional storage. We used the same cabinetry style as the kitchen, but with more furniture-style base and a wooden countertop to tie in with the island color.

Using a massive built-in piece like this makes the kitchen feel like it extends all the way into the breakfast nook rather than the two areas feeling like distinct, separate spaces. On the top of each column of shelves, we added beautiful brass library lights, and above the table, we upgraded to an oversized drum light to anchor the table.

// BEFORE //

// AFTER //

A fun detail to point out in this before/after combo is that the islands are exactly the same size! In the original, the odd side cabinets made the seating area very squished, so while the island looked big, three people would not be able to sit comfortably without bumping elbows. We moved all the storage to the opposite side of the island and made room for three extra roomy leather stools.

Additionally, the base cabinets on the island look like just that—base cabinets. Boring! Take a look at how we designed the island with a furniture base, which sets the island apart and makes it feel like a custom piece of furniture rather than cabinets plopped in the middle of the kitchen.

Stay tuned as we reveal more spaces from our Ada House on the Hill project in the coming weeks!


Work with Lauren Figueroa Interior Design

LFID is a full-service interior design firm serving West and Southeast Michigan known especially for our Designed in a Day service.

We work with clients from Detroit to Novi to Clarkston, and Grand Rapids to Holland to Traverse City—and anywhere in between! We pride ourselves on creating bespoke, people-centered spaces—because after all, people are what this life is all about!

If you have a project on the horizon, get started by telling us about your vision here, and you can view past projects here. Thanks for stopping by!


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