Photo by Travis Stanley
On my last post, I revealed the Before + After of our Mill Pond Project, which involved a sizable remodel of the conjoined kitchen and family room spaces. There were a few details sprinkled in on why we made changes to the layout and chose the specific finishes that we did, but I didn’t go into great detail about how the design came to fruition. So today, I thought I’d share a little ‘behind the design’ for you!
Photo by Travis Stanley
First, a quick background on how we came to find ourselves in this home... This purchase was a whirlwind. I was 7 months pregnant with our second child (and a lively one-year-old) and we were anchored to our current home. I was convinced that house would be our forever home and we had just finished an extensive remodel of our entire first floor. Despite that, there were a couple of aspects that didn’t suit our soon-to-be family of four - namely, a lack of sidewalks, no parks close by and no yard for the kids to play in - but we were too excited about our newly renovated space to care.
Until one fated day while running errands with a sleeping babe in the back seat. If you know kids then you know the cardinal rule of not waking a sleeping baby, so I decided to go for a quaint drive through the country. What I thought was rural land in the NW hills of greater Portland actually turned out to be a beautifully developed community called Forest Park. I was enamored by the sweeping hills of decades old cedar trees, the winding sidewalks connecting homes to a beautiful park with a duck pond and huge playground, and an extensive network of walking trails that ran throughout the neighborhood.
It was love at first sight! My heart was racing and I felt an indescribable draw to the neighborhood. It just felt… right. I pulled over on three separate occasions to text my husband that I had found the place we were meant to raise our family. It came completely out of left field, but he obliged my requests to drive through for a tour after work and he ended up feeling the same pull that I did.
A couple of days later, I started scouting properties online and this home was the first to pop up. It was brand new to the market and had everything on our wish list, including beautiful bones at a good price (a major facelift out of the 90’s was needed). As a designer, I think buying a home in need of work is such a great investment, and also one that offers the exciting opportunity to bring a personal vision to life. We went to the house during its first showing and as we walked the space, I could envision all the wonderful memories we would make... the area where our girls would run circles around the first floor together. The dining room we would share meals as a family. The bedroom where our girls would stay up late reading stories together. This house called to me. We put an offer in the next day and a few days later, it was ours!!
It was all so sudden and yet, for the most part, it all worked out effortlessly and I still have no doubt this home was meant to be our forever home. Even before the renovations, I felt truly at home every time I stepped through the front door. And now that we have started making our mark on it - room by room - it continues to feel like an integral part of our family.
That was a bit of a lengthy recap on how this home came to be in our lives, but I felt like it was important to share because of a recurrent theme: FAMILY. As we take on designing and remodeling each and every room in this home (it’s a 5-10 year plan so we’re in for the long haul, ha!), family is the thing I come back to each and every time. With that said, I wanted a design that would also take into account the character of the home (traditional), a style that stands the test of time but also feels up-to-date (classic but modern) and our needs over the next 20 years (a growing, bustling family).
The first room we started with was the kitchen. It would be the most used room in the home with two kids under two and it was in dire need of fixes and updating. For my design process, I started by curating a moodboard that would be the vision for the space and something that I would refer back to time and time again as planning unfolded. It would reflect the general vibe I hoped to feel in the space, as well as, highlight some key details inherent in the design’s family-friendly modern but classic aesthetic. I ended up with the collection of images above.
A bright, white and mostly neutral style is evident at first glance. There are some long, dark and gloomy months in the PNW winters, so I wanted something that would feel fresh and light all year round. Classic details like shaker cabinets, marbled countertops and white subway tile would give the space timeless appeal and stay true to the home’s traditional character; while, brass hardware with clean lines and modern appliances and fixtures would bring the updated feel that it lacked without going too trendy.
I found inspiration in a number of places, but here are a few that deserve some attention…
Design by Bria Hammel Interiors
Design by Studio McGee
Design by Amber Interiors
Design by Studio McGee
As planning continued, I found myself wanting a coastal feel for the space. After all, we live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest only an hour or so away from the beach and I wanted that relaxing, approachable and inviting vibe in our home. As the process developed, I focused on hints of blue from the ocean and pinks from sunsets to accent the generally neutral space. Combining bits of texture throughout along with those pops of color were the final piece of the puzzle and with that I arrived at this design concept…
With our Modern Coastal Trad design concept finalized, I started sourcing finishes. The countertops were something I’ve had my eye on for a couple of years , Statuario Quartz by PentalQuartz, and were the very first finish purchase I made. Quartz is your BFF in a family-friendly kitchen design. It is a manmade product that’s super durable and can take the spills and drops that are an everyday fact of life in a home with young children. I didn’t want to be worried about my counters and didn’t want to be watching like a hawk over the girls while they’re hanging in the kitchen with me, so it was an obvious choice in this project.
I also knew I wanted white for the island and perimeter cabinets and after testing out four different white paint colors, I chose BM’s Chantilly Lace (different sheens for the cabs and moulding). We took out the stale tile floors and carried the oak flooring from the living room into the kitchen to give the whole space a connected, grander feel. The floors were refinished in Duraseal’s Spice Brown. The stain also added some warmth and richness to the space and wood floors are softer under tiny feet than tile. Comfort is something I came back to over and over in this family-friendly kitchen design.
Given the kitchen’s all-white palette, I wanted to add some contrast and interest with mixed metals in the fixtures and hardware. I found this gorgeous pendant from one of my favorite lighting companies, Cedar and Moss. They’re a local business run by a predominantly female staff and both of those things are something I admire and want to support. The quality is incredible and there are so many beautiful designs to choose. I love how simple and elegant the fixture is and the black wrap cord gives it a modern edge. Playing off of the brass in the pendant and bringing some warmth to the kitchen is this set of pulls and knobs from another local company, Schoolhouse Electric.
For the backsplash, I stuck with the age-old reliable white subway tile but with a couple of profile changes to make it more interesting and modern. Instead of the standard 3” x 6” size, I opted for a 2.5” x 8”. The sleeker profile sets it apart and has a more modern look. It’s hard to tell in pictures, but it also has a wavy surface that helps differentiate it further and adds additional character to the kitchen. The remainder of the design came from a major upgrade with all new appliances and just the right amount of decor items to feel curated and complete, including my beauty of a vintage runner (a score off ebay) that sits at the kitchen sink and makes me smile every time I set foot on it.
So there you have it, a little glimpse into my design process and how our dream kitchen (and home) came to be. If you felt inspired by my post, leave me a comment below or you can shop some of the details below. Happy designing friends! XOXO, Rachel