Designer Suzanne Kasler rescues a dark and dated Atlanta kitchen with a timeless white palette and her signature inviting style.
Daughters go to college—that's typical. But when they come home for the summer to find their parents now living in the neighbor's house? Not so typical. That's exactly what happened to Sue and John McKinley's twin daughters when their parents downsized to a house just two doors down. "We were already familiar with the home and liked its open floor plan and high ceilings," says Sue. "We just customized the interior to suit our tastes." In their kitchen, the couple worked with designer Suzanne Kasler to combine practicality with style.
Problem: Stained wood cabinetry, a blue island, and a brick hood surround made this kitchen feel heavy and dated.
Solution: The room is now light and airy thanks to a unified all-white palette punctuated by subtle hits of color and pattern.
Chose a Classic Palette
To create an elegant, light-filled look, Suzanne painted the walls and cabinetry the same creamy white and then continued the less-is-more palette with white marble countertops, a white tile backsplash, and linen barstools.
Upgraded the Cabinetry
Suzanne worked with Matthew Quinn of Design Galleria to create new cabinetry while retaining the kitchen's original layout. "We strengthened the room's architectural envelope," she says. "Once that's in place, a room requires less decorating." Together, they designed Shaker-style cabinets topped with weighty molding and a handsome island with dining table-like legs.
Built a Banquette
Furthering her plan to enhance the room's architecture, Suzanne turned one corner of the kitchen into a cheery dining area with an L-shaped built-in bench that mimics the cabinetry. To keep the dining nook cozy (not restaurant-like) she surrounded the metal bistro table with slipcovered armchairs and hung a sparkly chandelier above.
Brought in One Print
Using the same patterned fabric on the window valances and pillows throughout (Montmartre in Clay/Blue from her own collection for Lee Jofa; leejofa.com), Suzanne introduced color and life to the kitchen without taking away from the all-white effect.
The overscale 6- by 9-inch tiles by Waterworks have a textured glaze for an understated-chic look. "They remind me of something in an old French bakery," says Suzanne.
Designed more than 115 years ago, this classic Shaws Original apron-front sink (rohlhome.com) is simple without being boring, and it's extra deep for washing pots and pans.
High-gloss lilac adds unexpected color above, while a Dutch door and built-in dog beds keep the McKinleys' pets contained and comfortable in the laundry room.
Suzanne mixed open shelves (for cookbooks and dishes) with closed cabinets in the walk-in pantry. A wine fridge and countertops offer extra storage and prep space.
Find information on the products and services featured in this kitchen in our Source Guide.
Words of Wisdom: Decorate for now, not forever. Don't wait for the perfect piece; you can tweak things later. Decorating should be something that always changes, like fashion.
Favorite Paint Colors: I have two: Benjamin Moore's White Dove (benjaminmoore.com) is a warm white that works in any room, and Glidden's Limoges Blue (glidden.com) is my all-time favorite color.
Best Makeover Advice: Keep some of the things you like most, but redo drapery, rugs, and upholstery to really transform your room.
Shopping Tip: Buy what you love, even if you don't have a spot for it now.
Every Home Needs... A master plan. You can always take it one room at a time.
For more inspiring design ideas, pick up the designer's Second book, Suzanne Kasler: Timeless Style, due out in October ($55; rizzoliusa.com)