Before and After: Handsome Brass Accents and a Fun Tile Backsplash Bring this Dated Philly Kitchen Back to Life
Even though ’80s design is experiencing something of a revival right now, a kitchen that’s stuck in that decade — think old appliances, pastel trim work, peeling wallpaper — well, that can be a recipe for disaster. Designer Libby Rawes of Sharp + Grey Interiors know this first-hand, having just completed a total cook space redo for a client in Philadelphia.
“The kitchen had been changed sometime in the early ’80s, I would imagine,” says Rawes. “It wasn’t updated with quality materials and was really showing wear-and-tear and was breaking down.”
On top of that, the kitchen’s layout was fairly choppy, cut off from the rest of the larger, open first floor with a peninsula. Rawes was game for the job, taking it on with a grand goal of modernizing, improving flow, and adding thoughtful design touches. “We wanted to upgrade everything, brighten it up, and freshen the entire space,” says Rawes. “We wanted to create a destination in the home.”
Rawes and her firm started the redo by digging into how they family lived in the house, asking key questions about how the family cooked and how they envisioned using their new kitchen. “With functionality first, we talked about style and design elements that could bring their vision to life,” says Rawes. “Once we had those building blocks, I began working through floor plans and cabinetry layouts as well as design elements that I thought would speak to the client’s style as well as the architecture of the old home.”
To that end, the family decided to stick with a blue and white color palette — only more of a classic slate blue this time around, with hits of handsome brass for a little touch of glam. The kitchen was demoed, and new hardwood floors went in. Next, the group settled on a more modern, u-shaped layout with a kitchen island (featuring a fun beverage fridge!) for gathering and larger windows anchoring the sink wall, which provides a natural focal point for the space. To maximize natural light and showcase those spectacular windows, this back wall was designed largely without upper cabinets, save the stacked, tall and thin pantry trio in the right corner.
Speaking of cabinetry, Rawes sourced Shaker-style white cupboards from Diamond Cabinets, opting for a mix of solid uppers with smaller, square glass-inset styles along the ceiling line of the space. Now there’s plenty of room for kitchen gear and dinnerware storage, and Rawes even included three little shelves for cookbooks in the arrangement. The major kitchen appliances are found on both sides of the u-shape of the configuration; a new stainless steel oven and stove combo sits below sculptural white range hood on the left wall, while the white French door-style refrigerator blends in with the cabinetry installed above it on the right.
The finishes chosen throughout the space are light, bright, and airy, ranging from Sherwin-Williams’ Drift of Mist (SW 9166) paint on the walls to the white farmhouse sink and shiny gold Circa Lighting. To set off the range, Rawes chose a splurge-worthy Walker Zanger hand-painted mosaic tile, which has become the style star of the space. “To cut costs we only used that tile behind the range, and the rest of the perimeter has a simpler subway tile,” says Rawes.
The new kitchen is not only more functional now — but it’s also easier on the eyes — and both the client and designer couldn’t be happier with flow and look of the space. “We both love the blue tile and the range hood and how it ties in with the blue island,” says Rawes. “And that huge window is beautiful, too!”