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Waker Project Part 1: The Kitchen

Don’t let Steve see! He wants to be surprised!

I have never hid a story post in Instagram until this remodel.

A few years back, we remodeled the Lilywood Kitchen (here). At that time, their friends that live around the corner were trying to not watch my “Instagram stories” BECAUSE they wanted it to all be a surprise when they went to the Lilywood project for the first time after it was all done! There is nothing more exciting than seeing something for the first time, don’t you agree?

Fast forward to the beginning of this year when we gutted this Waker kitchen. Now the Lilywood clients wanted a whole new surprise when they went to dinner at the Waker house. And therefore, yes, I blocked Steve from my stories until it was all done. (Sorry Steve! It won’t happen again! 😉 )

Kitchen: Before

Does this look familiar? So many homes were built with these wood-stained cabinets that didn’t go to the ceiling, that crammed every small appliance into the chopped up upper cabinets, paired with dark, busy granite countertops and a lovely cooktop right smack dab in the middle of the island. Over time the wood has reddened significantly and is just feeling “soooo 20 years ago”!

Kitchen: After

Today, I am proud to say, those cabinets are gone! They were replaced with hand-crafted, flush inset, crisp white, to the ceiling, fresh yet classic cabinets that will stand the test of time.

Kitchen Details


We looked at a lot of backsplashes. The one thing we knew collectively is we wanted all white with some detail.

We ended up choosing this 2″ x 4″ beveled subway tile in glossy white. And as much as I love CFM, my client was able to find it much cheeper from an online company, saving approx. $4/sq. foot. #everydollarcounts

Paint (Cabinet Color)

Cabinet color can be one of the hardest decisions on the PLANET, especially when you are choosing a white! My best advices is know your surroundings. If your house is filled with cooler colors (grays, blues) then go with a cool white. If your house is traditional and filled with warmer colors (creams, taupes) then go with a warm white.

In the case of the Lawrences’ home, the other rooms adjacent to this are filled with cool grays. Our challenge though is all the woodwork is painted from 20+ years ago, and is a warmer white. We decided to go with BM Chantilly Lace, a beautifully crisp white, and just painted all the woodwork in the two spaces (window trim and baseboards) to coordinate. It looks magnifique!

When remodeling a room and you change the trim color, you don’t have to change the trim color in the whole house! The rule is paint all the trim in that room the same and stop at the doorway.

Light Fixtures

The breakfast nook light fixture you see in the background was installed by the previous owners. (similar)

When choosing the pendant lights for this space, we went around and around. The homeowners and I knew we wanted something that made a statement. We also wanted to break up all the white in the space.

My advices: go big and even trendy on the light fixtures! It’s an easy swap out if and when you get sick of them 10 years down the road.

This particular pendant came in two sizes and we went with the bigger one! Go big or go home, right?! Actually, when the pendants arrived, there was some concern that when you walked into the room from the hall that the view out the window would be obstructed by their massive size. For this, I suggested hanging them a touch higher off the countertop then standard (30″ – 36″) and then spacing them apart a little more over the island. This creates visual space and spreads out the lighting. We went for it and now that they are in, WOW! I think they are perfect!

Did you notice the inside of the shade is painted gold? I love how that detail ties so nicely with the hardware! Speaking of which…


First, can we just take note of the veining of the countertops in this photo below?! Stars and glitter to my eyes!

The faucet serves a purpose: to be functional. The faucet is also beautiful to look at! This particular one we loved because it brought the brass and black we see in the island pendants to the countertops! Good design bounces your eye around a space, with tiny details that connect everything like a beautifully planned out puzzle. Here’s to sparkles in doses. 😉


Let’s talk hardware! There are so many possibilities! You can do pulls on EVERYTHING! or you can do knobs on EVERYTHING! You can do pressure close cabinets that have ZERO hardware, a very contemporary look. Or, you can do what is my favorite which is a mixture of knobs and pulls.

I prefer knobs on cabinets and pulls on drawers.

How beautiful are these ones from Rejuvenation?! Just stunning. To create balance, we did the 8″ pulls on the large drawers, and a 6″ on the few smaller drawers. When you go for bigger hardware it often means more money but wasn’t it worth the splurge?! I mean look at this image below! Yuuuummmmy!


Talk about character! When it comes to countertops, there are so many to choose from now. Quartz is definitely on trend and the reason being people love the look of marble.

The problem with marble is it is porous and therefore susceptible to staining which most people don’t like. Quartz is much more durable than both marble and granite. Plus, it looks great in both traditional and contemporary homes.

This Sinclair 3m slab from EleMar Oregon is one of their Elequence line quartz. My clients loved the bold characteristics in the veining adding a high contrast edge to the overall look.

The Bar

In this space, we don’t have just one bar but TWO! To get to the kitchen from the front hallway, you walk through the butler’s pantry. For this space, we took the beveled tile all the way to the ceiling. We added two floating shelves in a contrasting wood to give it a more earthy, clean, contemporary open feel. We installed my favorite bar faucet by Delta, and installed the small square sink.

Bar 1: butler’s pantry

In the main kitchen, opposite wall from the range sits another counter space that use to be a desk. We raised it to counter height, added a wine fridge, and made the upper cabinets glass and barware storage.

Bar 2: wine+


Have you had to buy barstools in the past? As you know if you have ever gone shopping for barstools, they can be very expensive! It is a true commitment to the “look”.

These barstools were left by the previous owners. I left this section in to point out that not everything has to be brand new when you are remodeling. These work great with the floors which adds a warmth to what could read as a cool and stark space. We have been collecting ideas for some new stool options for this space but for now, these work great.

I wish I was there as Steve walked into this space with fresh virgin eyes. I’m sure they popped out like a cartoon character blown away at the transformation. From brown to slick fabulousness, every detail compliments each other.

Who’s the next person I am going to have to block from my stories?! 🙂

Product Details

One thought on “Waker Project Part 1: The Kitchen

  1. Being a senior I enjoyed the wood cabinets most of my life. I find the dark woods have an antique feeling and warmth. However, we recently remodeled the 20 year old kitchen oak cabinets and white back splash 6” tiles. We painted the oak cabinets white just like yours and we have light gray subway tiles. We love the new look with our new white marble-looking quartz counter tops with matching gray graining. It feels clean and more spacious. Great job Melissa.


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