English Cottage

When Kim West had the idea of making her dining room larger to accommodate frequent guests, she never dreamed it would result in a whole-house renovation. “I’ve often laughed with Kim about that, ” says residential designer Rob Martin. In the kitchen, a 15-year-old makeover was growing tired, and the inefficient work triangle had Kim running all over the room. “It’s not a small space, ” interior designer Sarah Jernigan says. “Our goal was to take the very open original plan and create specific zones without adding walls.” Maintaining existing plumbing and electrical lines, the result is a highly functioning kitchen without a total renovation price tag.


Stained-red cabinets, a dark wood island, and marble countertops with distinctive veining bring color and coziness to the formerly all-white, stale design scheme. 

1. Color The old kitchen was “plain and lackluster, ” interior designer Sarah Jernigan explains. “And the last word I would use to describe the owner, Kim, is ‘plain.’ “ Sarah says that the kitchen’s new color scheme echoes Kim’s marvelous personality. As Kim recalls, “Sarah brought a cabinet sample in Chinese Red and a marble sample with red, cream, and gray in the veining to one of our early meetings. And that was it! That was the kitchen I wanted! It drove the whole house’s design.”

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2. Footprint “We didn’t have to move any walls, ” Sarah says. “We reinvented the space by making adjustments to the cabinets and adding some elements so that the work zones functioned more efficiently.” Now, a tight work triangle—including a center island—keeps Kim cooking, rather than running, around her kitchen. Residential designer Rob Martin adds, “We left all of the existing plumbing locations the same—sink, dishwasher, and fridge—to save on cost.”

3. Everyday Dining The renovation of Kim’s 1990s kitchen added a bank of windows at one end, flooding the space with light and creating the perfect gathering space. “Sarah’s idea of adding the banquette and trestle breakfast table gave Kim a much better place for everyday meals, ” Rob says. Kim adds, “When friends are seated at the banquette with the chairs around the table and the red color and candles, it’s really cozy. I didn’t realize how nice it really would be for entertaining.” 

4. Efficient Storage Although the renovation actually decreased the number of cabinets in Kim’s kitchen, “we replaced them with much more efficient cabinets, ” Sarah says. A new hutch now stores Kim’s everyday pottery dishes on open shelving for a very functional design. Shelves near the refrigerator store cookbooks and awkward countertop appliances, such as the stand mixer. “I never like a refrigerator to stand alone, ” Sarah says. “I love to design adjacent cabinetry to give it a built-in look.”

5. Details The carved arches on the island’s face “are actually antique panels  I found, ” Sarah says. Kim liked the pieces so much that they inspired a motif used throughout the house.“ The cabinet-maker took the same arch design, modernized it, and used it in the dining room built-ins, ” Kim says. 

ABOVE Kim West’s kitchen renovation included the addition of an island, a storage hutch, and banquette seating at an antique trestle table.


Interior designer: Sarah Jernigan Designs, Inc. 205.802.5868 • sarahjernigandesigns.com; Residential designer: Rob C. Martin 205.914.6809; Contractor: David Sherrod, BRBC, LLC 205.314.0016 • brbcllc.com; Kitchen cabinets: Chris Ryan, Village Woodworks, LLC [email protected]; Countertops: Walker Zanger Sarrancollin Marble, walkerzanger.com; Backsplash: Kenny & Co.: Waterworks 3 x 6 pumice gloss crackle, 205.323.5616 • kennycompany.com; Appliances: Viking, European Kitchen of Alabama 205.978.5629; Window treatments and custom banquette: Sarah Jernigan Designs, Inc.; Banquette sconces:Troy Lighting, Mayer Electric mayerelectric.com; Antique trestle table: Crown & Colony Antiques, Fairhope, AL • 251.928.4808; Dining chairs: Riviera Antiques Atlanta, GA • 404.843.8640; Chandelier: Currey & Co. • curreycodealers.com

text by Lacey Howard • photos by Jean Allsopp

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Lacey Howard

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