French Connection

Two busy parents enlist a team of experts to create a French-inspired kitchen in the heart of Mountain Brook.

Photos by Jean Allsopp

A love for all things French was the driving force for this kitchen renovation, ” says designer Aimee Belden, who chose the room’s finishing touches. “The homeowners wanted something that was pretty but that was not exactly what you see all the time.” Their 1920s house had been updated sometime during the 1970s, and it retained a dark, Formica-clad kitchen complete with washer and dryer.

“The footprint we had to work with is not large so the cabinet plan had to be laid out very carefully, ” says Aimee. Architects from Standard Creative designed a small laundry/mudroom addition, leaving room for Cyndy Cantley to fit new cabinets. A large center island now defines the kitchen’s workspace and gives the couple’s two children space to hang out while dinner is prepared. An eight-burner Wolf range anchors the back wall, which is set behind a graceful drywall arch framing shelving and cabinetry. 

To keep the room feeling airy, the designers left windows bare. A high-gloss finish on the ceiling also makes it feel taller. Extra-thick marble countertops, tongue-in-groove paneling on the ceiling, and polished nickel hardware give the new space timeless appeal. “The details are all very subtle—the soft colors, the glass backsplash, the low movement in the marble all work together to give it that extra-special feeling, ” says Aimee.

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An avid cook, the husband wanted to be sure everything would have a home in the new space. He inventoried the kitchen down to the last bottle of spices and worked with Cyndy Cantley as she laid out the cabinetry to ensure storage for everyday essentials, entertaining items, and cookbooks was as efficient and convenient as possible.

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Three aged-copper pendants from The Urban Electric Co. hang over the island, providing a touch of texture, patina, and contrast to the room. Designer Aimee Belden made an unconventional choice in the pair of mirrored scones flanking the stove. “They are more for aesthetics than function. They give off the most pleasant glow at night, ” she says

To bring as much light as possible into the small space, three windows were added over the sink. They stretch from ceiling to countertop, maximizing both natural light and the view of The Vulcan beyond. On either side of the stove, the low, original windows were left intact. Cyndy designed a low drawer beneath to connect the stove to the rest of the cabinetry and provide a neat little nook for sitting.

Discreet appliances are a signature of Cantley & Company kitchens, and this one is no exception. A pair of freezer drawers is tucked conveniently into the island, along with two compactors, one for trash and one for recycling. The vent hood over the range is disguised behind a gentle archway, adding architectural interest to the space. As with all of Cantley & Company’s cabinetry, appliances don cabinet fronts to blend seamlessly into the design.

Cindy designed the cabinetry to feel more like free-standing furniture, as one might find in a kitchen in the French countryside. The island features turned legs, and the dish pantry features wire fronts for pretty display and easy access.

Standard Creative Kitchen design: Cyndy Cantley, Cantley & Company • 205.324.2400 Interior design: Aimee Belden, Belden Designs, LLC. • 205.879.6347. Construction: Hufham Farris Construction  205.781.4079 Countertops: Stone Concepts  205.836.6425 Hardware: Architectural Hardware Supply • 205.910.4893

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Jennifer Bonds

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