Lighten Up

Photos by Jean Allsopp

Over the 26 years these residents have called their Historic Tudor home, they’ve updated their kitchen three times—each change to suit their growing family. “At first, the kitchen was too small and we needed a laundry room, ” the homeowner says. As the kids got bigger, the laundry space became bigger, and they needed a place for backpacks. “Now, we don’t have backpacks, ” she says. “Once my kids went to college, I had a closet with no purpose.” The homeowners decided to replace the drop zone and “Mom’s desk” with storage for entertaining must-haves like tablecloths and serving platters that had been relegated to the garage and various rooms of the house.

They also wanted to update the style of the space, which had cabinets in a darker taupe finish, limestone countertops, and a country French-style chandelier over a smaller island. “The countertops had pitted and stained over time, ” says builder Clint Lovette of Lovette Construction. “The room was a lot darker, and we wanted to lighten it up without gutting the kitchen or moving any walls.” Rather than rip out what was working well—the perimeter cabinets, work zones, appliances—the team updated finishes to give the space a new face. “Basically all of the finishes have changed. We kept the perimeter cabinets but replaced all the fronts, and we added all new hardware, a marble backsplash and countertops, and a niche above the stovetop for spices, ” he says.

For Clint, the ultimate goal was to give the homeowners more functionality with a new island. Besides copious storage, the gray-stained island also hosts refrigerator drawers and a marble top. “It was just enough to give the kitchen a completely new look without totally changing everything, ” the homeowner says.

Rather than stopping the backsplash just above the countertop, the design team continued the marble tiles to the ceiling. “It seems so much more finished and dressed, ” the homeowner says. 

Things We Love

1. Cabinets: “I just wanted white, ” the homeowner says of her kitchen cabinet color. “I started with that 26 years ago. I moved on to taupe, and now I’m back to white.” Although she was tired of her old cabinets—“It’s like wearing the same dress for ten years!”—she still loved the configuration. So the team replaced the door and drawer fronts (adding soft-close hardware) and left the boxes in place to preserve the working layout.

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2. Lighting: Statement pendants (from Southeastern Salvage) give this otherwise quiet kitchen some major volume. The trio of oversized industrial pendants has dark exteriors and shiny metal interiors. “We put them up and the scale and size just worked, ” the homeowner says.

3. Island: The new island is a bit larger than the old one but offers much more storage and counter space. “We took out a sink out that I never used, ” the homeowner says. “It was a little veggie sink and that took up a ton of space underneath. Now I’ve gained a whole big space for a turkey pan that used to stay in the garage.”

4. Storage: Doing away with the backpack storage and kitchen desk allowed space for Lovette to build tall standing cabinets with a specific purpose. “She wanted her entertaining items to be more accessible—some things were in the island, others in the back of the pantry, ” he says. Pecky cypress doors now open to a walk-in pantry for dry goods and a full-size ice machine.

5. Appliances: Two dishwashers and a pair of refrigerator drawers make this kitchen party-ready. Some appliances, like the range, remained, making room in the budget for other things on the wish list.

Builder: Clint Lovette, Lovette Construction, 205.401.2488 Kitchen floorplan and workzone design: Amy Toothaker, CKD 205.967.5200 Pecky cypress pantry doors: Don Black Custom Woodworks LLC, Columbiana • 205.678.8155 Custom white-oak cabinetry: Lane Woodworking LLC, 205.337-2811 LED under-cabinet and bar lighting: Mayer Electric Supply  3405 4th Ave S, Birmingham, 205.583.3500 Gallery Gray 6×18 floor tile in kitchen entry: Crossville Tile & Stone  2820 6th Ave S, Birmingham. 205.987.3617 Marble backsplash: Crossville Tile & Plumbing Fixtures: V&W Supply Inc  3320 2nd Ave S, Birmingham 205.324.9521 Gray wash/stain on cabinets: Daniel Whitsett  / Paintworks Design Studio, 205.296.5638

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