Relaxed Mode

Mark and Cristi Pledger of Pledger Architect transformed a kitchen with '90s finishes, a dark color palette, and limited storage into a classic, informal space fit for a country home.

The built-in bench and accompanying table and chairs form a cozy nook in the kitchen. Piles of pillows in light tones make it a comfortable spot for lingering over breakfast. The scale and style of the clients’ existing table and chairs fit the new design. Photos by Adam Macchia

Tips from Mark and Cristi Pledger kitchen connoisseurs

An architect can help you think through how you and your family will utilize a space and then design accordingly. This professional may also have unique ideas of how to best use square footage.

Gather images of kitchens you love to help share your vision, but don’t be afraid to follow your heart rather than the current styles. In this kitchen, the strategy was “something very classic rather than trendy,” says Mark.

In terms of paint colors, the Pledgers tend to lean more toward a monochromatic scheme. “We generally like for the walls and cabinetry in kitchens to be the same or similar colors,” Mark says. “It visually keeps the space calm.”

Hiding appliances behind cabinet door fronts works beautifully in classic-style kitchens. “It changes the feel when appliances have matching wood panels,” says Mark. This particular kitchen even features a concealed wine fridge.

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A custom range hood by Jackson Forge fulfilled the clients’ desire for a beautiful and interesting replacement for their existing stainless steel hood. The Pledgers moved the windows on either side of the range out by 7 inches to accommodate the upper cabinets that flank the hood. This small move made a big difference and “knit together all three cabinetry walls,” Mark says.

What Makes It Farmhouse

In searching for classic kitchens as inspiration, the clients fell in love with painted beadboard. In this space, beadboard paneling appears on the backsplashes and the built-in bench.

The epitome of farmhouse style, a fireclay apron-front sink from Shaws teams up with a Waterworks “Easton” bridge faucet in polished nickel.

Prior to its renovation, the kitchen had little storage with limited upper cabinets that included a poor mix of modern and traditional details. The cabinetry got a full makeover complete with bracketing, molding, and new doors. Custom brackets support the upper cabinets and add to the classic style of the overall space. The upper cabinets are framed by crown molding at the ceiling and a more delicate molding where the cabinet meets the brackets. Cabinet doors are set within a face frame rather than overlaid.

The clients didn’t want their kitchen to be a white box, so they brought in a bit of color. Variations of creams and muted greens in the pillows, cushions, and accessories make the space feel seamlessly connected to the family room and dining room, while the dials on the stove add a fun, unexpected pop of red.

Dark soapstone countertops from Triton Stone make a statement against the light cabinetry, and their undertone ties into the kitchen’s overall palette. Soapstone can be found in many color options with or without veining and also provides increased durability compared to granite.

The Pledgers wanted to minimize the kitchen’s use of contemporary-feeling stainless steel. Instead of choosing a traditional, stainless-wrapped range, they opted for a cooktop and wall ovens across the room from each other. This spreads the stainless look around the room to make it less visually dominant. They also replaced the existing stainless range hood with a custom piece made from patinated steel.

Architects: Mark Pledger and Cristi Pledger, Pledger Architect Contractor: Mitch Bradford, Saunders Bradford Cabinets: Aaron Lane, Lane Woodworking Tile installation: Somerset Tile Stone installation: Alabama Stone Works  Custom range hood: Brady Jackson, Jackson Forge Plumbing fixtures: Fixtures & Finishes

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