Sleek & Stylish

When Courtney and Bryson Stephens moved into their new home, it was outfitted with a lovely traditional, custom kitchen. Despite its classic beauty, the room didn’t fit the couple’s personal style. “I wanted something more contemporary to go with the rest of my interiors, ” Courtney says. And while she usually does her own decorating, she looked to designer Shea Bryars to help fulfill her wishes. Courtney was upfront about her desire to be hands-on with the project, even specifying to-the-trade products through her designer mother. “It was the perfect chance for us to work together, ” Shea says. “I got to do what I love while sharing some of the responsibility with Courtney.”

Though the general footprint remained the same, Courtney and Shea removed a banquette and added a second, larger island with more storage and a bar overhang. “That has made the biggest difference. It’s nice to have the kids there while I am preparing dinner, ” says Courtney. With the added storage, the pair decided to replace some of the upper cabinets with open shelving to achieve the lighter, airier look Courtney was after. They also simplified the moulding in the space and gave it all a coat of bright white paint. “The classic style of the original cabinetry opened the door for us to use some traditional materials like marble and brass, but in a fresh, updated way, ” says Courtney.

Things We Love

A textural focal point is the range wall backsplash comprised of three separate slabs of marble. “This was the most time-consuming part of the project, ” says designer Shea Bryars. “I spent hours looking at slab after slab to get the movement and color just right. It makes such a great statement, so it was definitely worth it.”

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To achieve a more open look, the upper cabinets were replaced with custom brass shelving. While the look may not work for everyone, it suits Courtney’s minimal aesthetic. “I love having everything so accessible—and I still have plenty of closed storage for less attractive things, ” she says.

Casual meals are enjoyed at the island, so comfortable, durable barstools were a must-have. “We knew we wanted a metal base” Shea recalls. Courtney spotted these online and had the bases powder-coated to match the warm brass finishes in the rest of the room. Upholstery is a wipeable pleather.

The second island made space for another sink, a wine cooler, and set of refrigerator drawers. The original refrigerator and Five-Star range stayed, their industrial lines appropriate for the transitional style of the new kitchen.

The finish that often defines speculative homes built during the 1990s is back, and Shea and Courtney used it with abandon to warm up the sleek, white finishes. Shea designed shelves to be custom-wrapped in the metal to continue the theme.

Interior design: Shea Bryars Design • 205.533.2268 Construction: Tri-County Construction • 205.369.3029 Appliances: AllSouth Appliance Group • 205.942.0408 Pendant lights: Circa Lighting  877.762.2323 Cabinet hardware: Art: Soho Retro 205.870.7655

Text by Jennifer Bonds • Photography by Jean Allsopp

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