5 Inspiring Kitchens

Apropos for a lake-view residence, the kitchen cabinets in this 1927 home were painted with Benjamin Moore’s Admiral Blue (then overglazed with black lacquer). The ceiling’s bead board paneled inserts were painted with Benjamin Moore’s Summer Blue. Scroll down the page to see more of this kitchen.

True Blue

With a unique color palette and a nod to history, this 1920s sizzler is sure to impress

BACKSTORY: This kitchen, located in a home in Grosse Pointe Park that was originally constructed in 1927, was part of the 2016 Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House. What made the home different from most show houses is that a specific family was moving into it, and they paid for all of the renovations.

TOP SECRET: “The beautiful coffered ceiling with its bead board panel inserts isn’t just decorative; it also conceals the many holes that were punched in the ceiling during the renovation,” says the kitchen’s interior designer, Brian Clay Collins of Grosse Pointe-based Brian Clay Collins Designs, LLC. “That was an easier solution than repairing the old plaster, (which) had been damaged.”

MAKING A (BACK) SPLASH: For the glass backsplash, which was crafted by Reid Glass in Southfield, the back side was painted with a brilliant white to simulate the look of milk glass, a material frequently found in the service areas of old homes. “It’s practical, clean, and crisp, and it looks like it could have been original to the home,” Collins says.

SINK IN: The couple decided to retain the ‘German Silver’ sink, where it had always been located, in the butler’s pantry. In the kitchen work area, a new stainless steel double bowl sink has been added for daily use.

SMART MOVE: “The space consisted of three areas: a kitchen, a butler’s pantry,  and a breakfast room,” says interior designer Brian Clay Collins, shown above, “so we removed walls to create one large area that has a more open flow and also a fabulous view of Lake St. Clair.”

HOOSIER CABINET: A floor-to-ceiling wooden Hoosier cabinet, original to the home, is the focal point of the room. Complete with a pull-out metal shelf (once used to roll dough) and bins for flour and sugar, it’s now painted to match the other kitchen cabinets. Popular in the early 20th century, most of these Hoosier cupboards were made in Indiana — thus the name.

TALK ABOUT COOL: A Kelvinator refrigerator, complete with stained oak doors and original to the home, was refinished and updated.

HOMEOWNERS’ VERDICT: “We wanted to retain as many original features as possible. While the kitchen, butler’s pantry, and breakfast rooms are updated to … contemporary standards, they successfully appear very much as they (would) have (looked) when the house was new in 1927.”

—By Judith Harris Solomon 


FORM PLUS FUNCTION A successful reconfiguring was key for this 1920s kitchen, located in the 2016 Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House. Among many notable attributes: Glass, salvaged from the home’s original windows, has been repurposed brilliantly for 16 leaded-glass cabinet doors. Also, efficiency in energy use is evidenced in the selection of new appliances and LED throughout. Observes designer Brian Clay Collins: “The goal has been realized in fashioning a 21st century kitchen in an early 20th century structure.”

Mid-Century Makeover

This Ann Arbor kitchen is well done, thanks to just one structural change and several new design elements

BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER The pendant light is from Currey and Co. Lighting, while the sconces are from Robert Abbey Lighting. The backsplash ceramic subway tile is from Virginia Tile. The wallcovering in the kitchen is “Swan Lake” by Nina Campbell for Osborne & Little. 

BACKSTORY: When Ann Arbor interior designer Laura Zender, of Laura Zender Design, first saw the home she now lives in with her husband and two children, she knew she had to have it. “The fireplace in the kitchen grabbed me,” Zender recalls. “We were in a bidding war and I just couldn’t let the house go — it was the fireplace that got me.” Zender, who has a 14-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son, has been renovating the home since the purchase. “We’re almost done — we’ve got the master and some exterior work, and then we’re done!” Her priority was to preserve the charm of the original 1955 Mid-Century colonial floor plan. “I’m a bit of a preservationist at heart, so when working with an older home, I try to maintain the integrity but bring in what’s needed.” In the kitchen’s case, light and more storage space were must-haves.

ALL ABLAZE: “I just love the fireplace in the kitchen. We have it on every morning in the winter when we eat breakfast,” Zender says. She had the fireplace transformed into a gas unit — not only to make things easier, but also to cut down on coal emissions from burning wood.

UNIFYING COLORS: Zender selected a putty color — Benjamin Moore’s Seapearl — for the kitchen. In the dining room, the cabinets are a sage tone with a chocolate glaze, inspired by the sage-slate flooring in a three-season space. “With a renovation, colors should reappear from room to room so it feels a little cohesive.”

SMART MOVE: Laura Zender, shown INset, went with frameless cabinets to “give just that little bit of extra wiggle room on the interiors of the cabinets.” The flat front (a European look) provides additional storage space, which was on the couple’s priority list. As for the breakfast table, it was the couple’s first furniture purchase (from pottery barn) 19 years ago. The table runner is a gift from one of the homeowner’s parents, purchased during a  trip to Stockholm. The pottery and ceramics on the table and mantel are by Jack Zender (the homeowner’s son). The napkins and rings are from Sur la Table. The squirrel figurine, basket on the hearth, and cutting board are all from Downtown Home & Garden, Ann Arbor. Bistro chairs are from McGuire, upholstered in “Tally” by Tilton Fenwick for Duralee. The gold and white plates in the upper cabinets are from West Elm. The wallcovering in the dining room is “Mae Fern” by Nina Campbell for Osborne & Little. The etchings in the dining room are by an artist in Positana, Italy.

LET THERE BE LIGHT: Zender says many designers would probably blow out an entire wall, but she wanted to maintain the integrity of the original design. Between the dining room and kitchen, she created a pass-through (3-by-5-feet), which allowed for additional light and a full wall of storage on both the kitchen and dining room sides. The pass-through also created a direct sight line all the way through the home to a beautiful window in the living room.

UNDER FOOT: “We chose cement tiles (Cement Tile Shop) for the kitchen and entryway partly because they’re a ‘green’ product (the tiles cure, instead of being fired in a hot kiln that requires a lot of energy). They’re also really warm and soft underfoot.” laurazenderdesign.com

—By Megan Swoyer

Problem Solved!

Walls were moved and removed and chic elements were added; now this 1920s kitchen sings style

LET IT SHINE Lots of stainless steel — on the fronts of the Viking appliances, the cabinet door frames, the picture ledge (not shown), and the countertop separating the breakfast room from the kitchen — gives a sleek and chic feel to the room

BACKSTORY: When Patrick and Monique Dugan decided to renovate the kitchen of their Pleasant Ridge home, built in 1921, their challenge was to update the kitchen without having to perform major construction. They ended up pushing back the west wall of the kitchen about 12 feet, while the south wall of the kitchen was removed to open up to the great room. “The story was really about problem-solving,” says their interior designer, Jimmy Angell, of Birmingham-based James Douglas Interiors.

HI-HO, SILVER: The great-looking backsplash utilizes 2-by-8-inch, silver-colored glass tiles that feature a metallic foundation and are from the AlysEdwards “Man About You” collection.

SHELF LIFE: On a wall in the breakfast area (not shown), a narrow stainless steel, free-standing shelf holds several different photographs Monique Dugan took while traveling in Venice, Montreal, Vienna, and Paris.

FINDING YOUR NICHE: “Because the couple wanted and needed (plenty of) storage but not an overabundance of standard, typical cabinetry, we created open shelves within the niche that’s above the Viking range — a space that was originally the backside of the staircase,” Angell says.

RIDGES IN THE GLASS: Crafted by Extraordinary Works — Luxury By EW Kitchens, the room’s floor-to-ceiling black wood cabinets feature doors that have stainless steel frames and ridged glass inserts.

SMART MOVE: It was all about finding the right space for various elements in this 1921 home. “When the existing doorway to the basement was removed, it turned out to be the perfect place to tuck the double ovens,” interior designer Jimmy Angell, shown above, says.

STAYING NEUTRAL: All of the walls were painted with a soft gray Sherwin-Williams color called Penthouse. “It’s just a beautiful neutral,” Angell says.

CHEERS!: A deep and narrow sink, integrated into the counter of the unit that separates the kitchen from the breakfast area, becomes a handy bar for entertaining.

HOMEOWNER’S VERDICT: “I love how simple, crisp, and clean it is, but also that it’s not too modern, because it’s an old house,” Monique Dugan says. jamesdouglasinteriors.com

—By Judith Harris Solomon


Light, White, and Just Right

In this Northville kitchen, the dark days are over and it’s now nothing but bright and cheery

ORGANIC MAGIC Dove-white cabinets from AYR pop above walnut-stained Brazilian cherry floors, refinished in an eco-friendly, vegetable-based product. The Azul Aran antique-finish granite on the countertops and island doesn’t scratch and feels silky, and the Shiraz Calcutta gold backsplash, by Artistic Tile from Virginia Tile, keeps with the light and airy theme. “Very organic,” the homeowner says. Many of the antique accessories are from Judy Frankel Antiques in Troy.


BACKSTORY: Northville’s Jill Wagner wasn’t happy with her dark, disorganized kitchen; choppy floor plan; and useless cabinets. She wanted a pure environment that was organic and sunny. Royal Oak designer Jennifer Taylor of Jennifer Taylor Studio maximized the space, opened a wall, and added a buffet, dinette, appliances (Wolf stove and convection microwave, Sub-Zero refrigerator, Bosch dishwasher), two sinks, Rohl faucets, lavish dentil crown moldings, and classic cabinetry with copious drawers and organizers that utilize every inch of the L-shaped space. Today, this 16-by-25-foot (not including the bay window/kitchen table area) beauty is pure magnificence.

GETTING IT RIGHT: Taylor assessed every pot, pan, and tool her client wanted to put in her kitchen, and customized accordingly. Now Wagner can open storage areas and see everything in its place. More clean lines: She built a 48-inch TV into an upper cabinet, and added arched window valances that look like cohesive pieces of the millwork.

SMART MOVE: The homeowner wanted the same chewable ice cubes she grew up with on hot New Orleans days, so designer Jennifer Taylor, shown above, installed a Scotsman Nugget unit on one side of the island (this maker was patented as the original chewable ice in 1981).

FRENCH DREAMS: Taylor painted the ceiling Wagner’s favorite French blue-gray, a color by Sherwin-Williams called Front Porch, and customized a quatrefoil motif in the moldings over the stove. Northville artist George Jewell created the same pattern in the pantry’s stained-glass door, shown at right, and crafted the other leaded-glass panels for the cabinets and rear-hallway door. The Niermann Weeks chandeliers and sconces are custom-finished French designs, and the sunburst mirror, from F. Schumacher & Co. (not shown), brings in extra light from the nearby window. “There’s a feeling of peace, like church,” Wagner says.

SITTING IN: The shape of the kitchen precluded adding seating, so Taylor designed an adjacent counter-height (36-inch) table with plush faux-leather stools (not shown).

HAPPY RESULT: “It is without exception the most beautiful combination of creamy-white textures,” says designer Taylor. “I love the play of light and shadows across the moldings and the twinkle of the marble mosaic against the countertop. Anytime you do anything white, you need that contrast.” jennifertaylorstudio.com

—By Patty LaNoue Stearns


Cook’s Delight

They wanted a kitchen renovation without taking on a major gut job. This space now hums with a fresh and updated style

REAWAKENING The outdated kitchen now is fresher than a just-picked lemon. The cabinets and layout were saved, but Birmingham designer Sharon Kory found a way to add a much-needed island with storage. The stovetop, vent hood, and herringbone backsplash replace a downdraft stovetop. Large taupe porcelain floor tiles update worn white ceramic. The island and countertops, now a gleaming Macaubas quartzite, were a tired Formica, and old, dark window coverings came down to let the sunshine in.


BACKSTORY: The Shelby Township house that Sharon and Mike Castellana built in 1990 needed an update. Unsure how much longer they would be in their house, they wanted to spruce it up for resale. Since their daughter was getting married and company would soon be coming, this was the time to freshen up the house — especially the kitchen, where Sharon cooks big Italian sit-down meals six nights a week. Enter Birmingham designer Sharon Kory, of Sharon Kory Interiors. Homeowner and builder Mike’s crew pitched in, too.

SMART MOVE: When the Castellanas built the house, they didn’t think an island would work in their angled kitchen. Interior designer Sharon Kory, shown above, came to the rescue, designing one that would fit despite a tricky layout.

THE BEFORE: “The kitchen had high-gloss white cabinets with radiused ends, Formica counters, no island, outdated appliances, and generally looked tired,” Kory says.

IN PROGRESS: Mike’s crew removed the white ceramic tiles throughout the main floor. “We selected an oversize taupe porcelain, to infuse more warmth,” Kory says. She also added a wooden island with lots of drawers and a glossy Macaubas quartzite top that wraps down the side, countertops of the same material, and high-end appliances — without altering the original floor plan. A soft gray/taupe (Sherwin-Williams, Agreeable Gray) was painted over the formerly white walls.

THE REVEAL: The Castellanas were able to save their white cabinets, Kory explains. The radiused ends on the uppers were replaced with square ends that builder Mike made, and the gray reveals were painted white. Above the cooktop, glass subway tiles were laid in a chevron pattern up to the ceiling, and a stylish vent hood by AKDY, shown below, replaced a high upper cabinet Sharon rarely used. “It’s like a work of art,” she enthuses. The rest of the backsplash, laid out brick-style, adds texture. Sharon adores her expansive Bosch cooktop, and the six burners that accommodate her Italian cooking style. She loves her super-quiet Bosch dishwasher; her metallic-gray, German-made Blanco sink, which blends with the countertop and stays spot-free; and her Dacor convection oven.

HOMEOWNERS’ VERDICT: “Everything is so nice in here, we’re staying at least three to five more years,” Sharon says. “After that, we’ll see how we feel.” sharonkoryinteriors.com

—By Patty LaNoue Stearns