So Chic

This kitchen and bath are most certainly well-dressed! | Photographs by Josh Scott
“Decluttering can be so freeing,” says interior designer Katie Rodriguez of her own kitchen, shown here. Learn about how the busy mom created this space on the following pages. // Photographs by Josh Scott

Kitchen with a Twist

This designer gets creative within the hub of her own home

BACKSTORY: Birmingham’s Katie Rodriguez gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “go with the flow.” The interior designer and owner of Katie Rodriguez Design whipped up the perfect recipe for a clever kitchen in the classic Colonial she shares with her husband, Francis, and their two boys. This distinct space was designed with the un-kitchen movement in mind. In addition to being more cohesive with the rest of the home, Rodriguez says this concept can be a more inviting way to cook, dine, and entertain.

Although the designer likes to entertain, she keeps everyday cooking simple with 30-minute meals prepared in a clean-lined layout.

ALL TOGETHER NOW: As Rodriguez explains, today’s popular open-concept layouts have homeowners rethinking the look of the hub of the home and how it relates to adjacent rooms. “I think there’s a desire to use the kitchen as a living space, and therefore we’re considering how it will transition into those spaces, and getting creative with materials, custom cabinets, and storage.”

SMART MOVES: For her recent renovation, Rodriguez wanted the kitchen to be the center of the home, but not the focus. “We shifted its placement from the original location, and I opened it up on three sides (leaving only one perimeter wall for cabinets) and built an adjacent walk-in pantry,” she says. In lieu of upper cabinets, Rodriguez chose a floor-to-ceiling pantry for glassware and dishes, snacks, and other essentials. The island houses a dishwasher and other storage.

A WHOLE NEW WORLD: Instead of the traditional window above the sink, the kitchen faces a spacious great room flooded with natural light from three sets of French doors overlooking the yard. “I really think the un-kitchen movement is about how you can creatively use the square footage to feel like a part of the living space. It’s providing the function needed in a way that may be unexpected,” says the designer, who describes her personal style as modern, classic, and tailored.

The paneled refrigerator mirrors a pantry. Organization is key for quick breakfasts and Taco Tuesdays.

LESS IS MORE: Because Rodriguez likes simplicity, she opted for a smaller kitchen space. The walk-in pantry acts like a second kitchen by housing small appliances. “We’re not gourmet chefs; we don’t need a ton of space,” she says. Besides, she adds, “I don’t need two crockpots and 20 vases.” 

CALMING EFFECT: The designer’s newly renovated kitchen is peaceful and clutter-free. “I think this is achieved through a restrained palette of materials and symmetrical design,” she says. “When I’m in the space, I don’t want to have to think about it. I want it to work for me with every reach, stir, and pour.”

By Jeanine Matlow


Interior design, Katie Rodriguez, Katie Rodriguez Design,, Birmingham. Counters, Geoluxe Palissandro. Cabinets, Pioneer. Backsplash, Florim Calacatta. Paint, Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster. Faucet, Brizo Solna in Matte Black. Lighting, Hudson Valley Lewis in Aged Brass. Hardware, Schaub & Co. Vinci Collection in Black Bronze. Appliances, Thermador range and dishwasher. Fisher & Paykel refrigerator. Counter stools, Arteriors.

Mixing different elements and materials but still creating a unified look was the goal of designer Amanda Wolfe for her new powder room. With arty tile, cheerful art, a floating vanity, and a cement sink, the space is 100-percent “Wow!”

Mixing It Up

A creative mingling of unique tile, art, lighting, and vanity makes for a nifty powder room in Huntington Woods

BACKSTORY: Amanda Wolfe, of Amanda Wolfe Designs and Forest Avenue Design in Birmingham, started work on a new powder room in her Huntington Woods home last July. The project was completed in November. She and her family now enjoy a larger space that pops with floor-to-ceiling tile, a floating vanity, and a concrete sink; it’s a creative mix that conveys character and practicality. Even with a bit of a Mid-century touch (Kelly Wearstler sconces that feel modern), the space is at once eclectic and inviting. “Although my house isn’t Mid-century Modern, I don’t want to walk in to a room that says, ‘you picked out all your items at one store, or from one source.’ You’re not doing a good job if you do that.”

THE OVERHAUL: Wolfe’s plan included removing a powder room located near the kitchen and renovating a back hall bathroom, increasing the size, and changing the entry so it felt like it was always there and more a part of the house rather than the back hall/mudroom. There’s now one bathroom on the first floor.

TILE CALLING: “As a designer I see so much out there, but my mind kept going back to photos I’d taken along the way of certain tiles that I wanted on the walls. I went with an Ann Sacks selection, something that I originally loved,” Wolfe says.   

POWDER POP: “I had to make a pop and went floor-to-ceiling with the tile. You can do ‘wow factor’ effects because it’s a powder room, and I’m so in love with that tile.” The tile complements the flooring and its penny-round style in a graphite color.    

A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE: Celebrated cabinetry master John Morgan, of Perspectives Cabinetry in Troy, worked with Wolfe to design a floating walnut vanity. “I didn’t want anything to match. I wanted the space to feel like it’s been there forever, not newly built. The walnut vanity gives it an Old World feel, but in a contemporary way, because I floated it,” Wolfe explains.

IN THE BLACK:  Wolfe chose black marble countertops. “Black marble is
underrated and fabulous, and I see it a lot in New York City, so I thought, Why don’t we use that?”

STUPENDOUS SINK: A concrete sink weighing about 300 pounds was one tough installment, but the designer says it was well worth it.

DESIGNER’S VERDICT: “I love it, and I adore the tile,” Wolfe says. “I feel like I’m in some old Moroccan town. The tile is like art.” 

By Megan Swoyer


Interior design, Amanda Wolfe, Amanda Wolfe Designs/Forest Avenue Design,, Birmingham. Faucet, Newport Brass, Flat Black. Sink, Native Trails concrete sink, trough style, Atlas Plumbing, Detroit. Cabinet, walnut floating, Perspectives Cabinetry, Troy. Counter, Nero Marquina honed marble from PMP Marble, Troy. Wall tile, Ann Sacks Eastern Promise 8×8 concrete wall tile by Martin Bullard Lawrence; floor tile, Ann Sacks Savoy Penny Round Graphite tile; wall behind toilet, Ann Sacks  tile, 2×7-inch subway tile in Obsidian, all from Michigan Design Center, Troy. Sconces, Detroit City Lights, Strada Collection, Kelly Wearstler. Wall art, The Mincing Mockingbird.