After decades of living in their Fremont home, this couple opted for a full remodel of their kitchen. The old kitchen was dated and dark, lacking in storage and counter space, and definitely in need of a makeover. My clients told me that, at this stage of their life, they were ready for their home to finally reflect their taste and design aesthetic.

Before:

   

(Scroll down to see the after pictures.)

We had a few goals for the new kitchen:

  1. Increase the lighting. One important way to get more light into the kitchen was to remove part of the wall separating the kitchen and living room. In place of the wall, we maintained separation by creating a high counter. At the end of the counter, we installed a three-light pendant fixture both for extra light, balance, and to create an interesting focal point. In place of the old ceiling-mounted fixtures, we installed dimmable LED recessed can lights, and LED under-cabinet lights. As a result, the new kitchen is much lighter and brighter. 
     
  2. Make the kitchen feel more spacious and open. We could not increase the size of the kitchen, but we make it feel larger and more open by changing the layout of the cabinets. We moved the refrigerator to the back of the kitchen, removing a large visual block in the front. The removal of the wall was also key in opening up the space. Replacing the old hood vent and cabinet with a new chimney hood also opened up the space. One other trick to make a space feel larger is to use the same flooring throughout the space. In this case, they already had hardwood floors in the living room and dining space, so we extended the same wood floor into the new kitchen.
     
  3. Add storage. You may have noticed that we extended the cabinets as close to the garage door as possible; this added several inches of cabinet space to the lower and upper cabinets. By moving the refrigerator, we were able to extend the cabinets to the edge of the wall, and also add a peninsula for additional counter space and storage space.
     
  4. Add functionality. The flow through the kitchen was improved by relocating the major appliances. Moving the refrigerator was the biggest change. That opened up the space tremendously. Putting the microwave in an upper cabinet created more counter space. And, of course, the new custom cabinetry is outfitted with full-extension drawer glides and pullout shelves. One thing you don’t see in the photos is inside one of the cabinets: we added outlets inside the upper cabinet next to the garage door. This gives them dedicated space to charge their phones and tablets without everything sitting on the counters.
     
  5. Add beauty and style. The gorgeous granite, with its dramatic colors and patterns adds a real wow factor to this kitchen. And we chose horizontal grain cherry wood cabinets for a sleek, contemporary look. Everything is streamlined, clean and crisp, with a mix of textures, patterns and colors. My clients are thrilled with their new space— it finally is an accurate reflection of their style.

 

After:

Looking back on the design projects I completed in 2015 gives me some insight into what clients will be asking for in 2016. Here are some of the most common requests from last year that I see continuing this year as well. As you plan your own remodeling and redecorating projects, keep these in mind.

Improved lighting throughout the house

ICP_5920This is an extremely common request, no matter what the project entails. All over the house we are improving the lighting by adding LED recessed can lights—in baths, bedrooms, kitchens, living spaces—as well as decorative pendants, chandeliers, wall sconces, and accent lighting. It’s hard to believe how many older homes came with almost no lighting at all! There are a lot of bedrooms and living rooms out there with no hard-wired lighting, just one sad small lamp on a table, or a rickety torchiere lamp in the corner. As we all age, this issue will even become more important.

Accessible bathrooms for different ages and abilities

ICP_1235And speaking of aging, several of the baths I worked on last year included grab bars, ADA-height toilets, and walk-in showers. With many people hoping to live in their homes forever, thinking ahead to later years is extremely important. The good news is that accessible baths cannot only be functional, but can also be very beautiful. The variety of products available is amazing.

Removal of traditional medicine cabinets

In so many bathroom projects, we are removing the existing medicine cabinets to make space for more interesting storage options, such as tower cabinets on the vanity or recessed wall cabinets. Removing the medicine cabinets allows us to also add more interesting lighting as well, such as wall sconces on each side of the mirror. In cases where we do keep a medicine cabinet, we are installing more functional cabinets with pull-out magnifying mirrors, mirrors on the backs of doors, and even electrical outlets built in. I bet you didn’t even know there were so many options.

Painted kitchen and bathroom cabinets

ICP_1313Wood cabinets will never go out of style, but painted cabinets are definitely “in” right now. Most popular colors for painted cabinets right now: white and gray, although I’ve done several projects where we used black and other colors as well. Whole kitchens can be painted the same color, or you can use two colors. For example, painting upper cabinets white, with dark gray lower cabinets, or combining wood perimeter cabinets with a painted island. I don’t see this trend going away any time soon. Varying the finishes and colors really does add a lot of personality to the space.

Well-designed living spaces

ICP_5865What I mean by this is that more and more people are tired of feeling like their rooms are a random hodgepodge of hand-me-down furnishings or rooms filled with purchasing mistakes. An increasing number of people are asking for living rooms, family rooms, dining rooms and bedrooms that are professionally designed, with fabrics and furnishings that go together and are color-coordinated. I can’t tell you how many times people ask me to design “grown-up” living rooms – no matter what age they are! I’ve worked with young folks in their 20s and 30s, all the way to retirement age, and it’s a common request. Maybe it’s a result of too much HGTV, but whatever the cause, people really do want to feel comfortable and happy in their homes.