DESIGNER

Try these 5 interior design tips to end up with the kitchen of your dreams

I’m not a real interior designer, I just play one on Instagram.

Kidding. I didn’t study design but have designed and renovated around a dozen kitchens over the last few years. Each has been unique, but my favorite project so far has been the complete, to-the-dirt renovation of the kitchen in a big, old Victorian in Beechmont that my best friend and I bought two years ago to “flip.” (That’s air quotes because we poured every ounce of love and attention to detail into this kitchen ― and entire home, for that matter ― that we would have in either of our own homes.)

There were certainly challenges designing a kitchen with someone else, but the finished space ― which we wrapped less than 24 hours ago as I write this ― is truly a dream.

We cooked the inaugural meal there last night (lemon and summer squash risotto with a burrata and carrot salad) and as much as I love my own kitchen, I have to admit I have some burning kitchen envy over the one we designed together. So, how did we do it? Here are five tips to help anyone thinking of tackling their own kitchen renovation.

How to choose the right paint color for a kitchen renovation

The tiles in the Beechmont Victorian kitchen Dana McMahan designed are a two-foot by four-foot format from Florida Tile (manufactured in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky), set on an angle. The size and placement give the kitchen a fresh, contemporary look and help make it feel more spacious.

The tiles in the Beechmont Victorian kitchen Dana McMahan designed are a two-foot by four-foot format from Florida Tile (manufactured in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky), set on an angle. The size and placement give the kitchen a fresh, contemporary look and help make it feel more spacious.

This may break some real estate rules, but we knew that for the look and feel we wanted ― a nostalgic glam that is luxurious but inviting ― we had to embrace rich color.

To set the stage for a space where you can’t help but feel happy, we chose a vibrant hue from British paint company Farrow & Ball called Scotch Blue. It’s a deep, decadent color and every other element from the matte white range to the brick chimney positively pops against it. Yes, it may be a bit unorthodox in a sea of white kitchens, but look: paint is one of the easiest things to change if need be, so we threw caution to the wind and are thrilled with the outcome.

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Now, a word of caution: with the super saturated walls, things could easily veer overboard. Following Coco Chanel’s wisdom to look in the mirror and take one thing off, we dialed everything else back, leaning toward warm whites and greys everywhere else with some pops of complementary colors in the marble countertops.

Consider counter space vs. walk space in your kitchen renovation

Tell me I’m not the only one with a kitchen where dance parties erupt on the regular. When friends gather at my and my husband’s Old Louisville home, it’s not uncommon for the night to end with us taking turns yelling at the smart speaker to play our favorite songs. So ensuring there would be room around the island in this kitchen for not just cooking together, but any type of entertaining was a top priority for me.

There are minimum clearances you ought to have between different parts of the kitchen, but I would swap counter space for more generous walk space any day of the week so we very intentionally sized and placed the counters to allow an abundance of space around them that far exceeds requirements.

How to get creative with tile placement, color in the kitchen

Because the walls are such a vibrant hue, Courier Journal dining columnist Dana McMahan and business partner Michael Downey kept sophisticated whites and greys in the rest of the kitchen, like the distressed subway tiles from Ragno (from Louisville Tile).

Because the walls are such a vibrant hue, Courier Journal dining columnist Dana McMahan and business partner Michael Downey kept sophisticated whites and greys in the rest of the kitchen, like the distressed subway tiles from Ragno (from Louisville Tile).

When I visited the ceramic tile show in Bologna, Italy, last year, large format tiles were all the rage. It was a little intimidating to think about working with massive, two-feet-by-four-feet, tiles for the kitchen floor, and to be honest, the tile installers weren’t our biggest fans when they saw these behemoths.

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But the result? They make the kitchen feel spacious and open, where a smaller tile could have felt busy and served to shrink the kitchen visually. We also set them on an angle at the recommendation of the tile designer (who happened to be a friend of my partner on this project), and that unexpected look gives the kitchen a fresh and contemporary feel.

Find space for a big range and make it your kitchen show stopper

The <a href=matte white finish on the 36-inch Bertazzoni Master Series range is an elegant statement against the deep blue walls on this renovated kitchen in Louisville’s Beechmont neighborhood.” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/1Ko58bbuz72CianIBAbl3Q–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTExMDQ-/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/V3OPv4Hq6zmwhYG7c493iw–~B/aD00OTQ5O3c9MzE2MDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the-courier-journal/7faaf025bce668c7adcfe67928110d47″/>

The matte white finish on the 36-inch Bertazzoni Master Series range is an elegant statement against the deep blue walls on this renovated kitchen in Louisville’s Beechmont neighborhood.

In my home kitchen, I was lucky to find a floor model red Bertazzoni range for half price and was blown away by the impact the racy Italian design had on the space. (Side note: I’m still waiting for someone to explain why such a small country has so much of the world’s most beautiful design!). The range was 36-inches, and even though that reduced my counter space, it has been well worth it for the ability to cook up a storm on the six burners.

So I knew it had to be 36-inches for this space, and as the crown jewel of the kitchen, it had to be Bertazzoni, this time in an elegant matte-white finish. It’s so sleek yet means business for food lovers with its beefy knobs and heavy-duty grates. In fact, I have loved my experience with my own range so much that I teamed up with them on a brand ambassadorship. But even if I hadn’t swapped content creation (watch out for this kitchen on Bertazzoni’s social media channels!) for a trade price, I’d have made room in the budget for the splurge. A gorgeous range is the single element that, in my mind, takes a kitchen from lovely to absolutely swoon-worthy.

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Don’t sweat the small stuff − obsess about it

A renovated kitchen done by Dana McMahan in the Beechmont neighborhood of Louisville. The Shaker style cabinets, from Cabinets To Go, feature several pull-out drawers that make it easier to grab things.

A renovated kitchen done by Dana McMahan in the Beechmont neighborhood of Louisville. The Shaker style cabinets, from Cabinets To Go, feature several pull-out drawers that make it easier to grab things.

A fortune cookie I recently opened read “great things are made of little things.”

As we were making and sitting down to our dinner at the island the other night, Michael and I both kept finding ourselves delighted with decisions we’d made along the way because we took the time to think about the little things, a lot. Whether that was the placement of light switches, how and where to template the marble counters for the absolute perfect pattern, or little niceties like pull-out drawers in base cabinets to make it easier to access things, we treated even small decisions like they were much bigger.

Use your imagination from early on in the process and really picture yourself using the kitchen. Walk around it. Envision cooking in it and welcoming friends. Ask yourself where will they sit? Where will you put groceries when you come into the house? Where will you mix a drink or peel your vegetables? Where does your phone charge?

Design it for the way you live, for the look you love, and you’ll end up with the kitchen of your dreams.

Tell Dana! Send your restaurant “Dish” to Dana McMahan at [email protected] and follow @bourbonbarbarella on Instagram.

WHAT’S INSIDE

Courier Journal columnist Dana McMahan and her business partner, Michael Downey, renovated this kitchen inside a sprawling Victorian in Louisville’s Beechmont neighborhood. Here’s what you can find inside:

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: 5 kitchen renovation tips to end up with your dream cooking place

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