I do a lot of design consulting on the side and the best way I can describe the type of service I do most is a “design doula.” Haha! I swear this will make sense in a second. This scenario is pretty typical—let’s use a kitchen project as an example. A homeowner hires a kitchen/bath company to space plan, order materials and complete the renovation work. They are the professionals and the ones leading the project. And along the way there are so many decisions—grout color, floor tile orientation, lighting placement and more—that the homeowner feels completely overwhelmed with. I get it—there are a ton of questions to answer and they all feel like big, make-or-break decisions. That’s where I come in. Just like a doula in a delivery room, I work with the homeowner on the task (ha!) ahead of them, help them interpret/make sense of the contractor’s questions and ultimately, help take the project to the next level in terms of finishing details, character and more.
All of this to say—I have some awesome before/after photos for you from exactly this type of service. This project hails from Columbus, Ohio—a kitchen/bath renovation in a historic home. The marvelous SemBro Designs did all of the heavy lifting, from the initial design to the actual renovation work. The kitchen had some great character to start from—wood moldings (that we didn’t want to paint!) and a stained glass window. But everything else had to go—the flooring, the lighting, the cabinets, the backsplash… all of it!
Let’s just jump right to it, shall we? Here is the after…
The two main reasons for the renovation was to 1.) update the space but then 2.) add a half bath to the first level of the house. By reconfiguring the staircase on the opposite wall, they were able to squeeze a decent sized powder room into this space. Awesome.
One of the first things I suggested based on the contractor’s renderings was to remove the set of upper cabinets to the right of the stove. Otherwise, the sink/window space felt a little claustrophobic with tall cabinets on either side. Plus, it was the perfect opportunity to bring more dark wood up to the walls, to help balance the dark trim around the floor and windows. The 12″ deep wood shelves are from Smokestack Studios. The depth was important because we wanted to be sure larger plates and bowls could fit easily.
Here’s another “before”, this time facing the back of the kitchen, where the future bathroom would go.
And the after, with an all-new powder room!
I’ll share more about the bathroom, but real quick—those floors! That is faux wood ceramic tile and I absolutely love doing a longer, skinnier tile laid in a herringbone pattern. It took some convincing to go this route (the original plan was to lay them in a brick pattern) and I’m so glad he agreed to shell out the extra cash. (Installing it this way often means more material waste, which means more $$). The herringbone pattern kept an otherwise modern tile choice in the right era.
I cannot remember the source for that barn door, but I remember this one being a hot contender.
Ok, so back to the bathroom. This is perhaps my favorite part of the entire renovation. We went really industrial/masculine in here… and bold! You know the rules—the smaller the bathroom, the bolder it must be! The original thought in here was to do black tile on just 1/3 of the wall, to about a chair rail height. Here is another time I pushed—it was just too small a space to pull something like that off. It would have looked too choppy. So I suggested an entire wall of matte black tile, with black grout.
The mirror is the smaller version of what I have in my entryway. And then that sink! Sure, we could have gone with a simple pedestal sink in here but where’s the fun in that? Sinks are one of my favorite ways to add character/an unexpected element, especially in a small bathroom. It’s from this shop. And yes, it was expensive but we balanced that with super affordable floor and wall tile from Home Depot and The Tile Shop. The tiny WC sign is from Rejuvenation. The storage shelf is from Country Corner Goods.
Here’s a look at the entire kitchen/bath space from a new angle, where you can see the washer/dryer stack. One the of challenges in this space was the ceiling! The ceiling had two outdated can lights in weird spots, plus a giant skylight (which was awesome… and is still there!). There wasn’t room in the budget to move the can lights, so we decided to embrace them and convert them to install these black barn lights. I love how it turned out, plus we needed some black to tie into the black countertops and cabinet hardware. If any of you are Lauren Liess fans, I was totally inspired by her kitchen—these are the lights she used in her kitchen renovation in lieu of can lights.
It was so exciting to be a part of this project. I can’t at all take credit for the major heavy lifting—huge kudos to SemBro Designs for their talents (and for these photos!). And a big ‘ole thanks to the homeowner who was willing to bring me along for the ride (and listened to all of my crazy ideas.)
Now on to the next one! I am taking new clients again in July, so if you need some design doula help, just shoot me an email at email@example.com