Kansas City Kitchen.png

“WHAT DID YOU DO?!?” This was essentially my reply to my sister’s photo texts she sent of a stunning turn of the century brick building. I knew she and her husband, Luke, were considering finding another place, but hadn’t found any thing and hadn’t talked much about it lately. “We’re making an offer, and I would love your help with our kitchen!” she buzzed back. So so EXCITING!

Sharra and Luke.

Sharra and Luke.

In any creative field of work, I think everyone needs someone to bounce ideas off of. In design, they call it “consulting,” and designers recommend consulting with another designer or someone who’s judgement you trust before finalizing design plans. That person, for me, is my sister, Sharra. In a perfect world, we would live closer together and work together because we are the “ying” to the other’s “yang”. Sharra’s aesthetic runs on the modern side, while I tend to lean traditional. While we both have a grasp on interior styling and architectural design, she excels at interior styling (and worked as a stylist for a home decor and furniture company) while I think more architecturally. SO MUCH FUN!! (Design nerd here, remember?)

Sharra with the keys to their new place!

Sharra with the keys to their new place!

But, alas, Sharra’s first creative love is music, and so she resides in Kansas City where she is the Artistic Director and Vice President of a contemporary chamber ensemble, New Ear. She works full-time at Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association working with member attorneys. Oh, and she teaches out of her private studio, too. So, yeah. She’s busy, happy and settled, not moving here, and I’m not moving there. However, that doesn’t stop us from “consulting” with each other. Here are some of those photos she texted me.

realty photo 1.png
realty photo 2.png
realty photo 3.png
realty photo 4.png

The photos are pretty blurry: off of the realty website. I saw the same things Sharra saw: beautiful original exposed brick, stunning wood and concrete floors, and tons of natural light. However, the kitchen cabinetry was not maximizing function or appeal. But, MAN, the bones of the place! Sublime!

Upon getting measurements, I went to work, sharing ideas with her along the way. First I virtually created the kitchen, as is.

The virtual “before.”

The virtual “before.”

Sharra and Luke love white oak cabinetry but also white cabinetry, so I kept that in mind while rendering. The exterior door would need to be replaced due to damage, so I simplified the door design to make it feel modern yet classic to work with the existing architecture.

At first, Sharra and Luke were hesitant to brick-in the windows above countertop level, and so I tried to make it work.

kitchen design process.png
kitchen design process.png

Keeping the windows was proving to be a challenge. I couldn’t create balance with the fridge where it was, and the fridge really would only fit there. The window to the right under the range hood was blocked in with glass block, and so I knew there wouldn’t be much natural light gained from having the window there, and the view was non-existent. So I tried removing only the glass blocked window.

kitchen design process.png

Much better already. Originally, Sharra wanted the cabinetry to extends as far as it could up to the larger window, ignoring the concrete flooring. However, at this point, she and Luke did a walk through with their contractor and this helped them to establish a couple things: covering the little windows in the kitchen was doable, and extending the wall that the sink is on up to the end of the concrete floor would give them more kitchen and a bigger bathroom (which is on the other side of that wall) and also would help to make sense of the concrete.

So YAY!! I could design without those pesky windows! Not perfect renderings, but to give her an idea of what was possible, I gave her a few options. With most clients, I would be afraid of overwhelming them with the options but Sharra’s design obsession is much like mine and I knew she could handle it.

kitchen design process.png

Functional option, but not maximizing potential.

Screenshot (410).png

The over-sized range hood would give them a more modern, streamlined look while the white oak cabinetry kept it feeling classic. But because of a 4’’ x 2’ 4’’ bump out behind the fridge, even with a counter-depth fridge model, the fridge and the surrounding cabinets would not be flush with the counters. Then it dawned on me…

Screenshot (452).png

The cabinets were to be custom made, so a more shallow pantry cabinet could be made to accommodate the brick bump out so that the pantry could be flush with the counters. Moving the fridge to the other side of the stove allowed it the space to be a true counter-depth fridge. Making the pantry the same dimensions as the fridge surround would lend symmetry to the space. Luke and Sharra loved it! WOO HOO!!

The pantry could house the microwave and provide more storage than they’ll ever need. For a more modern look, I stacked two drawers on either side of the stove with a drawer inside the upper drawer to house spices in on one side and cooking utensils in the other. I wanted to take full advantage of their tall ceilings. Bringing the cabinets almost to the ceiling brought the eye up, visually enlarging the space (I would have gone all the way up if it weren’t for the slope their ceiling has), while the glass fronts on the uppers kept it feeling open and airy.

kitchen after.png

On the opposite side I centered the sink and arranged a pull out garbage and recycling bin on one side and the dishwashwer on the other. The far left drawer will house the silverware and uppers will house the plates, cups, mugs, etc. Perfect for putting away dishes after cleaning, and also for serving. The open shelving gives your eye a break from cabinetry and keeps it feeling open.

kitchen after.png
kitchen after.png

To modernize the look, we decided a simple, matte black faucet would be ideal and long, slim drawer pulls would help the cabinets to feel modern enough for Sharra’s taste. She found an amazing deal for marble countertops. The rendering does not convey how pretty these are going to turn out!!


These are broken pieces but just to give you an idea of the marble. I think my reply to this text image from her was WOW. Gorgeous!

I found these thin, very long (18”) drawer pulls on major clearance at Rejuvenation, which she promptly ordered. We both agreed that a globe pendant would be the right light fixture choice to dot the path of the galley kitchen (and would be the perfect marriage with the light fixture chosen for the adjoining living room). We have looked at what feels like a million options. I searched high and low for a set of vintage globe pendants: in a historic building like theirs, vintage fixtures would feel like they were always there, which would be ideal. However, everything I found was either too small or the price was excessive for the budget.

This pendant from Rejuvenation would be lovely. It feels like it would fit in the historical context of the building. There are more budget friendly options, though.

The West Elm Sculptural Glass Globe Pendant feels like it would fit in a Parisian Art Deco brick loft, which could be one style their new residence could lean! We like that it has a rod covering the cord (many more inexpensive globe pendants do not). We also like the milk glass option. And the price is great!

I met with my cabinet guy, Matt Creten, and hammered everything out.

Luke and Sharra chose this white-washed finish on white oak cabinets, but without the beveled edge.

I am so excited to see everything come together! Work is underway, and I can’t wait to share with you the final project reveal!

Joelle SomeroComment