A Smart Remodel with Cheerful Colors Makes This Kitchen Feel Like New
WRITTEN BY RONDA SWANEY PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARCELA WINSPEAR PHOTOGRAPHY
When you buy an older house, it takes effort to personalize it and make it your own. Just ask designer Tammara Stroud of Seattle-based interior design firm Tammara Stroud Design. “The previous owners of this home installed a kitchen island that was about five feet tall and functioned as a display cabinet rather than an island for food prep, entertaining, and dining,” Stroud explains. That choice worked well for the former residents, but Stroud’s clients needed to make a change. “For this young family, the kitchen represents the heart and soul of the home. The original island placement made the space feel disconnected from the rest of the house. It did not feel friendly or welcoming,” says Stroud.
Besides the island, other design updates included removing open shelving, replacing the range hood venting, repurposing a built-in water dispenser niche, and modernizing the appliance garages.
Stroud takes a sustainable approach to remodeling. Before demolition, Stroud first assessed what could remain. “The perimeter cabinets were in good condition. Some did not have doors, but that was easy to change,” she explains. Stroud kept the flooring and window treatments as well. Once the designer knew what was staying, she contacted Second Use, a Seattle company that retrieves and resells building materials from remodeling projects, and they took the original island cabinetry and countertops.
After demolition, work on the new island began in earnest. With each project, Stroud asks her clients to create idea books with pictures that show colors and styles that appeal to them. “Many clients have a hard time verbalizing what they like. Having visuals makes it easier for me to see what makes them happy,” she explains. Here, the homeowners’ idea book revealed an affinity for turquoise, blues, and sunny yellows. Those clues helped Stroud choose turquoise for the island color.
Of course, in addition to looking good, the island also had to function for the family’s needs. Stroud asked, “How many people would sit there? What activities would they do there? How did they want to use it?” Stroud notes that many times functionality is ignored in a kitchen because homeowners do not think through how they will use the space. She says, “Ask yourself, when you open your refrigerator, where will you set food when you take it out? When you take something off the stove, where do you set it? Where do you prep your food before cooking it?”
The new island is multifunctional. The expansive surface provides plenty of room for prep. A chrome faucet sits above the white-porcelain sink. Orange-red barstools add seating. One side of the island holds trash and recycling bins and a dishwasher. The opposite side offers cabinets for extra storage.
Once the island design was complete, Stroud addressed the other features that the new homeowners wanted to update. The open shelving design dilemma was resolved by adding Shaker-style doors. The previous water dispenser niche was repurposed as wine storage. A new stainless-steel range hood provided adequate venting. And retractable doors were used to streamline the appliance storage space.
For the new countertops, Stroud chose quartz for durability. The gray tone works well with the vibrant accent colors and the neutral perimeter cabinets and flooring. A stripe of cool-colored sea glass tiles contrast with white subway tile. Yellow, blue, and orange-red chairs pop against the simple white table.
A good lighting plan provides an essential but often forgotten element of good kitchen design. “If you don’t have adequate lighting, your kitchen won’t function well,” says Stroud. “Again, you have to think through how you’re going to move in the kitchen.” Natural light from the windows and can lights provide general illumination. Glass pendants over the island offer task lighting and add a decorative and personalized touch. Strip lights along the top cabinets provide ambient lighting to create a softer mood.
But it’s not only the practical elements of the remodel that make this design a success—it’s also the emotion. “I love the vibrancy of color in this kitchen,” says Stroud. “It seems like such a happy place.”