We recently completed a kitchen and master bath ‘facelift’ for a beautiful home right on the shores of Lake Austin. This home was built in the heyday of the Texas Tuscan style and was very dark and heavy.
Our homeowner’s request was to lighten it up, but keep it ‘warm’ and related to the architecture. She did not want anything trendy or modern. Just a fresh look worthy of a traditional home.
The kitchen has a lot of lovely features: stone work, beams, and a ton of storage. However, the dark cabinets made the whole room (including the attached breakfast nook and family room) feel very dark. Additionally, the cabinets stopped at that 90’s height where people have to resort to ivy and other decor elements to avoid the space between the cabinets and ceiling feeling empty.
The adjoining breakfast nook had a lovely, traditional style table and chairs, but the dark red accents contributed to the dark, heavy feeling. We planned to update the window treatment, swap out the bench seat cover and pillows, and change out all the decorative lighting.
The last room we tackled was the master bathroom. With the wood stained trim, doors and cabinets, our lovely homeowner had a hard time getting ready and putting on makeup. We needed a plan to dramatically improve the lighting in this room.
An additional challenge was on her husband’s side of the bathroom. He had a small sink, no storage and the ‘vanity’ element for the bathroom. Her request was to enlarge his side of the sink area, raise the height (they are both very tall), improve the storage and move the vanity portion to her side of the room. Also, you can vaguely see a TV reflection (hello, football) in this photo. His side of the vanity had a TV behind the glass. Nice feature, but it gave us a test for how to improve the lighting at face level when you need to account for a TV screen!
As you can see, the cabinet ‘configuration’ stayed the same, but the material selections made a dramatic difference! We added upper cabinets, with lighting, to improve the overall brightness of the room. Above the refrigerator and ovens, where there was not enough space for additional cabinets, we added crown molding to raise the height. The cabinets were painted white and the island was painted a mushroom color.
Instead of one island light, two warm gold finish pendants were hung. We added an apron front sink and new sink faucets. New Taj Mahal quartzite was placed on the perimeter of the kitchen and the center island got a gorgeous wood top. We had a long talk about marble versus granite and this mom of two, who adopted a third during this renovation, decided she did not want to add the stress of marble maintenance to her life. I think that was a wise choice. Taj Mahal is a lovely quartzite and every time we have used it, people ‘oh and ah’ over what a pretty material it is.
We kept the stone work and hardware but also changed the back-splash to a lovely, ivory, hand-made glossy tile in a 4″x 12″ length. This classic style tile works well with the traditional elements of the home we were trying to enhance.
And, as we tend to do, we took down the ornate window valance and replaced it with a simple linen with an embroidered tape detail. These are ‘faux’ roman shades which do not function, but make the room look complete without blocking the water view.
We also updated the bench cushion fabric to a kid friendly neutral and swapped out the throw pillows. The new chandelier is much larger and its aged white-painted finish helps to tie the kitchen color scheme to the nook.
Finally, the master bathroom was given a fresh coat of paint on the walls (we did not paint the main rooms), the wood trim was painted white (I know that is sacrilege to some, but this bathroom was just too dark) and pendant lights were added all in an effort to make this room brighter.
We selected hanging pendants because (1) they look cool and (2) it gave us a way to bring light down but work around the TV behind the glass. We re-used the cabinets but they were ‘reworked’ a bit to accommodate more storage, taller height, and the vanity area being moved to her side. If you scroll back up, you will be amazed how much richer and more elegant this bathroom looks from these simple changes.
If you are thinking about a remodel, but don’t want to tackle the dust and the mess, this approach might be the right fit for you. I can not say it was easy for the homeowner. Poor family was very inconvenienced over the holidays. That said, by keeping all the main elements in the same place, they saved time, money and at least a little bit of mess!