kitchen design

Lighting with a Purpose

I love discussing the importance of lighting - one thing I feel people often underestimate. I always recommend going big and focusing on layers of lighting. Natural light is obviously the most efficient way to brighten a room but when your natural light is limited, there are many options for setting the right mood. Each space in your home has different needs. Understanding the space’s function is key to lighting design and determining the mood and vibe you want to create. This is where it get’s fun!

Adequate lighting isn’t a novel design concept but there is certainly a shift in the way spaces are being designed around it. Lighting is far more involved than putting in a few recessed lights and a couple of floor/table lamps. Over the last few years I have seen a decrease in free standing lights and with most re-models or new builds, custom built-in lighting features are a priority. Inadequate lighting may leave your space feeling dark, incomplete and aesthetically unpleasing. Each type of lighting including ambient, task, accent, and decorative all serve their own purpose.

The kitchen is a great place to combine aesthetics with functionality. The kitchen below features the perfect combo! Decorative pendants over the island offer task downlighting for dining while under cabinet lighting provides ample light for cooking and prepping. Lighting below the custom shelving highlights the decor and if one is looking for minimal light after dinner and entertaining, the uplighting above the cabinets can provide the room with a warm ‘kitchen closed’ feel.

The kitchen is a great place to combine aesthetics with functionality. The kitchen above features the perfect combo! Decorative pendants over the island offer downlighting for dining while under cabinet lighting provides ample light for cooking and prepping. Lighting below the custom shelving highlights the decor and if one is looking for minimal light after dinner and entertaining, the uplighting above the cabinets can provide the room with a warm ‘kitchen closed’ feel.

Since bedrooms are mainly used in the evenings, I choose decorative pendants that can easily be used as reading lights and that look warm and pretty at night. These gorgeous pendants make the room feel relaxing and cozy! 

What I love most about this style is its quiet drama. The uniquely shaped Edison bulbs follow the slope of the stairs and demand attention. You can’t help but love their elegant yet unassuming charm. So often, we feel like we have to fill a space with dramatic moments, but sometimes what’s most dramatic is unexpected subtlety.

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This bathroom is layered with lighting including natural light provided by the thoughtfully designed window above the mirrors! The under cabinet task lighting not only functions as a great night light but also highlights the stunning tile flooring. Sconces spaced around the mirrors are perfect for make-up application or shaving because they reduce glare and shadows. Who doesn’t love great lighting in a bathroom?

Decorative statement lighting is my favorite and going big is one great way to make a statement! I enjoy playing with the proportions of lights in conjunction with the other elements in the room. If you’re looking for more lighting inspiration, be sure to follow me on instagram and check out new projects posted weekly!

The Client-Designer Relationship

Over the past several years I have had the privilege of working with some amazing clients and have built relationships which have become central to the design process. True partnerships have been created with a healthy respect for what the other brings to the project, ultimately leading to successful designs.

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I wanted to feature this home because not only did I absolutely love the turn out of the project but these clients, Tom and Debi, have become two of my most dear repeat clients. I have done three of their homes in which we seamlessly collaborated on everything from start to finish. Debi has a natural eye for design and is a killer decorator while her husband Tom is a successful developer!

For this home we focused on creating a stylish yet slightly modern nautical space with geometric patterns and fresh coastal-inspired colors - hallmarks of New England style. We were able to incorporate pieces locally and from around the world to complete the look. The wood mantel was reclaimed drift wood from Texas. Treasured heirlooms like unique prints, antique mirrors, wooden accent cabinets and the dining room table from France were influenced by New England design and Debi’s love for brass. Architectural elements such as shiplap paneled walls, exposed beams, dark plank floors and large windows added to the timeless appeal. I chose white cabinetry with clean contemporary lines and brass hardware to keep things clean, light and airy throughout.

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A few things that stood out in this home include a built-in cut and cleaned wood pile stacked next to the fireplace. This wood was from their ranch in Spicewood, TX where I first met them and remodeled that home. Another favorite is the functional breakfast nook lined with white cabinetry, perfect for the family. Recycled shiplap accent walls were a nod to their love of the beach and outdoors as they are both from Boston.

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Without the frill and excess, there's a homeyness, comfort and slight rustic feel to this home. Together with traditional elements of the Northeast and a contemporary touch, it feels like something you'd see in a Montauk beach house. Overall this project breathes fresh air and reminds me of how lucky I am to have wonderful clients. I can’t wait to collaborate on another project together!

Black is the New Neutral

This kitchen is one of my most recent East Austin projects and demands to be noticed. Its dramatic black cabinetry, proper lighting, unique accents and lighter surfaces were the secrets to its success. Most home owners tend to worry that black cabinetry will make a space feel smaller, which nobody wants, but I’ll explain how I made it all work…

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But first I have to mention how this client actually loved color and patterns, blue being her favorite color! If you can’t tell from my work, I personally love color too so this neutral and minimalist design was quite the balance needed in the home. We decided to save the fun patterns and bold colors for the four bathrooms (see photos below!) and designed the kitchen to be the grounding center with one major piece as a focal point…the stunning royal blue La Cornue oven.

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Choosing the right flooring and counters to keep the space neutral and airy was a must! Not only was the countertop material important on this project but the design of the material. I quickly fell in love with the vision of a marble like quartz counter wrapping both ends of the island, tucking black cabinetry underneath. The same quartz was also used as a backsplash. This sleek effect lightened the center of the space and created a comfortable seating area. The engineered white oak wide plank flooring was light enough to stay subtle but unique enough to complete the room by creating balance.

Lighting played a huge roll in allowing the space to feel open and who doesn’t love a well lit kitchen? Natural light flooded this space and with the use of a few stunning light fixtures there was little to no concern of feeling dark. The two acrylic and gold pendants over the island quickly became a conversation piece and some of my favorites.

With the La Cornue range as the focal point in the kitchen, I was mindful in keeping decorative elements at a minimum. Brass hardware and elegant plumbing fixtures were beautiful accents to the black cabinetry. Large vases filled with a touch of spring brought comfort to the space as finishing touches. Happy Spring!

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Pictured below are a few of the bathroom tile designs I did, bringing color and personality to the space.