My HGTV Kitchen #1

I’m so glad that the episode featuring my first design for HGTV House Hunters Renovation has aired. Now I can share pictures and talk about the design!! So many great things about working on this project – from teaming up with my husband Will and his crew at Crescent Canyon Construction to make the transformation happen, to filming with the HGTV crew over the course of the remodel, to styling it all for the for the reveal and these pictures at the end.

Scott and Nyrie were the homeowners. They were fun to work with, and had really good taste in design! Here is a breakdown of their wishlist:

Style: Traditional – with industrial touches for him, and farmhouse elements for her. They wanted the room to feel visually light and bright, and emotionally warm and inviting.

Function: A place where all 5 family members could sit and eat; a chalkboard wall as a family message center; a separate cooktop and oven – with the wall oven at a very specific height for Nyrie.

Features: White Shaker cabinets, marble countertops, farmhouse sink, subway tile, glass-fronted cabinets, some light green color.

This is where we started – there was no budget to change the slider doors and window, but everything else from the soffit on down obviously had to go. Goodbye, 1980!!

Hello, Today! I was going for an airy “Los Angeles gastropub” vibe – what do you think?

Spatially, we took the wall behind the fridge back a couple of feet, into the former tiny dining room (now a home office overlooking the living room). This allowed us to include a counter-depth fridge  that doesn’t stick out far from the pantry cabinetry on the same wall. It also bought us some room on the back wall to incorporate a larger cooktop, separate wall oven and more counter space and cabinetry.

The key to doing a Traditional / Industrial / Farmhouse kitchen that isn’t boring and formulaic is all in the design details. Instead of trusty but ubiquitous 3×6 white subway tile for the backsplash, I sourced this gorgeous Ann Sacks tile – 4×8, in a subtle gray-green. It coordinates with an engagingly textured (as in everybody on the HHR crew wanted to run their hands over it when they saw it) 2×8 tile that I used to make a focal point of the cook-top and hood.

Painting the interiors of glass-fronted cabinets gave them depth, and broke up all the white millwork in the kitchen with color. Glass-fronted cabinets can be challenging to style, but a colored paint makes them a fine backdrop for an easy-to-build collection of functional and eye-catching white ceramic pieces. I sourced most of these on hauls at Marshall’s and Homegoods.

We explored expanding this window, but the budget did not allow for it. I made the black work for us cohesively by introducing black lighting fixtures and hardware. I love the way they ground the white and pale green. The black elements are the punctuation in the room!

This is the custom shelf unit I designed with Will and his crew to be a marriage of farmhouse and industrial elements. The piece is suspended from the ceiling so it is visually light, while it also allows much more actual light to bounce around than a clunky cabinet would. On a practical note, it puts the family’s most oft-used dishes, serving bowls and glassware in easy reach for dining.

There is a whole host of beautiful industrial light fixtures I could have used at the bar, but instead I went for more unexpected sculptural shapes. I kept them cohesive with the overall design by choosing black finishes.

I embraced minimalism in the bar’s design, fixing it to the wall and supporting it with a sturdy metal pole. Backless barstools tuck in easily, and allow the eye to travel uninterrupted from kitchen to dining room, making the entire space feel connected. A butcher-block bar top provides an organic (and economical) contrast to the marble-like quartz countertops.


The family wanted a chalkboard wall as a family message center. In my styling, I wanted to show it as a place to create a focal point for a lifetime of special occasions.

I’m currently working on a new kitchen remodel with Will for House Hunters Renovation, with an exciting new set of design challenges. I expect it will air in the spring or summer. In the meantime,  I will be back soon with details about my design of the dining room and patio adjacent to this kitchen. Skip on over to my portfolio of this project if you would like to see it now!

If you would like to see the HouseHunters’ Renovation episode, it’s called Big Family, Big Renovation, and the design fun starts halfway through the show. Here it is on YouTube. 

Online Sources

Flooring – Lapacho engineered hardwood /Simple Floors

Tile – Savoy 4×8 field tile and 2×8 textured tile in cottonwood / Ann Sacks

Faucet – Vimmern with pullout spray / Ikea

Sconce at sink – Sconce with spun brass shade / Olde Brick Lighting

Sconce at chalkboard – Donovan Glass Sconce / Pottery Barn 

Pendant lights at bar –  Black Pod Pendant / Shades Of Light

Barstools – Barchetta 30″ Stools / Wayfair

Cabinet Hardware – Stone Mill Hardware Marshall Pulls in matte black / Lowes

Rug at sink – Mikey by Magnolia Home / Pier One

Cake stands – Jade colored glass and Ivory AmelieWorld Market

Paint – Healing Aloe 1562 (walls) and Quiet Moments 1563 (cupboard interiors) / Benjamin Moore

Appliances – KitchenAid

All Photos (except the scary “before” picture!) by Amy Bartlam, 






























Design Details // Metal Stair Rails with a Twist

My love for stair details is true. I have written about spiral staircases here and hereand about interesting stair risers here and here. Now let’s talk about stair rails – necessary for safety, and a huge opportunity to make a design statement!


The part you hold onto is called the handrail. The part that keeps you from falling out the side is called the balustrade. It’s made up of balusters, and this is where the fun can be on a set of stairs. There are so many ways you can go other than wood spindle. These are my favorites crafted in metal.









iron lace iron lace detailAll the images above can be linked back to where I found them via my Pinterest page on the “Stairs” board.


Show Me Three // Chesterfield Sofas

Rolled arms, tufting and nail-head trim are design details that generally don’t so much float my boat. But on a Chesterfield, it all works! It’s a sofa style that has a clubby charm, and probably for many, a nostalgic appeal. Use one of these big boys with some cushy pillows when you’re looking for a piece with real presence. They work for Traditional, of course, but they can also keep a Contemporary interior from looking too severe.

High arms make it best in a seating arrangement with another sofa or chairs opposite, rather than to its sides.

Chesterfiel High

HIGH // Mansfield Leather Sofa // Ethan Allen // $4300

MID // Lyre Chesterfield  // Anthropologie // $2300

LOW // Canal Tufted Sofa // Urban Outfitters // $1600

Past Work // Styling Story – Before, After and In-Between

There is no greater satisfaction in my work than at the end of a project, when I get to styling! It is the final layer. Even when the clients are there all along for a project, I can still send them off for a day, work some magic with art and accessories, and give them a fun and surprising reveal of a completed design.


Above is a feature wall in the Family Room in a Mediterranean Contemporary house I finished last year.

This is what it looked like just after my clients had bought the house, but were still renting it back to the previous owners. The style was sort of Global Goth, and I predict it was done when the Osborne Family was a hit show. (You can see more of the transformation of this house in this post.)



Below is a snapshot of the Family Room soon after my new design was almost in place, and my clients had moved in. We had lightened the walls and ceiling coffers with paint. My clients had wanted closed storage and open shelving for display on this wall. After quotes for a custom cabinetry build-out around the fireplace and TV proved to be way out of the budget, I came up with a less expensive way to fill out the niches and make the wall eye-catching. Key was this pair of media credenzas from Crate and Barrel. They fit pleasingly into the niches, and I designed custom shelves to go above them.


7b (2)

Barton Sol built the shelves, and stained them to match the credenzas for a cohesive look. I designed the placement of the shelves around built-in speakers on the wall, and a beautiful pair of horse sculptures that my clients had in their collection. We painted the back walls of the niches above the shelves blue to relate it to blues throughout the rest of the house, and to further define this as a feature wall. It worked, but you can see that something still needed to happen to bring this design together!



When styling, my team and I power-shop stores like World Market, Ikea, Target, West Elm and Crate and Barrel for accessories. Our haul might include lighting, vases, photo-frames, baskets, pillows and throws….fun stuff to play with! I consider all the art and accessories my clients already have, and curate a mix with the new pieces. I try to make it feel fresh and stylish, as well as personal to my clients. In this case, the design point-of view I introduced was in the goldenrod color in the accessories. It related to a big piece of art in their Living Room, and it was an on-trend color when I was out accessory shopping! I love the way it livens things up against the blue and wood tones. It’s bright, but it fits in with the California Traditional vibe of the new design in their house.

I am constantly adding styling ideas to my Pinterest – follow me!

Past Work // From Goth to Traditional

No matter what your style is, you have to work with the given architecture of your space. Here are Before and After pictures of 4 rooms of a large home I did this year. The architectural style of the house my clients had just bought is what I would call Contemporary Mediterranean. The previous owners had applied a very specific aesthetic to it, one that involved deep, dark paint colors, medieval-looking light fixtures and heavy drapery.

L I B R A R Y // B E F O R E


While this Baronial style actually worked well with the architecture, it didn’t suit my clients’ tastes (or the furniture they were bringing with them) at all. So we decided to lighten everything up and give the house a warm but pared-down Traditional style instead. Let’s call it California Traditional! It’s more modern than an East-coast Traditional style, and it has understated exotic flourishes.

L I B R A R Y // A F T E R

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No remodeling was required on this project, but we seriously needed to strip back the Goth elements! Paint, window coverings and lighting were the key to the transformations here. We kept the new design cohesive with the Contemporary Mediterranean architecture by sticking to clean lines (those simple, tailored shades) and aged bronze finishes.

L I V I N G  R O O M // B E F O R E


One of the challenges of the architecture of this house was that the Living & Dining Room windows lacked privacy from the street. This meant that window coverings would need to be closed most of the time, and would be an especially important element of the design. We used this as an opportunity to set the overall tone for the rooms through the introduction of texture and pattern. We chose a few exotic prints in organic motifs, which in turn lent themselves to some other Global touches in the furnishing and styling. An eclectic yet tailored mix was the result.

L I V I N G  R O O M // A F T E R


D I N I N G  R O O M // B E F O R E


Well-made custom window coverings can be shockingly expensive (and there were something like 40 naked windows and French doors in this house that needed something) but for these “showier” rooms of the house, they were well worth it.

D I N I N G  R O O M // A F T E R

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This is not a sponsored post, but I’m a big believer in outsourcing for window coverings. We enlisted 3-Day Blinds to do the Roman shades on this project. They have a huge selection of fabrics and materials to choose from (you can also send your own material to their workroom), so once we nailed down design specifics, we were able to turn every step from measuring to installation over to our rep. Everything was then covered by a comprehensive warranty that put my clients with a cat, a large puppy and a baby at ease about the durability of the shades.

B R E A K F A S T  N O O K // B E F O R E


B R E A K F A S T  N O O K // A F T E R


Photography: Ilse Helgen

This project was a lot of fun, and I’ll be posting about a couple of other rooms I completed in the house when we talk styling!