Even Kat Jamieson can admit that the kitchen in her Connecticut home was perfectly fine when she and her husband, Thomas, moved out of their New York apartment and bought the place a year and a half ago. But perfectly fine didn’t mean perfect for her. “We were very lucky; the house is only 11 years old,” says Kat, the founder of With Love From Kat, a lifestyle website and Instagram account where she posts about fashion, decor, travel, beauty, and more. The overall farmhouse aesthetic of the 186-square-foot space suited it just fine, but the white cabinetry felt stark and the decade-old stainless steel appliances weren’t super functional, let alone clutter. “I really wanted something that felt less cookie-cutter and warmer,” she explains. “Especially being a former city dweller now living in the suburbs, I was like, no, I can’t have this typical sterile white kitchen.”
Luckily, before she started her 12-plus-year blogging career, Kat earned a degree in interior design studies, so coming up with a vision for the renovation didn’t daunt her. But when it came to determining the more technical and mathematical details, like the height of the backsplash or choosing the exact style of the cabinet front, one of her Instagram followers, Charlene Miranda, a Brooklyn-based interior designer, came to her rescue with elevations and advice. “What I really appreciated about Charlene was that she was always available to help me with problems when things were going badly,” Kat says. “And things went wrong.” Read on for six decisions they made that took this once boring kitchen to the next level.
Show the door to the small windows
Most people would never opt for less natural light, but Kat knew a statement range and a custom Venetian plaster hood would have a stronger visual impact than a tiny window with an awkward metal microwave hanging above. “Luckily, we have so many windows and patio doors nearby looking out to our back patio that there’s plenty of sunshine throughout the day,” she says. The splurge-worthy La Cornue cooker is now the first thing you see when you enter the house through the side door, and it was worth the eight-month wait – Kat has noticed a significant difference in the way she cooks the food. “Even just baked chicken…it makes it crispier. I don’t know how it feels,” she laughs.
Test new neutrals
Covering the new cabinets from local manufacturer Pro Kriss in Sherwin-Williams’ Sandbar color instantly provided the warm feeling Kat was looking for. While the hue looks taupe on the company’s website, in real life it takes on a soothing, almost mushroom-like gray-green tone. The cool cabinets are all the more impressive now as they extend to the top of the 9ft high ceilings.
Choose your counter before the dimensions of your cabinet
With her paint swatch in hand, Kat headed out to the stone yard in search of new counters. “We found that since our paint color was warmer, it clashed with any marble slabs that were colder in tone or had more blue,” she notes. A slab of veined Calacatta Gold marble ended up being the perfect match for Sandbar.
The challenge was to select the right measurements for the surface. Originally, Kat pictured a 1 1/4 inch thick countertop, but when she finally decided to go with a mitered edge, she was told it should actually be a thickness 2 1/2 inches. The fact was that at that time his cabinets were already being built, and his range had already been ordered. Once everything was in place, she realized that the stove was lower than counters. “It was a big setback,” she recalls. Luckily Miranda was there to calm her down, and they came up with a solution to lift the device slightly on a platform, so you can barely see that things aren’t lining up perfectly.
Find new homes for old materials
Rather than send all the original devices to a dumpster, Kat and Thomas gifted them to their landscapers. Once the stainless steel fridge was out of the picture, they closed off a closet in the nearby hallway and opened it up to the kitchen so they could fit a Fisher & Paykel built-in panel fridge in the corner. “We really worked with the existing layout and maximized it,” she notes.
As for the old all-white marble countertops, a piece went to the Jamiesons’ neighbor and design enthusiast, Shelby Girard (she was able to use the leftover stone for her fireplace). They gave another piece to a videographer friend.
Streamline the island
Even when Kat and Thomas lived in their tiny SoHo apartment with an even smaller kitchen, they never used their bar stool. “My husband is 6ft 4in, so they’re not comfortable for him, and I didn’t grow up with an island to eat,” she says. That’s why she decided to dedicate the new island structure entirely to hidden storage (the dishwasher and microwave now live there).
Another little epiphany they had during the renovation? These aren’t sink sprayers either, so when the unlacquered brass faucet arrived from Rohl with a sprayer attachment, they just left it out. “You don’t have to follow the rules and do things that everyone else does,” Kat says. “It was something we didn’t feel like we needed.”
Light, Then cameras and action
If this renovation has taught Kat anything, it’s that the order in which you do things often matters. Example A: By the time his French sconces arrived home, the contractor had already closed the wall and mounted the elegant marble floating shelf. She wasn’t about to ask the crew to turn everything back on so she could run the electricity. “So we ended up hanging them with just a nail,” she reveals (there are fake battery-powered bulbs inside, so no one will ever be the wiser). “The end result is a kitchen that feels so much bigger, higher, open and inviting,” shares Kat. Who said moving to the suburbs had to be boring?