Tried-and-Tested Tips for Creating a Welcoming Space

Kitchen Tip 1: Instead of creating a palette of complementary colors, stick to similar tones and vary the textures. Brooke used reclaimed Chicago brick for a backsplash and whitewashed it to match the cabinetry. Similar tones were mirrored when selecting the granite countertops. Save the color for accents. 

  • Display what’s meaningful: The homeowner unearthed her grandmother’s vintage Depression-era dishes on the top shelves, which were outfitted with glass doors for this purpose. 
  • Bring the outside in: Preserved boxwoods are perfect year-round and fresh flowers can change with each trip to the grocery store. 

Designing a kitchen from scratch is every homeowner’s dream, but sometimes it takes a well-seasoned interior designer to get the most out of every nook and cranny. When Carol and Randy Lay started to design their new kitchen, they knew that having a hosting space was crucial. That was the starting point. They love having people over, so the No. 1 goal for the Lays is to make every guest feel at home. 

They also wanted a space made of natural materials, imperfections even. 

“We used all types of raw materials, and I love that the island has rough edges. I like to show that imperfection,” Carol says.

When they sat down with interior designer Brooke Phillips, they sorted through pictures of other spaces and Brooke started to see a theme come together. They were drawn to clean palettes and bright, open spaces. Then, Brooke got to work finding materials and pieces, stringing together a style that would suit the homeowners.    

“She has an eye for every palette you’d need to pull off something beautiful. She understood what we wanted. When she brought these pieces of brick into the house, they were falling apart, and I thought, ‘My gosh! What did I just pay for?’” Carol says, laughing. “But it just goes to show how the imperfection of the brick works. We had to put more mud in to fill the house, but that’s special to me. That’s how we are.” 

Kitchen Tip 2: Opt for space-saving drawers and cupboards, including cabinet doors for the refrigerator and dishwasher. It reduces the look of clutter and leaves countertop space free for baking and entertaining. 

  • Not only do pot-filler faucets make stovetop cooking more convenient, but the sleek and simple cold-water tap also increases the value of the kitchen overall. 
  • Instead of under-cabinet lighting, use a small lamp to provide just enough light and visual interest to a small countertop space. 

Kitchen Tip 3: Use utensils that are both functional and attractive. Choose durable natural elements, such as wood, stone and metal, which are universally appealing to nearly every style. 

  • Let your cookbook collection be your art collection. Rotate a different cookbook each month or season and display it next to potted herbs or fresh flowers.