As a professional designer, Kathy Heiner is familiar with all the twists and turns of the renovation process. So, when it came time to redo the kitchen in the Bellair house she’s shared with her sons since 2012, she appreciated having the luxury of time to think about what she wanted.
“Lori Randle and I probably planned this for two years,” she says, referring to the Cabinet Solutions designer who was her collaborator. “One of the things that’s a benefit to waiting is you have a lot more time to think about how you live in it.”
The kitchen didn’t need major redrawing—the appliances and windows stayed put—but Heiner wanted to update its look and knew it could be a lot more functional. With Randle’s help, she found many ways to increase storage and ergonomics.
Though it’s not at all small, because of its layout the kitchen can’t easily accommodate an island or a bar. Instead, Heiner decided on a simple table—a vintage Florence Knoll piece with a Carrara marble top.
The table sits in front of an accent wall of built-in pantry cabinets and open shelves. In its old life, this was a plain wall with two doors; one opened to a pantry and one to a dumbwaiter. Contractors Gary and Adam Easter punched through these into an adjoining bedroom, stole a few inches of space, and installed built-ins that look like they’ve been there forever.
Now, the accent wall is a quietly stunning focal point that accommodates both ample display space and enough deep storage drawers to serve as a pantry. “Originally, I had barn doors planned” for the open shelves, she says, but changed her mind once the shelves were in place. “I loved the clean, simple lines.”
Colors work subtly together. The accent wall, like the white cabinets, got a high-gloss finish: Hague Blue by Farrow & Ball. It picks up the blues hiding in the marble countertops and in the blue-white wall color, Farrow & Ball’s Cabbage White. Heiner had originally planned to display cookbooks on the blue shelving but decided to use that space to show off her favorite pottery, some collected years ago by her mother and some she’s just discovered on Instagram.
The other substantial change was the addition of a large Thermador refrigerator/freezer/wine cooler where a run of cabinets had been. Yet the overall storage space grew, thanks to new cabinets that are almost ceiling-height, and various clever cabinetry features suggested by Randle. For example, spices and tea now live in a tall pull-out rack next to the wine cooler, and dog food gets its own cabinet right next to the dog dish.
“There’s a lot more storage in here now, but it feels bigger,” Heiner says. And it feels more ergonomic to have slightly higher countertops.
She changed the finish of the wooden floor from walnut-brown to ebony and liked it so much that she continued the change in neighboring rooms. The modern palette also includes Super White polished marble countertops, a crackle-glaze subway tile backsplash and lacquered white Shaker cabinets. “One trend I’m loving is high-gloss finishes on cabinets,” Heiner says. “Before, the cabinets were antique white, and I like a bright kitchen. It can make you feel more awake.”
To that end, she made sure to install several light sources—recessed ceiling lights, under-cabinet lighting and a shiny pendant from Barn Light Electric.
“Having a more subtle wall color can allow the art to really pop,” says Heiner, who has an extensive collection. Pieces by Abby Kasonik, Clay Witt, Ted Turner, Frankie Slaughter and others hang in the kitchen, along with a large Mexican otomi panel adorned with colorful birds.
The finished room is crisp and not too formal. “We spend a ton of time at this table,” says Heiner. “It’s more than just meals.”
Farrow & Ball Hague Blue (accent wall)
Farrow & Ball Cabbage White (walls)
Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White (trim)
White Diamond High Gloss cabinetry by Elmwood (kitchen cabinets)
Super White stone countertops by Marva in Richmond
Paper White subway tile from Waterworks (backsplash)
Thermador Freedom Series from Ferguson
Elkay (double sink)