project : CUPCAKES { kitchen }

February 6, 2014

I have been literally DYING for the past couple weeks holding off showing any kind of pictures from my project with Emily of Cupcakes and Cashmere. It has been nothing short of a good time and I have had such a great experience helping Emily and her hubby Geoffrey create their perfect first home.  Its always so fun meeting with clients and helping them actualize the potential their homes have. When I first saw the house, my trained designer eyeballs instantly agreed with Emily and Geoffrey that they had really landed a beauty of a house . The bones and the original details were amazing and the potential was endless. There was a beautiful original brick fireplace with an Inglenook (google it), a stunning coffered dining room ceiling, exposed beams in the kitchen, and a relatively open floor plan just perfect for entertaining. Not to mention the house has some serious curb appeal nestled among other gorgeous homes in a fabulous location (totes jealous). Anyhow, the previous owners had some questionable taste in colors and light fixtures that really made the home feel stuffy and dated.  I knew I wanted to freshen up the whole vibe of the house and reflect Emily’s trademark clean and classic style. Item number one on the “Project Cupcake” punch list was to update the not quite right kitchen.

Here is a little insight as to what we did and why we did it


as you can see…we had lots of things that needed some attention.


1//ISLAND & SEATING: Em & G (Emily & Geoffrey) Really needed a little more storage. They had a fair amount of larger cooking tools, like a nice mixer, blender etc. and wanted those to not always be out on display. We decided that the best place to gain this storage would be to utilize the island as best as possible. Seems easy enough…except we also somehow needed to allow for extra seating. So here is how we solved the problem…


We recessed a small portion of the island to allow seating to slide underneath the countertop, and added taller and slightly less deep cabinetry underneath where we could gain that much needed extra storage!

2//CABINETS & BACKSPLASH: Although the kitchen cabinets were not terrible with the beadboard detail, they were not really working with the modern traditional scheme of the rest of the kitchen. To save some dough we decided to keep the existing upper cabinet faces, but remove the grooved yuckiness and finish them a much brighter white. Once we did this I knew we would run into the issue that making the cabinet faces brighter, would only make the yellow tinged subway tiles even yellower. Not to mention make the brown grout look super dingy. We loved the look of the subway, but ripped out the old and re-installed a new brighter white and used a platinum gray grout to accent the gray veining in the island top.


3//ISLAND COUNTER TOP:  Now lets talk about that beautiful island top shall we? Em and G really, really, really wanted a Carrara marble island top. They loved the look of the white ground and the gray veining, and I don’t blame them!  Now look, I am all about making my clients happy. I often like to come from a place of “yes”….Sometimes though, I have to chime in and strongly advise against certain things. For example.. Carrara marble seems to be a real hot topic when it comes to kitchen and bathroom design. While it is one of the most amazingly beautiful counter top materials on the market, in my opinion it SUCKS as a kitchen surface and needs to be handled with great care and caution.  Red wine will stain it, lemon will etch it, balsamic vinegar will even leave its permanent mark, and who in the hell wants to commit that hard to keeping your giant new 9′ island pristinely clean….?  Because Em and G did their own bit of research on the maintenance of marble, and had no interest in babysitting their countertops, they were totally happy to look at some stone alternatives. So we hit the stone yards searching for that oh so special slab that would do the job. We settled on using “Dolomite” also referred to (mistakenly) as “Super White” granite. Its way more durable than Carrara Marble for numerous reasons. It can be easily wiped down with a little soapy water and a wet rag. You don’t have to use special cleaners and more importantly it’s a very forgiving surface. You can spill a little and not worry, and I sleep a little better at night thinking I will never get the call that their perfect island is stained and ruined forever.


4// BRASS DETAILS: Can I just say I am so not sick of the “brass is back” trend. How could I be?? It’s timeless in my opinion and if there was ever a metal to characterize Mrs. Emily, brass/gold would definitely be it. You would think by now there would be an affordable and easily accessible brass option for kitchen faucets and hardware…but there isn’t. Everything we liked that was brass was either way out of budget, a weird orangey champagne brass color, or a super lame shape that didn’t hit the traditional/modern style we were after.  So we decided to plate….everything. We found a great shaped faucet and took it to our local plating company to match the perfect brass tone we were after. The result was everything we were hoping and more.


5// LIGHTING: In Em & G’s kitchen, and whole house in fact, the light is incredible! The high ceilings, paired with the light and bright new wall colors makes it the perfectly lit space. The previous owners had some pretty special (read awful) lighting choices. One of the largest issues was that the lighting was not centered on the either the island, or the sink. It bothered me immensely, as things like that typically do!!  Originally, Emily really wanted to have some pretty island lights, and so we toyed with the idea. Ultimately we decided that the room really just did not need it. I have a go to rule of thumb when tackling any renovation project. If you are uncertain about something in the room, think to yourself “Would I have added this myself if it was never here?” So in the case of the lights, if we were building the kitchen from scratch…would we have hung any lights above the island or sink??? The answer was No. So out they came and Em & G don’t miss them at all.  Less was definitely more in here.

beforeafterC&Ckitchenislandpostand just for fun some more gratuitous kitchen gorgeousness, lets all gawk a bit!







more pics on Cupcakes and Cashmere blog

source list:

Cabinet Paint Color: Benjamin Moore “White”

Ceiling Trim Color: Benjamin Moore “White”

Ceiling Pain Colort: Benjamin Moore “Gray Owl”

Faucet: Rohl Faucets with Custom brass finish. Similar style HERE

Cabinet Hardware: Martha Stewart for Home Depot HERE . Want a little different style bin pull, try HERE.

Cabinet Knobs HERE

Bar Stools: HERE

Kitchen Rug: Similar Style HERE

  1. Looks so great!! Bright and airy….I imagine a lot of time will be spent in this room, even when not cooking. Would love to hear more about dolomite counters. I have never heard of this material before–but indestructible carrara? Sign me up!

  2. We are also redoing our kitchen to a very similar style and i agree, i love love love the brass hardware. Interesting enough, I also picked out the Home Depot Martha Stewart line-same as the link you have mentioned. I notice that they look “shinier” in real life compared to what I see pictured in this kitchen. I’m wondering if you also had the Martha Stewart hardware custom brassed or scuffed? Or it could just be the picture?

    1. I’m wondering the same thing. I’m thinking of ordering the MS brass pulls, but on the HD site they look shinier than in the photos above. I like them in your photos better! Wish I could see them in person but they’re only available online. Are they straight out of the package above or did you do a treatment on them? Thanks for any info!!

  3. Absolutely gorgeous kitchen! The upside of recently having major water damage because of an upstairs neighbor’s negligence? I get to redo my kitchen now. I am planning on going with a very similar look, white shaker-style cabinets with black counters, albeit in a smaller (NYC) kitchen. Do you know what material the original black counters are? Thanks!

  4. love this kitchen, amber! looks like you did a stainless sink as the main sink, but the island sink looks different. did you do a granite composite? if so, would love to know color and brand! considering the blanco truffle for our kitchen. we have similar countertops and white cabinets. really appreciate your time, thank you!

  5. What a beautiful kitchen. I just purchased a home and am getting the kitchen renovated. I would love white cabinets. Are Emily’s cabinets painted wood or mdf? I’m having a difficult time deciding on what material to use.

  6. I beg to differ re: Dolomite

    It is somewhere between a marble and granite, and WILL etch with lemon juice or tomatoe sauce. I suggest getting a sample and trying it before selection.

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