Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home (2015)
living in your home
Allison + Ryan Burke
Interior Designer + Architect
the retro bright kitchen
Judy Kameon + Erik Otsea
Landscape Designer + Outdoor Furniture Designer
The ’70s are alive and kicking in this sunny Elysian Park kitchen. Every detail, from the custom cabinetry (handcrafted by the homeowner) to the cork flooring to the retro color palette, is a nod to streamlined, midcentury design.
What you don’t see in this photo are the gorgeous gardens just beyond a set of massive sliding glass doors (skip to chapter 19 for a peek). The pale blue, deep green, and pops of orange bring the explosion of natural color happening outside in, making a space of mostly neutrals seem highly saturated.
When embracing a design period so fully, it’s important to realize that not everything should be vintage. This hardworking kitchen does a nice job of balancing old and new. The teak veneer cabinets, Heath Ceramics tile backsplash, and cork floor are all new. The Wedgewood stove is vintage on the outside but has been upgraded with modern technology inside, while the dining chairs and most of the ceramics collection (the black vessel above the cabinets is the homeowner’s own work) are vintage through and through. A good rule of thumb to follow: frequently used pieces should be new, while decorative or less-used items provide an opportunity to sprinkle in vintage treasures.
BACKSPLASH BARGAINS. This thrifty couple trekked all the way to Sausalito, California, to shop the “overstock” selection at Heath Ceramics, their dream tile source. If your design is flexible, most tile stores have a discount section where great deals can be found.
KNOCK. KNOCK. This extra-long table is actually an old door the homeowners had kicking around their art studio. They sanded it down, added legs, and left the top unfinished so that its rustic charm continues to get better with age.
KITCHEN COMMANDO. Realizing that her happiest hours were spent in the kitchen, Judy had a small workstation built in to the far corner of the room. The secretary-style desk closes up when guests arrive.
the beach cottage kitchen
EAST HAMPTON, NY
Christiane Lemieux + Joshua Young
Founder, DwellStudio + Real Estate Developer
daughter, Isabelle + son, William
The genius of this superlight, minimalist kitchen is in how quickly and affordably it was assembled. When the homeowners purchased this small cottage on stilts (which sits directly on the bay in Long Island), they needed to get it fixed up as fast as possible for as little as possible.
Sticking with basics, like an all-white palette and IKEA cabinetry, meant that everything could be installed in just two weeks. (That’s lightning-speed by typical home-renovation standards.) Custom floating shelves keep the walls open and the kitchen nice and airy. Exposed storage like this only works if you trust yourself to organize your dishes neatly. Mismatched sets or overstuffed shelves are an instant eyesore.
Solid wood countertops add warmth to the all-white space—and will age well if oiled regularly. Bright artwork and little graphic touches (an owl cookie jar, patterned serving trays) provide the fun spark that really brings this room to life.
If you want to keep your space light and open, and storage is not a big issue, this is a great little kitchen to get inspired by.
MAKE A SPLASH. For a crisp, modern look, nothing beats a white subway tile backsplash. This one was installed in straight, slightly offset lines that accentuate the gorgeous length of the kitchen.
the never-at-rest kitchen
Lulu Powers + Stephen Danelian
The Entertainologist + Founder, MeeLocal
This is what a chef’s kitchen really looks like: a little bit messy (because it’s never not in use) but a total workhorse that’s so cozy, you’d happily spend every waking hour in it.
Though modest in size, this kitchen offers plenty of counter space for food prep, two full-sized refrigerators, and a large farmhouse sink. But what’s even more key to its overall function is the layout: the commercial range and sink are both located in the center of the room, so you can pivot in any direction while cooking and reach the countertop, the faucet, or a pot on the stove.
Off both ends of the room are two additional spaces, one for sitting and one for storage—and every square inch is used. Part of the charm of this kitchen is its many flights of whimsy, which spill into these extra areas: deep blue cabinets, palm-frond wallpaper, vintage signage, and collected figurines. There is a smart mix of what is necessary for cooking and what is necessary for inspiring creativity—a good example of balancing playfulness with function in any space.
COOKING UP A STORM. With a six-burner commercial stove and baker-grade oven, this comfortable kitchen can cook for a lot more than one family. Having that type of fire power costs more but is money well spent for the ambitious home chef.
KICK YOUR FEET UP. Offering a view into the busy kitchen, this lovely small sitting room—with its cozy green armchairs, tropical print ottoman, and palm frond wallpaper—is a welcome retreat while waiting for the oven timer to ding.
BEST VIEW IN THE HOUSE. Big porcelain farm sinks are having a moment—and it’s easy to see why. They hold a ton of dishes, stay clean with minimal elbow grease, and are especially dreamy when placed under a sunny window.
the neapolitan kitchen
Michelle + Dave Kohanzo
CEO, Land of Nod + Banker
daughter, Emily + sons Connor, Henry, Everett
Who would ever imagine that such a hardworking room could be inspired by the colors of Neapolitan ice cream? But day-in-and-day-out meals for a family of six are whipped up in this lighthearted kitchen with chocolate countertops (the starting point for the design), strawberry pink cabinets, and vanilla walls.
The biggest takeaway here is that if you’re brave enough to try an off-the-beaten-path style, really embrace it. Don’t just paint the cabinets; paint the rest of the furniture, too. Don’t just baby step into the ice-cream-parlor vibe; dive into it with loads of retro details: paper garlands, gingham patterns, ’50s-style-diner dishes, and wall art that declares a love of cake. Half measures will only result in a watered-down version. This type of decorative daring takes guts. But, mainly, it’s an important reminder that you shouldn’t be too serious, especially with decor; being memorable is way more fun.
TWO (OR THREE) OF A KIND. When choosing accent colors, be sure to include at least two examples of it—like the blue and yellow here—so it feels intentional.
THE SWEETEST DETAILS. Antique wallpaper was added as a backdrop to the hutch; a simple detail that really delivers.
THE POWER OF PAINT. To gain a bit of vintage-y goodness, a thrift store hutch was painted to match the standard cabinetry.
the western soda-fountain kitchen
Susan + Kevin Lennon
Owner, SHOP by h. bleu + Founder, Lennon Design
The only thing missing from this modern rustic kitchen is a set of swinging saloon doors. Equal parts new finishings and reclaimed flea market finds (one of the homeowners restores vintage furniture for a living), this open, high-traffic, eat-in kitchen brings a little bit of the Old West to Venice Beach.
A white-on-white palette and multiple windows serve as a foundation for the bright, clean look. Details like vintage swivel stools, industrial lighting, and dark, hand-poured concrete countertops add a rough-and-tumble sophistication, while the pin-striping in the beadboard on the lower half of the room snaps everything into focus.
The key to this space is the nicely balanced, U-shaped flow. This kitchen serves a large family with older children, so the stream of hungry people is constant. A four-seater counter faces a large commercial range, centering the room. Expansive countertops and two sinks—one in front of the window, the other in the island—mean that multiple people can prepare food at once. And extra outlets built directly into the island serve as a power station for all the electronics that get abandoned there.
KITCHEN FOLIAGE. Homes glow when they include fresh flowers and plants. The tulips and potted succulents sprinkled around this kitchen lift spirits during post-meal dishwashing.
the collector’s bazaar kitchen
NEW YORK CITY
Michele Varian + Brad Roberts
Shop Owner, Michele Varian + Musician
There are many kinds of cooks—and many ways to set up a kitchen. More “workshop” than “lab,” this one belongs to an artist. All the culinary tools are left out within arm’s reach for the moment inspiration strikes: pots hang from the ceiling, cutting boards run up the wall, and open, industrial shelves house all manner of cookware and serving pieces.
In truth, there’s little rhyme or reason to the placement of things; it’s simply a reflection of the homeowners and how they use this space. The dark-wood countertops and shelving were a DIY project—and the industrial island was tacked on for added surface space. But perhaps the greatest thing about this room (aside from its deep blue hue) is how lived-in and loved it feels.
It’s as “busy” as a commercial kitchen, but nothing is either too sterile-looking or precious. A small sitting area between the wood-burning stove and windows provides a front-row seat to all the action. Art and carefully curated objects, like the European glass flycatchers that dangle above the stove, make the space feel old-fashioned and homey.
For all the advice out there on organizing a kitchen, sometimes—clearly—it pays to go your own way.
THE PERFECT SHADE. When you fall in love with a paint color, it’s a hard thing to let go of. This vibrant blue (Benjamin Moore “Blue Belle”) is a holdover from Michele’s previous kitchen—and according to her, will be in all of her kitchens to come.
NOWHERE TO HIDE. With every last dish in plain sight, this room shows off its treasures (like this collection of bowls from Pearl River) while making it easier to sort through the eclectic feast.
THE LOCKER ROOM. With nothing but open storage, this kitchen lacked a place to stash the actual food, so this rusty old locker was smartly turned into a makeshift pantry.
HANG IT HIGHER. Ceilings can provide very effective storage solutions. Beyond the hanging glass flycatchers, the commercial pot rack forms a central hub, keeping every pan within arm’s reach.
the smart-storage kitchen
Lisa + Joel Santos
Gourmet Grocer/Chef + Computer Developer
This chef-grade kitchen sits in what used to be an electrical switching station. (Semitrucks drove through here.) So it feels somewhat appropriate that in its modern iteration, the stainless-steel kitchen is still very much an industrial space.
Any room that relies on exposed beams and cement floors for charm risks coming off as cold. But the details that could be considered “chilly” (glazed-brick walls and rows of metal cabinets) are balanced by the long wall of warm, wood-toned cabinetry and personality-packed lighting choices: an illuminated S (from a Singer sewing machine sign) and a wall-mounted fixture that swivels to provide light when and where it’s needed.
Technically, these cabinets are clothing wardrobes. But the inventive homeowner uses them for kitchen storage. Matching sets of glasses are meticulously lined up next to perfectly stacked plates and serving dishes. One entire cupboard is dedicated to bar accessories, another to coffee and tea supplies, and a third to cookware. Just enough space is left between collections to avoid overcrowding. This impressive level of detail adds a very human touch to the laboratory-like setting.
STORAGE AS ART. This bank of wardrobes provides an amazing amount of storage, but that’s only half the story. Lisa created an art-installation-like backdrop to her dining area by keeping like-size items together and not over-packing the shelves.
HIGH + LOW DONE RIGHT. Stainless steel cabinetry, arranged in an island configuration, looks high-end but isn’t, leaving room in the budget for a standout light fixture. Prouvé’s Potence swivel lamp is a classic.
YOUR HOME, YOUR HOBBIES. Lisa and Joel love to cook, so having easy access to their most essential tools makes this kitchen “just right” for them. Factoring your passions into your design plans will always result in a place where you want to spend time.
the little kitchen that could
Tim Cuppett + Marco Rini
Architect + Garden Designer
This kitchen packs an amazing amount of function into a perfectly designed, not-an-inch-wasted, 120 square feet. The modern country galley is a brilliant illustration of the perennial wisdom about small homes: make the most of your vertical space.
With a slope from 6 feet at the windows to 10 feet on the opposite side, the ceiling allows for a full floor-to-ceiling wall of open storage—accessible via a rolling ladder. Extra-deep shelves are packed with a tremendous collection of dishes, glassware, cooking tools, and entertaining essentials.
Having everything out within arm’s (or, in this case, ladder’s) reach is great, but keeping all those little items clean is another story. The simple solution? Use them! It ensures they cycle through the dishwasher regularly—and is an excellent excuse for entertaining.
Unconventional work surfaces are another great small-space solution. Rather than out-of-the-box cabinets, the homeowners found affordable custom options. One is a wooden media console topped with Carrara marble, and the other, a stainless-steel table, was sourced from a restaurant-supply fabricator in a height that accommodates a wine fridge and dishwasher underneath.
WORKING WINDOWS. The couple’s large utensils hang from hooks on a metal rod in the window; it’s a small investment that’s both attractive and handy.
JUST ROLL WITH IT. Ladders and china may seem like a tricky combo, but these homeowners (wisely) store fragile items on lower shelves and, as an extra precaution, chose a ladder with deep rungs that can hold dishes while they climb.
NO CABINETS. NO PROBLEM. Wall-hung cookware, coffee cup hooks, and an ingenious plate rack make alternative storage solutions seem like a design plus rather than a necessary evil.
WARM MEMORIES. Marco studied in England, living in a chilly bedsit with a trusty Aga cooker. When it came time to choose a range for the cottage, going with this classic brand was a no-brainer.
the carefully curated kitchen
NEW YORK CITY
Think about everything that happens in your kitchen (preparing food, having meals, entertaining). Now think about doing that in less than 100 square feet.
It takes discipline to keep a kitchen this pared down and still be inspired to cook in it. Editing yourself to the most basic kitchen essentials can be incredibly freeing, though. Fewer things mean your options are automatically limited. You know which recipes you have the tools to make, how many people fit comfortably at your table, and so forth.
But editing is only part of what makes this chic little kitchen so hardworking. There’s stealth utility everywhere you look. Shelves were added to all the walls. Dry foods are shifted into clear glass containers upon purchase (which helps minimize visual clutter). And the dishes are kept in neat rows or stacked.
To create fluidity among all these mismatched elements, everything was covered in flat white paint—giving it a “built-in” look. A small round dining table allows for maximum movement through the space, while one dark half wall and a framed photograph of Iceland (taken by the homeowner) turn the eat-in nook into the coziest spot in the house.
THE DARK SIDE. This kitchen’s moody character is all thanks to its deep gray accents (Benjamin Moore’s “Deep River”), which jump from the bathroom door to the wall (at right).
DISHING IT OUT. The curving shapes and off-white tones of Emily’s dishes allow everything to sit together harmoniously, even though the design sources are all over the place: Virginia Sin, Heath Ceramics, Simon Pearce, even IKEA.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING. IKEA shelving and simple, open boxes mounted on the walls provide all the storage this kitchen needs at a minimal expense. Hanging cubbies for flatware eliminate the need for a drawer.
the diy kitchen
Just because you live in a rental doesn’t mean you can’t have a bright, happy, personalized kitchen you want to spend time in.
This galley kitchen in Brooklyn was dirty and run-down when the renter first moved in. A lot of energy was put into turning it around on a dime. The landlord agreed to replace the worn linoleum floor—and gave permission for the cabinets to be painted. Using a cabinet-refinishing kit by Rust-Oleum, the cheap blond cabinets (which you find in most affordable rentals) were updated into the stylish gray fronts you see here.
The old backsplash was also in bad shape. Rather than paint over the broken tiles (which never works well) or replace them (too expensive), plastic ceiling tiles from Home Depot—which are meant to look like tin—were cut and stuck to the surface with super-adhesive double-sided tape. The subtle shine and hit of texture adds a low-key vintage feel.
When faced with a space that’s been neglected for years (or even decades), clean it up, fix what needs fixing, and do whatever refinishing you can. No matter what style you “inherit,” you’ll find that good energy will return to your home once the clutter and grime are gone and everything is in working order.
COUNTER CULTURE. Try as she might to keep her countertops clutter-free, Taylor found that stuff just seemed to accumulate there. Rather than fight it, she embraced it and purchased pretty bowls and a utensil jar to capture everything neatly.
WHO NEEDS STARBUCKS? This adorable, color-coded coffee station is a caffeine lover’s dream. Storing “like” items (coffee mugs, coffeemaker, teapot, and so forth) in one spot increases a room’s functionality instantly.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT THE RULES SAY. By most accounts, this little dining area would be located in the center of a room with space for the chairs to scoot into and away from the table. But this configuration, as it turns out, is far more laidback and inviting.
8 THINGS NOT to worry about
1TRENDS. If you love design, trend-spotting can be inspiring and, frankly, good fun (especially when you become enough of an expert to see them coming). But what a trend should never be is a deal breaker. True style is about confidence, so following your heart, whether something is “on trend” or not, is always going to yield the most powerful results.
2A ROOM’S INTENDED PURPOSE. Want to use that small, dark guest bedroom as the closet of your dreams? Maybe switch the living room and the dining room? Or how about turning the dining nook into a home office? Go for it. Use the space in your home so it makes the most sense for how you live day to day.
3WHAT YOUR FRIENDS THINK. Good friends give advice; it’s part of the deal and always worth considering. But when it comes to choosing your home, or the things that go into it, only you know what will make you happy. If a pale, monochromatic living room is your ideal, don’t let naysayers chattering about difficult upkeep change your mind. Your true friends will come around.
4STOCKING UP. Take these wise words to heart: store it at the store. Don’t turn your home into a stockroom. Sure, having whatever you need on hand when you need it gives you a good feeling. But using precious space for a year’s supply of toilet paper is not the way to do it. A much better strategy: spend an extra few minutes a week maintaining a shopping list.
5BEING THE PERFECT HOST. Think back to the most fun you’ve had as a guest in someone’s home. Was it because the host anticipated your every wish, serving gourmet food in a pristine room? Of course not. Your guests will only feel sincerely welcome when you stop worrying and start enjoying yourself.
6WHAT THE RULES SAY. The fashion world insists you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day. Similarly, there are a handful of decorating “rules,” which, in all honesty, are often worth following: hanging art 57 to 60 inches on center, for instance (for more on this see chapter 9). But if you have an urge to break the rules, be a rebel. How will you know if hanging your art higher isn’t the brilliant exception to the rule until you try it?
7REGRETTING LETTING GO. Our minds can be tricky about getting rid of stuff; we convince ourselves we may need an item someday, when the truth is, we don’t use it … ever. Clearing clutter is always a good thing. Give yourself permission to let things go by focusing on the next owner who will use and enjoy the item.
8STARTING OVER. You were positive you were going to love that “______.” (Fill in the blank: bold wall color, ornate vintage mirror, ruffled bedspread.) Now, after living with it, you realize that it’s still not working. There’s no embarrassment in admitting a design misstep. Repainting or returning/selling an item and going back to square one is better than putting up with something you don’t love. Live and learn!