At quick glance, it’s easy to see why the Virginia Beach, Virginia, family loved their new kitchen from Designs by Ebony. But it’s the small, lifestyle-enhancing details, from the layout of the island to the size and shape of the cabinet hardware, that truly make the project a standout.
Like she does with every client, designer Ebony Stephenson, CAPS, started the Regent Park kitchen remodel by gaining an intimate understanding of her customers—father, mother, three little girls, another baby on the way, and a large dog—and developing a design that would accommodate their unique needs in both form and function.
Creating Open, Airy Spaces with Universal Accessibility
The logical first step for the dark, closed-off kitchen was to knock down a non-load-bearing wall to open it up to the adjoining family room, thereby brightening up the space while making it easier for the parents to keep an eye on the kids.
A host of more subtle details draw on Stephenson’s universal design expertise to ensure livability for family members of all sizes. “The girls are becoming more self-sufficient,” she notes, “so on top of having a nice open floor plan and keeping everything bright and airy, I wanted aspects of universal design so no one, no matter their age, would be limited in their use.”
As such, roll-out shelves offer easy access to heavy pots and pans, appliances are located within reach of big and little chefs alike, and the kitchen island is sized just large enough for cooking prep and kid activities without blocking the work triangle. Taller guests will appreciate the island’s slightly longer overhang along with Stephenson’s use of undermount bar supports instead of bulky corbels.
Selecting Hardware for Everyone
The cabinet pulls also played a role. Stephenson chose Jeffrey Alexander® Sonoma hardware in part for its design and in part for its usability for all family members. “I knew I wanted these pulls,” she says. “They go perfectly with the handles of stainless-steel appliances. Every time I use stainless appliances, I use Sonoma hardware.”
She played around with the four available pull sizes, determined to select a suitable fit for parents and kids alike. “The most fun day with this family was the day I brought over the four sizes of hardware,” Stephenson says, which allowed her to test the clearances for the father’s larger hands and gripping capabilities for the kids’ small hands. She settled on two sizes: 6-5/16 inch pulls for the cabinets and 9-5/8 inch pulls for the large, heavy drawers. “Most people will put two handles [on those drawers], but you can’t use both with a baby in your arms,” Stephenson says. “So I needed to make sure the larger pull was useable for the girls and allowed them to open a drawer with heavy pots and pans while also not hurting the drawer glides.”
Having two hardware sizes isn’t always typical, so Stephenson had the handles delivered directly to her and then labeled them for installers ahead of time.
Creating Casual Elegance
Functionality didn’t mean sacrificing design. The overall vibe is one of casual elegance, providing just the right level of sophistication without feeling too formal for a family kitchen.
White cabinets set the tone, offset by the satin nickel of the Sonoma pulls that add a pop of color and a modern touch in complement with the stainless steel appliances. “Hardware is the jewelry of the kitchen,” Stephenson says. Sonoma’s gentle curve, not too soft and with a bit of an edge on the underside, helps establish the kitchen’s transitional feel. To create cohesion, she used the same cabinets and hardware in the nearby laundry room.
Though Stephenson originally planned simple subway tile for the backsplash, she ran with the husband’s request to “have fun.” Flowing S-shaped tiles in soft creams, greens, and pinks form a graceful Chevron-like pattern reminiscent of underwater seaweed, a nod to the home’s coastal locale. Stephenson bucked design traditions by stretching the backsplash above the windows to the ceiling. “That was the icing on the cake,” she says. “That’s what made the room.”
Adding in the Right Details
The island adds one final flourish, set off in a gray-espresso color that keeps the white kitchen from feeling sterile and a flush toe kick that provides a built-in look.
On the floor, Stephenson went with a simple herringbone pattern with similar grout, elongating the room without drawing too much attention. Hardwood in the adjoining family room provides visual separation, a division echoed in decorative beams along that room’s ceiling.
Stephenson’s dedication to accommodating the family’s individual needs, however subtle, are apparent in their love of both their new kitchen and the designer herself—who easily won the affections of the girls (one of whom chronicled the sample-selection process on her Instagram account). “It wasn’t just the design, the functionality, but the total collaboration of all parties involved,” Stephenson says. “The homeowners—parents and kids alike—were part of every single piece of the process.”