When we were purchasing a new home, I knew I wanted a bright white kitchen, with a window above the sink--not too much to ask, right?!? Feeling empowered by Chip and JoJo to go with a fixer upper meant I could design it from scratch (well somewhat... a renovation is not the same as new construction, but I'll save that for a future post). I scoured Pinterest for inspiration photos of what would become my new kitchen. Pretty soon, I could rattle off my check list: classic white subway tile, farmhouse sink, Carrera marble counters, open shelving and a way to maximize a smaller footprint than I was used to. I wanted a look that was classic with rustic elements. Oh! And I was keeping the brass that was throughout the house. It was super important to be able to communicate these ideas, as my contractor prefers the use of an interior designer on all his projects. Since I had not yet stepped into my courage to start my own business, I was not yet a "designer," and I accepted the services.
Finding an inspiration photo was super easy thanks to the likes of Pinterest and Houzz. Actually, we take these sites for granted now, but when I built a custom home in 2009, I relied solely on magazine tearouts--many binders full! Whether you choose to work with an Interior Designer, or go it alone, I highly recommend doing some initial research to find pictures that will reflect your style. You may not be able to put a label on it, but if you can show a designer 4-5 inspiration photos, they can begin to develop a feel for the look you want to achieve. The more you can show, the better. Sometimes you may not even know specifically what speaks to you about that photo, and that's okay. The mere fact that you included it, will say something about your design personality. I guarantee the designer will appreciate your legwork, and it will save you money on design fees!
So here's what I did. As soon as I knew I was getting to renovate (like before we even closed on the house) I created a secret board on Pinterest called "Fixer Upper." I kept it secret because I didn't want to give away what I was doing until it was all finished. Hmmmm...not sure why the secrecy, exactly, but that's how I felt at the time. Maybe it was just so I could have this dramatic reveal! So for the first time ever presented publicly (drumroll please....) I give you two photos that inspired my rustic modern kitchen renovation.
As you can see from the very top photo, we did not copy my inspiration pics directly. However, you can certainly see that there are elements that harken back to each of them: subway tile, brass fixtures (in one), open shelves in natural stain (in the other), farmhouse sink. Whenever I had a decision to make regarding my kitchen, I could refer back to the inspiration board and decide how to proceed. For instance, I was asked to select a grout color for the subway tile: did I want white, grey or black? Well, the inspo pic had a light gray grout, but just for safe measure I went back to Pinterest and looked for other examples of kitchen with white subway tile. Almost always, I tended to prefer a soft gray grout in my collection of kitchen photos (though if you've seen the master bathroom renovation, you know that's not always the case). So there it was, plain to see: soft gray was the choice! Now, I didn't reach out to those designers and ask them exactly which grout color they used, but I knew if I selected one in the light gray family, I would love it and I do. (And, in case you're wondering, I don't remember my grout color...sorry friends)
Also, having these reference photos can boost your confidence in how something might look. As I mentioned, we had decided the brass would stay. This was an 80s house and I didn't want to invest in all new hardware. I had heard that brass was making a comeback, but I was a wee bit worried for my new kitchen to feel dated. The idea that I worried feels so crazy now, because I'm seeing tons of white and brass on Instagram and everywhere. However, in the fall of 2015, I wasn't quite sure...until I spotted this photo from Studio McGee! Once I saw that, all reservations were gone. Oh and I KNEW I had to have THAT sconce-- (so there is one aspect that is an exact copy).
So do that leg work, friends, and collect those inspiration pictures, even if you don't have the house yet, or you are having to wait to gut that room you hate. They will come in handy eventually as you communicate your ideas to contractors or design professionals. In my gallery, you can check out additional photos of the kitchen remodel and see how my finished look compared to my starting inspiration.
One last note: when stocking a kitchen with open shelves, I find it helps to keep patterns and colors to a minimum. I love classic white dishes and towels for the kitchen. The great thing about a collection of nondescript white dinnerware is that it can continue to grow effortlessly, from a variety of sources. I have expensive bone china white dishes from my wedding registry mixed with inexpensive white plates from Target. Behind the open glass cabinetry, it all looks the same! I've included a few favorites below.