Pamela O'Brien's French Country Kitchen Design

Design by Houston Interior Decorator Pamela Hope Designs; Photo Credit: Cody Bess

Tired of an inefficient or lackluster kitchen? Noticing some flaws in your kitchen since you’re at home more? We can help. Well, we’ve been at home a lot longer than I think any of us suspected. Home has become more central to our lives than ever. Right now, it’s really the only place we have to work, play, rest, relax, refresh, cook, dine, etc. We’ve seen a big uptick in client inquiries and are thrilled to welcome three new clients in less than a month.

Several of our clients are buying vacation homes too. As I suggested early in the shutdown, I believe that former entertainment and travel budgets are being relegated to the home. Whether it’s just a few dollars for a new set of everyday china, colorful throw pillows for the family sofa or deciding to design a brand-new kitchen, people are really interested in making the most of their homes.

On the topic of kitchens, surely all of you are using yours more than ever. I did the math the other day and I believe the last time I visited a proper restaurant for a sit-down meal was mid-February! I have been cooking nearly every meal since mid-March with a very limited amount of take-out. I’ve become a better cook and have learned how to better meal plan. I grocery shop more efficiently and I expect a lot more out of my kitchen. To that end, we thought a kitchen discussion might be timely. We have one full kitchen remodel going right now and finished another one last Christmas. Creating the best kitchen for you is a game changer and today, it’s even more important than ever!

Kitchen Floor Plan with design by Houston Interior Decorator


Choosing the kitchen design and stovetop that's best for you

Design by Pamela Hope Designs; Photo Credit: Cody Bess

Kitchen table design by Houston interior decorator Pamela Hope Designs

Design by Pamela Hope Designs; Photo Credit: Cody Bess

When I designed my kitchen, I knew I wanted a fairly glamorous range, a big island and a pretty view from the living room. I also wanted to put the fridge and microwave out of sight. Our floor plan did just that and we just love it. It works perfectly for me.

Here are two original shots of the kitchen when we first moved in. It’s pretty Country French by design. I have since lightened up by reducing the accessories on the counters, installing brighter LED lighting and dimmers, removing the rug under the breakfast table and adding more modern barstools. We are now using the former kitchen barstools (shown in the top photo) in our studio and they look and feel great. That’s a good tip there – when planning for islands and counters, if you make them all the same height, you can move them around the house.

The barstools shown below are similar to mine, although mine are a darker taupe color. My barstools came from Wisteria, which sadly is going out of business. While its online, close-out sales are no longer active, sales are still happening in stores.

barstools from Wisteria for the Kitchen

Photo Courtesy of Wisteria

Kitchen Display

Design by Pamela Hope Designs; Photo Credit: Cody Bess

So, if it’s time to rethink your kitchen, take the time to decide what you like and don’t about your current kitchen and make a list. Then start considering other kitchens that you have experienced. Maybe you love your sister’s kitchen or perhaps you like how your mother designed hers? It’s best when you can compare kitchens that you actually have cooked in. People have very different preferences when it comes to kitchens. At some point during this exercise, you can include what you love and hate about model home kitchens you’ve visited, kitchens you’ve seen in photographs, Instagram and design magazine kitchens and kitchen showroom exhibits. You should end up with a nice list of preferences and things you want to avoid.

Also, keep track of photos that you like. Pinterest is probably the easiest way to start, although some people like Houzz. Once you hit upon some winners, you could create a PowerPoint to include your lists of must haves and absolute no’s and your favorite photos. Showing these to your designer, kitchen cabinet vendor or contractor can really help. A designer will quickly identify patterns and help you define your kitchen style. Of course, if you hire a designer, they will assist with creating the presentation and will fill in with additional items you might like or need.

When it’s time to start looking at actual products, I like to take clients to a showroom, where you can see and try out more than one category. For example, it’s nice to be able to look at appliances and cabinetry together. Perhaps you can choose appliances, plumbing and lighting at the same time. You will see that once you make a few decisions, the selections will start to jell and flow nicely.

You may also notice that you lean one way or the other – modern or traditional, colorful or monochromatic, glitzy or understated. That will help you zero in on the designs and styles that are for you and not waste a lot of time looking at things you would never select. There is so much information out there that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With your list and photos in place, you can focus on what matters most to you.

Composite Sinks like this one are one option in today's kitchen renovations

Composite Sink Photo Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

I should have said this first, but the biggest tip is to have a BUDGET! I know, many of you will say you have no idea how much kitchens cost these days. But, in truth, in your heart of hearts, you do have a few numbers in mind. Being upfront about that saves time, money and frustration. There are so many products out there, you don’t have the time or energy to look at all of them. Why even look at something that is too expensive for you or so cheap that you wouldn’t consider it? If you share some price points, a total budget or even a range, your design professional or contractor can quickly suggest what can be done for that cost and the products you should consider.

Here are a few more areas you can think about and annotate. Each step of planning will get you closer to your dream kitchen.

  1. What kind of sink do you like – stainless, porcelain, composite?
  2. Do you want your disposal on the right, left or center?
  3. Do you like a single or double sink? Do you like a divider? How high? Or do you prefer half and half or a one-third division in your sink? See, people are VERY SPECIFIC about their sink preferences.

    Monogram 30" Smart Five in One Wall Oven with 120V Advantium® Technology

    Monogram 30″ Smart Five in One Wall Oven

  4. Do you want a prominent range or a nearly transparent cooktop?
  5. Do you like a big, showy vent hood cover or prefer it to be hidden and very discrete?
  6. Do you want to cook with gas or electricity? Does an induction cooktop appeal to you? They are the wave of the future.
  7. Are you interested in a specialty oven like a programmable speed oven or a steam oven?
  8. Do you use a microwave and how often?
  9. How often do you run the dishwasher and what do you put in it?
  10. How and what kind of storage do you need?
Monogram 30" Smart Five in One Wall Oven with 120V Advantium® Technology

Above, Interior/Open View of the Monogram 30″ Smart Five in One Wall Oven with 120V Advantium® Technology; Photo Courtesy of GE/Monogram

There are loads of other questions to be answered but just cut and paste the above list into your notes and you will be well on your way!

Contact us if you need suggestions on which showroom might be best for you to visit. Alternatively, leave your comments or questions in the comments feature of this blog post and we’ll be happy to answer your questions here. Of course, we’d be delighted to help you with a kitchen remodel or a renovation project. Now may be the right time to make your design dreams come true!

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