Rich in Character

Layers of soft color and natural texture give this family kitchen a clean, modern look—and plenty of personality.

Written by:Diane Conrad
Photographed by:French Blue

Cool gray and white plus warm wood and gleaming gold-toned accents play well together, creating depth and dimension in the large space. Cambria designs shown: Whitehall™ and Brittanicca™.

The best designers make every project personal, but this kitchen remodel really was personal for Michele Merz: The client was the general contractor she works with on the majority of her firm’s renovation work. And, since the homeowners were “in the business,” they came to the design process with a pretty good idea of what they wanted.

“We started, like I always do, with the function of the kitchen. The wife loves to cook and they have three kids, so it had to be a chef’s kitchen and very hardworking, but they also like a clean, minimal look—so that meant lots of storage,” says Merz. The team mapped out specific spots for all the essentials, so tools and equipment can be close at hand but out of sight when not in use. Then, they added convenient auxiliary spaces with even more storage: a bar area and a separate pantry.


An antiqued mirror behind the bar reflects light into the space and creates a little extra drama in the entertaining zone. Cambria designs shown: Whitehall and Brittanicca

With the function squared away, Merz moved on to the style of the new kitchen. The renovation was already slated to raise the eight-foot ceilings by several feet, creating a soaring space. And at first, the clients envisioned an all-white kitchen. “But, I suggested incorporating a little bit of color to give the very large room more depth,” she says. A mix of cabinet finishes—natural wood, gray, and white—plus backsplash tile reaching all the way to the ceiling gives added interest, creating “a little bit of a bistro feel,” says Merz. Wide expanses of Cambria Brittanicca on the kitchen island and Whitehall on the perimeter countertops provide a generous splash of clean, fresh white, plus the durable prep space the enthusiastic home chef, and mom of three, needs.


Creamy Cambria Brittanicca on the large center island and the simple elegance of Whitehall on the perimeter countertops add unifying elements to a mix of painted and natural wood cabinet finishes.

Finishing touches add even more warmth and character. Merz chose hardware and plumbing fixtures in warm metallic tones. “Even the barstools have little brass details to pick up on that theme,” she notes. The sculptural wire pendant fixtures add the final accent, but they took a little extra effort. “I have these in gold in my own home, and the client had seen them. But when we went to order them, that finish had been discontinued. So, we bought the darker finish and had them painted gold!” Truly a personal touch for a project with personality.

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