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A Clean and Classic Kitchen

In 2014, the Goodwin family came to Classic Kitchen & Bath designer Cathy Pitts with a request — take their cabin-style farmhouse in Elkton, Va., and turn it into a beautiful weekend vacation and future retirement home. The home and property had been in their family for more than a century, and the small kitchen was their main concern. It lacked any shred of functionality or storage, and didn’t lend well to entertaining, even for a small group of people. Cathy had her work cut out for her, but in a little more than six months’ time, she and their contractor, Ben Trost of Trost Custom Homes, were able to transform this cramped cabin into a dreamy country getaway.

Drawing Up Dreams

The first step was meeting with the client to evaluate the home, discuss their budget and timeline, and learn about their wants, needs, and style. Cathy ventured out to Elkton where she was greeted by a cozy home with great potential. The couple didn’t currently live at the house, so the timeline was flexible, and they had a $40,000 budget for the kitchen. Cathy went right to work, first envisioning their perfect kitchen, then putting it down on paper.

According to Cathy, clients are a big part of the design process — it’s a lot of back and forth to make sure they get exactly what they’re looking for. “At the end of the day, it’s really about designing a kitchen and finding products that will make them happy for years to come, and all the work is worth it when you see how they react the first time they walk in,” Cathy said.

Time for a Team Effort

After finalizing their designs, the next step was freeing up some space. The client’s contractor, Ben Trost, demolished the wall separating the kitchen and living room, which made way for more design possibilities. CK&B works with Trost regularly, although only by chance on this project. “These clients lived out of town, so they were probably using the internet to find us. They found Trost first, then contacted me for interior design,” Cathy said. “We got lucky because [CK&B] already had a long-standing relationship with Trost. It’s nice doing repeat work with contractors because you learn each other’s styles, and ours mesh well together.”

The demo brought the Goodwin’s dreams a little closer to reality. A wealth of windows flooded the room with natural light, which complemented Cathy’s design perfectly. Everything in the kitchen was a product of team work between the client, contractor and designer. — Medallion inset cabinets, Viatera quartz countertops, white painted barn board backsplash and ceiling, an apron front porcelain white farm sink, an integral sink drain, a hood casing, and more. “The client decided to do white-on-white everything to make their kitchen feel more open,” Cathy said. “This allowed the accent colors to happen in the dishware and décor, it really gave this kitchen a clean and classic look.”

It’s the Little Things

Every kitchen remodel is different and beautiful in its own way, but this Elkton farm house really stands out to Cathy for its simple yet sophisticated details. “Seeing the transformation is my favorite part of every project, but I like how this one is a little higher end,” Cathy said. “There are some intricate details that stand out when you get up close, like the glass wall cabinets up top, and how the exposed ends on the cabinets have bead board that matches the slat farm walls that you see throughout the kitchen. They’re subtle, but the little things tie everything together and make this kitchen feel like home!”

A Project with Personal Touch

Every project with Classic Kitchen & Bath is a tightknit collaboration between our designers and the client, but it’s not often that a client is as deeply involved as owner Mr. Reinecke was with the Basye Farm House project, a 2014 kitchen and bath remodel with CK&B designer Cathy Pitts.

When Clients Become Contractors

A DIY-er at heart, Mr. Reinecke chose to serve as his own subcontractor, a feat that might intimidate most people. “He was confident in his construction skills and ability to manage people, and he knew how he wanted everything to look, but needed a designer to help create his vision,” Cathy said. “That’s where I came in. The client always has a huge amount of input on what I do as the designer, but I try to guide them and find what they’re really asking for. I like to think of it as education and a little bit of therapy.”

Mr. Reinecke had already remodeled most of the 100-year old farm house on Basye Mountain at this point, but knew the kitchen and bath would need professional attention. “Since he had already been working on the rest of the house, the initial demo was basically finished, which gave us a clean slate to work with,” Cathy said. “The only minor structural changes left were releveling the kitchen floor and refurbishing a fixed beam that spanned the length of the kitchen ceiling. After sanding [the beam] and adding a fresh coat of paint, it became one of my favorite elements in the kitchen.”

Design in Good Time

The kitchen still needed a lot more work — Mr. Reinecke wanted new cabinets, new shelves, an island, an entertainment space, new fixtures, new appliances — the whole nine yards. And for the bathroom, he wanted to redo the vanity, countertop, shower, and flooring. Mr. Reinecke and Cathy met monthly over the next year and a half to figure out exactly how to make the spaces work for him.

Cathy travelled often for work, which drew the project out longer than most, but also created the opportunity for ideas to simmer. “There’s usually a lot of pressure to find the right pieces under a tight deadline, but there are so many details that you discover you need during the process that get lost when you rush,” Cathy said. “Since we worked on this project for a year and a half, we would spend a month designing intently, then step a way for a month because he travelled, and we had all of that time to digest our ideas. He ended up with a really nice finished product because we had time to find the perfect pieces.”

Getting Down to Business

Once the designs were finalized and the furnishings arrived, Cathy recommended contractors to do labor, and Mr. Reinecke hired them to start building his dream kitchen and bathroom. He chose Jon Martin of Crider Martin as his contractor, Travis Fletcher for tile work, and sourced his own flooring installer. He also sourced his own appliances, including a French door bottom freezer/refrigerator and a double oven range with top convection, which enabled him to eliminate having a microwave.

The kitchen soon became unrecognizable in the best way possible. “His main focus was adding storage and space for guests while still keeping it simple, and with the products we chose together, we succeeded. We went with Omega Dynasty cabinets in magnolia (off white), open countertop cabinets and floating corner shelves, Caledonia granite countertops, a stainless-steel farm sink, and a beautiful mosaic backsplash above the range with a hood,” Cathy said. “He and his family entertain a lot, so he also added a bar to the side of the kitchen with a small built-in wine fridge, and an island in a gray stain called smoky hills with a lot of extra seating.”

The two-toned contrast of the cabinet and island colors is a popular way to add more dimension to a space, but the unusual elements are really what took this kitchen to the next level. The island, which would also serve as a prep station, included a built-in butcher block conveniently located over a trash can, and the first-ever compost bin Cathy had been asked to design. “Composting wasn’t as popular back [in 2014], so it was something new and different for me. It’s exciting when clients come to me with something I’ve never done before, and then it works out and I’m able to add it to the products I can confidently recommend to other clients,” Cathy said.

It’s All in the Family

The bathroom and kitchen were remodeled simultaneously, and in true Reinecke-style, it was no ordinary bathroom from a design perspective. “I drew the designs for the bathroom, and Mr. Reinecke actually bought the design for the vanity so his brother could custom-make and install the cabinets. It was a nice way to add a familial touch to their house,” Cathy said. “We installed the vanity countertop and chose a color for the cabinets with swatches to match the new stone flooring and shower tiles.”

Cathy and her team also replaced the phone-booth sized shower with a slightly larger one that included mosaic floor tiles, wall tiles with a large accent strip, a rain shower head, and metal trim. She also recommended a floating two-shelf system over the toilet, which didn’t make it into the final designs. “With every design, you have three options: good, better, and best. Good doesn’t usually cut it, and the best is the most ideal option, but most people can’t do it budget wise. They usually end up choosing the middle ground,” Cathy said. “Once people start budgeting, they cut unnecessary luxury items first. We all need a stove and a refrigerator, but maybe they choose smaller name brands. Most are willing to spend more on a shower, though, because the tile labor needs to be done well since that area constantly receives water. Nobody wants a leak or an uneven floor!”

A Prideful Finished Product

All in all, the $50,000 kitchen and 15,000 bathroom remodel brought Mr. Reinecke’s vision and Cathy’s designs to life. “I think serving as his own subcontractor gave Mr. Reinecke a sense of pride and accomplishment that I hope he feels every time he walks into his new kitchen or bathroom,” Cathy said. “Getting to know my clients and forming strong working relationships with them is one of my favorite parts of every project, but I think getting to work alongside the person who will be living in this home made it even more sentimental. It’s definitely one of my favorite projects, and I hope he and his family enjoy everything we worked on together for years to come!”

From Ugly to Elegant

Walking into an old bathroom can feel like stepping into a time machine — picture being surrounded by archaic plumbing, a miniature vanity, pink tile wall to wall, and a tiny pink toilet that is better suited for Barbie. These outdated bathrooms may seem like a lost cause to many, but CK&B interior designers see them as an opportunity to work their magic and change someone’s life. In 2012 they went on a mission to do just that — find the ugliest bathroom in the Shenandoah Valley and bring it into the 21st century.

Since CK&B couldn’t barge into people’s homes searching for the perfect fixer-upper, owner Jill McGlaughlin started an “Ugly Bathroom Contest” on Facebook and advertised it at the Shenandoah Valley Home & Garden Show. “We received an overwhelming amount of truly ugly submissions,” Jill said. “It worked out great — who wouldn’t want to win a free bathroom remodel?”

Contest Rules

The winner received a basic bathroom package with a $ 10,000 allowance and the assistance of CK&B designer Gabby Koontz, who partnered with a few local vendors who donated goods and services or provided them at a discounted price. The owners got to choose the elements they wanted within their allowance, but they would have to pay separately for anything outside the budget. “It was a great opportunity for both CK&B and our vendors to reach new clients while promoting a major transformation and showcasing the extent of our interior design abilities,” Gabby said. “And a very deserving woman got a new bathroom retreat in the process!”

And the Winner is…

CK&B clients and fans voted on Facebook for the ugliest bathroom, and ended up choosing a pink bathroom with a single vanity, a tiny window for natural light, an inconvenient bath tub, and no shower. “This bathroom was outdated — think 1980s retro — and it desperately needed help,” Gabby said. “It couldn’t have gone to a better person or family, either. We could tell that this family’s mother did so much to help the people around her, and we were happy we could help her create a place to relax.”

A Retreat for Mom

First, Gabby and the team needed to open the room up. They were able to extend the bathroom into some extra closet space, transforming the cramped quarters into an airy escape. “With more space, we were able to add everything the mom needed to enjoy her new peaceful retreat,” Gabby said. “We swapped out the single lowered vanity for his and hers raised vanities with granite countertops, added a low threshold shower with beautiful tile, and updated the bath tub with mosaic tile to match. We also added open shelves at the base of the tub to display her family heirlooms, another touch to make this feel like her own personal space.”

What really made this bathroom special was the view, and the small window was letting it go to waste. “She wanted to be able to see the gorgeous weeping willows outside, so we added a big garden window with an arch and moved the tub so it would be parallel,” Gabby said. “Now, she can soak in the tub and enjoy her beautiful view of the valley after a long day taking care of her family.”

Beautiful on a Budget

CK&B’s first “Ugly Bathroom Contest” was a success — the team turned a mauve nightmare into a French country getaway and gave a great woman the bathroom of her dreams! She made the most of her space by sticking with the must-have’s and accenting them with warm tones and a few indulgent details that made for a very personal bath retreat. It goes to show that with the right inspiration any room can turn into a little piece of paradise.

A Lexington Love Story

Imagine this feeling — you’re taking a walk around a nearby neighborhood on your lunch break from work, enjoying the sunshine, and you happen to look down and spot a four-leaf clover. Your whole day gets better, and as you walk by the next day hoping to find another one, you do! And you continue to every day thereafter. Lucky, right?

That’s how our client Debbie felt when she found her dream home in 2015. She happened upon it during a lunch break stroll around downtown Lexington — a 1929 red brick Cape Cod home that was vacant on a corner lot. She fell more and more in love as she passed it every day until she eventually decided to contact the owners.

The family was on the fence to sell the home at all, but according to the CK&B designer on this project, Gabby Koontz, Debbie met with them multiple times, and her love for the house finally convinced them that it would be in good hands. “The son, who was the main contact regarding the house, was sentimental about selling it because it was a reminder of their family’s memories,” Gabby said. “But once Debbie proved she would keep the integrity and essence of the house intact while slightly modifying it to fit her needs, she won him over.”

A Retro Reno

“The kitchen space was broken up by windows and doors, but she really did want to honor the house’s history and avoid making too many external structural changes,” Gabby said. “We worked within the space she had, which had a split-level ceiling and original deteriorating metal cabinets so we focused on updating the cabinetry and using the rest of the space wisely with a clean updated look.”

Debbie was ready to get started in January 2016 and had a move in date by June 2016. She hired her own contractor, and he cleaned up the house and brought it back to life so it would be ready for the CK&B team when the materials arrived. Since he took care of the demolition and preperations stage, Gabby’s first task was rearranging the appliances to improve the room’s flow and make way for a more cohesive cabinet design. “Debbie ended up replacing the 1930s appliances with a GE retro-style refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, and range,” Gabby said. “The retro-style appliances still matched the feel of the rest of the house, which I thought was a nice touch. The oven even had an analog clock instead of digital, which really made it feel old school in the best way because you don’t see that anymore.”

Gabby’s design included new cabinets, countertops, light fixtures, a desk, and a new large sink. “We used white Shaker-style cabinets in two different heights to accommodate the split-level ceiling and proportionate height change and custom bullnose edge laminate countertops made to look like soapstone, which gave the kitchen a higher-end feel for a middle-of-the-road price,” Gabby said. “Everything else fit together seamlessly — we included a desk area under the existing low window, open shelf bookcases to display her white stoneware pottery, pendant lights to match the existing fixtures, and a Blanco composite sink with a matte white finish, which is heat- and scratch-resistant. Her contractor also installed luxury vinyl tile meant to look like slate, which was beautiful while keeping her price point down.”

Delightful Details

With all of the larger items in place, it was time to add the finishing touches. “It’s the little details that tied everything together and made this kitchen feel like home,” Gabby said. “We incorporated under-cabinet lighting, a white backsplash with a black pinstripe accent to play off the dark countertop, and her contractor constructed a hinged chalkboard over the electric panel so she could use it to write her shopping list.”

Happily Ever After

Debbie stayed true to herself and made the home more comfortable while honoring her promise to the previous owners — she even saved the original brass and glass hardware and brought them back to life to re-use, a testament to how much she cared about the house and its history. “Not including her contractor’s work or the cost of her appliances, she was able to transform her kitchen for close to $20,000,” Gabby said. “I’ll always remember this project for how it started because her dream literally came to reality. A lot of times, people will find a house they want and it doesn’t work out, but she found what she wanted, went after it, and she got it. It’s like luck was on her side!”

An Asymmetrical Oasis

Wouldn’t it be nice to come home from a long day at work and wash away the stress in a hot shower or soothing bubble bath? The Ladd family wanted just that, and with the help of CK&B designer Gabby Koontz and their contractor, Chris Wenger of C&E Carpentry, they turned their dull master bath into a personal paradise.

The Ladds had two main requests: a larger shower and nicer bath. Their shower at the time was no bigger than a phone booth — a 3′ x 3′ acrylic one-piece with barely enough room for a couple of shampoo bottles, let alone a person. And their garden tub, while fairly large, was uncomfortable and outdated. They didn’t want or need a room-sized shower or an extravagant jetted bathtub that took up too much floor space — just a simple, stylish place to relax.

In with the Old, In with the New

Their bathroom was not overflowing with extra room, so Gabby needed to make the most of it and use every inch wisely, which meant doing things a little differently. First, they wanted a new and improved double vanity. “Their old his and her’s vanity was a good size, but there was definitely room for storage improvement,” Gabby said. “A matching cabinet panel created a stylish built-in tub access panel!” “We updated the cabinets with Dynasty Cherry cabinets with a dark stain for a his and hers updated vanity that included middle wall cabinet for charging electronics, a light quartz countertop that’s easy to maintain, new sinks and faucets, more shelf and drawer space, and a special spot for their Black Labrador best friend, to get a drink.

Making Moves

A larger shower was the next item on the Ladds’ wish list, but to make their wish come true, Chris and the CK&B team had to move one wall toward the large tub. “The soaking tub was re-sized to allow a new 5’ shower and glass panels to allow the daylight through the space creating a more comfortable and expansive shower and tub area,” Gabby said. “To make more floor space they opted for a concealed toilet space without a door.” They did not have to replace every element in the bathroom — the existing window and skylight created a perfect spot for a soaking tub with beautiful views.

“We used textured glass so they could still get the light and see the beautiful colors in the porcelain tiles while adding a little more privacy due to this new open feel to the shower,” Gabby said. “She and her husband liked the elegant feel of the dark cabinets against the crisp light countertop, and the warm-gray tiled shower walls and tiled flooring tied the contrasting colors together. We incorporated elements, like a shampoo niche and seat in the new moved half wall, a grab bar shelf rated for grab bar use, and a spa-style shower fixture and rain shower head. Since this bathroom was on the second floor, we chose a custom shower pan instead of tile because one-piece pans are better at preventing leaks.”

Flexibility Pays Off

After remodeling the vanity, bathtub, shower, and flooring, the Ladd family’s grand total came to around $23,000, not including the contractor’s fees. “I appreciated their openness to asymmetry in this design to best use the window space at the tub and create a larger attached shower, and it turned out unique and beautiful,” Gabby said. “It allowed us to elongate the room with only one minor structural change, making their wish list come true. They were willing to try something new, and they got a beautiful, elegant bathroom for a great price!”

A Chance to Cook with Colors

It’s not often that we get to stray from most people’s go-to kitchen color palettes — white on white, grey, beige and browns — but one family in Swoope, VA., near Staunton, was open to a more creative approach. Classic Kitchen & Bath designer Leslie Efraimson jumped at the chance to stretch her artistic talents, and with help from the family’s contractor, Todd Fowler, restored the 1870s space into a colorful culinary masterpiece.

A Chip Off the Old Brick

The home, an all-brick farmhouse, was an honor to renovate. The brick fireplace still intact in the kitchen was an opportunity to repurpose the original charm and make it a functional area. “This isn’t a large kitchen, and we needed to maximize the space, so we removed some of the brick and cut an arch into the fireplace to create a nook for a commercial-style cooktop. It sat on a base of drawers for handy storage, and we surface-mounted a wood mantle to the original brick above it,” Leslie said. “It would’ve been a travesty to lose the brick entirely, so making it a cooking station was a great way to use it while being reminiscent of the past.”

The fireplace wasn’t the only feature that presented a design challenge for Leslie. “A lot of times these old homes have design obstacles, like too many windows or doorways, that make me stop and think, how can I create a functional space while preserving these elements?” Leslie said. “So, I measure and evaluate the needs of the space, figure out what is constant and what is flexible, then add or remove what I can. In this case, we ended up covering one doorway, and the homeowner was okay with losing it to gain storage along that wall.”

Refined and Redefined

Once Leslie and the team finished removing, it was time to start adding, with the ultimate goal of creating a new kitchen with original elements and refined amenities. First, though, Leslie needed to make sure every piece fit together like a puzzle. “There’s a method to how everything should be organized — elements that are cohesive give people a sense of relationship when they walk into a room, and it’s pleasing but they don’t know why,” Leslie said. “Once the placement makes sense, there’s some decision-making for what style is correct. We take the style of basic elements that are in the house already, like interior doors, and repeat it in the new elements.”

Considering they were working with a nearly 10-foot ceiling, the cabinets would need to be larger than most and were custom-built. The other kitchen staples — countertops for the main counter and 9-foot island, two sinks and faucets, paint, flooring, lighting, and appliances — would need to be expertly planned to match. The homeowners’ imaginative color palette created design opportunities Leslie had rarely encountered in her 17 years with CK&B, and was energized by their openness when it came to recommending pieces for their kitchen.

“They went with custom yellow painted opaque cabinets with transom doors and heavy restoration glass, exotic green granite countertops with amazing striations, a copper farm sink with a beautiful patina that also had a striking vein of green, and a very bold selection for paint — another green,” Leslie said. “Yellow can be a difficult but happy color in the kitchen, and with all the green it may sound overwhelming, but it looked like a work of art.”

Heavy Hurdles and Age-old Solutions

The cabinets may have been beautiful, but their weight was problematic. Installing on brick is already feat, but hanging heavy cabinets on old, 16-inch-thick brick is another story. “These cabinets needed to be anchored well, so we used Tapcons to secure them into the wall, then ganged them together and screwed them to the adjacent stud walls to support their weight,” Leslie said. “The weight of the cabinets and what goes in them basically became part of the structure because we secured them to the skeleton of the home.”

Removing the old cabinets and adding new ones made it easy to restore another part of the home’s skeleton — the flooring. The team refinished the original pine floors and used flooring that would be covered by the new cabinets to feather in spots that needed to be patched.

The lighting, another element that would need to remain fluid, needed thought. “Years ago, lights were on pulleys, which made them convenient to either illuminate the room or get them out of your space,” Leslie said. “The clients searched for replicas to match the kitchen faucet with a copper and oil-rubbed bronze finish.”

Paneled Puzzle Pieces

The last items to tie the room together were the Thermador appliances, which Leslie blended to the rest of the kitchen. “The only things that looked state-of-the-art and out of place were the appliances, but we tackled that by adding panels to the refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, and warming drawer to make them look like the cabinets. “We ordered oil rubbed bronze appliance hardware that could handle opening the girth of the doors, and the range and double oven, which we did not panel, of course, had a splash of stainless steel which gave them a commercial appeal.”

When Life Imitates Art

From first appointment to finished project, this kitchen took a little over a year and totaled roughly $160,000 in costs. “My favorite part of every project is showing homeowners their design compared to the finished product. I want them to think: this was a piece of paper and a vision, and now it is my house, a space where we nurture our family and friends,” Leslie said. “This project in particular was one of my favorites because my inner artist got to shine more on this job. It takes a bold person to embrace vibrant colors, and we pulled it off with grace. In the process we utilized every opportunity to show aesthetically that form follows function.