French Kitchen Design | Update Kitchen & Bath


For those of you who’ve been reading laurel home for a while, you are quite familiar with THE kitchen.

You know the one. I say, THE, because I think for most interior designers, the chance to design a space as inherently grand as this one is– is not all that common. And yet… for all of its natural beauty, the previous incarnation lacked the appropriate aesthetic for this Italian renaissance, neo-classical beauty built in 1910, in Bronxville, NY.

At the very first meeting with the homeowner, even before she hired me… I sat in her dark, French Country kitchen that she detested and said…

“I see… classic white cabinets, white marble and beautiful crystal chandeliers—“

An Elegant French Kitchen Design.

My soon to be client, suddenly burst out with an emphatic YES! It took nearly a year to begin work on the kitchen and yes… it should’ve been done months ago and the reasons that it’s not are not that important. No one is complaining. In fact, it’s almost like we are reveling in discovering each new element and appreciating it for the beauty that it brings. The clients have a second kitchen in their basement, so it’s not a tremendous hardship. However, we are definitely in the home stretch now.

Today, the new chandeliers and custom sconces were installed. What is really kinda funny, is that the smaller chandeliers which go over the island arrived at the house just two hours before they went up!


Here is one of the five antique gold and crystal sconces.

The fixtures in the kitchen intentionally do not match. While most elements are nickel of some sort, there is also some gold. There is also gold in our chair fabric and the wallpaper is a warm yellow-green and pale, pale gray. The sconces, manufactured by Canopy Designs and adapted from one of their other designs. The original sconce was pretty much like this only, it had a lot of beads dangling and it did not have the bottom piece.  I had them take off all of the beads and then created a design which duplicated the floral/leaf motif on top, on the bottom. These fixtures JUST went up minutes before this was took, so the candle bulbs are not in.

I ordered special candle bulbs that you will not be able to find easily

from one of my favorite resources– Authentic Designs in Vermont. They sell a candle bulb in a far smaller size than you commonly see with a very small flame tip.


Here you can see what I’m talking about. One, of Authentic Designs hundreds of fabulous hand-crafted and absolutely authentic from the 17th, 18th and 19th century lighting fixtures. Their brass fixtures are available in several different finishes including  unlacquered brass, which I have been using my entire career. It’s really making a comeback now in terms of faucets and that sort of thing. They also have fixtures in wood and other materials and they do custom work, so lots and lots of options with finishes and sizing, etc. and they are also super nice!


Now that I’ve done my endorsement for Authentic designs, I’m showing one of our new small chandeliers that’s going over the island. This is from the wonderful vendor, Chehoma that I recently visited at Americasmart. My client loves, loves, loves crystal. I like it too. As a designer, I am very open to taking the lead from my client. There are so many ways to go, but this is one who really knows what she loves and what she doesn’t. My job is to take that love and make it work into something cohesive and appropriate. However, I am totally in love with the unusual and unique accents in this kitchen. BTW, the pilasters were added to match each other on opposing walls. The beam needed to stay as it’s holding up the house ;] So, I decided to play it up by adding the pilasters to make it look as if we decided to add it to separate the eating area from the rest of the kitchen. Stuart Newsome, our fabulous contractor, did a superb job of interpreting the design. 13 months later, I can honestly say that he’s been a total pleasure to work with. How many can say that about their contractor after this length of time?  He is one of the best.

The Master Bathroom is coming along nicely too.


[please forgive the wonky radiator. The covers are coming soon and they are absolutely breathtaking!] The panel moulding is also a new edition.

Months ago, I was looking for the perfect paper for the master bathroom. If you don’t already realize this… My client LOVES wallpaper and we have used it in the majority of rooms. As you may also know if you have read laurel home for a while… I ADORE grisaille wallpaper, however, the gorgeous stuff at Zuber, DeGournay and the like is astronomically expensive. You would think that there would be some alternative out there? Nope. Not until just a few weeks ago. I found this phenomenal grisaille paper early last spring and it is by Cole and Son, who coincidentally also did the pretty wallpaper in the kitchen. So, I called Lee Jofa who reps them in NYC  for a sample.

They didn’t have any idea what I was talking about. That’s how new the paper is. Then, I went into the showroom. Same thing. And I think I mentioned this earlier, but the guy in the sample department who’s been working there forever, knew EXACTLY what I was talking about.

“oh, yes, I know what you are talking about, Ms. Bern. That paper is brand new. They have it in England, but we don’t have it yet, but it should be here soon, because they are going to be featuring it in our front window. Why don’t you call us back in about a month.”

In the meantime, I needed a sample, so I called England and they sent two of them right over! My client LOVED it! And in short order, Lee Jofa had the wallpaper; it was ordered and it just went up a few days ago. They call it Versailles.  :] And it is the most quintessentially, charming grisaille French toile ever!

Now, here’s what’s really interesting.[I think]

Stacey Bewkes of the fabulous lifestyle blog, Quintessence, who I was so fortunate to meet last month at the day of design in Washington, CT, JUST did a post about THAT paper because of the aforementioned new window in Lee Jofa, featuring our wallpaper! Lee Jofa is one of my favorite fabric and wall covering vendors and has THE most elegantly gorgeous showroom in the entire D&D building in NYC, IMO. Here are some other photos I took a few months ago that have a few shots of the Lee Jofa Showroom.

This is a photo from Stacey’s post, [you can see more by clicking on the link above] You can see the new wallpaper as used in the front window at Lee Jofa. Yes! I  know… But yes, it’s the same paper, just in a different colorway. But it looks so different, doesn’t it? The fabulous vignette is designed by Lindsay Coral Harper.  She also has a wonderful blog with gorgeous photos of her fabulous work!


Lot’s more coming soon and I am going to feature another amazing interior design icon, shortly.

Stay cool!



  • Maureen Graham - February 16, 2017 - 7:26 AM

    Can you tell me where Nancy Keyes found her great iron chandelier ?

    It’s fabulous….

    Thanks Laurel. I’M redoing condo with your online help!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 16, 2017 - 9:31 AM

      Hi Maureen,

      Yes, I can. She and her husband made it! And glad the blog is helpful to you!ReplyCancel

  • Wincha - October 27, 2015 - 7:37 AM

    I have been reading and re-reading your blog on kitchens and baths. I saw in one of your comments that you used White Dove on the cabinetry in that beautiful French Country bath for client S….is that also the paint color on these gorgeous kitchen cabinets? How do you keep white cabinets from looking flat and beautiful like these?? I’ve noticed there is not a trend to stain the edges or crevices for white cabinets, which I thought would help provide them depth.ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - July 24, 2014 - 8:19 PM

    wow! Carol. wow! Thank you so much for making my day; no wait, week, at least! I’m very impressed by the “read every word” part. :]ReplyCancel

  • Carol DeGraeve - July 24, 2014 - 7:44 PM

    Laurel, you are so delightful to read! Thank you! And…..your work is amazing! I get so excited when I see your post in my inbox, can’t wait to read every word.ReplyCancel

  • Stacey Bewkes - July 24, 2014 - 5:41 PM

    Thank you Laurel for sharing my photo and for the kind mention. The kitchen looks great and I of course adore the wallpaper in the master bath!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 24, 2014 - 5:45 PM

      haha! what took you so long? just joking. The first time it happened, I thought, huh– how on earth did they know I had just posted something of theirs? and then I realized that they were a fellow “wordie” and had gotten pinged! Thank you so much Stacey!ReplyCancel