A Gorgeous Kitchen Remodel Done Right!

Below is a real Dear Laurel letter from a kind reader regarding her recent kitchen remodel.


Dear Laurel, 

I want to thank you for your blog over the years and the heaps of help it was during my kitchen remodel last year. 

Please know that your efforts do not go unappreciated. If you’re interested, I’d love to send some before and after photos which I think you’ll enjoy.

I want you to see what your blog and talent have helped create. Unwittingly, you were involved in every decision made in the kitchen remodel. 

I do understand how busy things are, though, so no worries if you don’t have time to look. Just know that you deserve some accolades!

Best Regards,





Oh wow, Rachel, you are too kind. Thank you so much!  But, I’ve said this so many times, and it’s this:


I’ve learned a TON in the last ten years writing the blog. In fact, I daresay I’ve learned more than in the previous 24 years going back to interior design school.

The point being is that I’m still learning. 

I just have to add this in because I’m sure some of you are wondering what the hell is going on with my renovation. It is still in the works; however, as with many things in life, it’s two steps forward and a step backward. But, I have some exciting news.


I’ve enlisted the help of a friend and super-talented kitchen designer who’s helping me with my kitchen remodel. 

Yes, long-distance. This is the bulk of her business right now. More about that later.


The impetus for having her help me is two-fold.


  • One, you don’t know what you don’t know, and I’d rather not make a whopping mistake that could’ve been prevented.
  • I’ve had two estimates for cabinetry, and I can’t even talk about the INSANE numbers that came back. I mean insane even for where I’m located.

There has to be a better way for me, and after talking to my darling friend, she is confident that there is. She has just completed her drawing of the floorplan of my design with her fantastic software. Only, first, she made me remeasure everything down to the closest 1/4”. That is a considerable challenge for me, right there.


Well, who is this brilliant kitchen designer, and don’t you have a laser tape measure, Laurel?


I’m sorry, I can’t say her name just yet because she is full-up with other kitchen remodel projects. However, I promise that before long, you will know everything and also see what she’s doing and hear firsthand what it’s like working with her long-distance. So far, it’s a dream come true for me!


And no, I don’t own a laser tape measure. And, please, no scolding. Thank you. ;]



Of course, I told Rachel to please send me the before and after images of her new kitchen remodel.


I’m always up for looking at a great kitchen renovation. But, before I go on. Many of you have sent me your stunning designs, and I could’ve easily published them as well, but I didn’t. It was most likely a matter of timing, is all.

Rachel quickly sent me several images. I often get a little nervous at first because sometimes it’s not clear what are the before pics and what are the after. But as soon as I saw the after shots, there was no question.


The first three images are from before the kitchen remodel via the real estate listing.



Rachel said:


Some quick background; after living with the kitchen for a while, I couldn’t take it any longer. And so, one weekend, I began tearing down that horrid three-sided island one weekend.


Laurel said:

You go, girl. Tear that beast apart!

Even though I can’t see the entire space, this just feels wrong to me.



Okay, now it’s REALLY wrong!


I mean, who in freaks name puts their fridge FACING the living area. That would be fine if it was integrated with a panel on the front, but it is a big stainless steel focal point here. I’m also bugged by the cabinets not going all the way up, and I’m not crazy about the crown.


Back to Rachel:


Naturally, there was no firm design yet. It took me a year to come up with the final design. Subsequently, there was a year spent living with a sink in the laundry room. haha

Although I’m not a trained designer, I learned from your examples how to do a quarter-inch scale drawing and then meticulously sketched out different layouts. In addition, I researched products and started the kitchen remodel a year later, in January 2021.


The bulk of the work for the kitchen remodel took six months to be functional. And, ten months to be complete.


I went with form and function first, then did my best to make it beautiful and cost-conscious. The cabinet design is entirely my own, with some online help from the manufacturer regarding fillers, trim and build.

Thank you for making the “unkitchen” stylish and popular; I’ve always hated upper cabinets. Thank you again for all of your help. Enjoy!


Rachel went on to say:


Nancy Keyes fabulous timeless kitchen with white chandelier they created themselves


Actually, your post on Nancy Keyes’ kitchen was a springboard for this project.

I sourced almost everything online and am happy to share that info. There’s a reason for every decision made along the way based on my scales of beauty, functionality, and cost.


kitchen remodel on a budget


I did whatever I could myself (wallpaper, slipcovers, paint, drapes). Then, I sourced tradespeople for skilled jobs (some were great, others not so much).


beautiful kitchen island - rattan stools


I have no lasting regrets and am thrilled with it all!  It functions almost perfectly.


kitchen remodel Fhiaba refrigerator- floor to ceiling cabinetry


Kitchen remodel - eating area - custom slipcover


My favorite bits are the banquette breakfast table, the built-in china cabinet, the drop-zone, two rubbish drawers, cabinets to the ceiling, the ice-maker, the lighting, and yes, my one big splurge, the Ilve range.


After Kitchen remodel - Ilve range black - brass


As far as decor goes, it’s never done. I’m still looking for the perfect drapery fabric to go along the entire back wall.


Rachel kitchen shelves


I’d love some art next to the range like Nancy has done and am constantly on the hunt for dishes, books, linens, and such to beautify (not clutter) the shelves.


China cabinet - microwave drawer


I feel like I understood function, but you helped me understand beauty and how to achieve it! And your blog introduced me to many designers, artisans, and enthusiasts who also have beauty and ideas to share.  I can’t thank you enough.


Rachel Kitchen Remodel range, island

To friends and neighbors who love the kitchen, I refer them to you.  You’ve spent more hours with clients like me than you’ll ever know.

Warm Regards,


faucet kitchen remodel


Wow again! But, what I love about Rachel’s kitchen remodel is how she made it her own.


Below is a widget with all of the items I could find that can go in the widget. (The two floral pillows are not what Rachel did but two substitutes I found on Etsy.) Then, there is Rachel’s complete shopping list interspersed with more images.



Cabinets and Hood – Cliqstudios Austin cabinet in Cloud White

Wallpaper – Rifle Paper Co. Laurel in green and white

Backsplash Tile – 2″x8″ white porcelain subway tiles


mulholland-tile-pattern-tile-collection stone impressions


Accent Tile – Artisan Stone Tile by Stone Impressions, style Mulholland in Cypress on marble

Counter – Marble style/color New Super White from a local stone dealer

Pendants – Hudson Valley Lighting Painted No.2 16″ wide in white/brass

Sconces – Hudson Valley Lighting Garden City wall sconce 8322 in aged brass

Chandelier – Found at an antique store and rewired for ceiling use and covered shade myself


Rachel pillows banquette


Bench – Ballard Designs 60″ Bristol in white canvas then made the green slipcover myself

Faucet – California Faucets Davoli Series in polished nickel with crystal handle (I love it)

Range – Ilve 40″ Nostalgie Series dual fuel in gloss black and brass

Microwave – Bosch

Dishwasher – Bosch



Fhiaba brilliance series interior


Fridge – Fhiaba brilliance series (planned for panel ready but found this flood model at half the price, so…)


Rachel kitchen remodel pantry


We also have a nugget ice-maker (where the space is in the photo) and an under-counter drink fridge in the butler’s pantry.

Hardware – Amerock traditional classics geometric glass knob in polished nickel and Amerock Granby cabinet pull in polished nickel (I reused these from my previous kitchen)

Floors – 4.5″ Red Oak finished in Bona Special Walnut stain.


Juniper Forest in Evergreen - Rifle Paper Company


Mudroom Wallpaper – Rifle Paper Co Juniper Forest in Evergreen

The table and chairs are from antique stores, counter stools are from Ballard (discontinued), and drapes I made.  The paint on the woodwork and doors (that isn’t cabinetry) is Cotton Balls. (thank you 🙂


The online stores I used:


Hudson Valley Lighting
Rifle Paper Company
Ballard Designs
Cliq Studios


The counters, tile, faucet, fridge, and furniture were from local dealers.


By the way, I love seeing your Boston posts as I lived there twice and worked at Boston Children’s Hospital as a nurse years ago.


I’m so happy that you live in such a beautiful, historic place! I live in North Carolina now, and you’re welcome anytime. You would love the Biltmore.




Thank you so much, Rachel! I think she did an awesome job on this kitchen remodel. It is full of charm, and classic details. In addition, I’m incredibly impressed by all of the work she did on her own. The box-pleated slipcover on the banquette is sublime!


In addition, Rachel:


  • Took her time with the design
  • Got professional help when it was needed
  • Saved money, by purchasing some things on sale
  • Did as much of the work herself, as she could.


Another thing I find immensely interesting is that Rachel was influenced by Nancy Keye’s gray kitchen. However, I’m thinking of the kitchen that Nancy designed, and I shared on the blog last summer.


Below is one image from the post of Nancy’s kitchen remodel.


Kitchen makeover - two eating areas

See what I mean? Rachel’s kitchen reminds me of this lovely. But, here’s the thing. Rachel did not see this kitchen until hers was nearly finished, as this post came out about one month AFTER Rachel’s kitchen was functional. And, she had completed the kitchen design more than seven months earlier!


Now, I know you guys love to make comments.


Most of you are incredible and very kind. However, there are too often a couple of folks who start critiquing/finding fault, etc. Please don’t do that.

Rachel is incredibly kind and generous to give us all of this excellent information from her recent kitchen remodel and a glimpse into her lovely, new space.


Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES! Also, please remember that the Serena & Lily sitewide sale is over at the end of the month.


58 Responses

  1. Laurel, You should feel a tremendous amount of pride in your disciples flying on their own to create beautiful spaces! Without your years of teaching, lots of us would not have the courage or the knowledge to venture out on our own. Thank you. You perform a very valuable public service.

  2. RACHEL – how is the Ilve working out – I’ve read a lot about them. So special. Has yours been problem free? Is there repair support in your area?

  3. Laurel, you impressed the pants off me with your decision to pull in a second pair of eyes on your kitchen project. Super smart move! It’s like the therapist who knows the value of seeing a therapist.
    Rachel, I’m gobsmacked.

  4. A few have asked about the support column seen in the “before” photos. (good eye to catch that) I didn’t want to spend the money on changing structural support, so it remains. I had it built out to an 8″ square actual column with moldings. It serves as an architectural corner to my family room and gives a visual line to the “hallway” on each side. Because the old kitchen was attached to that pole it always crowded the family room – terrible! Now the family room feels much bigger and traffic flows much better.

  5. Thank you for posting such a beautiful kitchen. That range is now on my wish list; gorgeous! Cotton Balls is the color I have selected for our new cabinet paint color. After seeing it; only confirms that we made the right choice!
    Beautiful kitchen!!

  6. I adore this kitchen. I love everything about it. It is perfection and those are some serious skills in the sewing department. This kitchen is very classic and will not go out of style. Well done!

  7. I love that had a functional, but meh, kitchen and decided to turn into one that would bring you joy every day. Congratulations!!! At the same time, I wonder how painful the process was to get there?

  8. Oh – WOW!!! – I love every element in your kitchen, Rachel. Laurel has guided my design efforts, too, but my results aren’t comparable to your results. WOW!!! Can you design my whole house?!

  9. Hello Vivian, I am also in Houston and so often frustrated with the same, same, sameness of the houses here! I think this kitchen looks amazing and Rachel is an inspiration to us all who love to follow Laurel’s blog! I would never be so brave to post my after photos, but I’ve been using Laurel’s advice to remodel my own home for the last year. So, thank you to Laurel, you really never know how much time we spend with you virtually. 🙂

  10. Stunning transformation! Rachel, you are one talented woman to be able to design such a beautiful space and to do some of the work, too! Laurel, it must be so satisfying to see what your inspiration and guidance can lead to! And let’s not forget Nancy Keyes’ amazing inspiration 🙂 I couldn’t love this kitchen more. What a fabulous post!

  11. O – M – to the Double G ! This is AWESOME 🙂 I’d LUV to have a drink with RACHEL ! Fabulous kitchen design IMHO ! Cheers

  12. Beautiful and such a VERY useful article! I live in the Houston area and Rachel’s original kitchen is in about 90% of the available homes here (ugh), so seeing the potential is really helpful for future house hunting. Thank you, Laurel and Rachel, for sharing such timeless guidance! I would be very curious to know how Rachel handled the (what looks like) a support column under the corner where the upstairs catwalk passes – this is a common element in Houston homes and I had been wondering how “easy” it was to remove….

  13. Thank you so much to everyone for the incredibly thoughtful comments and again, to Laurel, for all of her efforts. Laurel, herself, is the biggest reason I’ve followed her all these years. She is kind, genuine, and always positive. Clearly, those who follow her (and comment) are equally generous and kind. I didn’t read the comments until later that night and found no critiques which seems suspect, so I’m sure another thanks goes to Laurel for hiding those. I do remember the post on Dottie’s kitchen and the similarities; the warm “English” feel of her kitchen is truly my favorite. Likewise, I’ve always adored Nancy’s kitchen with the warm charcoal and wall of windows! And thanks to Laurel for the widget for my kitchen, I may actually change the pendants to the leaf green color 🙂

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thank you for allowing me to publish your fantastic kitchen. Silly me, I didn’t read carefully that the pendants are white, but did see it later after I figured they were green. It would help if I learned to read. haha In most of the photos, they look more green to me. Or at least greener than the cabinets, so I went with green. By the time I did see that indeed they are white, I was running out of steam and forgot to change them.

  14. What a stunning kitchen! I am in love and thankful for your honesty in pointing out projects like this take a loooooong time. I also have to second Rachel’s sentiments: just purchased our first home and I’m soaking up all I can from your blog Laurel! The kitchen mystifies and terrifies me… but Rachel’s slam dunk success is a definite inspiration, thank you for sharing!

  15. Thank you for your comments. The fabric on the chandelier is Waverly Lucchese printed linen in the color Cielo.

  16. Thank you! I’m overwhelmed at the kindness of the comments. In regards to the floor – there was wood under the island but not under the half-wall (about 8″), so the first step (after demo) was having a company patch then refinish the floors.

  17. This is probably the best kitchen I have seen in a long time. The beautiful choice of colors in the white background is stunning. We need more of these and less sterile boring kitchens with no personality. Wonderful job.

  18. Dang, Rachel, you are one talented and hardworking woman! I love that you did everything you knew how to do yourself. Well done! I hope you enjoy that lovely kitchen for a long time.

    Laurel, you seem to have the touch for finding topics and examples your readers relate to. Good on ya.

  19. Wow Laurel can’t believe I missed this earlier today. Dottie emailed me to let me know as I have been in the garden all day. Rachel, you did a beautiful job and I am SO flattered to have been an inspiration to you. I see elements of Dottie’s and my kitchen throughout, but it is totally unique. Love the Ilve! And all of the beautiful silver that all 3 of us love.

  20. Gorgeous! Rachel, I love what you did and appreciate the well-deserved shout-out to Laurel. I, too, spent hours reviewing Laurel’s posts with a project in mind, and like you, feel like it’s because of Laurel that I am happy with the outcome. Thanks, Laurel!

  21. As everyone has said, fabulous post about a fabulous kitchen. But the creme de la creme is the kick pleats on the banquet slipcover. As someone who has done her share of sewing (years ago, not recently), I bow to you, Rachel! Wow!

  22. The space is incredibly polished without sacrificing personality. I’m jealous of her family who gets to hang out around that banquette!

  23. This is absolutely gorgeous – style and taste!!! I love the white with touches of green and blue. Laurel + Nancy are the best for kitchen inspiration, and I’m sure readers will be inspired by this one for years to come.

  24. Magnificent! It is a gorgeous kitchen and I bet you smile every time you enter! It is charming and cozy. I’d love to have a cup of tea with you at the table!

  25. Rachel, your kitchen is jaw dropping! It’s one of the prettiest I’ve seen. Did you make any structural changes due to the column at the island? I’m assuming it was not weight bearing?

  26. Hi Laurel,
    Thanks for sharing this beautiful kitchen. Rachel is obviously very talented. I’m impressed with her design skills & her sewing skills.

  27. This is amazing and speaks to the influence out Laurel has had on all of us who appreciate design and strive to make our homes beautiful. Many thanks for sharing the journey and pictures!

  28. I have had upholstered pieces in similar places for years and have had no problems. If you have small children and/or cats, maybe a problem but not necessarily. This woman made her own drapes and slipcovers… she can do anything she wants.

  29. BEST KITCHEN EVER!!! Makes you feel gorgeous while not giving up on the functions and purposes of a kitchen❤️

  30. This really hits home how a classic white kitchen (including white subway tile) still reigns supreme…

  31. Holly Cow!!!! My jaw literally dropped when I saw the after photos.
    Rachel my hat is off to you for creating such a beautiful kitchen!!
    It is amazing how much it looks like the beautiful kitchen from Nancy!!
    I have to stop writing -I just ran out of exclamation points!:-)

  32. Thank you for sharing your home with us Rachel. The work you did is stunning. Congratulations! There is something so satisfying about having designed a space yourself and even more when you’ve created pieces for it. I love your choices of tile, wallpaper and fabric. They coordinate beautifully without being “matchy.”

  33. Rachel, what a beautiful kitchen! I love your colors, your beautiful mix of fabrics. I also love that you did mostly drawers rather than cabinet doors. So much more accessible! I did this in my kitchen and I’m so glad I did! If you get the kind that pulls all the way out you will no longer have those places in the backs of your cabinets where things get lost in the dark! My cabinet maker actually told me that drawers weren’t as aesthetically pleasing as cabinet doors! So glad I ignored him. Your kitchen is evidence that you took your time and planned carefully. Great job!

  34. Wow Rachel! My kitchen needs a full remodel– I’d love to hire you to help me think it thru!! Great job. I’m sure you’re enjoying the fresh new space.

  35. This is SO PRETTY!!!!! What a beautiful job, Rachel! One question, when you pulled out the original island, what did it do to the floors and how did you handle it? Was the hardwood under the island? Or did you have to patch the floors and refinish them? Curious about that!

  36. Whaaaat!!! Rachel’s kitchen is drop-dead-freaking gorgeous! Well done! I keep scrolling through the photos looking at the details, so lovely.

    Would something without upper cabinets work if a kitchen was only 8×8, though? Mine is tiny and feels like a cave!

  37. I’m amazed and impressed! This is a gorgeous space! As someone who has made many of my own throw pillows and window treatments over the years, I am blown away by the projects Rachel took on herself. The banquet seat upholstery?!?! The drapery?!? That is a lot of fabric to manage and maneuver and they look as good as any professional workroom would do. Congratulations on an outstanding job. Thank you for sharing, Laurel!

  38. Wow! Rachel has some serious design talent. She put a lot of thought into her design and it shows in every detail. It’s gorgeous! Congratulations, Rachel, enjoy your new space!

  39. Wow! I love everything about this! And it’s something of a revelation to me. For example, I’ve never liked mixing metals but it works so perfectly here, maybe because of that show-stopping stove, which ties everything together. I am now a convert. Ditto on having different kinds of pendant fixtures so close to each other, but these work perfectly together because there are many stylistic similarities, and the wall fixtures harmonize with them beautifully, too. There’s a lot to study and learn here, as well as to admire.

  40. Wow, fantastic! Laurel, I can see your “fingerprints” on this design and bravo Rachel!! A woman of many talents! I love how light and bright it is.

  41. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I love the green accents. I would move in tomorrow. Wonderful job, Rachel!

    Re: cabinetry costs, I have a design bkgd and was helping a friend with some projects around their home this winter and spring. The quotes they received for kitchen cabinetry were roughly *three* times higher than one they got just before Covid. Insanity.

  42. It is so beautiful! At this stage in my life, I would’ve changed the countertops and lighting and been happy. But look what time and money can do! What a joy to make meals in that space!

  43. My favorite decision of Rachel’s: When I first saw the photos, I thought “Wow, she moved the water lines for the fridge. That must have cost a few bucks.” Then I read about the ice maker. Brilliant! By installing an ice maker where the fridge used to be, she freed up the placement of the fridge, AND she can remove the ice maker from the freezer and have more storage space. (Anyway, that’s what I presume she did.) And I love the appliance garages! I realize they are a little out of style, but Rachel proved they can look really nice. (Honestly, I think a lot of cabinet makers just don’t want to take the extra effort to install appliance garages, so they discourage them. They sure are great, though.) This whole kitchen is proof you can have an extremely functional space that still looks cheerful and beautiful. I really love it.

  44. This is one of my favorite posts from you! I adore your blog, sense of humor, and style. It’s fun to see how others take your influence (and the influence of those you feature) and make it their own. Great job, Rachel!

  45. Incredible! You have done an amazing job! So impressed that you tackled many of the sub projects yourself. Good for you!!

  46. Absolutely outstanding! Every detail so carefully thought out. Is it possible to find out the source for the fabric on the chandelier shade? Gorgeous!

  47. Absolutely beautiful kitchen, and thank you for sharing your process and sources. It’s also helpful to see how Laurel’s tips inspired your design choices. You must have a good eye yourself!

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Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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