Published on May 16, 2020

Yellow kitchen with open shelvingPin It
Photography by Emily Followill; Design by Carter Kay Interiors

It’s not every day that you come across a kitchen that was inspired by a jar of Dijon mustard. But for one avid cook, it made total sense. “I wanted color and I thought this yellow hue would work well with my existing furniture,” says the homeowner, Sarah, who lives in a Georgian-style townhouse in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood with her husband, Scott.

With their children grown and the only remaining roommate being their dog, Odie, the couple had decided to move closer to the city center, where they could walk to restaurants, coffee shops, and the grocery store. There was just one caveat: The kitchen in their new place hadn’t been renovated since the house was built in 1981 (and the trending finishes that year were navy countertops and brown wood everything). 

In other words, it was in need of a dose of bright yellow sunshine (or in this case, mustard). Together with their architect, Caroline Rolader, and designer, Carter Kay, they turned the dark space into a cheery workspace fit for a chef.

Finding the Right Stone

Yellow kitchen cabinetsPin It
Photography by Emily Followill; Design by Carter Kay Interiors

With the French condiment in mind, Kay went hunting for the perfect slab of marble—she knew the room’s color palette would ultimately derive from the colors within the stone. “It looked like an abstract painting,” remembers Sarah. The combination of ochre, cool blue, and deep brown sold them immediately. They crafted the countertops and a backsplash feature behind the stove out of the material. “Cooktop areas take the most abuse,” says Kay. “I also love that it doubles as art on that wall.”

Building a Custom Palette

'80s kitchen beforePin It
Courtesy of Carter Kay
Yellow kitchen with open shelvingPin It
Photography by Emily Followill; Design by Carter Kay Interiors

From there, the paint scheme came together naturally. Kay’s team covered the lower cabinets in a buttery custom Benjamin Moore paint pulled directly from the marble’s marigold tones and coated the rest of the space in a calming white with a touch of gray (one of Kay’s secret formulas) to balance out the color.

Making Every Inch Count

Kitchen storagePin It
Photography by Emily Followill; Design by Carter Kay Interiors

Meanwhile, Sarah and her architect planned out every cupboard and pantry nook. “She is a storage guru, and because she cooks a lot, all the appliances and serving trays needed to be readily accessible,” says Kay. Rolader imagined a slotted storage rack directly above the oven for easy access when things come out piping hot, and gave the pantry double access: a typical walk-in opening plus cupboard doors in the kitchen for easy reach to small appliances and bar essentials. This meant they could swap out upper cabinets for open shelves filled with everyday essentials. “I love the way it makes the room feel open,” says Sarah.

Bringing in the Sunshine

Kitchen with yellow cabinetsPin It
Photography by Emily Followill; Design by Carter Kay Interiors

Every decision was made to bring in more brightness and light, but enlarging the window was the detail that brought it all together. After getting proper permits and tearing out the existing pane, they retrofitted one almost double the size. “Because there are no upper cabinets, the light coming in spreads exponentially,” says Kay. As it turns out, the spicy spread was just the right jolt of inspiration for this happy-go-lucky overhaul.

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