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What does an an award-winning kitchen look like? Ask Heidi Lachapelle, whose modern and bright kitchen is a finalist in Remodelista’s annual Considered Design Awards (the contest ends August 4th, so be sure to vote for Heidi here). “I entered on a whim and became a finalist,” says Lachapelle. “It’s super exciting!”

One look at her brand new kitchen and it’s easy to see why the space is getting widespread acclaim. The architectural transformation alone merits an award. Not satisfied with the old kitchen, which Lachapelle says was like a “tiny little closet,” she and her husband set out to completely reconfigure the layout of what was previously a seating area, bathroom, and closet.

In this image: Restoration Hardware Library Double Sconce, $259; Lew’s Hardware Round Bar Series; Cabinets painted in Sherwin-Williams’ “Naval”

“We really wanted an open concept space even though we were dealing with the constraints of a house that was built in 1875,” says Lachapelle. “The biggest goal was to have a big kitchen because that’s where all our friends hang out and it’s become the meeting place for our home.”

While creating a functional space that would meet the family’s needs was the top priority, Lachapelle also wanted to preserve some of the home’s historical charms. To accommodate a winding staircase, she designed the kitchen in an L-shape. The space also had gorgeous 13-foot tall ceilings, so she opted for floating shelves in lieu of traditional upper cabinets.

In this image: West Elm Cedar + Moss Pendant – Satin Brass, $249-$409

“It’s the heart of the home and the place we spend the most time in, so I really wanted the kitchen to be a place we love,” says Lachapelle of her design inspiration. “Something open and airy, functional, and a little nod to nautical because we live by the ocean.”

It turns out that her “nod to nautical” (the of-the-moment navy and brass color scheme) was a bit ahead of its time. While navy is one of the top kitchen trends du jour, Lachapelle says this wasn’t always the case. “When I was looking at kitchen designs back in 2015, navy was the new up-and-coming color. I’m usually a white kitchens person but I  wanted to try something drastically different, and funnily enough over the course of the year that trend—specifically with brass—really took off. At the time, matte brass was impossible to find,” she says.

The family’s nearby living room also got some major TLC. A previously dated space (“just straight-up 1982” says Lachapelle) was turned into a light-filled joint living/dining room that makes the perfect space for entertaining.

In this image: Anthropologie Leather Rhys Chair, $1,998

Lachapelle kept some of the room’s more charming characteristics like the fireplace and 2-foot historic crown molding, but other parts of the space needed more drastic change. Since there was initially a studio apartment directly above the living room, the couple had to take down the ceiling and reconfigure it to get the full advantage of the home’s tall ceilings. They also refinished the floors (which were the original ones from 1875) and painted everything to breathe new life into the space.

Despite the bigger changes, Lachapelle says that her favorite pieces from the redesigns are a little more personal. The works of art, which hang in every room of the house, are all done by her husband. “I love that my husband’s artwork is all around the home, which highlights his work in a really beautiful way, and I like living with his paintings,” says Lachapelle.

Given the couple’s artistic background—Lachapelle also has a studio art degree and is currently a merchandiser and visual manager at Anthropologie—the large-scale renovation seems less daunting. The kitchen, which was the couple’s latest project, was just one in a series of renovations the home has undergone in the past year. For those interested in attempting a similarly invasive renovation, Lachapelle recommends going straight to an architect.

“If we’re taking down walls, we always talk to an architect or a contractor who knows structure and knows how to help you put in a support beam if you need it—that’s the number one most important thing,” she advises.

Besides knowing when to ask for help, Lachapelle also stresses the importance of flexibility and managing expectations for any big home makeover project.

“Because I’m a design person, I love art and I love being creative, and it was important to set a little bit of a budget for myself so I could determine which pieces I wanted to invest in and which pieces I wanted to pull back on,” says Lachapelle. “We kind of splurged on the Bertazzoni range, but then I got dollar subway tiles from Lowe’s.”

“We came in with this dream of what we wanted and these expectations, and I think we really needed to let the house speak too and tell us what it wants.”

Keep up with Heidi’s latest projects on www.heidilachapelle.com.

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