Published on September 25, 2020

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Photography by Dylan James

While demo-ing the kitchen in interior designer Alison Lewis and her husband Dave’s Melbourne bungalow, the crew from CJ and C Construction kept it real: “They jokingly referred to it as the House From Hell,” Lewis says with a chuckle. The brick inside the walls was crumbling, termites had ruined parts of the flooring, and the accents were, as Lewis says, about “as beige as beige comes.” Challenges notwithstanding, the couple focused on the endgame and played cheerleader, pushing the team to forge ahead.

Five weeks and $50,000 later, the family had a larger, combination kitchen/dining room outfitted in new appliances, whitewashed wood flooring, and an undulating peninsula. The most notable introduction, though, is the cabinetry by Project Cabinets and the storage it supplies. Here’s exactly how Lewis made the most of the new space.

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Up, Up, and Away 

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To make the kitchen appear taller, Lewis installed accents that draw the eye upward. The cabinets rise all the way to the ceiling; backsplash tiles by Academy stand on end; and a feature wall’s wood paneling reaches toward the sky. Lewis also worked with her cabinetmaker to create Shaker-style cupboards with lean, 1-inch borders. (The industry standard is 2.) It’s a small change that makes the room look even longer. 

Appliances Play Hide-and-Seek

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As a designer, Lewis is “acutely aware” of how appliances can detract from the beauty of a space, so she devised a plan to keep hers hidden. First, she laid out the cabinets so her microwave and teakettle fit comfortably inside. Then she had her electrician run wiring to the selected cabinets so the outlets and cords would stay out of sight, too.

Practicality Can Be Playful

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The storage fun and games continue to the right of the fridge, where a tug on one particular set of handles by the Society Inc. reveals a passageway to daughter Ava’s room. This may seem like a rare moment of whimsy, but unsurprisingly it too has a practical benefit: Placing a second door between Ava’s bedroom and the kitchen/dining room beyond has effectively soundproofed her space. The addition has proven vital on nights when dinner parties linger past her bedtime.

A Home for Everything

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Next to Ava’s secret entrance lies the hidden home of the family’s washer and dryer. Organizing the giant wall of storage it sits within was all about placement. “The lesser-used items go up high, while the everyday items remain low and easily accessible. We have a handy step ladder we keep inside that helps us get to the top shelves when needed,” explains the designer. Thanks to this thoughtful setup, everything in the room now has its place. “It brings me clarity and peace,” Lewis says of the results.

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