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Katie Belac has spent a majority of her career in New York and that chic city aesthetic shows through in her Arizona kitchen. The designer recently made a move to Phoenix after craving a change of pace, warmer weather, and more space, but hasn’t left her roots behind. 

Her personal kitchen, which features black and white cabinetry, is the perfect example of marrying sleek style with a more traditional look that’ll ensure the home will be prime for resale. So how did she take a builder-grade 90s home and transform it into something her New York clientele would admire? We sat down with the designer to learn more about her budget-friendly renovation

Spec to Special

When Belac and her husband were looking for a home, they struggled in their home search while living across the country, eventually purchasing a four-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom Mediterranean-style spec home “with a great plan and views to die for”. “The budget we had wouldn’t afford moving walls or structure,” she says. “This home had a clear plan but needed a lot of love when it came to finishes.”

She had a vision for the kitchen, which would primarily focus on cabinet replacement. “We weren’t planning on moving plumbing or gas and mostly everything would stay in the same location,” she adds. She got creative with IKEA bases and Semihandmade fronts.


Test Kitchen

Belac first discovered Semihandmade while at an international trade show in New York, but didn’t have the chance to use the product until now.

“In New York, I was with a corporate interiors firm doing really high-end custom stuff,” she says.”I never had the opportunity to propose it for a client.” But when it came to her own renovation, she was ready to test it out. 

Belac’s kitchen features Semihandmade’s Supermatte Shaker fronts in both black and white, a door style she chose for its timeless frame, as well as Lulu and Georgia pendants, GE and Decor appliances, and World Market bar stools. “Coming from New York, I like classic, clean lines, black, and white. The black and white is an homage to the city, while I chose Shaker for resale for the more traditional Arizona market,” she says. Even though the couple won’t be moving anytime soon, “you have to design for [the future] and classic neutrals are generally more appreciated,” she adds.

Grounding Triangle

Belac knew she wanted two-tone cabinery. “Part of me wanted a white kitchen and I started with that, but looking at the space, it needed anchoring,” she says. The open kitchen, which complements the nearby dining room, fireplace, and bookshelf, got a sense of homeiness thanks to a large island and pantry wall. “It works overall as a composition with three anchoring elements,” she adds.


Get Creative

The interior designer, who is also an accomplished architect, wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. “I like to build things and liked that this is our little project,” she says. “The IKEA boxes are very easy. The actual coordination was a seamless process,” she says. 

In addition to custom cabinetry, she stained and rounded the floating shelves herself, plus added woodwork to the island to pair with custom Semihandmade side panels. 

While she is happy with the final result, the only regret she has is choosing Supermatte over DIY. “I was tempted,” she says. She decided not to paint the kitchen cabinets as she was seven months pregnant at the time, but she likes the option to refresh the fronts over time. Now that Belac has worked with Semihandmade fronts, she is looking forward to utilizing new styles in more client projects. 


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