Three weeks after Brittany Black left her husband, she found out she was pregnant. Suddenly, the design-minded dental hygienist needed to find a new home for herself and her baby, and serendipitously came across a cozy 1920s bungalow.

Black spotted the affordable Mt. Vernon, Illinois, gem on Facebook, where it was gaining a lot of traction, and happened to know the previous owner who listed it. She reached out immediately, made an offer, and secured the place just 17 hours after it hit the market. “I knew I could put in quite a bit of money and do what I wanted with it,” she explains.

With her contractor father and aesthete mother, Black completely remodeled the 1,200-square-foot space with a soothing, neutral color palette that would usher in a promising next chapter. “This is a brand new start for me and my son,” she says. “Everything that we put into this house was to make me feel calm and to make it my sanctuary.”

The updated kitchen is especially tranquil. Black and her parents tore down a dividing wall to create an airy open layout and employed warm, earthy tones throughout. “I’d been waiting to redo a whole home my entire life, so my Pinterest board was set for this,” she says, which explains why it’s curated to perfection. Here, she breaks down the design of her dreamy cooking quarters.

Maximizing Storage

As a frequent dinner party host and owner of many treasured dishes, Black wanted as much storage as she could fit into her 120-square-foot kitchen. She mapped out her ideal cabinetry system using the IKEA planner tool before she realized her small town was outside the Swedish retailer’s delivery and installation range.

Fortunately, Black was subscribed to Semihandmade’s email list and received the BOXI launch announcement around the same time. She fell in love with the wood grain effect on the Oat Slab panels and they arrived in just two weeks. “They brought that natural, organic element to the kitchen that I wanted to pull out,” she details.

Despite the user-friendly nature of the BOXI cabinets, installing them was a challenge because the original floors weren’t level. Insistent on perfection, Black rolled up her sleeves and helped the team hang the uppers. “It was super empowering to work on my own kitchen,” she reflects.

As a clever cost-saving measure, the fronts are adorned with simple, rounded pulls that Black bought using a rebate from Menards. “It just worked out,” she admits. “They’re sleek, they’re gold, and they were pretty much free.”

Design by Brittany Black; Photography by Carmen Troesser

Going White

For all the appliances, Black opted for a matte white finish. She chose a Café Appliances stove, hood, and dishwasher, but went with a retro Smeg refrigerator. “I knew stainless would drive me nuts with a little kid getting handprints all over it,” she shares. “Black’s not really my style — it’s too harsh. I wanted to keep it light and bright.”

The white continues with the durable quartz countertop, which features small specks of tan that complement the Sherwin Williams Maison Blanche wall paint. “It goes with everything,” Black muses. “It’s the perfect linen color.”

Adding Visual Interest

The most playful part of the kitchen is the geometric tile floor, which Black arranged in an abstract arrow pattern that she describes as “organized chaos.” A sculptural, four-bulb Litfad chandelier and rattan counter stools incorporate compelling textures, as well.

Black’s beloved flora is also peppered throughout the kitchen. “I’m an orchid fanatic,” she reveals. “I lived in Florida for a time, so I really got into plants. I always call them living heirlooms. I think they’re special. They’re something that can be passed down. They really bring life and energy.” How fitting, then, that she’s turning over a new leaf.

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