When Alexandra LaCoste decided to upgrade her East Austin home, she and her Los Angeles-based designer, Natalie Myers of Veneer Design, had more than a few challenges. 

For one, they lived 1,000 miles apart, and secondly, were in the midst of a global pandemic. Thus, everything would have to be done remotely. Fun fact: LaCoste fell in love with the 1,600-square-foot home built by local architect/contractor Shane Michael Pavonetti vrtually as well. She toured properties over FaceTime with her realtor while she was on the East Coast and was drawn in by the home’s open layout, vaulted ceilings, and large windows. 

While the rest of LaCoste’s home was warm and inviting thanks to Myer’s Scandinavian-meets-California aesthetic, the kitchen was the primary focus of the pair’s renovation journey. 

“The existing kitchen felt mediocre compared to the authenticity and thoughtfulness throughout the house,” Myers says. 

In order to bring the kitchen’s style up to par with the rest of the home, she began the project by setting LaCoste’s expectations for what she could handle on her own. “One of the biggest challenges was delegating site supervision to my client who wasn’t sure what to look for and if things were being installed correctly,” says the designer. 

Going Semi-Custom

Instead of having LaCoste jump head-first into a full-blown renovation, Myers found a creative solution, deciding to reuse the existing IKEA Akurum cabinets. “I recognized that it was an IKEA kitchen immediately,” Myers says. “We agreed to new cabinet faces, new countertops, backsplash, lighting, and appliances.” The new kitchen is an elevated upgrade on the existing budget-friendly kitchen with an earthy palette and European feel.

Soft Yet Industrial

Myers then enlisted the help of Semihandmade to find cabinet fronts to transform the look from run-of-the-mill modernity to a style with timeless appeal. “My trade rep at Semihandmade had us find the serial numbers inside the cabinets to confirm it was the older Akurum line. Luckily, Semihandmade can service the older line and DIY slabs were created off the sketch of standard sized boxes,” Myers says. She went for DIY Slab fronts in Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, a gray with warm undertones, which adds a “softness to the industrial vibes,” she adds. 

All About Sustainability

Another way Myers saved during the renovation was by incorporating recycled items into the design. “I’m big into reuse. Our industry can be painfully wasteful. The salvaged wood shelf was beautiful so why not reuse it instead of replacing it with a new shelf? Its rugged texture was a nice balance along with the handmade Zellige tiles, new smooth countertops and cabinet faces,” Myers says. The designer chose unlacquered brass hardware from Rejuvenation and a chic, modern Newport Brass East Linear faucet. 

Mix Up Materials

Mimicking the mixed use of heavy and warm materials used throughout the house, the kitchen features a sleek marble-like Ceasarstone Empira countertop mirrored by Pirlo pendant lights from Tech Lighting, while the backsplash features Natural White Zellige tiles from Riad that give the kitchen a more vintage, lived-in feel. 

Working remotely, and during a pandemic, came with its own set of unique challenges. “[There were] a lot of FaceTime check-ins as installations were underway and appliance delays because of pandemic-related shortages,” Myers says. Despite that, she and LaCoste worked together to create an authentic, homey kitchen that perfectly meshes with the home’s aesthetic. 

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Island Hopping

A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.