When Rosy Alexander set out to design this kitchen in Raleigh, North Carolina, the goal was to create a space that was practical for big gatherings, but had a look that still felt highly designed. 

In order to achieve this, she dreamt up an aesthetic that’s the perfect marriage of sleek and cozy. To do so, the designer channeled a Scandinavian vibe with plenty of neutral materials, but paired it with some daring design elements like Semihandmade’s quarterline fronts in Night Sky. “The result is equal parts safe and equal parts bold,” says Alexander. 

Combining Light and Dark

The kitchen is a beautiful mix of materials that leans both masculine and feminine. Flooding natural light and plenty of white oak accents — floors, open shelves, the custom eating space, and even the trim piece on the hood — add a light airiness to the space. But, the rich blue cabinets and the black honed granite add darkness that helps ground the space. 

Playing With Texture

Because the room is airy, light from the sky lights above bounces off the neutral backdrop. The back wall and the hood were framed and sheetrocked, then finished in a limewash, adding to the European vibe. The handmade tiles on the backsplash lend a similar effect, since each one is unique. There’s also plenty of texture in some more surprising spots, like inside the hanging pendant lights

All About Balance

Alexander wanted to keep the kitchen crisp and clean, but she didn’t want it to be empty and boring, so instead of uppers, she installed three floating shelves. Though the intention was to add visual interest, she also wanted the shelves to complement the rest of the space, so she chose white oak. Here, the homeowners can display items they’ve collected while traveling or browsing boutiques — think decorative objects or cookbooks. It’s also a great space for everyday essentials, like little bowls and glasses or coffee mugs.

Maintaining Practicality

Though all of these design features serve to create a gorgeous, custom space, this kitchen doesn’t lack practicality. To ensure her clients had plenty of storage space, Alexander laid out the Semihandmade cabinets to take advantage of all the vertical space in the kitchen (the ceilings are nearly 15 feet tall!). The far side of the kitchen also has drawers that span the length of the wall. And, there’s plenty of space for friends and family to gather, too — a primary concern for the homeowners — thanks to the custom white oak eating area affixed to the island. 

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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.