Brittany VanMatre knew she had found the ideal headquarters for The Spin-Off, her preloved kids’ clothes consignment startup, when she came across a 1920s warehouse.

There was just one hiccup: the dingy kitchen. With donors like Eva Longoria, Reese Witherspoon, and Victoria Beckham (and a mission that keeps fashion out of the landfill while donating a large portion of proceeds to charity), the cramped cooking area tucked away in a closet-sized nook wouldn’t cut it. So she tapped interior designer Dee Murphy to imagine a playful space that would suit the brand’s cheery ethos.

Though Murphy restored charming original details like the concrete floors, exposed beams, and industrial windows, the rest of the room required a full transformation. A large portion of the budget went to updating worn down electrical systems and adding air conditioning, but Murphy was still able to breathe some much-needed personality into the room, and it all started by knocking down the walls to the dated, builder-grade kitchen. 

 

Going Tone-On-Tone

The kitchen before

Semihandmade wood kitchen with blue backsplash

As a nod to the company’s work with pre-worn garments, Murphy decided the kitchen should have a vintage appeal. That’s why she chose Semihandmade Impression Tahoe fronts for all the cabinetry. “They don’t feel brand-spanking-new, even though that is what you’re getting,” she describes. “There is a depth to them that I really enjoy and they bring so much warmth.”

Murphy matched the wood stain on a custom, reeded island base built by her carpenter, and chose velvet bar stools in a similar amber shade for a distinct tone-on-tone effect. “It’s a little unexpected,” she explains. “Though I stayed within the same color family, there is still a lot of movement due to different textures and materials.”

 

Adding a Playful Touch

Walnut cabinets with blue backsplash

A combo of upper and lower cabinets mixed with full-height pantry doors offer plenty of storage.

The abundance of comforting, brown finishes allows the bold, turquoise backsplash to steal the show. Murphy opted for peacock-hued fish scale tile from Fireclay to incorporate the brand logo’s signature hue and acknowledge its little customers with a surprising, youthful shape. “I wanted to have fun and make a splash,” she says.

 

Accentuating Sky-High Ceilings

Brass and wood kitchen

Muuto Strand pendant lights provide an airy, Scandinavian flair.

Above the ocean of tile, a brass shelving unit hangs high. While the top planks cannot be reached without a ladder, the piece was affixed at this height for a reason. Murphy wanted to fill up the vast, empty wall and highlight the lofty ceiling. “It brings your eyes up and makes everything feel even larger,” Murphy illustrates.

 

Finding the Right Balance

The island doubles as a workspace for folding and sorting incoming clothes.

Murphy juxtaposed styles and finishes wherever possible. In contrast to the rustic, honey-hued cabinet fronts, she installed modern, sculptural brass pulls. A vintage rug offsets a streamlined quartz countertop, while stainless steel appliances counterbalance the golden metals throughout. “It’s important to mix design eras and aesthetics,” Murphy says. “That is how you achieve a well-rounded look. If you add a little bit of tension, it’ll stand the test of time.”

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Renovation

We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. 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.
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