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Green Galley Kitchen

Updated: Feb 11

(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)


Long time clients, Russ and Stephanie, love green. Not the eco-friendly kind per se, but the color - from sage to khaki and all shades of olive. Over the years we’ve painted their interiors, upholstered their furnishings, draped their windows, custom-sewn their bedding, and remodeled their bathrooms all in some variation of green. It’s a homeowner and designer-friendly color and a natural fit in their woodsy, hillside home surrounded by trees, wild vegetation, and a cottage-style garden.


So when it came time to remodel their kitchen, I was pretty sure it would, in some part, entail this favored color. Would the cabinets be green? There were a half dozen mid-range, semi-custom cabinetry manufacturers that offered a pretty shade of sage. Would the walls be green? By the time the cabinetry, appliances, and backsplash were installed, there would hardly be any wall left to paint. What about green Costa Esmeralda countertops? As far as granite goes, it’s one of the most beautiful.


Before determining where to introduce the splash of green, I considered, mulled, fidgeted, contemplated, drew, and optimized the general design of the kitchen. Theirs was a galley and would remain so. Because of its small size, its configuration and function would be crucial to its performance and efficiency.


The generous, five-foot window above the sink overlooking the garden would be replaced but the size would remain the same. All of the appliances would be replaced but stay in their same locations. To modernize and visually enlarge the narrow galley, they’d be covered with panels matching the cabinetry.


In keeping with the country setting, the drop-in sink would be swapped for a farm sink. Plumbing and light fixtures would be chosen in a slight farmhouse style as would the bin pulls on the drawers.


Through the years, I had often heard this couple say how they “hated” their paver-tiled floor. So, we'd remove the pavers and extend the hardwood floors from the rest of the house into the kitchen.


One of the three entries to the kitchen would be closed off which would then allow space for a 30-inch floor to ceiling pantry. The main entry to the kitchen would be enlarged and shaped into an arch to mimic the arched front door and arched foyer.


Although the kitchen was sunny, it was still a small space. It was a working environment that fed two adults, two children, two cats, one dog, and one bunny. Although surrounded by rambling roses, hydrangeas, and a garden packed with other traditional lovelies, I want to design with a more simple hand which would not only keep the kitchen clean and focused on the garden beyond its window, but would also add to the longevity of its style.


For durability purposes, we chose black granite countertops (black quartz would have also been a great choice). Because of the dark countertops, we opted for white cabinets. The black and white combo would be classic and long-lasting. To lighten up the galley, we’d insert fluted, frosted glass into a pair of upper cabinet doors. What about Russ's and Stephanie's favorite color? We eventually found a beautiful shade of green, hand-molded tile from Fireclay that we could use for the backsplash.


Our choices would create a sunny, cheery, color-rich, efficient, functional, and clean-lined cottage-style kitchen.

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