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The Reveal You Didn’t Know You Were Waiting For – EHD Alum Photographer, Tessa, Shows Us Her FINALLY Updated Kitchen (Including A Classic New Trend)

If you’ve been around these blog parts for a while then you know the name, Tessa Neustadt. Before Sara became our main photographer, Tessa was our gal (you’ve definitely seen her name credited in countless blog posts). Well, actually she started out as an intern back in 2012. Pretty cool, huh?! And no, Sara did not perform a hostile photography takeover! No camera duels were had:) The word had been getting out about Tessa’s talent and she was getting booked all of the time. So it was a very friendly transition since Sara was really honing her interior photography skills and shooting more of our projects. It’s been about 4 years since then which feels both like yesterday and a million years ago. But like most all EHD alums do we ever really let them loose???

This reveal feels a little extra special to me because I am a huge Tessa fan and we got to work together little in my early EHD days. She’s as talented as she is kind. A true creative. This woman is a photographer, stylist, designer (homes, furniture, jewelry), and I’m sure there’s more that I’m missing. I also remember being at her house once and her lamenting about how much she hated her kitchen and couldn’t wait to change everything about it. Let me show you what it was like:

Functional? Yes. Beautiful and in line with Tessa’s style?? No.

She and her partner, Chris, have been chipping away at making their home feel like them and this kitchen is such an exciting and big part of that!

Naturally, I asked Tessa a bunch of questions so let’s get into this stunning transformation. Welcome to her kitchen…

Wall Color | Cabinet Fronts | Cabinet Color | Pendant

Since Tessa has shot likely hundreds of beautiful kitchens over the years teeming with inspiration, I wanted to know what were the top must-haves for her own dream kitchen. She told me that the main things she wanted were marble countertops, an unlacquered brass faucet, and a floating marble shelf.

Simple and perfect if you ask me. Actually, two of her main inspirations were these two kitchens below. Honestly, if I were renovating a kitchen these would be on my mood board too. They are perfect.

Those designers however had a much bigger budget. So while a statement veined marble full of warmth would have been Tessa’s dream, she was pleasantly surprised that the Carrara marble slabs she found were cheaper than the manmade options she thought she would need to go with based on budget. Each slab was about $1,300 (not including the fabrication). Marble is definitely the more high maintenance option but if you are up for it (like Tessa and Chris), it’s such a beautiful option.

Sink | Roman Shade

Before we get into the shelf, I was curious why they chose a skinny stone backsplash vs going with tile or a taller height. I think it’s always interesting to dive into those details that sometimes fly under the radar when you’re looking at a finished kitchen. Her reasoning was this: “I’ve always been really drawn towards the low backsplash/no backsplash look that you see in a lot of English kitchens.”


Now let’s talk about that single shelf and what inspired those perfect brass shelf poles! Heart be still.

“I was dead set on having a floating marble shelf in the kitchen, unfortunately, we have a pocket door on the wall where the shelf was going to be. Because of that, there wasn’t a way to support the shelf on that side of the wall. Our photo friend turned contractor, Brian Higbee (of Format Builders) came up with the idea to hang the brass dowels from the ceiling as a way to support the shelf. “

Well, those brass dowels might be my personal favorite detail. It’s moments like those that if you can add them in will really personalize your space and make it unique to you. I am also now in search of a friend turned contractor.

Since we’re talking metallics and making things special, I had to ask her about their use of bronze. I may or may not have talked about my sneaking suspicion that bronze is on the rise in another post. I don’t really want to call it a trend because bronze is clearly a classic metal that when used right is completely timeless… like in this kitchen. But up until this past year it’s hasn’t really been hot on the scene.

However, this is the reason why Tessa chose to use it in her hardware, appliance details, and beautiful pendant: “I love bronze and have been using it in almost all of my design projects recently! It’s a nice middle ground between brass and black. I especially like it when I want a dark accent but don’t want something quite as harsh as black.”

Makes sense to me! Plus, you might also notice that Tessa mixed bronze, brass, and hints of silver. Why it works so seamlessly is because she chose a dominant metal (bronze), then for her secondary metal chose a warm brass which tonally works beautifully (both warm). Then has just a couple of small warm silver moments. They don’t compete which is what you want to think about if you are trying to mix your metals.

Ok, it’s time to talk about layout. Keeping costs down is always the goal in any renovation and when you are talking about rooms with plumbing and gas lines, using the same layout will usually help in the money department. I asked Tessa if that’s why they didn’t really change up the layout.


“We kept the same general layout because it worked well with the space. Previously the laundry was stacked in the kitchen and the fridge was squished right next to our stove. We moved the laundry to the third bedroom and put the new fridge in its place. It really opened up the space!”

Speaking of saving money where you can…

“Using Ikea cabinets and Semihandmade fronts kept the costs down and allowed us to splurge on items like the sink and faucet. Format Builders built custom end caps for the Ikea cabinetry to make it feel more high-end / less like Ikea.”

I also noticed that they didn’t keep the counter overhang idea from the previous version. She said that since they put in a built-in dining nook (that I desperately wish we could see but can a little in the photo above), they no longer needed it. Also, she personally isn’t a fan of how islands look with overhangs.

Ok, we gotta talk about this beautiful styling and THOSE MIRRORS.

I love the mirrors in kitchens so much! But I know you all are curious if she needs to constantly clean them because of cooking. Her answer…


“The mirrors are far enough away that nothing ever gets splattered on them! I will say that the floating shelf does get pretty dusty, I had no idea how dusty our house was until now!”

Ugh, I feel the same way about my apartment! How do we get this dust situation under control?? Until then, I think we all need to admire Tessa’s styling. With a home that, which in her words lacks any architectural style, decorating with pieces that are full of soul and personality is a great idea. Notice all of the textures she incorporated with the bowls, vessels, cookware, etc. Her eye is impeccable and lucky for you she has a shop that she’s currently updating! Definitely keep checking back here🙂

My last question had to be: Any “fun” challenges that caused you to need to pivot?\

Tessa’s answer: “Well, the pandemic hit towards the end of the renovation so we were left with an unfinished kitchen for a while! (see photos) We ended up painting the walls, “installing” lighting and appliances ourselves. The pocket door I mentioned earlier definitely threw a wrench in the plans!”

Well, it turned out beautiful and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Love you, mean it.

*Design and Photos by Tessa Neustadt

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Keyanna Bowen
2 years ago

I think it goes without saying that Tessa is pretty much my idol! Photographer + stylist + designer –she’s everything I hope to be, and more! So naturally, I’ve been stalking (I mean checking) her IG wondering if/when her kitchen would be published and could not believe my eyes when I saw todays post! So excited to finally see the full reveal–its beautiful! Great job Tessa!!

2 years ago

Is the lamp on the floating shelf plugged in?

2 years ago
Reply to  Alice

I bet there’s an outlet behind the big mirror. You can see the cord running from the lamp back behind it in one of the photos.

2 years ago
Reply to  SS

Thank you!

2 years ago

Love this renovation but I wish there were some photos with the lights turned on.

Okay, this is just gorgeous. Let me get into it.

  1. The styling here is just impeccable! All of it. Even though as she said, there’s not a lot of architectural interest, the styling has given it so much that you don’t even feel anything lacking. so so so good.
  2. Love mirrors in kitchens.
  3. I like the skinny short backsplash. We had that in our last kitchen and i think it’s nice.
  4. The layout is kinda similar to our kitchen, so this gave me good ideas if we ever re do ours.
  5. I’m curious what happened to the old granite? does it get recycled? or just landfilled? makes me sad whenever i see granite replaced.
2 years ago

When we got rid of granite counters we found someone on Facebook market who came and got them for his own project! The only limiting factor is the size of the granite—my parents’ very large granite-topped island couldn’t be taken out in one piece.

2 years ago

We put our old granite on Craigslist and a landlord doing a remodel snatched it up. I see remnants available there and on FB marketplace pretty frequently.

2 years ago

When we redid our kitchen, everything in good shape, including our not-fancy kitchen counters went to Habitat for Humanity ReStore! They took the sink, working dishwasher, counters, vinyl flooring that rolled up in giant pieces, and one tall cabinet we tore out (kept all of our other cabinets). For something like counters, they keep them together with the measurements for someone to buy the lot or sell off individually. Mine certainly could have been cut down for someone for a workshop, small kitchen, pantry, etc. I know granite can be more challenging without the right tools to fit into a new space, but I think there are many creative uses to recycle these versus landfilling! I hope that’s always the option people shoot for initially. Love the posts about marketplace or craigslist because you know someone has an immediate need for it, too!

2 years ago

CUUUUUUTE!!! Go Tessa!

2 years ago

It’s a beautiful kitchen — one I’d like to have. I do think that wall would be ruined right behind the stove without a backsplash. How do people protect it from grease, etc? Also, I like the brass with the shelf, but the poles are only on one side. That seems a bit odd…

2 years ago
Reply to  Leslie

There’s no backsplash in my kitchen, just painted drywall. I just wipe it down whenever I have spills or splashes…

2 years ago
Reply to  Leslie

I have this exact arrangement in my kitchen. I’m not a particularly neat cook, and it hasn’t ever been an issue. I just wipe down the wall with a microfiber towel every now and then when I clean the cooktop.

2 years ago

Ok wait… They put the shelf right over the stove and under the vent hood??

2 years ago
Reply to  Emma

This has always been weird to me. I had one of the same inspiration photos, but I changed up that detail because I wasn’t sure the hood would work effectively. I’m curious to know how it works? The kitchen sure looks gorgeous!

2 years ago

Love the reveal! Just want to let you know that the progress photos are labeled “progerss.”

2 years ago

The new kitchen looks lovely…and their little dog is a cutie.

2 years ago

beautiful! Did I miss the source for the island pendant though? thanks!

2 years ago
Reply to  erin
2 years ago

Beautiful kitchen! Where did Tessa get the brass cabinet hardware? Thanks

Julie Dawson
2 years ago


2 years ago

My immediate first thought on seeing these photos – after “ooh pretty” — was “uh oh, how will their stove vent properly past the pretty floating shelf!?” It’s hard to tell from the photos how much overlap there is, but it looks like at least 50%! That functional concern somewhat overtook my ability to love this kitchen. Hopefully that doesn’t end up being an issue for Tessa!

2 years ago
Reply to  Andrea

It’s not like its a commercial kitchen pumping out crazy high-heat entrees each night, I bet they’ll be fine. The underside of the shelf will probably get gunky but otherwise an unaffected situation.

2 years ago

Thank you for featuring Tessa’s kitchen! Indeed, she has impeccable taste–this is gorgeous!

2 years ago

Lovely! Anyone know where that white scalloped pedestal bowl is from?

2 years ago
Reply to  AzureSongLA

Possibly the Kurieto Rinka fruit stand?

Kenzi Wilbur
2 years ago

What’s the pretty paint color?!

Kenzi Wilbur
2 years ago
Reply to  Brigitte

Thank you for responding! And the green?

2 years ago

Lovely! Where is the faucet from?

2 years ago

Very very excellent and professional
It has become very beautiful

Love how the dark appliances with brass hardware and pulls blend seamlessly with the cabinetry. Just beautiful!

2 years ago

Beautiful! Any chance on sources for all the beautiful bronze hardware and sink?

2 years ago
Reply to  Kelli

I’d LOVE to know the hardware info! THANKS!

2 years ago

A $4800 pendant? You’ve got to be kidding me

2 years ago

Such a beautiful kitchen. I especially love the floating shelf. Can you please share how deep it is? And how high above the counter is it?

2 years ago

Thank you for your time. There is no doubt that you are an expert in your industry. In addition, I’d want to tell you to get rid of the garbage. Take anything out of the home that you don’t use or need. The things that have been broken for a long time and are still waiting for you to mend them may no longer be relevant to you. Get rid of everything that no longer provides you joy or that you know you won’t wear. Do like the Italians need and get rid of what you don’t need so you can make room for what you do. Rearrange the furniture in your house to give it a new look. You may start the process of reinvigorating your inner world by changing your surrounds! Decorate your home by moving things about and changing the drapes, hanging a lovely painting in the kitchen, or purchasing a gorgeous indoor plant. You’ll find it more enjoyable to live and rest in a well-maintained and well-cared-for house. All the best!