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A Crisp And Bright Kitchen Renovation That is Super Kid-Friendly From One Of Our Very Own EHD Insiders

Back in June, we launched our EHD Insider Community to give readers access to more behind the scenes content as well as offer a space for design enthusiasts. Members can share their projects, design agonies, ask questions, generally talk about design with the awesome members, and pitch ideas for future stories on the blog. It has been SO fun but the most rewarding part is seeing the amazing and talented designers that make up our readership. One of those people is today’s featured designer, Chris McGovern. In 2018, Chris launched McGovern Project, an NYC based full-service residential and commercial interior design firm, following a decade long career in finance. When he reached to share this project with us, we knew it was something our readers should see, especially with its emphasis on small space and kid-friendly solutions.

This project came about when a former colleague of Chris’s reached out to explore a kitchen renovation. Chris began working with the family on designing a kitchen that was kid-friendly for the couple’s two young boys but didn’t skimp on design. The kitchen already had good bones but the client wanted a clean, uncluttered, light kitchen with optimal storage with durable countertops and cabinetry. Here’s what he was working with:

One of the main focuses (besides durability) was making the kitchen more functional and optimizing storage space. Especially in New York, every inch of the apartment counts so he wanted to make use of any unused space.

Brick Veneer |  Cabinetry | Pendants | Dishwasher | Range and Hood | Refrigerator | Countertop

He kept the original layout of the kitchen but utilized light-colored materials and cabinetry to brighten up the space. What struck us most about this project was the transformation that occurred with the choice of materials and integrated appliances. So I wanted to chat with Chris about his design choices that brought his client’s dream kitchen to life:

Brick Vaneer | Microwave

We love the brick veneer! Do you have any tips for using this material?

With any brick veneer product, the goal is to make it look as authentic as possible. From my perspective, the dead giveaway is the external corners. We joked that we just didn’t want it to look like a Pret-a-Manger or other commercial space where sheets of faux brick are used. The Brick-It veneers come with corner bricks that wrap around any external corners.

Can you tell us more about the other materials you used? What makes them so durable?

For the cabinetry, we opted for a premium door – a high gloss acrylic door from Ultracraft which is stain and scratch resistant (as pictured above, you can even write on it with marker!). However, given the open, galley layout of the kitchen, we didn’t feel compelled to take on the expense of a full custom kitchen. Ultracraft offers free, custom size modifications for most of their stock cabinetry, which allowed us to achieve a custom look, where necessary.

For the counters, we used Dekton by Cosentino, which has all the benefits of quartz but is also heat resistant. It’s typically used in outdoor and commercial applications. The product demo at the showroom, where the sales manager poured nail polish on the countertop and lit it on fire, only to reveal a pristine counter underneath, sold my clients. If the homeowner or any of their guests forget to use a trivet for a hot plate or don’t immediately tend to spilled red wine, they can rest easy that the counter will look as good as it did upon installation.  

Wine Refrigerator | Pendants | Faucet

Were there any design hurdles or roadblocks when designing the space?

The previous refrigerator was full-sized, and the previous cabinetry made an effort to appear built-in. As such, the cabinetry extended around 6” beyond the counters to accommodate a full-size refrigerator. In a spacious suburban home that works fine, but in an apartment, every inch counts. It made the galley of the kitchen feel tight. We opted for a panel ready, counter depth refrigerator, and flanked it with a pantry the same depth for a seamless, integrated look that was flush with the counters.

What was the most important thing to your client besides making the space kid-friendly?

One of the most important aspects was storage. We maxed out storage by using all of the vertical space with cabinetry up to the ceiling. We also extended cabinetry an extra 12” on the back wall, previously unused wall space, and extended the peninsula to line up with the back wall. In doing so we gained enough space to squeeze in a pull-out trash bin.

Their previous kitchen lacked drawers and most base cabinetry contained shelves. Drawers were added for utensils on the base cabinetry on either side of the range, and the cabinet doors conceal two pull out trays for pots/pans. Similarly, the previous pantry contained only shelves, making it difficult to access items in the back. The new pantry has pull-outs for all lower shelves to better
access to ALL the snacks.

We also replaced the above-range microwave with a simple stainless hood and added in a drawer microwave (with concealed buttons) to the peninsula. It creates a nicer focal point on the range wall and overall is less visually heavy. Minimal edge pulls were added to the cabinets throughout. We opted for hardware with rounded edges to avoid the potential snag on a pocket or sharp corner for the kids, while not detracting from the simplicity of the new cabinetry.

Big thanks to Chris McGovern for allowing us to feature this amazing space. If you want to see more of his work be sure to give him a follow on Instagram. xx

Design by Chris McGovern | Photography by Sean Litchfield

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2 years ago

LOVE this bright update! Especially the addition of the wine fridge. 🙂

p.s. I think I spy a Megan Perry original painting!

2 years ago

Thank you Emily, Ryann, Jess and team! Long time blog reader and self proclaimed super fan of your work. Very excited to have this project featured on the site

2 years ago
Reply to  Chris McGovern

It’s beautiful!!! Wonderful job, Chris and cannot wait to see more project you have in the works!

2 years ago

Love the AFTER and totally get why the reno was done. But think of all the people who would kill to have something as decent as the BEFORE.

2 years ago
Reply to  Susanna

Susanna – totally agree the before kitchen wasn’t bad and over the years I’ve lived with far worse. It did show simple signs of wear hence the focus on durability with the new kitchen. We did disassemble the previous cabinets so that they could be donated along with the appliances.

2 years ago

I love the “before!” But the lovely brick wall outshines everything.

2 years ago

Chris! You’re so helpful on the community site, I’m glad you got a spotlight!

That old kitchen must be from the same era as mine, it’s the exact same colors – light-sucking brown and black 😛 We’ll probably donate it in N years and get a big redo (my dream is to move the powder room… and electrical panel and video intercom…)

2 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

Thanks so much Jessica!

2 years ago

SO impressive. the brick veneer adds so much and looks original! well done.

Joelle Garland
2 years ago

I love the durability and look of Dekton as a countertop material but I have been told it is quite spendy to install and fix if there are issues in the future. Can you elaborate Chris if in your experience it is significantly more expensive than quartz for example? Thank you.

2 years ago
Reply to  Joelle Garland

You’re correct. The Dekton material is durable but you’re right in that there are extra steps for fabrication. 1) unlike quartz / silestone with similar veining, the pattern is only imprinted on top, so the edges are a solid color. 2) the material is only manufactured in 2cm thickness, whereas most other counters are 3cm. As such, we mitred all exposed edges to continue the veining and give the appearance of a thicker stone. Given we were going through the cost of the mitred edges, we just made them a full 2”. So it’s a great product but there are hidden fabrication costs that come with using it

2 years ago
Reply to  Chris McGovern

Thank you for clarifying this!! The countertop installed in this kitchen is gorgeous and I thought it was surely 3cm definitely not a 2cm, it flowed so well in the space.

2 years ago

Love it. Love the design, the materials, all of it – but mostly, I love that you figured out a place for the dang garbage. I am also a small kitchen owner. Ours is U-shaped instead of Galley. Why do builders even make kitchens that don’t have obvious accommodations for garbage cans? We had ours parked in front of our dishwasher for 14 years before we saved enough to remodel the kitchen, and our cabinet designer’s first iteration didn’t include the pull-out garbage can. I remember saying to him ‘the garbage can is our number one priority’ with a straight face! Only people who have to move their garbage cans four million times a day understand this I guess.

2 years ago
Reply to  KS

Haha – it’s a good poll. YOU HAVE 18” – wine fridge or garbage pin 😂

Mallory Guraya
2 years ago

Chris where is the lovely hardware from?

2 years ago
Reply to  Mallory Guraya

I believe it’s liberty hardware from

Just got a pretty basic stainless steel edge pull. We just opted for one with a rounded edge, whereas some of the other edge pulls can have a sharp edge.

Mallory Guraya
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris McGovern

Awesome thank you!

2 years ago

Beautiful updates and love the brick! EHD – I feel like there are more and more paneled appliances, which I’m loving and coveting, but I have NO idea how to accomplish such a look (do I need to buy a new fridge that is compatible? What are solutions for the appliances that already exist?). Would love to see a post detailing how to get this look (both if starting from scratch or trying to accommodate current appliances), along with links to potential solutions. Could maybe even be a good sponsorship opportunity for you? Thanks!

2 years ago
Reply to  Ano

Agreed and I think it helps make smaller spaces in particular feel more seamless. If you’re starting from scratch, you really need to spec the “panel ready” appliances at the same time you’re ordering /designing your cabinets because the size of the refrigerator, in particular can vary and the panel is typically customized to the brand/ model appliance. The panel style for dishwashers can also vary across brands.

2 years ago

Well done! I will never understand why so many houses have kitchen cabinets that don’t reach the ceiling. So much wasted storage space. And sometimes there’s not even room to display anything in that gap between ceiling and cabinet. Just being cheap, I guess. But visually and practically, the ceiling height cabinets make the most sense.

2 years ago

Omg brick veneer is a thing?! Loving this!

2 years ago

really thoughtful choices – thank you for sharing

2 years ago

In love with the cabinets right to the ceiling! They look great, extra storage and you don’t have to clean that icky bit on top that always gets oily and dusty. Such a great kitchen for an apartment – I’d move in!

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