Emily Henderson

The Lorey's Home

New Kitchen Project and Design Plan


A new kitchen project (three of them, actually) is underway. A lot of you are fans of ‘The Lorey’s house’, as are we. We’ve done their master bedroom, tween daughter’s bedroom, son’s room, dining room, family room and guest room/office. They always had intentions of finishing the house and renovating the kitchen so 6 months ago they called us up and said it was time. It’s going to be absolutely beautiful if I do say so myself. Ginny is the lead designer on this project and she has done such a great job of designing and project managing this job.

Here is what this kitchen looked like before:

Lorey's kitchen before

It’s a decent sized kitchen with lots of dated finishes and fixtures. The house is a traditional 1920’s Silverlake bungalow. It has classic if not slightly regency finishes and fixtures throughout, with some pattern, color and a general feeling of fun and casual. They/we’ve done a really great job of making this house feel super homey, happy and family-friendly while modernizing its classic/traditional style. We pulled some of these kitchens for inspiration and general direction goes for the space.

Nicole Lorey Emily Henderson Design Kitchen Inspiration

After the general look and feel was approved by the client we moved onto the finishes and detail ideas. Here is the product board that Ginny presented:

blue ceramic tile

They liked it but it still got tweaked. This option had a more traditional tile and more grey-grey’s for the cabinet color.

Sources: faucetbrass knob, brass pull handle, fireclay sink

Along with that board we presented a lot of options. Some clients can handle this many options, some can’t. Howard and Nicole are two that have really good taste and are fairly decisive but they like to know options and pricing. So we do these boards for each one.


Next up was the hardware. We all knew that they wanted a gold tone because A) its beautiful and, B) that is the finish they have throughout their home. The questions became – lacquered, unlacquered, aged, shiny, matte or satin?? There are a ton of options out there and a lot of price points. So we broke it down for them.


Ultimately because their house is traditional and has a classic feel to it we went with unlacquered brass that is shiny now but will patina and will get more beautiful (and darker and more matte) with age. This was a hard decision because matte brass is technically more trendy now, but we went with the style of the house  which wanted classic, not hip. Also classic is always hip, so there’s that.

Next up was sinks:


I love how Ginny includes the ‘what to consider’ at the bottom. It’s not just a question of ‘farm style’ or inset. There are lifestyle questions that each client has to answer to make sure that they are getting the product that makes the most sense for them functionally – not just aesthetically (same with the faucet and knob/pull conversations above). Can you handle the double handle on a faucet or do you like to do a quick cold-to-hot motion with one hand? With each renovation approximately 9,457 decisions are made. We try to make as many recommendations or even answer a lot of them for our clients, but they still have to approve them. I don’t know if they like to soak their pots in one side of the sink or if they are a straight-to-the-dishwasher people.

Meanwhile we worked on the layout. This was in conjunction with a contractor. You can’t just draw up a fantasy layout – there are many things that have to be considered and calculated into the plan.

Here is the existing layout:


The questions we had were:

1. Do you want to open the kitchen up into the dining room (which is the left wall in the photo)? We all agreed that while we love the open concept idea, it wasn’t right for this house. This is something that I’d like the world to really think about – do you want your kitchen seen from your more formal rooms? The dining room is a really beautiful focal point in the house – the room that you see very first when you come through the foyer. Having it shared with the kitchen would ruin that lovely classic formality that we had created. We are doing another full renovation right now where the homeowner has told us blatantly that she doesn’t want her kitchen opened up and we absolutely agreed. She doesn’t have young kids anymore, and she loves to make a HUGE mess while cooking dinner parties, so she wants her kitchen to be her kitchen and her dining room to be this formal beautiful space of its own. It’s something to think about, for sure.

We did however want it to flow more into the breakfast nook (that was shared with the family room). So we were going to open up that wall a bit and create more counter space there.

2. Do you want to create more space by opening up the pantry and have it become part of the kitchen? We all decided YES.

3. Do you like where are the appliances are both aesthetically and functionally? Not all. The fridge and oven were to move, but the sink and stove stayed in place.

Our contractor worked with Ginny and our cabinet guy to come up with this plan:

kitchen layout

We have created so much more storage, counter space AND eliminated some upper cabinets so it feels bigger and more open despite it being narrow.

kitchen 3d
kitchen 3d

Ginny refined the design plan with the actual finishes and fixtures that were chosen that were approved. It is going to be GORGEOUS, folks.

graphic cement tile

For the final plan we chose a more graphic cement tile with a slate blue/gray for the cabinet color.  We ended up going for a 33″ sink instead of a 30″ which works much better with the size of their kitchen and we went with a blue for the cabinets to bring the floor color up into the space.

Sources: faucet, bin pulls, cabinet knobs, farmhouse sink, pendant lights – Baldwin 6″ fitter in unlacquered brass with 12″ Deco stepped shade, wall tiles from Fireclay tile in Blue Spruce, floor tiles from Cle Tile in Big Al and cabinet color Wolf Grey by Benjamin Moore.

The kitchen renovation is underway, but we have a few more weeks. In the meantime, the custom cabinets are coming along very nicely:

Nicole Lorey Emily Henderson Design Kitchen Workshop Progress

At the same time we have demo’d the existing space all out in prep for everything new coming in. The whole project should take 6 weeks, CROSS YOUR FINGERS.

Nicole Lorey Emily Henderson Design Kitchen Demolition

While cabinets are being produced the floor tile went in. YOU. GUYS. IT. IS. STUNNING.

Nicole Lorey Emily Henderson Design Kitchen Flooring

Up next … the cabinet install. Quick note about the cabinets – although this could be its own 10 part series. You have a few options as far as cabinets go – readymade (Ikea, although i’m sure the Home Depot/Lowes have their own) or custom. Ikea is very, very inexpensive, less customizable and ultimately not as good quality. Custom is very expensive (I believe these were $25k) and they will be PERFECT in both style, size, finish and quality for the space. If you are updating your kitchen I would suggest going for Ikea cabinets or repainting or simply refacing your cabinets. But, if you are hiring a designer and contractor to completely renovate your kitchen, then get the cabinets of your dreams. This is a once in a lifetime job and something you will live with for a long time – INVEST or you may regret it later down the line.

Nicole Lorey Emily Henderson Design Kitchen Cabinet Instal

A few things you may notice – we took the cabinets to the ceiling. There used to be a soffit above all the cabinets which was completely empty and useless so we removed it and greatly increased the height of the cabinets which meant more storage and a better use of space. To avoid a trend (even though we currently love it) and to keep it classic, we painted the uppers and lowers the same color, while the open shelving on the other side will be either white, marble or wood – it’s TBD.

Stay tuned for the full kitchen reveal in a couple months (it has to get finished, shot, styled.) I’m sure you have some questions/comments so go for it and we’ll try to answer or update the post if there are large chunks of info missing.

See the rest of the Lorey’s home here: Living Room progressTween Girl Bedroom  | 5 Tips to Design a Timeless Boys Bedroom | Dining Room | Office Turned Guest Room  | Bright and Airy Family Room  | Master Bedroom 

*Design Boards by Ginny Macdonald for EHD. 

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  1. In the first image of the layout their address is still visible. You may want to blur it, or remove the image (unless it’s a fake one.)

    Otherwise, this looks like it’s going to be pretty gorgeous!

  2. It looks like the narrowest point is as you turn the corner coming in or out of the exterior door- if this is a main traffic area of their house, they might have to be careful not to bang anything theyre carrying against those gorgeous blue cabinets. It would be lovely to have a little ‘landing zone’ at that open bookshelf, where they could drop keys and groceries and kick off their shoes as theyre coming inside!

  3. this post could not have come at a better time! i just bought a (little) apartment on the lower east side in nyc and the entire thing needs to be gutted, starting with the kitchen. i have been agonizing over custom vs. ikea cabinets, and this is SUPER helpful in so many ways!

    ps: i’m going to blogging about the process, so if you ever need to fill some blog space and want a little east coast injected into EHD, i’d love to submit a guest post or two about my reno.

  4. What a great looking plan. I am so pleased to hear you bring up the advantages of not combining the kitchen/dining space. If you are a serious cook maybe you don’t want to have the upholstery smelling like caramelized onions, anchovies, etc. I also love the element of surprise when you bring the food into a separate dining space. Plus the mess factor.

    1. Totally agree with not opening kitchen into any other living areas! When I’m in my personal kitchen space I want no part of kid-world discussions (saved seat, your feet stink…) and TV choices (Nickelodeon vs Teen Mom). This is a day-to-day situation; why do people with families want open concept for occasional entertaining? Me and my kitchen mess want to be left alone!

  5. LOVE those tiled floors! Just amazing. The cabinet color is perfect. Did I miss the link for the caesarstone? Looking forward to the final result.

  6. Beautiful! I can’t wait to see the finished product!

    Do you use an architect for your elevation drawings? Or is that something you do yourself?

  7. I learn so much from your posts, and I’m glad to hear you also avoid trends and try to stick to a classic look. I love hearing the thought process. This will be beautiful!

  8. Oh Emily! I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I do peruse your blog/Instagram religiously.

    My husband and I are currently renovating a 1930 bungalow down in Tennessee (doing most of the work ourselves) – and I have to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for the inspiration you’ve unknowingly provided along the way. It’s like you somehow know exactly which home improvement project I’m currently working on and write about it the next day – as was the case with this kitchen!

    I could write an entire book of praises about your work – and I feel like this comment just may be heading in that borderline crazy direction, so I’m going to stop myself before things gets out of hand. :)

    Quick question about IKEA cabinets – I know you mention your (slight?) dislike of them, but due to budgets (and because this isn’t our “dream home” – more like a starter home), we are going with good ol’ IKEA. Would you happen to have any encouraging examples of kitchens you’ve seen/designed/decorated where the cabinets were from IKEA? Asking for a friend here. :)

    Also, totally off topic, but if you’re EVER down in Tennessee, LET’S GET COFFEEEEEE – that is, if you’re not yet totally wary of my overt excitement.

    1. Oksana- Dana from housetweaking.Com has a whole series on Ikea kitcheng that is super helpful. She features complete Ikea renos, partial and everything in between. Chrislovesjulia.Com redid their kitchen with Ikea and it’s gorgeous.

        1. I remember years ago Consumer Reports (I think) did a review of cabinets and I think Ikea’s were top-rated, probably largely due to the good hinge hardware, if I recall right. They’re DIY and unique materials but not at all a bad option!

    2. Hi Oksana. I am currently in the throes of an IKEA kitchen renovation and have a couple of tips to send your way!

      While I, as an architect, agree that it’s much more desirable to go with custom/semi-custom over stock IKEA, we too don’t plan on living here forever and may even rent it out when we move on. Because of that, we love the idea of having the flexibility to run to IKEA if anything gets damaged and needs to be replaced (by us or a future tenant), or if we decide that we’d rather have shelves in this cabinet rather than drawers. No contractors or carpenters needed!

      For the initial installation, we do have our contractor modifying a few of the cabinets to fit into some of the awkward “leftover” spaces, but there are YouTube videos out there that a mid-level DIYer could follow to make the same adjustments. Other ways to “customize” IKEA cabinets are to get non-IKEA door and drawer fronts (www.semihandmade.com and http://www.Kokeena.com) and use some nicer hardware.

      It took a while to nail down the exact layout that I wanted that fit the IKEA stock sizes logically, but so far it is looking great and I’m so excited about it! All of that being said, if I had the budget, I’d definitely go custom…but I’m glad IKEA exists since I don’t!

      Good luck on your renovation!

    3. We finished a full renovation recently. Decided to go with ikea kitchen, but to make it work better for us we had planned a few little tweaks with it. Although we had ikea sizing in mind when planning the layout, it obviously was not perfect. But we hired a craftsman who could tailor it to our needs, like we had a 17 cm (sorry, I’m European:) gap on one wall, you normally can’t fill with ikea, as the narrowest cabinet they have is 20 cm. but our guy just built a 17 cm cabinet for us, and fitted the 20 cm door to it, so now it is perfect to store all my trays, boards and similar stuff. Also, he took out 4 cm from one of the cabinets and it’s door (that sits on top of the counter in the corner) so the top matches the other tall cabinets beside it. He really did a beautiful job, it is a solid oak front with oak veneer (hyttan fronts) with a little edging around, but you just can’t tell the difference, it really looks perfect. From a few extra doors I’ve bought he built a custom bookshelf for cookbooks that close off the end if you look from the dining room. Another extra we had was the countertop, that was custom made microcement (similar to concrete). Hacking ikea was a good compromise for us, it fits perfectly, looks pretty amazing, but was quite budget friendly.

    4. Do you know about Semihandmade? They make custom doors for ikea cabinets. I visited their showroom this week and they are TOP Quality! Beautiful and custom look for about 40% less than fully custom cabinets. I am using them for my full kitchen build!

    5. Hi Oksana,

      I was doing the kitchen and baths for a new construction project last year and due to the budget, I recommended IKEA cabinets. I had never used them before, so I did a TON of research and feel like I opened every single cabinet and drawer at IKEA Brooklyn – and I am sure I wasn’t the first one pulling on all those knobs.

      What I learned is that the quality is actually pretty good. I also found a ton of praise from IKEA kitchen owners online – not to mention several nice newly done kitchens (by both interior designers and DIYers). You can also customize the cabinets, as others have mentioned here, with different fronts and/or hardware. Every project is unique with its own set of goals and constraints, do what you feel is best for you and your project. Good luck!

    6. My husband is a contractor (a builder as we call them in Australia) and has installed a few Ikea kitchens. I think they’re great when budgets are tight but would recommend paying the money to have a professional install them – save your time and money and know that it’s done perfectly. Good luck with your reno!

      1. Hey all! I actually really like ikea kitchens, too, and I used them recently in the LG kitchen project. I haven’t used them in actual renovations partly because my contractors refuse to install them and once you go custom, its like going custom drapery – the work is soooo good its hard to go back. NOW, for this kitchen custom really was/is the best choice because we wanted to do some smart/clever organization and layout options that Ikea didn’t provide. But let me be clear – IF you can go ikea, its an EXCELLENT option. And thanks Oksana for all the lovely nice words :)

      1. Emily! One thing you might want to remind people of w Shaws, which I learned the hard way, is that depending on where you order you sometimes can’t specify which side you want the drain on. I didn’t want center because I wash dishes in a tub, but I ended up w a left-side drain–SUPER annoying. It’s also so deep, and I don’t love trying to rinse out under the protective drain board in the bottom. All stuff I wish I’d know before splurging.

  9. I appreciate the point about a closed kitchen. Every time I watch a show and the folks want an “open floor plan” I cringe. It works for lots of people–I know. But, if there’s ONE thing I could change about my house its that you wouldn’t be able to see the kitchen from every living space. Our house is small (1450 sqft), and you can see it from the entry, dining room and living room. I appreciate a good, closed off kitchen where you can cook, make a mess and LEAVE IT BEHIND CLOSED DOORS (WALLS)!

    That floor….ooooh la la!

    1. I appreciated that point as well! I bought my home almost a year ago and nothing about it is open concept. I love that my messy kitchen isn’t on display if I have guests over. And I personally don’t like people watching me while I cook (especially if I’m just sort of making it up as I go) so a closed kitchen works better for me!

      1. I live in a house that is 90 years old. We have a formal dining room with one of those old-school swinging doors between it and the kitchen. I thought for sure it would get replaced at some point in our 24 years here but it’s still there. I actually love bringing the last plate into the dining room and magically swinging the door closed on my mess. It’s also nice for me between courses so I can load the dishwasher and plate the next course without having everyone watch. Maybe designers should bring the swinging door back!

        1. We had a swinging Door! In my ignorance, we got rid of it. Dumb move! We should’ve just painted it. But we were in baby stage and it pinched too many fingers. At that time, it felt like we would never be out of the baby era… So out it went. :-(

  10. This is so beautiful! I’ll throw a cabinet tip out there: if you’re renovating and ikea cabinets won’t work for your space, there are other ready-to-assemble (RTA) options out there. We used Scherr’s Cabinets, and got cabinets custom built for our space and shipped to us in flat-pack, which we then assembled and installed. It cost about twice as much as Ikea, so it wasn’t dirt cheap, but not nearly as much as getting custom cabinets built for us locally.

    It’s been about a year and a half, and we are SO HAPPY with the cabinets Scherr’s sent us. They fit our space perfectly, they’re as solid as a tank, and I totally expect them to last for like 25 years. Installing them ourselves was a lot of work (and OK, some swearing too because installing cabinets is hard) but I’d totally do it again if we ever renovate another kitchen.

  11. I love these posts!
    And I love how Ginny noted the things to be considered, making the options, the whole point (and outcome) clearer. Sometimes, people like or dislike something and they just cannot pinpoint why, or what exactly so this sets things much clearer! Brilliant!

  12. I am so in love with the patterned tiles. GORGEOUS is right – way to go, Ginny! (Although I will admit I like the first tile option best!)

  13. Im about to renovate my kitchen in LA and LOVE These cabinets! Can you pretty please share the cabinet maker with me so I can get a bid for my space? Would be so, so helpful. Thank you!!

  14. Excellent post–love all of the information. Looks like Ginny did an amazing job. Can’t wait to see her Makeover Takeover reveal also!

  15. How did you decide on the gray/green backsplash against the blue of the cabinets and floor? I’m sure it will look stunning but it’s not an obvious choice. Would love to hear that decision process! Can’t wait to see the final result!

  16. Just a quick note to mention that I love how in-depth this post is! Love seeing not only the different mood boards, but also the actual plans and in-between shots with only tile, then cabinets, etc. Looks like this kitchen is going to be amazing!

    1. I second this sentiment! Love the behind-the-scenes perspective, information, and potential issues/things to consider. Makes it more relevant to real-life than an instant gratification of a before/after scenario. Good job, Ginny!

  17. Beautiful Design and presentation. Thank you for showing the drawings and cabinet shops! How fantastic! I love the efficiency of your layout…so much space! That’s the power of design – more openness and more storage :)

  18. Huzzah for cabinets that go to the ceiling! Space above kitchen cabinets is one of my pet peeves, the soffit isn’t so bad, but these are so very much better! Excited to see the final project.

  19. OH, the floor tile could induce me to leave my husband and marry it! I love the soft grays and blues… spectacular. It speaks to me and I may have to put it in my kitchen and bathroom. And coupled with the gray cabinets… perfection!

  20. Wow – that floor tile is stunning! We have a 1950s colonial so I didn’t think encaustic tiles would make sense for our kitchen remodel, but your pics have me wondering if I could make it work for a powder room?? I just love the intense patterns and colors…*swoon*. I can’t wait to see the finished space!

    I’m also in agreement about keeping the dining room its own space. We have a swinging door in between our kitchen and dining room and it’s one of the things that I love most about our house. I love being able to close the door on the mess when we’re hosting a dinner party, or any other time, really. Swinging and pocket doors FTW!

  21. OMG THE FLOORS!! Wow. The whole thing is going to be stunning but those floors just about stopped my heart! I like how they will work with a peak from the dinning room too. This is going to be an incredible reveal. Well done Ginny!

  22. We’re currently planning our own whole house renovation and there’s a ton of great advice here. Kind of kicking myself for not contacting your team about working with us at the start – esp. since you’re local. Thank you for posting! Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  23. I know that this is a super personal question…..but can you give me a ball park idea of the cost of this project? I have a very similar kitchen that needs a full renovation and I have absolutely no idea what it would cost.

      1. HA. As I was writing this I thought – I should give pricing, but then I wanted to asked the clients first as it is kinda personal. So stay tuned. I will tell you that we got multiple quotes between that ranged between $40k – $80k. The cabinets were originally quoted $25k alone (I think, at least that was the first number thrown around but I can double check with Ginny). But yes, I’d love to give that info I just want to check with them. xx

  24. Well that was satisfying! Loved being able to see the beginnings of the plan AND see a good bit of the progress! Thank you for that!

  25. Love these posts, thanks for sharing! Question – I noticed in the photo of the tiled flooring that you installed the tile wall-to-wall, even under where the cabinets would be. Is there a reason for that? Is it because the lowers are open underneath?

  26. I used to work for a custom home builder.. Be sure there is room to open the refrigerator door that appears to be up against a wall in the new layout. The new design looks amazing but if you can’t open the fridge door all the way so you can pull out whatever drawers are in there, that’s a big bummer.

  27. I loved getting to peek into your design process! It was super educational and also highlighted the value of partnering with a designer. Your posts are my favorite because I learn something and also gain appreciation for the careful thought behind each decision. Thank you for sharing!

  28. The floor tiles are lovely … But my fear would be that they are such a strong fixed element. Would it date the kitchen? dictate design choices forever? I say this partly because we are renovating a bathroom, and the designer chose these lovely graphic wall tiles which gave me flashbacks about my parent’s house – the bathrooms all have this 80s patterned tile which is ugly now but seemed so cool when we moved in. neutral flooring seems much less expensive in the long run. (No need to replace when styles change??) these are questions from a non-designer not a critique.

  29. FWIW, my Ikea cabinets are in great shape 10+ years later. Custom was not in the budget at the time, so I went cheaper. I still love them. Of course, I’m a single person; if they were getting wear and tear from a whole family, it might be different. Still, if you can only afford Ikea, don’t fret; in my experience, you won’t have to replace them right away, so you’ll have time to save up for the dream cabinets.

  30. Hi Emily,

    I’m a huge fan of your work, this kitchen is gorgeous! Quick question, what type of Caesarstone did you end up using as a marble replacement in this kitchen? I love the look in your final plan and am looking for something similar to use in my kitchen. Any help would be much appreciated!

    Thank you!

  31. you’re so smart to keep it going with the home’s history. just a question about the paint color on the cabinets, what is the color? as always Emily you’ve nailed it and the homeowners will love it for all time. taking ones time with choices always pays off.

  32. The tile in this kitchen is a bold and beautiful choice. I love the way it looks! I’ve never really been a big fan of brass, but it actually works really well in this kitchen and is now making me reconsider my dislike of it. Thanks for sharing this kitchen project!