Solutions: Kitchen remodel goes for a classic look

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Since a kitchen remodel can be a costly endeavor, it makes sense to select a classic design that will stand the test of time.

That’s exactly what Margaret Skinner was able to achieve with an extensive renovation for an Ann Arbor couple that moved abroad and back between the United States and the United Kingdom on more than one occasion.

One of their main goals was to lighten up the space. “They wanted it to be much brighter and more open than what was there previously,” says Skinner, principal interior designer for Margeaux Interiors in Birmingham.

“It had dark cabinets and countertops and it was closed in with a peninsula plus an island. They wanted to get rid of that and add more storage,” she says. “They also wanted the cooking area to be open to the dining area, so we changed the floor plan a little by moving the cooktop to the peninsula and adding a freestanding table.”

With the table came more flexibility. “If they wanted to move the table, they had that option,” says Skinner. “It has that UK feel that’s more of an unfitted kitchen where you have furniture instead of all cabinetry. It’s a modern English sort of look.”

Instead of the standard stainless steel, they chose cream-colored AGA appliances to coordinate with the cabinetry.

Open shelves beside the fridge add a distinctive touch. “She wanted to incorporate them into the space because she enjoys cooking and wanted real cookbooks versus an iPad sitting on a stand,” Skinner says.

One of the challenges the designer faced was the deep soffit above that couldn’t be moved because of the plumbing. Painting it with a color that was matched to the finish on the cabinets and adding molding makes this area look like part of the cabinetry.

“When you find a way to deal with something you don’t want there that has to be there, you don’t notice it so much,” she says.

They were able to capture that homey vintage feel the owners were after with classic inset cabinets that resemble furniture, along with some that feature glass fronts.

“We wanted to make the kitchen feel light and airy and keep the upper areas light with such a large amount of windows in the space,” Skinner says.

The marble and limestone backsplash with a honed finish ties into the gray tones of the soapstone countertops for a soothing backdrop. “From a color standpoint, there are three basic color elements,” she says. “You can mix gray with white and cream, mixing warm tones with cool tones.”

Darker furniture anchors the space along with select cabinets that include a tall pantry and a bar area that relate to the wood tones of the dining room table and the freestanding table that serves as an island.

Though her clients have since relocated, their timeless kitchen remodel was probably a major selling point for the current owners.

For information, call 248-593-9774 or go to

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at