Birmingham-based interior designer Cyndy Cantley of Cantley & Company let us into her charming kitchen and showed us how to take a small space and infuse it with big style. Everyone loves the celebrated white kitchen, and even Cyndy embraces neutrals and whites in her own kitchen space. But after years of nothing but the widely accepted white, Cyndy decided she wanted a change — something fun and playful that would bring a vibrant breath of fresh air to the kitchen. She started with a boldly colorful wallpaper featuring the art of Hunt Slonem, and the rest is history!

charming kitchen

Most of the kitchen still is in neutrals and whites, but the breakfast nook is where Cyndy amps up the color quotient with the wildly wonderful Hunt Slonem wallpaper.

bold colors

The wallpaper and colorful table setting surrounding the dining nook bring a vibrant energy to the kitchen.

As a result, this once-all-neutral kitchen eschews the uniform white, and opts for accents of unapologetic color, eclectic art and fresh greenery for an overall artsy elegance that mirrors the Cantley’s own fun personalities. Cyndy shows us that, while a classic white base is fantastic, having fun with your space and letting your personality shine through in your interiors often has a more timeless and soulful effect — because nothing is more stylish than being true to yourself!

Bold Colors

“My kitchen has always been white, and while I still strongly believe the permanent things — cabinets, countertops and backsplash — should remain neutral and timeless, I think it is fun to play with color,” says Cyndy of the bright colors anchoring the seating area. For less permanent changes that have a big impact, Cyndy suggests “wallpaper, which is reasonably inexpensive, and lighting with colorful shades and fabrics that can all be changed easily.” Cyndy decided on this vibrant Hunt Slonem wallpaper one weekend while her husband was away, and she surprised him with the bold new look upon his arrival. 

Despite the fact that she designs kitchens for a living, she still loves everything about the heart of the home. “It is truly where everything happens,” she says. “We sit at our kitchen table every night with a glass of wine and talk about our day and discuss dinner plans. We did homework here with our son for years. We entertain in our kitchen with friends, and linger long into the night, laughing and talking.”

colorful kitchen

“We love our kitchen because it is comfortable,” says Cyndy. “Our banquettes have sheepskin covers and large pillows, upholstered chairs on casters and a few Bongo stools to pull up for extra seating. Everything is slipcovered, so whether it’s dogs or red wine, everything cleans up easily.”

Hunt Slonem

American painter, sculptor and printmaker Hunt Slonem — whose rabbit paintings inspired Cyndy’s wallpaper — is renowned for his works of butterflies, rabbits and tropical birds.

colorful china

“I absolutely love china, and setting my table is my favorite part of entertaining and supper clubs,” says Cyndy. “I love to mix patterns. My newest favorite is using my mother’s old Tobacco Leaf by Mottahedeh with my Anna Weatherly pale French blue chargers. And I have these obnoxiously large Hock green St. Louis wine glasses to add to this colorful mix.”

colorful table setting

“Linens are another passion of mine, and the bigger the monogram the better! I had these pale blue linens monogrammed in the Hock green to pull everything together,” says Cyndy. “I wish people would use their good things. I use mine daily and put it all in the dishwasher. After 25 years of marriage, it still looks great!”

Accents of Art

When Cyndy began her career, she served as an intern for Richard Tubb, where they would often shop at the Loretta Goodwin Gallery. “I was young and passionate about art, so I approached Mrs. Goodwin and asked if she would help me begin an art collection,” says Cyndy. “She was so kind and generous with her time and knowledge with me, and I paid her monthly for years!” As a result, Cyndy has a collection that spans her adult life. She says she went through a large-gold-frame phase and that she has a love of culinary still lifes, many of which are peppered throughout her kitchen.

kitchen art

This lovely piece is hung right beside the range, to enjoy while cooking.

kitchen art

This tiny still life of an egg is right at home on the windowsill!

kitchen art

This striking red cherry is simply leaning against the white tile backsplash for a laid-back yet elegant presentation.

kitchen art

“In my own kitchen I love to have things that are special, like my son’s art from elementary school, a signed note from Frank Stitt, a painting of Santa.” says Cyndy of the art hanging above the sink.

kitchen art

Simply set against the wall, this culinary still life adds charm to the kitchen.

vintage Scandinavian spice rack

“One of my favorite things in my kitchen is an old Scandinavian spice rack my husband gave me years ago,” says Cyndy of the vintage functional art piece. “The old ceramic drawers are all labeled and behind the egg door there are cutouts to keep your eggs.”

Pops of Plant Life

Cyndy has many beautiful live plants throughout her home, from fresh cut flowers and miniature green trees to orchids and blooms from beautiful exposed bulbs. She likes to move them around to suit the mood of the gathering or the season. Here, she shares some different options for styling your kitchen with live plants and fresh greenery.

bulb vases

These bulb vases create a striking centerpiece when grouped together as a centerpiece or a sideboard arrangement.

amaryllis bloom

A closeup of the gorgeous amaryllis bloom

farmhouse sink and flowers

Paperwhites grow rapidly and easily on the sunlit counter beside this farmhouse sink.

orchid bloom

This lovely orchid bloom fell off of it’s branch, so Cyndy placed it in a delicate crystal glass beside to admire beside the kitchen sink.

paperwhite bulbs

In the window of the dining nook, these paperwhite bulbs in lime-colored vases add a nice pop of green.

kitchen flowers

This large white flowering orchid centerpiece looks stately in this wide, claw-footed copper vase.

peonies

Pink and red peonies on the dining room table are the icing on the cake in this vibrantly colored dining nook.

kitchen table

From the dining nook, one can see how the vibrant colors look when framed by the surrounding neutrals and whites.

lion backsplash

“I wanted something different behind my range, and after much thought, I decided to use an old lion’s head that was originally a fountain I discovered at Architectural Heritage years ago,” says Cyndy. “I thought it was so wonderful, and it reminded me of my favorite childhood book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

So, if you are growing weary of the neutrals in your kitchen, find a bold way to introduce your favorite color into the space. Or you can frame your child’s artwork, paint your own miniature paintings to prop in the windowsill or simply purchase your favorite flowers to brighten up the room! Be bold, embrace color, let your personality shine through, but most importantly, have fun!

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