With all due respect to the ever-popular all-white kitchen, charm and color are alive and well in kitchens these days. For this Atlanta kitchen in the Johns Creek area north of the city, interior designer Cristi Holcombe was pleased when her client Courtney Stakel requested a lively space.

Kitchen cabinets in shades of gray (very light on perimeter cabinets, a richer blue-gray on the island) set the tone for this sophisticated kitchen in suburban Atlanta. Countertops and backsplash in a seamless marble bring a classic look to the space.

Kitchen cabinets in shades of gray (very light on perimeter cabinets, a richer blue-gray on the island) set the tone for this sophisticated kitchen in suburban Atlanta. Countertops and backsplash in a seamless marble bring a classic look to the space.

Antique doors installed as an entryway to the pantry bring warmth to the light-colored space.

Antique doors installed as an entryway to the pantry bring warmth to the light-colored space.

“She wanted a home that was warm and cozy,” says Cristi. “Courtney also wanted splashes of color … she’s not much for neutrals. Functionally, the home had to have a large kitchen that was really open and made for easy entertaining.”

To accommodate this busy family of four (with two teenagers), Cristi and builder Pete Witalis designed the new kitchen with an over-scaled island — more than 10 feet long. Aside from the island’s ability to feed a lot of people and store key kitchen items, the pop of blue-gray adds a stylish touch to the room. Cristi had the island painted Sherwin-Williams‘ “Westchester Gray” as enough of a contrast to the lighter gray perimeter cabinets in Sherwin-Williams’ “Agreeable Gray.” Upholstered bar stools in a modern print (stain-proof fabrics, of course) elevate the space even more.

Roman shades in a Schumacher fabric distinguish the window above the sink. A bridge faucet adds height to the sink.

Roman shades in a Schumacher fabric distinguish the window above the sink. A bridge faucet adds height to the sink.

Bar stools are from Ballard Designs using a stain-resistant Sunbrella fabric (ballarddesigns.com).

Bar stools are from Ballard Designs using a stain-resistant Sunbrella fabric.

Several other key features up the charm factor in this kitchen. Cristi is a big fan of incorporating items from Scott Antique Markets, the monthly flea market in Atlanta, to bring in unexpected personality to a room. She and the Stakels went down there one weekend searching for lighting, but stumbled upon a vendor with antique doors, and voila … these 18th-century dark-wood doors called out for a home in the new Stakel kitchen. “We went back and forth about what location they were best suited for, but finally decided they would be the entry to the pantry,” says the designer. “I had the builder custom-frame the pantry door and sink it down into the flooring, so that the entire frame of the antique door could stay intact. They are such a great conversation piece!”

The homeowners' existing table and chairs provide nearby seating. An oversized basket serves as wall art.

The homeowners’ existing table and chairs provide nearby seating. An oversized basket serves as wall art.

Antique lanterns and ceiling beams help "age" the kitchen in a good way.

Antique lanterns and ceiling beams help “age” the kitchen in a good way.

Cristi also found antique lighting to add some history to the room, unearthing these vintage lanterns at Scott’s and cleaning them up to serve duty above the island. “I loved that the lights are oversized,” she explains. “I had to have them rewired and add new chain and canopies because they were missing from the fixtures, but I couldn’t have found better pendants if I had custom-designed them.”

A gorgeous floral print from Schumacher brings in softness and more color to the kitchen. “It ended up being the fabric we based the entire home’s color scheme around,” says Cristi. “It was the perfect blend of bright and cheery sophistication. I had had the fabric in my library for a while and never found the right project to use it on.”

Cristi believes the combination of special elements in this suburban kitchen keeps it from being just another white kitchen. “When I’m designing a white kitchen, I like for it to be architecturally interesting so it doesn’t look cold,” she says. Adding wood beams or a backsplash with a hint of color like gray or blue is a perfect way to up the interest, the designer advises, along with a painted island. As Cristi says, “Making a white kitchen interesting is all about adding special moments in the space.”

Thank you to Christina Wedge for today’s beautiful photos. 

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