Resembling the color of a juicy, red tomato, the island in this Asheville, NC, kitchen somehow makes sense for a place where food is prepared and eaten. “I’ve heard that red stimulates the appetite, although I don’t know if that’s just a myth,” says kitchen designer Leslie Huntley of Asheville-based Roost Interior Design.

What IS true, she says, is that the family of six who resides in the home wanted a friendly, bright kitchen, and red seemed a great way to add a pop of color against classic white cabinets. “Plus,” adds the designer, “the red ties in with their folk art and is such a good focal point to the room.”

We couldn’t agree more! Take a look:

Red island in Asheville kitchen

This new kitchen in a circa 1900 Craftsman bungalow includes the right mix of contemporary and warm touches — shiny IKEA cabinets (approximately $10,000 for the entire set) mixed with butcher block and walnut countertops. The homeowners don’t like having their backs to their guests while cooking, so the range was installed facing the room. A Kohler stainless-steel sink and colorful FLOR carpet tiles provide additional stylish details. Brilliant!

Look through French doors to kitchen with red island.

French doors bring a link to the outdoors and add sunlight to this happy kitchen!

Leslie met an extensive wishlist in this kitchen remodel. The family wanted an eat-in kitchen, lots of storage, a professional-grade range, plus plenty of room for homeschooling and other at-home activities. She accomplished all of this in a 10-by-21-foot space, taking advantage of a two-level island to hold a lot — the range, storage drawers, butcher-block countertops for prep space on either side, and an upper shelf for holding a snack.

A custom banquette area provides a spot for the family to gather in a lively setting. Built-in seating is covered with outdoor fabric in the same wavy fabric pattern used on window treatments. Butcher block incorporated as a tabletop mimics the island countertops as another clever touch.

colorful banquette provides ample seating

“We had very little space for seating, so a table and chairs were out,” recalls kitchen designer Leslie Huntley. “A banquette didn’t seem to take up as much space visually, especially when we decided to do a ‘floating banquette’ with room underneath.” Gooseneck lanterns are from Barn Light Electric, and they pick up the red on the island. Fabric on the seating (and window treatments) is stain repellent, made for outdoor use.

Bertazzoni stove and wood countertops

A stove by Bertazzoni gave the homeowners the professional look they wanted, but at a more modest price than other brands. The inside of the island shows how the designer cleverly used IKEA stock cabinets, then wrapped them in wood painted a vivid red.

The designer kept the budget in check by using IKEA cabinets, but with some custom touches. “I think sometimes people think they have to spend a lot of money on cabinets,” she says, “As if when it’s time to buy kitchen cabinets, they need to take out a second mortgage. But I’m just not sure that has to be a given.” Several of her clients have used IKEA cabinets and been happy, she reports, not only with the look of them, but the working hardware itself. For this project, Leslie and the homeowners chose glossy white cabinets for their perimeter cabinetry. They wrapped additional wood pieces on top of existing IKEA cabinetry on the island, then painted it all red and added the custom walnut countertop to the upper island for a personal touch.

Glass tiles taken all the way up to the ceiling are a sophisticated upgrade. A contemporary vent hood is another. “I like saving money on cabinets, so that we can splurge elsewhere,” she says.

Back-painted glass tiles

Back-painted glass tiles in white offer a modern twist to subway tiles.


Built-in desk and workspace

A built-in desk area in the kitchen provides a place for children to do homework, and the shelves house the homeowners’ collection of cookbooks.

The finished product is a highly functional and very inviting space in which to cook, entertain or perform day-to-day tasks. And with budget-friendly selections that made way for more indulgent buys, the outcome is a stylish and affordable space.


Designer: Leslie Huntley, Roost Interior Design
Photography: Matt Rose, Matt Rose Photo
Cabinets: IKEA
Carpet tiles: FLOR
Sink: Kohler
Table lighting: Barn Light Electric
Stove: Bertazzoni


If you’re on the hunt for more beautiful kitchen projects to inspire a change in your home, check out our collection of beautiful kitchens from around the South. Click here to get started!