She likes the color blue, he wanted a coffee bar … in the give-and-take of marriage — and interior design — the goal is for everyone to be happy. Atlanta interior designer Julie Holloway recently tackled the remodeling of this circa-1986 kitchen in Norcross, GA, so homeowners Ashley and Eliot Usher could gain a lighter, more up-to-date space.

Since Julie’s design firm is called Milk and Honey Home — with a specialty of creating creamy, cottage-y interiors — it’s no surprise that the Ushers ended up with this sunny, white kitchen. “I think of this kitchen as classic with a touch of French cottage,” says the designer. The soft blue island as the focal point came about naturally: the designer had noticed a blue front door on their house, and then Ashley produced an inspiration photo with a blue island, confirming it was a happy color for her.

Holloway kitchen before

Before: The layout and aesthetics of the previous kitchen needed improvement.

Overall

“I think white kitchens can be cold and potentially boring, so the blue island is a bit of the unexpected, and clients typically love it when they break away and do something fun,” says interior designer Julie Holloway. Homeowner Ashley Usher liked the furniture detail on the cabinetry and the inset, soft-close doors.

Holloway Kitchen

The Ushers’ kitchen opens to the backyard via French doors. Glass subway tiles along the range wall add an artistic touch, since they act as a mirror to the outdoors, reflecting trees and sky.

Julie completely gutted and changed the layout of the kitchen to maximize the homeowners’ wish list. One clever move: creating a cozy banquette eating area at a sunny window, which had once been in front of the kitchen sink.

The designer chose Shaker-style kitchen cabinetry, painted a timeless Benjamin Moore White Dove, which she calls “a perfect creamy white. I say you can never go wrong with white, but my personal opinion is you always need to then add black in a room for contrast — such as the lanterns over the island — along with the warmth of wood floors,” Julie explains.

Holloway kitchen

The homeowners are big cooks, so they splurged on the 48-inch range with a built-in griddle. The farmhouse sink and classic bridge faucet are other nice upgrades.

Holloway kitchen

Julie chose the lantern-style lights by Crystorama for both looks and function, opting for a fixture with no glass sides. “No glass = easy to clean,” she says, adding that shades on the bulbs make for a soft, ambient light. “With all of the white and polished nickel fixtures in the kitchen, it’s nice to mix in another metal finish, and black helps to anchor a room.” As another personal touch, she wanted to choose a light that wouldn’t be a glare in Eliot’s eyes, since he’s 6’3” and hence closer to the lights while in the midst of kitchen duty.

Holloway Kitchen

Windows along the banquette area and the French doors keep this kitchen bright.

To further distinguish the space, the designer chose glass subway tile for the backsplash. “The glass backsplash gives it a touch of bling,” Julie says.  A mix of shiny/matte, light/dark and smooth/textural materials is a hallmark of Milk and Honey Home interior design.

Built-in cabinetry along one wall resembles a large piece of furniture, particularly with its open shelves and marble top. Thanks to lift-up doors in the middle of the cabinet, the designer was able to tuck away an espresso machine and other appliances to reduce countertop clutter. These kind of custom touches are a must for today’s kitchens, but require advance planning. “Work with your contractor to plan accordingly for electrical and water while you’re still in the design process,” Julie advises. The unit also houses a baking station, where Ashley keeps all of her measuring cups, bowls and cake stands.

Holloway Kitchen

Local cabinetmaker Daniel Harper of Renew Properties constructed this clever wall of cabinetry that includes both kitchen storage and an appliance center.

Holloway Kitchen

A Pottery Barn table anchors the new breakfast area, which includes banquette seating with a lift-up top for storage. Accent pillows and the light fixture are from Ballard Designs.

Holloway kitchen

An adjacent sitting area picks up the soft colors of the kitchen.

The end result merges form and function in a colorful, classic way and ensures everybody in the family has something to call their own.

The before and after shots offer insight to the dramatic transformation that took place in this kitchen.

The before and after shots offer insight to the dramatic transformation that took place in this kitchen.

The interior designer on this project is Julie Holloway of Milk and Honey Home. And special thanks to Jennifer Kesler for today’s beautiful photography.

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