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Doing Black Cabinetry the Right Way

Every once in a while, a client asks JASON BALL interiors to design a kitchen with some real drama. This is nothing against most of the other kitchens I've done, but some people just really want to push the design envelope to the limit. I'm working on one such kitchen. We, the clients and myself, set out to design a kitchen all the right details, backsplash, cabinet hardware, counter top and especially the cabinetry. Our design choice was to use cabinetry in a deep black paint color with a higher level of glossiness than usual. Different than most kitchens, this particular kitchen can handle the idea of dark cabinetry because of the quality and quantity of light available. Large windows in the adjacent breakfast nook (with an amazing view, by the way) and an abundance of overhead lighting makes it easier to ensure a light-filled space despite the cabinetry tone.

But, how can you incorporate dark cabinetry in a setting without all of these particular advantages. If the idea of black cabinetry is something that interests you, then this article will guide you through the selection process of how best to use black cabinetry in your kitchen.

Start Small. One of the easiest ways to get a darker tone in your kitchen it to only use it in one or two selective locations. An island or bar area are perfect locations for beautiful black cabinetry and a great way to introduce black into your space.

Black island and built-in china cabinet: Design by Sarah Davison Interior Design

Black island and built-in china cabinet: Design by Sarah Davison Interior Design

Balance with light surfaces all around. Using black cabinetry in your kitchen is all about balance. The easiest way to balance out the black cabinetry is to make sure you have sufficient light in the room. Recessed lights, pendants, in-cabinet lighting are all crucial in creating a light filled room

Lights abound in this kitchen - Photography by Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Lights abound in this kitchen - Photography by Maxine Schnitzer Photography

Reflective surfaces are your friend. If you're daring enough to go all out and put in a full set of black cabinetry, use metal finishes, glass and other reflective surfaces to help "lighten" the space. These shiny surfaces are important ways to push the light around the space and provide little glints of light against the dark cabinetry. 

Chrome pendants and cabinet hardware are the jewelry in this kitchen - Design by Laurysen Kitchens Ltd. 

Chrome pendants and cabinet hardware are the jewelry in this kitchen - Design by Laurysen Kitchens Ltd. 

Go all out for pure drama. If you're really bold, why not pull out all the stops? This amazing kitchen has everything going for it - an amazing ceiling, gorgeous cabinetry and a floor that builds on the overall look. One design element to make note of. The farm table plays an incredibly important role in the space. It adds warmth and age to space, a great add.

Black cabinetry with checkerboard floor and antique farmhouse table - Design by Alonso and Associates

Black cabinetry with checkerboard floor and antique farmhouse table - Design by Alonso and Associates

Here are a couple of instances in which I've used black cabinetry. In one kitchen, we did black on all the cabinetry. In the other one, just the island and built-in buffet area got special treatment.


I can't wait to show you the kitchen JBi has recently been working on. I'm pretty sure it's going to be really show stopper. And, one last word, don't let black cabinetry get in the way of creating your dream kitchen. Go bold or go home, right?! 



Designing The Perfect Basement Bar

It might possibly be every guy's dream to have a bar in his basement - a place he can call his own to hang out with friends and just enjoy life, away from everything else. The interior designers at JASON BALL interiors have been working on designing a bar as part of a full basement remodel. When first working with our client, he really only had in his mind he wanted something really cool, different than the rest of the house and artistic (he's a stone sculpture by trade). So began the design process of understanding and interpreting his personal aesthetic. During the course of design meetings the space evolved from a game room/wine bar to a full fledged bar with gaming table in the same space. To help us along the process, we came up with a conceptual theme to guide our design decisions - a "chic nightclub lounge in Rome". We want the space to be a complete amalgamation of old-world and contemporary, rustic with streamlined, high design with fun. More so than other rooms in a home, a basement bar is a destination room. It is allowed to feel distinctly different than other rooms in the house. And, why not? It's a bar - let's have some fun creating a unique experience for bar patrons. Here are guidelines we came up with during the design process to help us put together the prefect space.

A theme is not a bad thing. For most interior designers, we try to avoid being a "theme" designer. We want  to create classic, timeless spaces that will serve our clients for years. However, a bar is one room that working within a theme can be a fun and exciting challenge. In this example, the designers/architects created a wine bar fitting of the region. The nautical details are carried throughout the bar - some less subtle than others.

Design by Siemasko & Verbridge

Consider the function for the person serving drinks. There are certain amenities required to make a bar truly functional for the person behind the bar. A small refrigerator, a bar sink, an ice source (either a freezer or ice-maker) and sufficient storage. Having all these elements will not only make it easier for the "bartender," but also a better experience for everyone.

Construction by Stephens Fine Homes Ltd

Comfortable seating is key. This one is so easy to understand, but probably easily overlooked. A basement bar is a hangout and not too many people will hang out for hours sitting on some uncomfortable seating. Spend a little extra on quality seating and everyone will thank you.

Include other activities for a well-rounded experience. Billiards, a big-screen TV, game table, etc. all help make the bar experience feel more authentic. It gives visitors multiple activities to do while hanging out.

Design by Island Architects

A bar can fit anywhere. For homes limited on extra space, especially single-function space, build a bar in a cabinet that can be opened when needed and closed off when not in use.

Design by Gonyea Home and Remodeling

Corollary: A bar doesn't necessarily have to have a "bar." Not everyone will want to sit on bar stools to hang out. Why not build a bar more as a lounge. Four comfortable lounge chairs next to a beautiful bar cabinet creates a super chic setting.

Design by Joel Kelly Design

Creating a bar in your home creates a special space for entertaining your friends. If you keep all the above in mind as your designing your bar, everyone will want to hang out at your house so much that you might have to start charging people for drinks. Guess that wouldn't be a bad thing though.

The designers at JBi would love to help you design your perfect bar. We'll await the invitation.





Before & After - Remodeling A Traditional Home


We all love the Before & After pics of projects. They show what is possible with a space. The story of this one is simple. A couple with school-aged children contacting JASON BALL interiors to update their new home - what they are considering their dream home. The project included completely remodeling the kitchen, opening up a wall between the kitchen and family room for a great room feel, redoing a fireplace in the family room, and new furniture in the living and dining rooms. Because the home is more traditional in nature, we wanted to keep the large brush strokes also more traditional. Contemporary touches were brought in through wall coverings, lighting, fabrics and accessories. The resulting design aesthetic is a perfect marriage of the two styles. Living room - As you can see from the "before" picture, there is nothing structurally wrong with the living room. All it really needed was a fresh coat of paint and new furnishings. The JBi team brought in a nice mix of transitional and contemporary styles for a more collected feel. Accessories range from Phoenician glass pieces to found architectural objects. The mix adds age where appropriate. Fabrics used throughout are neutral based but with bold patterns and textures. The two chairs have an elegant gate work fabric for the outside of the pieces with a mink-colored velvet on the inside for true comfort. A couple of contemporary lights flank the seating area and fireplace.



Dining room - While the "before" picture is set up for staging the home, it is again clear that there is nothing inherently wrong with the space. The JBi designers presented to the clients a bold wall covering for added drama in the space. The black, silver and taupe wall covering from Wolf-Gordon added the necessary drama and provided a perfect backdrop to the clients' colorful art trio. The overall styling is clean, simple and again focuses on the broad strokes of color and texture. An antique granite trough on the table brings in a hard stone element to balance out the softness of the space. There's one small detail to make note of. If you look carefully in the doorway that leads to the kitchen, you'll see another door. That small half-bath was directly off the dining room (a very awkward location). To help improve the flow of the spaces, we converted the bathroom to a wine closet, with access from the kitchen. We also changed the door leading into the kitchen to just an opening with the appropriate millwork to fit the rest of the home.



Kitchen - More so than the other rooms, the kitchen of this home had some more serious deficiencies. The layout of the kitchen cut it off from the rest of the room and felt under-sized given the home's grandness. The design team focused on two main elements: flow and style. We wanted to the space to feel contemporary, but with an old-world aesthetic. A beautifully set herringbone floor, traditional backsplash pattern and "stucco" treatment on the range hood canopy all add to the design. By opening up the space, we were able to bring in a nice-sized kitchen table for family meals. Besides the flow within the room, we also opened up the space between the kitchen and the adjoining family room. This small architectural change creates more of a "great room" feel, but without completely changing the traditional flow of the home.





More than anything, these clients wanted their new home to be a reflection of their personal styles, molded by international travel and importance of family, while respecting the traditional nature of the home. Goal accomplished!

About JASON BALL interiors. We are a team of interior designers based in Portland, Oregon serving residential clients throughout Oregon and Washington and beyond. To see examples of our design work, visit the Portfolio page. For an evaluation of your upcoming projects, contact Jason Ball at (503) 267-2352 or via e-mail at We look forward to being your interior design team.




Before & After - Updating a 1950s Daylight Ranch

Occasionally we are presented with a project that we can't just wait to sink our teeth into. It's kind of what interior designers live for. Even though JASON BALL interiors completed this project a while ago, it's worth revisiting just to show the before and after pictures. The changes we made in this dated 1950s kitchen are pretty dramatic. What was really interesting for us was that we worked with a kitchen designer on the cabinetry portion, while JBi handled the finishes, lighting, fixtures, layout, etc. It's a different model than we're used to, but the finished product reveals what can happen as a result of solid collaboration. In the before picture, you'll see we started with a small (ish) kitchen with a dark wood ceiling, Formica counters, poor appliance placement and insufficient lighting. In talking with our clients on what they wanted from the new kitchen, we focused on lighting (obviously), a better flow throughout the kitchen, professional-quality appliances and storage galore. Because the family has young, active children, we also focused on an open floor plan with durable materials. Here are our top priorities in making this kitchen a real show-stopper.

Portland interior designers design and remodel a 1950s kitchen

1. Lighting. The old kitchen had two ceiling mounted fixtures, a light above the sink and a florescent tube light as an under-cabinet light. After we painted the ceiling white, took away the fake beams, we added about 10 more 4" recessed lights throughout the space. We also added xenon under-cabinet lights as task lighting. The result is a lighting plan set up for flexibility and the way the family lives.

2. Storage. In designing the cabinetry, we focused on creating several  specific storage area with particular functions. By the microwave (far end of the kitchen), we included an appliance garage to hide away the toaster, coffee maker, etc. To the left of the range we added a built-in buffet area with storage baskets below. These are specifically for kid-related items that need to be grabbed quickly and frequently. If you look at the picture below, you also see a large built-in refrigerator and large pantry on the far end of the kitchen. Two important storage features necessary in this family-friendly space.

3. Timeless style. In selecting cabinet style, materials and colors, we aimed for a rather timeless aesthetic that will serve this family for years to come. It was important that we create something with a transitional feel that would flow to the other parts of the home. Cabinetry with simple and elegant details, a monochromatic backsplash which focuses on pattern and design, and a bright, clean counter top cap off the look.

4. Fit for entertaining. The couple loves to entertain. The open floor plan is not only great for the kids, but also perfect for large crowds. As you can see below, we also included an entire bar area right by the kitchen. This auxiliary area has it's own beverage/wine refrigerator and a style that flows with the rest of the kitchen.  You'll also notice in the picture below the indoor grill. This original feature was one of the elements we decided to maintain from the original design.

Portland interior designers create a kitchen fit for entertaining

So, how would you change your existing space to fit your lifestyle?

About JASON BALL interiors. We are a team of interior designers based in Portland, Oregon serving residential clients throughout Oregon and Washington and beyond. To see examples of our design work, visit the Portfolio page. For an evaluation of your upcoming projects, contact Jason Ball at (503) 267-2352 or via e-mail at We look forward to being your interior design team.



Interior Designer Notebook - Designing the Walk-in Closet of Your Dreams

Interior designers get the privilege of helping clients realize their dreams. The team of JASON BALL interiors is currently undertaking the complete reworking of a master suite in the Eastmoreland neighborhood (an old Portland neighborhood). Our primary design objective was to carve out a master bathroom, walk-in closet and master bedroom of what currently is a hall bath, bedroom and office. By moving a couple of walls and expanding our available footprint for the master suite, we were able to create a luxurious space for our client. While the bathroom and bedroom are important to our client, it is really the desire to have a well-appointed and elegant walk-in closet that is driving much of this project. So, the question is what makes up the "walk-in closet of your dreams?" We focused on three primary features - storage, the ritual of getting dressed and elegant details. Storage. This is simple and straightforward. We evaluate our client's current mix of clothing, shoes, accessories, etc. and designed a custom closet system to meet the mix (and allow for future growth). We asked the following set of questions. How much space do you need for hanging clothes? How much drawer storage? What about long hanging items (dresses, coats, etc.)? What type of shoes do you have? And, how do you like to store them (in boxes, etc.)? And, how do you like to store your accessories and jewelry?

This closet shows all the right parts - hanging storage (long and short), accessory storage, drawers (large and small) and room for growth.



The Ritual of Dressing. Each of us has a different "getting dressed" routine. Understanding the order in which you get dressed and how you like to put an outfit together will help determine the layout and way in which items are displayed. Our client was very specific on wanting items like scarves, necklaces and purses all easily viewed (not behind any doors or in drawers). This allows her to simply grab coordinating items all at one time and get out the door quickly.



The Elegant Details. Now comes the fun part. We have the structure figured out, the storage needs defined and met, and now we get to turn the shell of a closet into a dressing room. In the Victorian period, this particular room would have been called a boudoir (female) or a cabinet (male), and been part of a suite of rooms directly adjacent to the bedchamber. We should start using this term again - it sounds so fancy! While these rooms were not public rooms, they were certainly given special attention and required the appointments necessary for the master and/or mistress of the house. In today's world, we're less formal, so our master closets take on a different feel. Cabinetry, lighting and furniture all play an important role in creating the luxurious environment.


Our Client's Closet. You can see from the layout that we're not talking a huge space for this closet. However, we were able to fit in all the features and functions she desired. A dressing table with jewelry storage, plenty of storage for clothing, shoes and accessories, and an overall elegant look. Our decorative design elements focus on a more modern elegance with color and "sparkle."

Portland interior designers design walk-in closet

Portland interior designers create beautiful master walk-in closet

So, what would you want your dream closet to look like. Let's hear your wish list.

About JASON BALL interiors. We are a team of interior designers based in Portland, Oregon serving residential clients throughout Oregon and Washington and beyond. To see examples of our design work, visit the Portfolio page. For an evaluation of your upcoming projects, contact Jason Ball at (503) 267-2352 or via e-mail at We look forward to being your interior design team.