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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.

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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?! 

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Before & After: New Laundry Room Layout for an Active Family

As a follow up to the Before & After entry from a couple of weeks ago, let's look at what happened in the laundry room of this project. As I mentioned before, this house is so typical of many suburban homes built in the 1980s and 1990s. And, when it comes to the laundry room, they clearly didn't have an interior designer help them with the space planning of the room. The standard layout was a large closet with bi-fold, louvered doors on one end, a small laundry room sink and the washer and dryer crammed into the other side. This really is the epitome of an inefficient use of space.

So, what if we get the chance to reconfigure the space for today's lifestyle? What layout changes make sense? And, how can we improve on the traditional, less than optimal layout? Well, let's use this one as a case study and look at the before picture to see what we were dealing with. A poorly designed storage area, an less than optimal laundry area had to be dealt with in a way to not only improved the space, but also was set up for an active family.

As you can see from the "after" picture below, we not only gave the family more functional spaces to work with, but also brought some great style into a room that is usually forgotten. A great two-tone herringbone tile floor, white quartz counters and clean white cabinetry make this a place anyone would want to spend some time working.

ABOUT JASON BALL interiors. Jason is an interior designer based in Portland, Oregon serving residential and commercial clients throughout Oregon and Washington, and beyond. To see examples of his 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 jason@jasonballinteriors.com.

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Before & After: Creating an Elegant Traditional Kitchen with Contemporary Flair

Nothing brings interior designers more joy than sharing before and after pictures from a recently completed project. It is our chance to revisit how we truly changed a space for the better. I wanted to take this one step further and provide a little insight into why we made certain changes. The project is one that JBi completed in Wenatchee, WA. When the couple approached JBi, they wanted to create an elegant, traditional kitchen that also felt new and fresh. Let's call this an updated traditional look. The design plan was simple, improve the overall flow of the space, change the configuration to allow for a better entertaining space while maintaining a family-friendly feeling, and create a kitchen that was fitting of the custom nature of the home. 

So, the JBi team set out create a space that was custom, clean and fresh, yet still a sophisticated kitchen. The big changes in the room - streamline the wall planes (get rid of that weird angled wall by the refrigerator location), create a centerpiece range hood, set up the island for large groups and make the entire space feel family friendly. A set of tall orders, but I think once you see the final result, you'll agree that all criteria were met.

BEFORE: Lots of angles, cooktop oddly placed in island and angled wall that makes the kitchen feel smaller than it really is.

BEFORE: Lots of angles, cooktop oddly placed in island and angled wall that makes the kitchen feel smaller than it really is.

And now for the big reveal!

What you'll notice first off is how we amped up the elegance level in the space. Curved mullions in the upper cabinets, beautifully detailed flush-inset cabinetry, a grand island with appropriately-sized turned legs and 6cm marble slab. In terms of layout, by taking out the angled wall part, we were able to incorporate the rest of the kitchen into the space. We created a separate coffee/beverage area with it's own sink.

Now, some may criticize the placement of the refrigerator so far from everything. Well, as a designer of kitchens, we often have to weigh certain decisions against the function and feel of a room. In this case, we opted to place the refrigerator/freezer outside of the "first view" when someone walks into the kitchen. It also allowed us to have a dramatic range/cooktop centerpiece (we also had a perfect wall through which we could run the range hood vent pipe). So, while not optimal, the benefits we gained definitely outweighed the negatives.

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Looking back across the reverse angle, you can see how this kitchen is all about the view out the (truly) picture windows. With a view of mountains and the Columbia River valley, we moved the sink over to look out the best view. That left an expanse of counter top to the right of the range - perfect for cooking prep work. 

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I'm curious to know, could you live in this kitchen? I know that I certainly wouldn't mind having such a large room in which to create perfect meals for family and friends. Here's to dreaming, right?!

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Designing a Kid's Bathroom That Ages With Your Kid

For interior designers, there is nothing more fun that creating a special space just for the kids. We spend hours and thousands of dollars to design fantastic bathrooms for the parents, so why not spend the same energy level on the bathrooms for younger members of the family?

JASON BALL interiors has recently completed a number of projects involving bathrooms designed for children. I think parents are hesitant to design kid-specific bathrooms because they're worried their children will go out of style or might decide they don't like the look in a few years. So, how do you design a bathroom that will either stand the test of time or grow with your child?

Here are the ways in which I design a bathroom that can grow as your kid gets older.

Start with classic elements, layer on the details. Start with the basic design elements like cabinetry, lighting, etc., to create a solid foundation. Cabinetry with simple details, or finished in a classic color or stain color allows you to work with the other design elements to create a fun, playful bathroom. In the bathroom below, we started with a classic inset vanity and solid color counter top, and then paired them with nautical-inspired lighting and mirrors, and a beautiful wood wall for a bathroom fitting for two boys. 

Use wall color in smart ways. In this girl's bathroom, we wanted a room that was young, playful and appropriately girly. The classically-styled vanity with crystal knobs and princess-like mirrors lay the foundation. But, it's the pink wall color that really makes the statement. We didn't want just a nice, pretty pink, but a pink that had presence. And, since it's paint, it can easily be changed if the daughter decides she doesn't like pink in a few years.  

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Accent tile is your friend. Many homeowners shy away from using tile that's too specific to a certain look. However, with some thoughtful planning, using an accent tile to create a special look can be switched out down the road fairly easily (by a professional of course). This boy's bathroom is about the playful green wall color and the glass circle tiles in the shower.  If green is no longer a favorite color, change the wall color and change the accent tile. Of course, this takes a little more effort and money, but it's still less expensive than changes out the entire bathroom.

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I hope these bathrooms give you inspiration to bring some style to the bathrooms of your youngest family members. I would love to hear your stories too.

ABOUT JASON BALL interiors. Jason is an interior designer based in Portland, Oregon serving residential clients throughout Oregon and Washington and beyond. To see examples of his 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 jason@jasonballinteriors.com.

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Creating Your Perfect Family Photo Wall

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Creating Your Perfect Family Photo Wall

I know the idea of family photo walls has been around for a long time, but I think it's time I put my own spin on it. A family photo wall is a wonderful way to display pictures of family, those are still with us and those who are not. As an adult I was give a umber of historical photographs of a part of the family with whom I had lost touch. To hear the stories and see pictures of relatives helps me understand my personal history and that's a good thing.

If you want to undertake creating your own family wall, here are some tips on arrangement you might consider to really make it a great design element.

Make it a "living" wall. I love the idea of making an entire wall all about celebrating family. The architect of the project below creating a metal wall in along the stairs to use as a large magnet board. The beauty of this idea is the ability for the wall of photos to constantly change with the addition of new memories. And just think of all the nail holes NOT in the wall! This same idea can be easily be implement with clothes pins and rope for a more Bohemian feel.  

Grid for a modern look. As a lover of contemporary design, this one appeals to me the most. A collection of photos, different colors and shapes, all framed in the same size and style of frame. Laid out in a perfect grid pattern makes a real statement of order. The variation comes in the form of the different occasions and memories represented in the photos.

Following the stairs. In a more traditional setting, a family gallery wall is perfect in the stairwell (assuming you have a long wall in your stairwell). Make sure to do some serious planning in the layout though just to make sure you get it right the first time.

Go for the art gallery feel. Some of the earliest art were representations of people (think cavemen painting). So why not create an art gallery made up of your loved ones. These two examples so two different approaches. First is a selection of black and white photos printed on canvas and arranged in a tight collection in an office. Second is a hallway gallery with appropriate lighting, providing passers by a moment to reflect on family memories. Both turn simple pictures into art.

Now for your tip of the day! There's a very simple way to get your arrangement just right the first time (I learned this from a book on art arrangement). Trace and cut out the shapes of all the pictures you want to use in your family wall on either butcher paper or freezer paper (both are good alternatives). Mark on each the location of where you would place the nail. Then start taping the pieces of paper on the wall in your desired layout using painter's tape. Once you get the layout perfect, come back with a hammer and nail to mark the locations of the hanging hardware. Hang up all your photos and look back at your beautiful wall. Here's to family!

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