Kitchen Must Haves!!

We all know that no matter how big and spacious a home is, everyone seems to congregate into the kitchen- no matter what!! Not sure why that is, but I wanted to make sure my kitchen was welcoming and functional at the same time.

I knew a few things I disliked about my last kitchen that I was sure to change! For example, my fridge needed to be out of my direct work space and my dishwasher convenient to put up the dishes. The trash can needed to be a pull out and close to both the stove and the sink!! These are just a few things Jeff and I discussed when we reconfigured the layout of our “dream kitchen”.

farmhouse kitchen

Anytime I first start working with someone, I have a series of questions:

  1. How do you use your kitchen?

  2. What works for you? What doesn’t work for you?

  3. What do you like/not like currently? What would you change?

  4. What are your family dynamics?

  5. Do you entertain often? If so, who? Family? Friends? 14 of the neighborhood kids??

Some people probably think I am crazy when I start out asking these questions instead of what color cabinets do you want? The truth is, the answers to these questions are very important in moving forward!!

Before Jeff and I ever looked at appliances or counter tops, we knew what features we wanted (and didn’t want). I knew I wanted a pull out pantry instead of the traditional pantry I had and we needed several big pot/pan drawers. The bar stools had to tuck under the island when not in use. Also, I knew that I did not want marble anywhere because we use our kitchen… our kids use our kitchen… do I need to say anymore??

Don’t get me wrong, I totally had an idea of the style I wanted to achieve when I was thinking about the functionality of the kitchen, but I did not focus on that until I had the layout of our kitchen figured out. As the layout evolved, so did the aesthetics.

I am lucky to have (in my opinion) the best custom cabinet maker in North Atlanta!! He works with me to make each space unique and customized for each family. Not only do they provide top notch craftsmanship, we always deliver a kitchen that makes people say “WOW”!! That my friends is what we love the most and keeps us doing what we do!!!

White kitchen cabinets

My top 10 kitchen must haves!!

  1. Pull out trash can!

  2. Large drawers- not pullouts in cabinets! The latter is a 2 step process to to get what you want… First, open the door then pull out the drawer. A drawer, is a simple, one pull… I like simple!!

  3. Pull out pantry shelves! This is beyond great!! Everything fits in there better and more organized than my “traditional” pantry in the old kitchen!!

  4. Cookie sheet & casserole dish dividers

  5. Spice rack pull out- didn’t know I needed this until I got it!! Big surprise win!!

  6. Microwave Drawer- we all know microwaves are kinda ugly, so put it low and hidden!! The Sharp microwave drawer has flip out control panel which makes it super easy!!

  7. Hidden outlets!!! These are so great!! Leaves my backslash looking crisp and clean!!

  8. A vent hood over my cook top that is a focal point!! Hugo and Gustavo worked with my sketch and craziness to create it just the way I wanted!! They are fantastic!!

  9. Under cabinet lighting!!! This is the best task lighting we have in the whole house!! I will not have another kitchen without it!!!

  10. Large basin sink under a big window!!!


In case you forgot


This was Before

Just remember, it does not matter if your kitchen is white, green, purple or plaid, if it doesn’t function properly for YOU, then you missed the design part of your remodel! My philosophy as a designer is, function first!! Once we decide how your kitchen will best works for you, then I promise we will pull out the color wheel and make it “magazine worthy”!!!

Leave me a comment- What do you like or dislike about your kitchen?? Or tell me what you would put in your next kitchen!! I love hearing from you!!!

Don’t forget to follow frequent updates of our own personal remodel and other projects we have the pleasure to create on Instagram- dmc_home or #designerwifeandthecontractor

Floors- The Struggle is REAL

Last few weeks have been crazy!! Good crazy, but crazy none-the-less. Keep in mind, Jeff and I have done LOTS of renovations in our years together... several of our own and thousands for others. In 2000 Jeff took a leap of faith and began his remodeling company, DMC Home Improvement- and in 2009,  we took another leap when I joined him in the business full time. He is a licensed contractor. I am an interior designer. And together, we make a great team. IT IS SO FUN!! We enjoy creating spaces and working together, but doing our own full home renovation makes us see things in a different light.

Working with about 75-100 homeowners per year we have seen tons of great ideas and designs... and here is where the problems begin!!! We know too much!! We like too much, and if that isn't enough, we both have our own opinions and our own ideas!! 

I tell clients all the time, there are a lot of right answers, there are some wrong ones, but lots of right ones... which one can you live with the longest?? 

This is a question we could not answer for ourselves a few times. The biggest struggle of all for us turned out to be, the floors!! What do we want forever?!?!?! With a tight schedule, three big decisions needed to be made... and quick. 

  1. What will we use? What size and species of wood?
  2. What color stain? Dark, Light, Brown, Grey, what?
  3. What finish??? Shiny (Gloss) or Dull (Matte)

First hurdle- The home had 5" pine floors in the foyer, dinning room and kitchen... they were FANTASTIC!! Our question was, do we continue with those knowing they sometimes have a red or yellow tint to them when finished, or do we replace with a rustic white oak?? Budget answered this for us- it was least expensive to continue the pine! CHECK


FLOORS are in!

Notice how they laced in the new and old floors

Second hurdle - what color.... dark, light, grey, brown.... the struggle was REAL!!!!! We spent DAYS talking and looking and staining and researching... even my sweet contractor downloaded Pintrest, searched and created his own "formula" or four... and we tried them all.


Stain Testing Area

We used some of the MinWax stains straight out of the can like Dark Walnut, Provincial, Driftwood and Early American. Then we mixed some of them with Classic Gray or Weathered Gray. We used a PreStain Conditioner on some and not on others. It was a fun family night on the deck... until "someone" kicked a cup of our stain concoction, hitting the wall, staining it... imagine that stain acutally stains?



Just one more thing to fix before we move out.

This exercise did help us to determine we did want a preconditioner... but that was about all. The MinWax Prestain conditioner seemed to soften the grain some and allowed boards to stain more even!! It also helped us narrow down our decision, but we struggled on the color straight up to staining day. At this time we had our flooring guy put down three colors for us to choose from (see, way better than the 42 we had already gone thru, so definete progress).

A. 50-50 mix Special Walnut & Classic Gray                  B. Special Walnut                C. Provincial 

A. 50-50 mix Special Walnut & Classic Gray                  B. Special Walnut                C. Provincial 

We would have been happy with any of these three, but we chose A. the custom blend of 50% MinWax Special Walnut and 50% MinWax Classic Gray after the pre-stain conditioner was applied to the pine floors of course. 

The final decision was to determine the sheen- we went with a matte finish. This decision was also easy for us. And all in all, we are ecstatic with how they turned out!!!

We are loving the finished project!! I also added some of the "in progress" photos of the floors and the handrails and balusters that were also replaced!! Bonus- you get a sneak peak of the painted the tongue and grove ceiling while keeping the beams as they were. I love it all!!! 

Aesthetically, I have been at a stand still, until this decision was made. I couldn't pull the trigger on furniture, floating shelves, the mantel, and many more items until I knew exactly what my floor tone was going to be. You find in designing that there are decisions that affect other decisions and my hardwoods was one of them. Although each room has a different focal point to work with, the floors are important.  You want it all to compliment each other, not compete! 

Until next time, you can keep up with our progress on instagram #designerwifeandthecontractor or dmc_home


OK, so we got a house!! A fixer upper of sorts.... but where in the world do you start?? Of course, when we looked at the house we immediately knew the wall between the kitchen and living room had to come out, and we needed new carpet, and more hard woods, and lots of paint, oh, and a new kitchen, and new bathrooms, and .... well, you get the point... lots needed to be done. 

Jeff and I both have vision... we are both big picture, big dreamer kind of people. When we look at our brown, over grown, outdated house we both see an awesome white farmhouse- light and bright with a perfect yard.... You know, we envision something like this.... 


Our Vision

Or something similar... Little Side Note- I had pulled this picture off of Pintrest (you know my favorite place to imagine and The Contractors worst nightmare) and I saved it to my "file of dreams" and didn't save the creators name. I apologize for not giving them credit. 


Current Reality 


THIS is MY house!! So EXCITING!!!

We realize that right now, no one else sees it like this. But, that's ok, one day they will!!! 

Anyway, while Jeff crunched the numbers, I started gathering inspiration photos!! (Do you hear the angels singing?) This is a very important part of the process- 1- So we can get a more accurate estimate/budget, 2- It helps me to stay the course throughout the project. And 3- So he can't say he didn't understand what I was talking about!! When I have a picture, there is no confusion!! 

With so many great ideas and items out there, it is so easy to get off track. To get a well designed home, you need to stay the course. Here are a few of the photos I pulled initially to wrap my brain around what feel I want for our new home... I have multiple for every room, but this will give you an idea. 

Inspiration photos help to visualize how you want the space to feel. We realized during our dream board - vision process that we needed to replace all the 6 panel doors, trim, crown molding and baseboards to be able to get the true crisp, clean, farmhouse feel we want. Replacing all of this trim is something you want to do at the beginning of the project because everything seems to build off of them (literally). It is also something you want to make sure you have ordered before hand and itemize in your budget. This often overlooked detail will be a game changer in the finished project for sure!!


What we had

Stained 6 Panel Doors, Trim, Crown, Baseboards & Chair Rail Galore


What we will use!!

Painted 3 Panel Solid Wood Doors!! 

The guys at Lummus Supply in Alpharetta, GA helped me so much. They had several doors for me to touch and feel. They also took time to show me the trim profiles Jeff wanted for the following-

  • Baseboards- a 1x6 with cove molding,      
  • Crown molding- he chose a cove crown     
  • Door and window trim- a 1x4 with a back band

Here are a few pictures of our progress

So, in a nutshell, wrap your brain around your vision. Find pictures that inspire you, that make you feel happy or calm or energized or what ever it is that you want to feel in your space. Keep them close and stay the course!! It is ok to evolve the vision, I do it all the time... but overall stay true to your initial inspiration. Let it drive your vision!! As you will see in our renovation over the next few months... it is these types of details like the crown, baseboards and doors that will give you the biggest impact of an intentional, well designed home. 

Next time, we will talk hard wood floors... or maybe kitchen.... stay tuned!!

Designer Wife and the Contractor

Oh Happy Day!!!! I am Amy- an interior designer and wife to the most amazing, talented and patient man, Jeff. He is a contractor. We married in 2006 and I had big plans for him. Most women have dreams of white picket fences, dogs and children... well, not me... my plans included a tongue-and-grove ceiling, tile floors and wainscoting... but he shut that down real fast!! We joke that it was in our wedding vows that I would not make him work on my (I mean, our) house all the time.... And I have respected that, until now!!

We bought a house! Not just any house... an old house, dark with great bones!! Let me translate that for you... she has a great personality with so much potential!! Sitting on acreage with fantastic trees, a floor plan which is basically what I would have built- and a perfect spot to build our office & Jeff’s dream workshop!! I mean, what could get any better??

The inside!!! It is so circa 1983 and brown I cannot stand it!! Seriously, my most favorite part is how "original" it is!! Nearly everything is original... the ovens, the bathrooms... even the carpet!!  We could not be more thrilled to have the opportunity to make it our own, together- one idea at a time!!

Who am I kidding- we have so many ideas swirling around I hope you can keep up!!

Check out our 1980 something beauty in the rough and watch our progress as we renovate each and every room


So happy that you took the time to check out our 1980 something beauty in the rough. I hope you will follow our progress as we renovate each and every room, inside and out. You can also follow us on Instagram as dmc_home #designerwifeandthecontractor