French stoves fit all styles

We just love the charm of La Cornue's custom Chateau as well as their stock Cornue Fe' ranges that come in a nice selection of enamel colors and metal accents (starting at about $ 6,800.)          

For traditionally inspired designs, like our kitchen that appeared on the cover of St. Louis Home & Lifestyles magazine after winning the Kitchen of the Year contest, to the minimalist kitchen shown below with a contemporary feeling; French stoves look great everywhere! 

 I snapped this of a La Cornue island with custom dyed leather wrapped edge rail to match the blue enamel of the stove all the way around on a trip to the factory outside of Paris last year.  Talk about a focal point!

 A pair of brushed copper La Cornue Chateau ranges with brass trim were being packed to ship to a New York customer.  The 'twins' were built as mirrored images of each other with little oven control door beside the ovens on opposite sides. We stopped the packers long enough to capture their unique beauty before they were tucked into their custom built shipping crates for the journey. This is the "right" side range.

Kitchen by Meals

We've used almost everything for kitchen design inspiration: funky stools, favorite resorts, a pottery collection, views, children's needs, wheelchair accessability and now meals!  The idea developed out of conversations with our client with a very large kitchen about how many miles a day she put in running back and forth around her kitchen.  Because of allergies, she makes everything from scratch so the stock 'kitchen work triangle' wasn't working for her. So here's what evolved; a kitchen planned around the needs of breakfast, lunch and dinner with 'coctails' and 'dessert' thrown in, because who wants to short coctails and dessert? The kitchen is featured this month in St.Louis At Home magazine in Anatomy of a Kitchen. See the attached link.  Oh, and by the way, they got the source for the wall shelves wrong- they're from Restoration Hardware as well as the pendant lights.  The faucets are from Newport Brass. And, because we're always asked, the granite is called "Delicatus Extra".
The image below was taken looking through the new arched opening to the living room.
The photo below shows how we wedged the archway in under the staircase. That took some serious work to make it look so effortless.  (PS: The client is an engineer).

Here's the link to the magazine article:

Bye Bye Ugly Floor

This is what 15 years worth of showroom traffic has done to the Bruce prefinished hardwood maple flooring in our conference room.  Even with Teflon and later felt chair slides the finish is a mess.  And to make it worse, the raw wood started to get a grey haze from repeated damp/dry mopping. We thought briefly about sanding the finish off the entire floor and letting the whole thing turn grey (the greyed natural look is so chic right now) but afraid that by the time it fully aged, the driftwood look would be passe'.  So I took the belt sander with 80 grit paper and sanded it down so that enamel floor paint would stick.
I found Sherwin Williams has a high gloss latex enamel floor paint in black that goes both indoors and out and started applying it with a brush around the outside of the room.  And then switched to a mini roller and rolled the rest of the floor.  The paint guy suggested rolling as much of the floor as possible to avoid having brush strokes show.  He was right, the paint is very thick and brushing it all on would ruin the smooth gloss look I wanted.

The first coat of paint rolled on quickly but was a blotchy, scary mess.  I was starting to wonder if I should have stopped with the sanding and doused the whole thing with grey stain. But after two more coats, the paint had finally covered all of the thin areas.  It took more than a week for the floor to "not feel tacky", which really surprized me.  I have never experienced this from latex paint before. 
Afraid that chairs might scratch the finish off again, we ordered the herringbone sisal look carpet squares from Flor and put them under the table and chair area in an alternating direction pattern, making sure that there is carpet under the chairs even when they're pulled out to sit down.  Nice thing about the floor being squeeky clean and I guess not totally cured, we didn't have to use the adhesive strips that came with the carpet tiles.  The finish gripped them tightly. Just hope I don't have to take them up anytime soon.  We just love the look.  Everything just popps in the room now.  

Missouri River Scene Headboard

Custom King Sized Headboard 

for a huge bedroom.  I wanted to make a statement and do something in scale with the huge bedroom for our new guest house project, so I had my carpenter attach an 80" tall by 80" tall section of MDF board centered on the "bed wall" and trim three sides with oversized (6" wide) chair rail from the local lumber supply company and then I started painting...

Because there had to be a seam in the MDF since it only comes in 4'x8' pieces, I had the carpenter make a center seam where it would be disguised by the horizon line of the sky and river.   

To economize, I used some left over beige latex house paint for the base coat of paint on the board before applying the more expensive Liquitex acrylic paints to tint the house paint to the colors I wanted.  

This is a detail of the water's edge that is next to your head on a pillow.  It kind of makes you feel like you're resting while overlooking the whole scene.

I love the contrast of creamy white linens with the painting. Then I found the dark plum lamp shades that brings out the similar colors in my 'moody sky'. 

Everyone comments about how much they love this bedroom with the grand scale of the painting/ headboard.  I love that it only cost about $200 in materials and one day to install the wood and a few hours to paint it.

Historic Frenchtown House

 My old house kitchen...
"...yes these are the original brick walls"

 Tackling such a small room involved some creative thinking and a little unorthodox space planning.... The all SubZero refrigerator is in the kitchen with chalk board paneled front while the SubZero freezer drawers are in the back hall laundry alcove along with the under counter stainless steel washer and dryer and a second oven with steam!

Refrigeration drawers are
convenient for beverages.

Original heart pine flooring and new cleft slate countertops

Of course, all of the brick did pose some getting electricity to the hood, tv, microwave and undercabinet lighting above the countertops without destroying the brick.  We used beadboard several places - built columns out of it at the sides of the arange that also provides receptacle space.  And then there's the new wainscotting to hide wiring and wall switches.

I use salvaged square nails tapped into the mortar joints to hang anything on walls that are brick; more out of reverence for the old house than necessity.

The kitchen was fashioned around an antique section of slate countertop with routed in drainboard and wall faucet riser that I found in an antique shop. To make it functional, I fit it with a huge undermounted stainless steel sink.                                   Although this kitchen is half the size of the one in my previous house, I haven't scaled back entertaining at all and it functions beautifully.  Just goes to show, it's not a kitchen's size that matters.   Unlike most of the large kitchens I usually do for my clients, I guess my little old house caught someone else's eyes and heart and to my surprize... and it was featured in Better Homes & Gardens'  Kitchen & Bath Makeovers this winter. 
  Chris Berry, design director brooksBerry

The Oscar of the kitchen industry

Just home from the awards ceremony and three days stay at the Encore Resort in Las Vegas where we won First Place in the Small Kitchen Catagory with "Julie's Kitchen"  (see former blog) and First Place in the Large Open Plan Kitchen Catagory of the NKBA 2011 Design Contest for our Log Cabin project. But the Oscar moment was winning the Best of the Best Kitchen Award and $15,000. check for the Defiance Log Cabin kitchen project.  That is quite an honor, as the National Kitchen & Bath Association reported over 500 entries in this years' contest. We partnered with interior designer, Emily Castle ASID, on the interior spaces of the home that includes not only the aformentioned kitchen but also a knock your socks off Master Bathroom Suite, Guest Suite with morning kitchen and other bathrooms.
The windows (above) overlook the Missouri River valley bluffs and the historic log cabin can be seen in the far background with what was the outside wall now left exposed inside the kitchen.
Hidden storage under the barstool support accesses a rollaround serving cart.

The Butler's Pantry (above), is located adjacent to the original log cabin dining room. It serves as a beverage center with coffee maker, refrigeration drawers, icemaker, sink, glass door wine cooler and glass, cup and liquor storage.

 "Branches in the Wind" - the name I have given to the seven consecutive custom leaded glass doors on the three sided buffet builtin.  Working with a very talented local glass artist, we conceived the idea of naturalistic leading with copper burnishing that holds the handcut swirled glass inserts creating a beautiful room divider with hidden appliance storage below.
The island prep sink (left) with Kohler's " Karbon" articulating faucet and "Stages" sink. At right, Franke's stainless steel apronfront sink serves as the main cleanup sink.  The countertops are honed Typhoon Green granite and solid walnut, the French range in chocolate brown is by La Canche' and we had the custom hood built in living copper.

A waterfalled countertop pictureframes the dead space mini drawers

Kelly & Brian's Kitchen

One of the nice things about being in business for a long time is that we have had the opportunity to do two or more homes for the same client.  And then again, it can be challenging when a client loves what you did ten years ago, and wants the same thing for their new home.  I'm not wired that way- I want every project to be unique; every project to have something we've never done before. This is just that kind of project.

The new kitchen's enormous double level island and five foot wide fully integrated refrigerator & freezer is enclosed in a  bonnet topped distressed pine armoire.

Accessable rangetop in new kitchen
    What makes this client unique is that he is the main cook and also uses a wheelchair.  With alot of trust and the encouragement of his wife, we created a fresh look for this family's new home while recycling the best of the best elements from their old one.

The old kitchen- cover of Winter 2000-01 issue
The new kitchen has wall ovens allowing us to put two large drawers for utensils and spices conveniently below. We detailed them to appear like mini bins. The cabinetry and countertop colors are the same but the hood was changed to more informal styling with simlper brackets and beadboard.
The biggest change in the new space is the enlarged island end with knotty cherry cabinetry and solid wood countertop that functions as his prep space and has kids' drawers for games and project materials.
For him: this lower worktop has an accessable recess on the other side

By the family entrance from the garage is a message center, kid's cubbies with storage bench, coat and backpack hooks divided for each child. A food pantry is conveniently located here also.
Family computer desk and home electronics center.
The best part of the space is that it doesn't scream accessable; which would be helpful for resale... but  I hope they give it at least another ten years.

Coco's Powder Room

Coco's Powder Room, that's what we nicknamed this elegant space fit for fashion icon, Chanel. The long lean space with broad striped walls in shades of pearl, polished nickel hardware and white Carrerra marble countertop with shaped backsplash defines timeless style.  We designed the standout adult height demilune vanity with generous proportions for this space and had it built out of walnut with an ebonized finish. The homeowner added a set of silverleafed framed prints and the oversized beveled mirror with acanthus carved frame. 
We love the warmth the stained oak hardwood floor adds to its jewel box effect.  Although the house is brand new, the seven inch tall baseboards, eight foot tall solid wood doors and five inch wide casings belie its age.  It's timeless.

Sue's Bathroom

Who knew           my neighbor's bathroom project would attract national attention?   It all started after she and her husband, Mark, decided to put a main floor master bed/bath addition on their historic house, after another house that was for sale in town lured them into thinking bigger.  Thank heavens for a tough realestate market - they didn't move and I kept my neighbor and friend. She always says that our neighborhood is full of good karma and is now convinced she was supposed to stay.

I still remember the day she came over with a preliminary architectural plan for the addition to their old house that was big on space but lacked some of the things she wanted.  We sat down at my dining room table.  "Ok, gimme your wish list"...   "A soaking tub, a separate, big walk in shower, a vanity with lots of storage, the toilet hidden, a walk in closet....." she went on and on.  Laughing at how few of the items on her wish list were on the plan in front of us,  I pulled out the big roll of "bum wad" (architect's tissue paper) and started sketching out all of the elements she wanted, moving walls and doors around and playing "what if"- sheet after sheet, different ideas layered five deep until everything sorta fit.  The next step was to take all the sketches to the drafting board to make sure it all worked and was fully detailed and dimentioned before the workmen arrived.  And then there was the material budget - yet another challenge.  
Anyone who knows me very well knows I have a place in my heart for all things old and have a private stash of old house parts in storage, salvaged from previous projects and streetside give aways, that I call the "housepital".  There I had the 120 year old oversized clawfoot tub that had been waiting for it's perfect new home for more than twenty years - right in the neighborhood at Sue's house!  (Which was a good thing for anyone who has ever tried to move an antique cast iron bathtub).
 And so went the scavenger hunt for all of the bath fixtures -pilasters from an antiques flea market,  

the octagon window from Habitat for Humanity's Restore shop, the wide fluted door and window casings from a yard sale,  the glass cabinet doors from the housepital, cabinets built by Mark using castoff doorsample fronts from our shop and all of the tilework done by the handy Sue herself.  I convinced her that her abilities on a sewing machine would transfer to a tile saw.   I had seen her reupholster yardsale finds into her formal living room and was convinced that she had the patience to cut and fit all of the pieces together like bits of fabric into an evening gown.  After a quick 'tile 101' tutorial and a few pointers on the wetsaw,she was off.  

 I only had a couple weekend dashes across the patio to offer immediate assistance.  Like when a bucket of paint fell off her paint ladder all over the newly tiled floor.  We can laugh now because it all came up thanks to the fact that she took my advise to use epoxy groute when she finished the floors, but there were alot of explatives at the time.   Here again, my saying really paid off:  
" If you're getting the labor for free - use the best materials you can afford"  
We entered photos of the finished room to St. Louis's Bath of the year contest and it won.  Then we entered it in the National Kitchen & Bath Association's contest and it won third place while gaining the attention of the Old House Journal where they featured it on their October 2010 cover with a whole spread in the magazine.  I had to smile when I was in Lowes while on vacation in Florida and there was my neighbor and friend Sue's bath in front of me in the magazine check-out rack as an inspiration for all to see. It is indeed good karma.