Decorator Rita Konig selected a wallpaper that gave her bathroom a masculine, club-like quality.
For maximum productivity in the kitchen, if everyone using the kitchen is right-handed, locate the dishwasher to the right of the sink.
Renovator's Notebook: Learning from the Pros
An inside look at the personal remodeling projects undertaken by two architects and a decorator.
- by Conde Nast Editors
Just as every renovation has its own particular demands, so too does the renovator. Here's what we found when we asked design experts to explain how they approach a project.
Simon Aldridge & Lisa Tanno, architects
The project: To transform the dark, outdated kitchen in their Colonial Revival into a luxe yet supremely functional space.
The approach: Inspiration came from English country-house kitchens, in particular the one at Castle Drogo in Exeter: “It has stations for cooking, washing, etc., built into the walls—such efficient design,” Aldridge says. Following Drogo’s model, they designated bays for specific tasks: cooking and pot storage to the left; dishwashing and open shelves to the right.
A little advice: “Think about how you’ll use your kitchen when drawing up plans. We can reach the sink, dishwasher and shelves without moving our feet.”
“Don’t be afraid to mix plain and fancy—the most low-cost subway tile we could find looks great with our Viking range,” Aldridge says.
A stainless-steel table from a kitchen-supply shop adds extra counter space and storage.
Large units above the stove hide the vent and hold oversize pots and pans.
Steel countertops create a seamless prep surface with the stainless range. In the right alcove, granite picks up on the room’s dark elements. “The alcoves work together visually without matching like a living room set,” Aldridge says.
The two are both right-handed, so the dishwasher is to the right of the sink (so smart!).
Aldridge and Tanno re-leveled the floor before laying down inexpensive wide-plank pine. “It’s a long-term time and money saver when you’re installing custom cabinetry,” Tanno says.
Rita Konig, domino magazine editor
The project: Turn a powder room in Deborah Needleman’s weekend home into a handsome guest bath.
The approach: The room’s location, off Deborah’s husband’s study, inspired Konig to imbue the design with a slightly masculine, clubby quality. She began by selecting the wallpaper, which established a dark accent palette. A pair of patinated brass sconces followed: “The scale and attenuated arms give them a library feel,” Konig says. In lieu of a medicine chest, she brought in a small antique side table to hold towels and toiletries. Architect Jim Joseph suggested converting an adjacent closet into a shower (a strategic move should the study become a bedroom one day).
A little advice: “Bathrooms need personality in the form of real furniture, and they need quirkiness—not just a bunch of fixtures and fittings! Bringing in elements that could live elsewhere transforms it into a room people fight over in the morning.”
Konig relishes pattern in a small space: “It adds depth and personality but not clutter.”
An oversize antique frame offers a “more upstairs” aesthetic than the typical borderless variety.
This affordable pedestal model is classic and clean (no exposed pipes), with a broad basin that prevents splashing on the floor.
“Layering is important,” says Konig, who installed elegant sconces in a warm, oiled brass, which provide decorative gravitas while softening the overheads.
The dark-wood seat has an old-world look, and the narrow profile fits the petite confines perfectly.
Wide reclaimed pine boards, salvaged from another part of the house, are nicer than cold tile under bare feet.
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