St. Louis experts share tips on transforming kitchens and

Zen Modern

Ash Leonard uses texture to create cohesion in a new kitchen design

The owners of a traditional two-story home in Ladue wanted to give their kitchen a fresh look without changing its footprint. They enlisted designer Aisling “Ash” Leonard, owner and principal of Ash Leonard Design, to thoughtfully blend existing architectural elements and modern materials.

“The kitchen is modern but has a soft feel with patina and character,” says Leonard, who worked with Eyman Kitchen & Bath to carry out the vision.

Here are the elements the designer incorporated into the project.

Cabinet Curiosity 

Solid walnut slab-door cabinetry by Shady Creek Woodworking features clean modern lines but is also warm and natural. A coffee station is hidden in a drawer, and an ice machine and wine chiller/cooler are built into the cabinetry. Open glass shelves float above it all.

Hardware Hue 

Leonard chose solid brass and matte black pulls from the Signature line at St. Louis-based Locks & Pulls. “They feel like leather when you touch them,” she says. Black gooseneck faucets with knurled brass accents by Brizo complement the cabinetry hardware. The backsplash outlet covers, done in brass, are a step above the ordinary. Brass–and–black leather stools by CB2 at the center island continue the theme.

Wow Tile 

With windows flanking the range, Leonard wanted a backsplash tile that would blend into the views. Wasabi Green, by Spanish firm WOW Design, gets the job done. “I wanted it to feel like it had been there a long time and had a patina,” says Leonard. Walnut shelves pick up the color of the cabinets beneath. 

Loads of Lighting 

A long, cylindrical glass fixture with brass accents by TEC Electric runs the length of the island. Hanging it from two different ceiling heights was a challenge, but the team got it done. 

Floor Fabulous

Leonard’s goal for the floors was to impart a country house feel with lots of texture. Gray-washed wood-like porcelain tile in a traditional box-and-crosshatch pattern imparts the appropriate style for the space. 


To balance the room’s darker elements, Leonard went with slabs of Super White marble in a suede finish. 

Brick and Beams 

The wood ceiling beams, white-painted brick, and white wood paneling in the dining area are original to the house, and Leonard wanted to keep them intact. The custom-made range hood mimics the existing paneling, says Leonard, marrying old and new. 

Set in Stone? 

Area homeowners reveal the pros and cons of their most recent renovations. 

In the world of home remodeling, many decisions are fairly permanent. If, after the completion of a project, a homeowner isn’t quite satisfied with the look of that wide-set faucet or, with some hindsight, wishes for even more kitchen cabinets, there’s not a lot of opportunity to fix the issue without costly and structurally invasive work. In interviews with six local homeowners, all of whom recently completed overhauls of their kitchens and bathrooms, we asked for their insights. Our mission: to learn from their successes and missteps. 

In 2021, Amy Favazza, gutted her Clayton kitchen to create a space that included a galley kitchen with a small adjoining breakfast nook. By bumping out an exterior wall, she was able to enlarge the room to include a kitchen island, mudroom, and wet bar. The decision to invest in large windows and doors is one of her best decisions, she says: “The French doors we used bring in a ton of natural light. They’re airy and modern but still translate to the style of the house. They make the whole area look special.” Favazza wishes she’d splurged for a stand-alone ice machine for that new wet bar. Doing so, she says, would make entertaining even easier.

Beth Henderson lives in a traditional, two-story home in Manchester. A few years ago, during a party for her son, Henderson noticed how all of the guests had congregated in her tiny kitchen. Either move or remodel, she thought as she mingled in those tight quarters. The family opted to change things up. “We took out the wall between our kitchen and dining room and created one big space for entertaining,” she says. The family also decided that it was time to create a system of cubbies near the back door, in the kitchen to corral school bags and organize sports equipment. “A carpenter built out the area based on a photo I saw online,” says Henderson. “Given how essential the storage is to our daily routine, it wasn’t very expensive.” What would the house look like without those cubbies, shelves, and drawers? “Our stuff would be on the kitchen table,” she says. Henderson has few regrets about the design, but given the opportunity, she’d swap out some of the cabinets for a wine and beverage fridge that would make entertaining easier and free up space in the main refrigerator. 

In the renovated primary bath belonging to Ginny McCook, ornate floor tile and a repurposed wooden linen chest mesh beautifully. To achieve that desired outcome, McCook had to gut most of the room, keeping only the toilet area intact. “I picked out these beautiful Robern mirrors for above the vanities,” says McCook. “They’re practical because they have unbelievable storage, but they’re also so pretty—they’re like a work of art.” If the Chesterfield resident had to do it over again, she says, she’d separate the double sinks and move them to separate vanities: “If two people were to use the sinks at the same time, it would be a little tight. I like the functionality of two sinks—just not right next to each other.”

Mike Durbin, 63, renovated the primary bath of his Des Peres ranch. “I decided to go with high-end products, especially for heavy-use items like the faucet, cabinets, and toilet,” he says. “I especially like our toilet. It’s good-looking as far as toilets go, but more important, it functions so smoothly and I know it won’t break on me in a few years.” Durbin understands the difficulties of renovating an older home. His was built in the 1960s, and during the remodel, as he was removing the floor, he tore out 3 inches of cement and chicken wire. The subfloor was replaced and then covered in high-end tile, and Durbin wishes he’d used a leveler over the old floors. “Over time, these old houses settle and things shift,” he says. “Our floor slopes about 1/4 inch from one end to the other. It drives me crazy, but that’s not something I’m going to go back and fix.”

Maureen and Nick Alfermann recently renovated the small 1930s kitchen of their University City Colonial, knocking down a wall that divides it from the family room. Maureen is pleased with the selection of kitchen finishes, especially the rustic yet elegant farmhouse-style sink. “I grew up in a house with a metal sink with a divider in the center. It made it hard to wash large pots and pans. They simply didn’t fit,” she says. “Our sink looks pretty and is also very functional.” Alfermann chose a single oven for the reno, but she says there have been times when she wants to cook at two different temperatures and she doesn’t have another option but to wait and be patient. The project also involved the home’s five bathrooms, for which the Alfermanns happily splurged on marble tile for the floors. “The tile in the primary bath has a subtle gray-and-white pattern and is timeless. It won’t go out of style and also works with the character and age of our home,” says Alfermann. But marble makes for a cold floor, and she wishes they’d installed heating beneath it.

Bathed in Nature

How the outdoors inspires design

When Candice Wideman, owner and senior designer of Youtopia Designs, envisioned the remodel of this Festus home’s bathroom, she tried to see beyond the existing space. To maximize functionality, she sacrificed an adjacent sitting room that the homeowners rarely used. She then turned an eye to the outdoors, incorporating stone, diffuse sunlight, and abstract nature imagery. The result is an airy, light-filled sanctuary that echoes the neighborhood’s peaceful surroundings.

What was the inspiration for this bathroom? The clients wanted to have something that reflected nature. We used stacked pebble stone and travertine tiles in the shower to bring in a natural look. The lighting was also important. Above the mirrors, as well as in the shower area, we used Kohler light fixtures that give off an outdoorsy feel. They’re reminiscent of old lanterns due to the dark oil–rubbed bronze finish. Pairing them with the stacked river rock tile enhances this sense.

Was it clear from the start that you would be expanding? I pretty much had free rein to do whatever I wanted. When we first met, it was obvious that the primary bathroom wasn’t really functional. It had an odd shape, with strong angles that resulted in a lot of wasted space. The bathroom lacked storage space and had a small shower, and there was a Jacuzzi tub that was never utilized. Because they never used the sitting room that was behind their closet and bathroom, we were able to take that and make both a lot bigger.

What are some of the standout features? The school-of-fish panels that are located on each side of the walk-in shower. They’re acrylic panels and definitely stand out. The clients also wanted to incorporate glass blocks throughout the room. We redid the outside window with glass blocks and added those four windows to the wall to help get more light into the shower.

Were there challenges? We started this project right when COVID-19 hit, so that put us in a bind when things were shut down for a bit. The project included the entire first floor, so it was much bigger than just this bathroom.

How did you balance style with functionality? I want to know about all of the ideas that someone loves. The same goes for things that someone absolutely does not like. In terms of functionality, I want to know How do you currently use this space? What doesn’t work for you? We had a lot of fun with this project, and I think we definitely accomplished our goal of bringing in an outdoor feel.

Made to Order 

Local design pros dish the latest trends in kitchens

The kitchen has long been the heart of the home. In recent years, however, families have spent even more time in their kitchens: working from home, building science fair projects, scratch-baking the occasional loaf of bread. Familiarity may not have bred complete contempt for your space, but you may be thinking that it could use a refresh.

You aren’t alone. “Remodeling a kitchen has hit orbit [in demand] due to people being home more,” says Jenny Rausch, designer and owner of Karr Bick Kitchen & Bath. Jim Howard, a kitchen and bath designer for Alspaugh Kitchen & Bath, says it this way: “People are hanging around the house looking at their kitchen all day and thinking, I can do better than this.

We asked three St. Louis design experts to share their clients’ most frequent requests and offer clever ideas to make life just a little easier (or at least prettier) in the busiest room of the house. 

In addition to Rausch and Howard, we consulted with Caroline Kerckhoff, interior designer for Stone Hall Cabinetry.

Colorful Cabinets

Rausch says Karr Bick is designing kitchens with such custom colors as greens, blues, and even pinks in the tile, wallpaper, and cabinetry. For those who might hesitate to choose green kitchen cabinets, Kerckhoff says the human brain sees a muted blue or green as a neutral. Black is technically a neutral, but it makes a bold statement. Howard is seeing the use of black-painted cabinets throughout the kitchen. At Karr Bick, Rausch likes to grace a black-and-white kitchen with gold accents. Whatever the color, says Howard, today’s cabinets are extending to the ceiling, a trend that’s popular in both new construction and remodels.   

Warming with Wood

All three experts say wood tones are in high demand for kitchens. Wood adds warmth to a space, says Rausch. Homeowners like to mix wood tones with neutrals or color—perhaps an island with a wooden base, or a furniture piece in the kitchen, like a hutch or sideboard. In St. Louis, walnut has been a strong trend, in tones that range from a natural medium brown to very dark, almost black stains, says Howard. Coming in a close second is rift-sawn white oak, he reports: “This is a very straight-grain wood. You can go anywhere from a natural-looking color to very gray stains or even black and still get the visual texture of the grain.”   

The Kitchen Suite

Consumers keep buying specialized appliances—coffeemakers, wine coolers, a second refrigerator, pizza ovens—and they need extra space to house them. “We’re starting to see all these ancillary rooms—butlers’ pantries, dirty kitchens, walk-in pantries, beverage centers,” says Howard. “It’s turned into what I call a kitchen suite. I liken it to the primary suite, where the rooms are connected yet serve different functions.” The bulk of the cooking occurs in the dirty kitchen, sometimes called a caterer’s kitchen. “You can make a mess here,” says Howard, “and the core kitchen that the guests see stays clean.” The dirty kitchen often includes a second refrigerator or dishwasher, although second dishwashers are appearing in main kitchens as well. “I’m doing more double dishwashers than I’ve ever done before,” says Kerckhoff. “In the past couple of years, we’ve all been in our homes more than normal, and people are doubling up.”   

Doubling Down

Howard says kitchen spaces in general are getting larger as people invest more in their homes. “We’re seeing a lot of double islands,” says Howard. “You can only make a single island so big before it becomes such that you can’t walk around it or reach over to the other side, so we split the same concept into two islands. This helps traffic flow and functionality.” To top the island (and the rest of the counters), consumers have more choices than ever before. A few years ago, it was all granite, all the time. Now, says Kerckhoff, choices are all over the board: marble, dolomite, soapstone, quartz, and quartzite, as well as granite. In the end, though, the design should drive the decision-making process.   

Master Metalwork

Howard says metals first appeared in range hoods, often incorporating such contrasting finishes as a copper hood with brass strapping or perhaps a dark steel with pewter. “Now you see metal accents built right on the cabinet doors, and it’s usually brass to bring high contrast,” he says. Kerckhoff notes that mixing metals yields a more timeless feel. “You’re not stuck in one era, like the polished-brass period,” she says. “Mixing metals is really fun, and it changes the feel of a space.” 

Curbing Clutter 

“We’re doing a lot of built-in larder cabinets and appliance garages to conceal appliances and keep them off the countertop,” Kerckhoff says. Howard says clients are asking for specialized storage: “You see a lot of pull-out pantry storage, where you pull the door out and get total access to the interior.” In some instances, cabinet doors open to reveal a pull-down shelf, a feature taken from ADA-compatible or universal home design. Other design elements include the use of concealed doors—for instance, the door to a walk-in pantry concealed between two cabinets. Adequate storage, when carefully designed, helps keep a space organized and streamlined.  

A Pretty Scene  

Classic design in a West County kitchen

The clients, who are empty nesters, wanted to create a feeling of spaciousness in their kitchen without enlarging its footprint. They solicited the advice of designer Chelsea Smith, of Chelsea Design Co., to help them achieve their desired outcome. Early on in her planning, Smith made key decisions to produce a sense of space. First, she installed the largest possible windows in the kitchen. Then she removed a heavy wall of cabinets that crowded the room. These two moves, plus the room’s subtle yet striking palette of colors and materials, helped turn a small, confined kitchen into a stylish, relaxing hub.

Tile trick 

“The kitchen feels calm and balanced, but it didn’t start that way at all. The backsplash tile was the solution to tying it all together,” says Smith, who designed a look with many interesting elements without overwhelming the space. The Calacatta marble mosaic is variegated in monochrome shades from white to black tones, making for an arresting visual element. (Luke Spain of Pristine Tile installed the tile, purchased at the Tile Shop.) In electing to tile all the way to the ceiling, Smith generated that much-desired open feel. “It was a way to give the impression of expanding the kitchen without making it larger,” she says. 

Window wonders 

The kitchen originally held two double-hung windows positioned several inches above a small corner sink, limiting the view. “It was a standard builder-grade kitchen from the ’90s,” recalls Smith. Moving the sink from the far left-hand corner to directly beneath one of three new 50-inch Pella windows allows the homeowners to enjoy the wooded landscape beyond. 

Paint palette

The wall color is Natural Choice, by Sherwin-Williams. “It’s my go-to color when I want something neutral and warm. In some lighting, this color can appear gray, while at other times it feels warmer,” says Smith. “It is the softest and prettiest of whites.” The kitchen cabinets are a starker white, offering a subtle layering effect and visual interest.

Countertop cool 

To offset the kitchen’s lighter elements—the light fixtures, cabinets, and tile— Smith chose Silver Pearl granite from Global by Custom Stone Interiors in a “leather” finish. This granite presents a clean matte finish that “feels like the modern farmhouse style,” Smith says. “I wanted contrast in this mostly white kitchen.”

Island vibes 

The island was originally installed parallel to the oven, placing a barrier between the kitchen and the rest of the room. To open it up, the designer had the island trimmed on each side and elongated to 27 inches. At the oven-facing end of the island, Smith added a storage unit and a walnut butcher block cutting board. The island doubles as a table for four. Note the shape of the legs; they call to mind those of an old farmhouse table.

Spa-Like Moments 

From air baths to teak accessories, the feel of a spa may be within reach for homeowners.

Going to a spa is an escape into a tranquil, restful space designed to soothe the senses. With thoughtful design choices, homeowners can experience many of the pleasures of a spa in their home bathrooms. 

“You want your mind to be free of distractions and overthinking when you’re in this kind of bathroom, because that’s what a spa does,” says Rebekah Moore Murphy, co-founder and lead designer of Stone Hall Cabinetry. “It frees you.”

A designer might start by considering how natural elements can be used in the space. For Paul Hamtil, owner of Hamtil Construction, that means incorporating wood tones, stone, and neutral colors as a first step toward achieving the desired look. Marble, with subtle veining, imbues a vanity or floor with a polished yet natural feel. Woods such as teak and cedar provide the same effect. Consider these materials, he says, when designing a bench for the shower or the walls of an in-home sauna.

Ann Wimsatt of Cite Works Architects recently worked on an infrared sauna built of aspen, a soft-colored light wood. Clearlight Infrared Sauna provided the panels and the heating elements, but the homeowner wanted something other than cedar, the wood that’s most often used. “The aspen wood was 4 inches thick, and the client tracked it down, herself,” says Wimsatt. “She wanted to go with very light, blond wood. She has a lot of aspens on her property here in St. Louis, and it worked really well.”

Even small upgrades can make a big difference. A rainfall shower head, which can be attached to an existing wall-mounted shower or installed overhead, mimics the rejuvenating sense of standing in a cooling summer rain. A smart toilet also elevates the bathroom experience. The Kohler Numi 2.0, for example, features a heated seat, warm-water cleansing, ambient lighting, and air-freshening technology. 

Tubs are another element that can be customized to give homeowners that spa-inspired look. Consider a simple accessory like a bath shelf where you can place a glass of wine, book, or candle in a freestanding tub. These accessories vary from $20 for a bamboo caddy to $80 for a sleek, steel surface. For those seeking invigorating hydrotherapy elements, Hamtil recommends an air bath, which massages a user’s body with bubbles rather than jets. Air baths start around $2,000. Add-ons such as heaters, insulation, and specialized cleaning systems can increase the price from $4,000 to $8,000. “They have a Jacuzzi type of feel, but they’re cleaner and more sanitary, and there’s less maintenance,” says Hamtil.

Even small upgrades can help transform a primary bath into a personal retreat that’s aesthetically pleasing and soothing to body and soul.

“Just talking about it,” says Moore Murphy, “makes me want to go make an appointment.”

Behind Closed Doors

Experts offer guidance on keeping things organized inside the refrigerator

A tidy kitchen with sparkling countertops and every item in its place is a joy to behold. But then someone swings open the refrigerator door, and bottles from who-knows-when spill from the door shelves, leftovers are crammed in wherever they will fit…and what is that smell? Fortunately, there are professionals who know just how to handle refrigerator reorganization. 

Amanda Rickers of Everyone Organized and Jill Laiben of Jill Marie Organizing agree that a well-organized fridge is not only an aesthetically pleasing space but also more efficient. Knowing what’s in your fridge can help prevent waste and clear space for fresh food from the grocery store or farmers’ market.

“An organized refrigerator makes meal planning, prepping, and shopping more manageable, because you can see the ingredients you have, keeping you from searching for or repurchasing items you already own,” says Rickers.

Laiben suggests homeowners start by taking everything out of the refrigerator and tossing anything that’s expired or doesn’t get used. While the fridge is empty, pull out any drawers and shelves that detach from the refrigerator and wash them. Wipe down all the surfaces. Once that’s done, organize items by category: produce, deli, condiments, leftovers, beverages. Give each category a home, and eliminate issues that are causing you to waste food: If you’re forgetting about those fruits and veggies in the crisper drawers, for example, switch to a clear acrylic bin, placed on one of the shelves, where you will always see these items and can monitor their freshness.

“The clear acrylic bins are what I recommend for almost everything I organize,” says Laiben. “It’s just easier to see what you have. The other product I really like is a drink dispenser that’s spring loaded for water bottles, juice boxes, and soda cans. That keeps all that stuff together, and it pushes it to the front so you don’t have stuff hidden in the back.”

If, after you organize, your spaces tend to descend back into chaos days later, both Rickers and Laiben recommend labeling the areas of your fridge designated for specific items. This can be as simple as marking off areas with chalkboard tape. As Laiben puts it, “everything should have a home.”

“Just a few minutes is enough to preserve the life of your system and keep the chaos away,” says Rickers. Spend three to five minutes each week straightening up, returning stray items to their zones, and cleaning out expired items or leftovers. Rickers neatens her fridge on Sunday evenings before heading to the grocery store the next morning. That way, she knows exactly what’s been tossed and what’s in stock.

 Both women are fans of The Container Store (1769 S. Brentwood) for storage solutions such as those acrylic bins and lazy Susans that help maximize space while making items easier to see and reach for. But before you go wild with tons of glass jars and bins for that TikTok-famous “decant everything” look, take a moment to consider your habits.

 “That [style is] great and beautiful, but in that case, be aware of the added maintenance that comes with that level of organization,” says Rickers. “You’ll need to allow extra time to decant your food into those adorable containers when you return from the grocery store. Is it worth it? That is something you need to decide.” Noted. 

A Bespoke Beauty  

Jenny B, a St. Louis designer specializing in custom, vintage-inspired interiors, selected handmade details and nature-inspired flourishes to create a kitchen informed by the English countryside. 

This kitchen renovation isn’t the first time the homeowners and designer have worked together. Ron and Jessie Mueller, collaborated with Jenny B on the design of their previous home, in the city. That experience, resulting in an eclectic, colorful design scheme, provided a strong foundation for working together and bringing out the best in the new home.

“Ron had items on his design bucket list, and I had some as well,” says Jenny B. “Together we pared everything down to what worked the best when placed next to each other.”

From the stylish light fixtures to the gleaming hardware, surprising and delightful moments are found throughout the space. See how it all comes together inside a historic Georgian Revival home. 

Countertops details

The brass pot rail, from deVOL Kitchens, holds copper utensils chosen for their one-of-kind aesthetic. “These, like the rail, are definitely not factory made,” says the designer. The honed Danby marble backsplash features a pretty black-green hue. “While marble is known for its softness, Europeans do marble in their kitchens all the time, so we just went for it,” says Jenny B. “We didn’t want to be afraid to use it.” Although Ron was initially reluctant to use marble, he agreed that the timeless material would be the best choice for the kitchen: “Its beauty outweighs the work of cleaning and maintaining it.” 

Lots of light 

The pendants, from Restoration Hardware, are a modern take on vintage Parisian streetlamps. “I wanted something French industrial,” says Jenny B. The beehive-shaped sconces to the right of the oven were designed by Kelly Wearstler for Stoffer Home. “I liked the hive shape and the glow of them,” she recalls, “but the best thing about them is that they come in a trio, which creates an impact in the kitchen.”

Oven matters 

Chosen for its traditional look, the oven from Italian brand Bertazzoni makes a statement. “We went with black to provide a more masculine touch to the kitchen,” says Jenny B. The Muellers love to cook, making the oven and its range of options—six burners, an electric griddle, seven interior shelves—a great choice. 

Patina pretty 

Jenny B chose slightly distressed chestnut cabinets to contrast with the room’s dark-veined marble and dark-stained bar cabinets with smoked-glass fronts. The designer is a fan of English homes, and so she sourced elements of the kitchen from the U.K. The hardware, for example, in both antique brass and unlacquered brass, is from Mark Lewis Interior Design, in London.  “Everything from Mark Lewis is not only handcrafted; even the tiny brass nails in the hardware are beautiful and offer layers of patina as they age,” says Jenny B.

Pantry plus 

Though much of the kitchen leans heavily on the English country aesthetic, the 12-foot pantry with insets of rattan has a subtle Midcentury modern look. (The bar stools, backed in rattan, also mirror the style.) The pantry’s striking woodpecker door handles are by Schaub and were purchased at Locks & Pulls in Rock Hill. “The woodpeckers spoke to me,” says Jenny B. “I don’t generally try to match things, but it does fit with the beehives and hollyhocks [found in the breakfast nook wallpaper].” 

Wallpaper wow

Jenny B aimed for a rustic Old World vibe in much of the kitchen, and the breakfast nook that looks out onto the landscaped gardens was no exception. “I love things that feel bespoke and biophilic—having a love of nature, and bringing the outdoors inside,” she says. The bright colors of the hollyhock wallpaper from House of Hackney offer a pop of color that gives the room a design moment steeped in the wondrous beauty of the English countryside. 

Just the Essentials 

Top pro tips for making your kitchen and bathroom shine.

Bathrooms and kitchens, some of the most heavily used spaces in our homes, have their purposes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be warm and beautiful. We talked to Jessica Senne of Studio Lark and Jenny Rausch of Karr Bick Kitchen & Bath to get their best tips for creating luxury and comfort in these essential spaces.

Make the kitchen faucet a centerpiece.

“If there’s one luxury plumbing fixture in the house, make it your kitchen faucet,” says Senne. This piece not only gets extensive daily use but is also usually the centerpiece of a wall of cabinets or a kitchen island. Senne recommends splurging on a high-end fixture that feels both ergonomic and substantial.

Focus on textiles.

Cast off the labels “kitchen rug” and “bathroom rug,” says Rausch, and choose a floor covering that you’d be happy to see in any room of your home. She’s partial to an antique or Turkish rug, but personal preference rules. Stock up on high-quality towels with interesting patterns or textures to “add another layer of interest” to the space, she says.

Go for the drama.

Consider maximizing the impact of a small space such as a powder room with dramatic design elements. “The powder room receives a lot of use, and it’s the space your guests will see when visiting your home,” says Senne. “Everybody wants a powder room that people will ooh and ahh over.” To that end, Senne suggests a full-height backlit wall of stone or dramatic pendant light fixture.

Make it personal.

Creative patterns and well-curated items make a big impact. Rausch likes to incorporate antique and vintage finds, which, she says, “give you a sense of age and evoke nostalgia, helping make your kitchen or bath warm and cozy.” She also says she can’t overstate the impact of good wallpaper, which decorates a room without having to add any new items at all.

Remember that it’s your space, not a future buyer’s.

Senne says she often hears versions of, “Well, I hate bathtubs, but what if someone wants one when we sell the house?” She hears the same in regard to sink choices and other big-ticket items. Senne’s advice? Forget what the theoretical “next homeowner” might want. “Trying to predict what some future buyer will think when looking at your home is absolutely impossible,” she says. “Kitchen and bath projects always require serious investments of time and energy. When you’re at the end of that process, you want to love the space. Put your own priorities first and stop worrying about other people.”

Steer clear of clutter.

Once you’ve turned your kitchen or bath into a space you love to look at, be sure the focus stays on your lovely fixtures, not utensils or toiletries scattered around the countertops. “Take the time to put everything away after you’ve used it,” says Rausch. “Make sure you design in spaces that can easily hide your clutter so, when you decorate, you enjoy what you’ve accomplished.” Says Senne: “In our studio, we’re mindful of delivering kitchen designs that feel spacious and uncluttered.” She recommends grouping tall appliances and storing them together. Balance height with lower cabinets so that everything has a place. Also, think about placing open shelves in front of kitchen windows. This will not only create added storage but also show off your glass and dinnerware.