Designer Melanie Burstin is a master of a neutral palette. Read about this stunningly simple kitchen and bathroom renovation and her tips on picking the right white.
Photos by Madeline Tolle
When renovating kitchens and bathrooms, you want to make sure you’re updating the space in a way you’ll love for the long haul. And for many that means reaching for the timeless white paint and tile. But how do you do that without making your space look like too much of a blank slate? Enter designer, who helped this young LA couple work white right.
Tell us a little bit about your client. What were they looking for? Why did they come to Homepolish?
My clients are a young hip couple with a baby (she works in fashion and he works in film). As their family grew they realized the dated kitchen and bathroom were not only dark and not that pretty to look at, but they were also not functioning as well as they needed. The kitchen, for example, was really small and poorly organized so it was challenging to cook in.
My clients wanted the kitchen and the bathroom to feel modern and clean without being out-of-place in the rest of the house. Now, the space feels minimal and timeless in a way that still suits the original aspects of the house. We were able to make the spaces brighter while retaining warmth.
Why did the client decide to go so boldly white in this space?
The main goal of the renovation was to open up the house and make each room more comfortable. We removed one wall in the kitchen to connect it with the dining room to gain a more family-friendly living situation.
We went with quite a bit of white for many reasons. First off we wanted to capture the amazing amount of sunlight the house gets, and most importantly we also wanted to make both spaces feel bigger. Another reason we went with minimal color was to try to avoid having the renovation feel too trendy or dated in a few years. This can happen pretty easily by latching onto a “color of the moment” so to say. On closer inspection, you’ll see we use many shades of white and off-white, which in person creates a really subtle warmth.
When you are going all-in on white in a space like this how do you select the right shades?
You have to be crazy! Just kidding, you just need to be very detail-oriented. The trick is to start with a handful of alternate options. Each tone is going to look different on each wall of the kitchen. So it’s important to walk around the space with many different samples. This is true for the backsplash, for the countertop, for the cabinets, and for the wall color. Narrow it down to your favorite combinations in each area and then see which one feels best most often.
What tips do you have when you are creating a clean-lined space like this? You’ve styled it so perfectly.
Remember, less is always more—or at least in my book. Try to start simple, and go with your gut when making most decisions. When you really love something, it’s pretty rare for it to not look amazing by the end. Lastly, after you’ve spent so much time and money on a renovation, use just as much care when choosing furniture. Try to save a little of your budget so you don’t have to skimp on tables and chairs, etc. This way the pieces you chose will further elevate the space, rather than diminish it.
What’s your favorite part of this redesign?
My favorite part is the before-and-after of the kitchen. I love seeing how much more usable and inviting the space is. It’s also really rewarding to hide the refrigerator behind cabinetry.
My favorite new design trick I implemented was in the bathroom. I continued the tub surround into the shower as the bench. This way it’s one seamless material. For someone like me who loves a-less-is-more approach, I was able to remove one more transition and gain a little more simplicity. Plus, the marble I sourced is one of my favorites I’ve ever seen. It’s warm without being yellow.
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