Before & After


Laurel Powell, Laurel Powell Designs

Cottage Elegance

Architect and designer Laurel Powell transformed a closed-off galley kitchen and separate living room into an open kitchen, breakfast nook, and living space. By expanding with an addition, Powell created more space to adjust the layout. “We designed the layout so that this growing family could all be together,” Powell says. “Now little ones can be in the living room while mom is in the kitchen.”

With functionality and beauty in mind, Powell tripled the amount of cabinet storage in the kitchen and painted the new cabinets a light gray. “We wanted a light kitchen but also wanted to hide little finger prints so we went with a lighter gray,” Powell says. A quartz countertop, with the look of marble, provides durability and complements the white and gray palette. Antique brass sconces and hardware play off the gray with elegance, while polished nickel fixtures blend with new stainless steel appliances. “Mixing metals gives a collected, timeless look,” Powell adds.

Hand-cut subway tiles reach to the ceiling and frame an antique oil painting above the range, adding an unexpected homey feel to the kitchen. “I wanted to add both a comfortable and elegant feel to a space that is usually only functional and utilitarian.Traditional but with a twist,” Powell recalls. The whimsical chandelier with an antique finish, for example,  was selected to add both refinement and charm. 

Pine and oak floors separated rooms before, so Powell repurposed the pine elsewhere and added new oak to the existing oak to tie the floors together. Two Oushak rugs support the transition from the kitchen to the informal living room.

The living space begins with two olive velvet, high-back chairs that introduce rich, elegant color and texture. An oversized lamp adds a sense of scale and a sculptural element to the room, while blending with the color palette. The mantle’s custom ironwork beautifully mimics the coffee table’s exposed hardware. An heirloom antique buffet table hosts matching lamps, and an abstract painting brings out subtle blues in the overall design.

Architect and interior designer: Laurel Powell, Laurel Powell Designs
Builder: Mountain City Construction

Photography by Amy Jo Osborn
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Haskell Matheny, ASID, CAPS, Owner and Principal Designer, Haskell Interiors

From Drab to Fab


Once a forgotten basement area with mismatched furniture and storage boxes, this space is now a multi-functional living area, full of style. “Even though the space was large, we had to create at least six functional areas within it: a seating area, a game area, a place for a treadmill, a wet bar with an eating area, and last, but not least, a desk and study area,” designer Haskell Matheny recalls. “In addition to being multi-functional, our clients wanted a space that was elegant but also comfortable enough to put your feet up and spend hours relaxing and entertaining.”

To fulfill these requests, Matheny created a layout that maximized the available space. He used a sectional to divide the wet bar and dining area from the entertainment space. A counter-height table and stools create sight lines for those in the dining area to see the television without the sofa blocking them.

To brighten up the room, Matheny rid the area of carpet, replacing it with beautiful porcelain tile that has a weathered-wood appearance. Textured neutrals, in varying subtle patterns, form a light backdrop – found in a warm beige wall color, a tree branch wallpaper accent wall, lattice-patterned drapes, a striped-cream twill sofa, and a swivel chair in raised geometric woven fabric. Blue and soft green accents dot the room, playing off of the Oceanside Glasstile used in the wet bar backsplash.

For the adjoining bathroom, Matheny continued the neutral palette with white paint and walnut wood, but added visual interest with a custom accent wall of Calacatta marble.

“We started with an area that the clients never wanted to use,” Matheny says, “and we turned it into an inviting and functional room that no one wants to leave.”

Photography by Philip Slowiak
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Photography by Beacon Imagery

Fresh Minimalism

With the help of a team of professionals, Karen Culp transformed small, dated, closed-off rooms into a dazzling, open, modern kitchen and living space. “This condo was essentially a template,” Culp says. “It felt small and lacked storage. Now, it’s modern and open, and so much brighter!”

Staying within the original footprint, the new layout, which moved the front door and widened cased openings, doubles the size of the kitchen and allows natural light to flow from the expansive living room windows into the once-dark kitchen. The structural columns that remain are covered in ash wood to complement the light palette.

The abundance of natural light and the design’s clean lines and fresh colors create an open and cheerful setting. Floor-to-ceiling cabinets increase storage, and a nine-foot island, complete with under-counter cabinets, bar seating, and generous countertop space, is the perfect solution for prep and entertainment. A backdrop of wood and natural tones makes the beach-inspired mosaic stone and glass tile backsplash sparkle with pops of seafoam and aqua. Carrara quartz countertops add a clean, elegant feel, while three simple light fixtures with vintage-style LED edison bulbs provide overhead lighting. In the living area, two gray sectionals face each other to make a u-shape, and minimalist décor supports the airy feel of this modern space.

Architectural renderings: River Street Architecture
Ash columns: Chattanooga Hardwood Center
Builder: Creative Design Builder
Countertops: Rocky Tops Custom Countertops
Furniture: Smart Furniture
Interior design: Karen Culp
Stone and tile work: Louisville Tile

Photography by Karen Culp Photography
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Kimberly Varner, ASID, NCIDQ Kimberly Varner Interior Design

A Timeless Classic

Designer Kim Varner transformed this once dark and dated kitchen into an open and inviting space. “The goal was to update to a classic style: authentic, simple, and timeless,” Varner says. She kept the existing cabinet shells but added all new doors, hardware, and trim. By extending the trim on the bottom of the upper cabinets and building out the framing on the window, the distracting 50s-style cabinets became a foundation piece in the design.

Large stone-colored tiles replaced outdated laminate and now add an authentic charm to the room. White galaxy granite countertops create interest and break up the white space. Pillowed subway tiles supply texture and dimension while blending well with the soft monochromatic tones. Removing the fluorescent center light and installing recessed lighting brightened up the space, and stainless steel appliances and a stainless steel farmhouse sink completed the modernization. A coffee bar area, butler’s pantry, and counter-height table provide extra serving and entertainment space.

Photography by Beacon Imagery
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