The 1980s brought us some beloved styles, in both fashion and home décor—from leg warmers and shoulder pads to vertical blinds and floral drapes.
But though we might feel a pang of nostalgia for parachute pants, we’re not going to start wearing them again, just as we’re not going to bring back bulky microwaves with spinning dials. No, we’re going to get with the times, which is just what Nick and Kim Hawes did with their West Chester kitchen.
Kim’s aunt and uncle, who previously owned the home, were looking to downsize, while she and Nick were looking to upsize. When the couple bought the home, they liked that it was a bit of a fixer-upper but recognized that the kitchen, with its preponderance of dark wood and 1980s vibes, would need a facelift.
“The space was narrow and tight, and didn’t function well for what our needs were,” explains Kim. “And the corner cabinet held a lazy Susan that ate everything that went inside of it.”
There was a peninsula that housed a cooktop, and a cramped pantry situated in the pathway to the dining room. The counter area provided space to doodle notes while on a landline phone, but as far as a place to prepare meals? Not so much.
Enter Jodi Smith from Neal’s Design Remodel, who recognized immediately the need to remove a wall but spare the peninsula. “Their kids are part of their everyday kitchen experience—they need a place to sit and do homework, or to decorate cookies or whatever,” she says. “So we extended the peninsula and left it as a gathering space.”
There’s a picturesque window above one end of the peninsula, as well as a window seat to store dog food. Jodi was able to make use of every inch of space, and with the wall removal, the traffic flow in the space is much improved.
Eye for design
Jodi’s vision aligned with the Hawes’ vision from the get-go, and as a graphic designer herself, Kim had a good eye for everything from finishes and furnishings to wallpaper and décor, according to Jodi.
But one doesn’t have to be a designer to have an eye for color, and the Hawes embraced lots of it. “We like color and vibrancy,” explains Kim. “We both have backgrounds in the art field, so we have a joy for visual arts.” That joy translates to a living room in Tiffany teal, a hallway in blush pink, and a bright navy in the dining room that carries over to the kitchen.
The kitchen’s navy nicely offsets the brass accents, and the combination of upper and lower cabinets in contrasting white and blue keeps the navy from being overbearing and lends more personality to the space.
Additional personality comes from the maximalist wallpaper serving as an accent feature along one wall. The bold pattern of a navy background with gold metallic ink pulls in the metallic accents of the room’s hardware. The canned and under-cabinet lighting, along with the distinctive lighting fixtures, illuminates the entire space and are an improvement from the pre-renovation plug-in lighting options.
High tech touches
The sleek bucket sink is also an improvement from the previous cast-iron enamel sink, and the new Moen Nio faucet is non-touch and can be controlled by Alexa. “I thought it would be over-the-top extra but it really comes in handy,” says Nick.
The large induction range is another item the couple appreciates, partly due to the ease with which it can be cleaned but especially because it’s safe for a family with young children running around. “You can put your hand right on the burner at any temperature,” explains Nick. “The only thing that gets hot is the pot or pan.”
On trend, but timeless
Overall, all of the kitchen features are classic, especially the custom cabinetry. The subdued design balances with the wallpaper to make that area a piece of art. “This approach also means your kitchen stays more timeless and gives you the opportunity to update your statement piece, such as the wallpaper, as the years pass and as trends change,” says Nick.
“I have always liked the Shaker style cabinets because they’re clean and simple and give your eye a quiet place to rest. We have a runner with birds and chairs with a snake print so the simple cabinetry helps,” adds Kim.
The kitchen’s subway tile backsplash is also subdued and intentionally has imperfections to it. The Calacatta countertops contain delicate bule veining that dovetails nicely with the other navy elements in the space. “As someone who works in patterns, I’m really aware of them,” says Kim. “I wanted everything to work as a cohesive collection versus everything competing to get your attention.”
In terms of trends, the Hawes’ kitchen is on point. “Today we’re seeing clean, crisp lines,” Jodi continues, “as well as lots of bright, fun colors. And people are getting more adventurous with cabinetry and countertops.”
Jodi considers this one of her favorite projects, and the Hawes are, of course, beyond pleased with the end result. Kim loves how the space functions so well for her family and the way Jodi helped them maximize every inch of the space. “My favorite thing we got rid of is the corner cabinet with the lazy Susan thing,” she says with a laugh. That and all the other 1980s elements are a thing of the past, as they should be.
Contractor Neal’s Design Remodel Designer Jodi Smith, ASID, Neal’s Design Remodel Cabinetry Neal’s Custom, Green City Cabinets Countertops Calacatta Marina, KBR Backsplash Soho Studios Boston Arctic, Florida Tile Sink Elkay with Moen Nio faucet, Ferguson Cooktop, refrigerator, oven Electrolux Bar fridge Zephyr
Article by Lee Rhodes | Photos by Ross Van Pelt
Article originally appeared in February 2024