here aren’t many upsides to a
kitchen fire. But after dealing
with one a couple of years ago,
a young Houston, US, family is
now grateful for three things: no
one was hurt; nothing of real value was lost;
and, in rebuilding, they discovered how they
really wanted to live. For guidance, the family
turned to friend and designer Sally Wheat,
who already had been lending advice on how
to freshen their 1980s home design.
First up: transform the damaged kitchen.
“They wanted a brighter space but didn’t
want a white kitchen,” Wheat says. Equally
important was to have both the kitchen
and the adjacent family room ‘bring some
peace’ to the hectic life of this family of five.
“They wanted the open space to be calming,
but they didn’t want it to take itself too
seriously,” Wheat says.
To accomplish those goals, Wheat
suggested the last colour they expected: grey.
Grey? After a fire? “That wasn’t an easy sell,”
she says. “But once they saw how soft it could
be, how it wears so well— especially for an
active family— they loved it.”
Working with the existing cabinetry,
Wheat revamped the island with a dark shade
of grey and a new top of white-grey marble.
On the surrounding cabinets, she used a
lighter grey capped with durable concrete
In the adjoining family room, Wdieat
duplicated the deep grey of the island on
built-in bookcases flanking the mantel, a
move that connects the space to the kitchen
and downplays the large fireplace, the
homeowners’ least favourite feature of the
An understated touch of glamour comes
from Wheat’s use of glass and mirrors. Now
the family have the sophistication, light,
and calmness they craved. “The nice thing,”
Wheat says, “is they’ve found their peace.” ■
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