Text by: Tiffany Carboni
When general contractor Erica Neel and her family bought this 1940s bungalow in Birmingham, AL, it had a bad ‘80s remodel and needed a major overhaul. Neel was more than happy to comply—and did so by gutting the entire house and starting fresh.
To increase the size of the kitchen, she borrowed a hall and bathroom and opened the wall separating it all from the living room. Regardless of these changes, she explains, “It is still a relatively small kitchen so we needed the most bang for the space.”
And she succeeded. The new kitchen is a model of efficiency. With the help of her trusted cabinetmakers Cantley & Co. in Birmingham with whom she has partnered on countless client projects, Neel and owner Cyndy Cantley meticulously designed a floor plan that would allow maximum storage while simultaneously making the kitchen feel larger than its actual dimensions.
The spacious island provides ample room for food prepping as well as comfortable legroom for guests to sit atop the custom micro suede stools by Mark V. Jordan Upholstery in Montgomery. On either side of the range is rollout draws making Neel’s collection of heavy pots and pans easily accessible.
Matching limestone countertops throughout makes for a polished, streamlined look. To minimize distractions from the ceiling, Neel embedded speakers and recessed lighting, limiting hanging lights to two simple antique nickel pendants from Visual Comfort, and a slim profile track above the sink window.
Because there are no upper cabinets, a walk-in pantry stores all the dry goods while the built-in cupboard affords the family a place for every single piece of servingware from the good china to Tupperware. The cupboard doors are covered with French chicken wire, adding country flair to the southern home. Playing off the rustic theme, the ceiling is composed of siding from a dismantled Midwestern barn. “I went into this salvaged lumber yard in hopes of finding an old mantle. Instead, I walked out with a ceiling,” laughs Neel.
To save money, Neel built the hood by framing it out of two-by-fours, covering it in sheetrock and finishing it with an oil-based paint for a rich luster. “We fabricated the hood for a fraction of what a manufactured piece would have cost,” says the builder who added decorative handmade corbels for extra effect.
Along with the kitchen’s top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances, the backsplash offers sparkle that shakes up the white and wood scheme. The delicate blue-green glass tiles from Waterworks create a water-like focal point tying in other ocean hued details Neel added throughout the house.
With a small space to work with and a lot of ingenuity, Neel created a kitchen that is ideal for her family and the house itself. Best of all, everything she needs in her dream kitchen has its own space—and with a country glamour flair.