Fresh & Inviting Kitchen Makeovers By Designer Sarah Hartill
Some of our favorite designers at H&H come from our own ranks, and Sarah Hartill is definitely one of them. While many people hesitate to blend decorating styles, Sarah — a former senior editor — loves to mix things up. What’s more, she never shies away from a challenging project!
Since we’re particularly partial to her kitchen makeovers, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites. Click through to see some of Sarah’s most memorable renovations, packed with ideas and inspiration.
(And, if you like what you see, don’t miss our October 2018 issue. Sarah’s latest kitchen makeover may be her best yet!)
Sarah’s own home reno made the cover of H&H’s February 2014 issue, and her kitchen received a particularly refreshing facelift. The house’s back wall was pushed back to expand the kitchen’s footprint, while a structural beam was added to allow for an open-concept design. Sarah also relocated her sink to the island for more efficient flow. “It was a big undertaking, but it meant we could customize our space to be exactly what we needed,” says Sarah.
While Sarah opted for hardwearing quartz countertops in most of her kitchen, she knew she wanted Carrara marble on her island for the patina it would develop over time. “Marble marks and scratches, but I love when that happens,” she says. Pretty roman blinds filter the sunlight that streams in through the kitchen’s symmetrical, south-facing windows.
Sarah’s original home had a separate dining room, but this didn’t suit her family’s casual approach to entertaining. The new open plan incorporates a laid-back banquette, which also offered Sarah an opportunity to layer in pattern — and add even more storage. Dark smoked-oak herringbone floors finish off the stylish, multi-functional kitchen.
Sarah’s 2015 Ikea kitchen makeover was a reader favorite. While it incorporated plenty of white, hits of warm wood and a unique hexagonal backsplash made it stand out from the pack. “I was determined not to do the typical white subway tile,” says Sarah. In terms of function, she focused on creating a more practical layout, maximizing natural light and creating clearer sight lines in the space.
Sarah carried the statement porcelain backsplash tiles into the coffee bar area in the new kitchen. Their crisp white color helps balance out the warm walnut-look cabinetry, which Sarah selected for its rich tone and interesting grain. “This is definitely not a cold white kitchen,” she says.
The previous kitchen cupboard doors barely opened and many of its drawers were falling apart. “Now, there’s triple the storage space — and it’s in all the right places. Everything is close at hand,” says Sarah of the updated cabinetry. A cutlery drawer under the coffee station illuminates when opened.
The kitchen’s eat-in dining area has a treehouse-like effect thanks to expansive windows and leafy views. Sarah paired a narrow wooden dining table with slim white chairs for a streamlined look, while a blue-striped rug adds color and softness underfoot.
Sarah’s makeover of H&H editorial director Alice Lawlor’s formerly bland kitchen is another standout, packed with lively color and pattern. Sarah also added function with more storage and a leggy island. “We needed the prep space, but I worried that our 10-foot-wide kitchen couldn’t fit an island,” says Alice. “This custom piece that Sarah designed in collaboration with 1925 Workbench was the answer.”
Sarah selected a tranquil, unexpected shade for the new Shaker-style kitchen cabinetry: Benjamin Moore’s Misted Green (2138-50). “Colorful cabinets were top of our wish list. To help us commit, Sarah painted boards, and we moved them around the kitchen at different times of the day,” says Alice.
With colorful cabinets and bold wallpaper, Sarah knew a subtle backsplash would be best. So she opted to wrap the Caesarstone countertops up the wall just high enough to sit behind small appliances. A graphic roman blind and matte black faucet provide a welcome shot of contrast.
Sarah finished off the space with quirky accessories and a new basement door, painted the same shade as the kitchen cabinetry. She also added a sweet cutout for the family cat, Lucy.
This 2014 makeover saw a century-old Toronto kitchen reinvigorated with vibrant color and bold pattern. Sarah also focused on adding more closed storage, so that the owners would have more room for display — a priority for the vintage-loving couple. “Before, we only had room for functional items on the counter,” one owner explains. “Now, we can keep little displays and potted plants. We don’t have to put away every single thing.”
A textured subway tile backsplash and clean-lined vent hood are interesting yet timeless choices that help offset the more daring, colorful elements in the space. “We wanted something eclectic, and layering hues was a huge part of that,” says one homeowner. Sarah also opted for old-school brass hardware to nod to the circa-1908 home’s history.
There’s no doubt about it: Zoffany’s botanical wallpaper steals the show in this kitchen. “I immediately knew the owners would love the rich, saturated colors and the eclectic vibe,” says Sarah. White quartz countertops and simple floating wood shelves are unobtrusive additions.
A new cutout lets the homeowners, young parents, keep an eye on their little one while cooking. Sarah selected a sofa in a saturated rust tone to tie in with the wallpaper and balance out all the cooler colors used in the kitchen.
Sarah also added a tall memo board at one end of the kitchen, where the homeowners jot notes and reminders, and where their son gets creative. The board was painted out in white-tinted chalk paint to blend nicely with the wall color.
Sarah’s priorities in this family kitchen were to add prep space, open up the floor plan, and remove all the dated elements (think: dingy linoleum and peeling laminate). She also made a point of amping up the style factor, since the characterless space didn’t suit its creative owners. Thanks to a high-contrast palette, open layout and plenty of updating (including new appliances, windows and doors), the kitchen is both fresh and functional.
Sarah designed open walnut shelves to add a shot of warmth and easy-to-access storage. Carrying the subway tile to the ceiling imparts a bistro feel, and creates a nice backdrop for the homeowners’ collection of pottery and heirloom pieces. “It’s nice to have mementoes and collectibles close by,” Sarah says.
Another standout element in the kitchen is a wall of multi-functional cabinetry. Containing a recessed coffee station, spacious pantry and handy coat closet, it’s a sleek, smart addition to the room. Taupey grey herringbone tile adds a bit of warmth and texture, balancing out the expanses of white.
In one corner, Sarah designed a practical and comfortable banquette, which has become a destination in the new kitchen. A window bathes the petite dining table in sunlight, while under-seat storage is the perfect place to stash less-used serving pieces and seasonal items.
Before Sarah started work on this Toronto kitchen, the room had zero windows, an impractical layout and a very cluttered look. Now, natural light streams in through two windows, while a neutral, Scandi-inspired palette — white beadboard cabinetry, mid-toned butcherblock, cool slate floors — gives the space new life.
Eking out storage is key in small spaces like this one. Here, Sarah designed a shallow cupboard in front of an immovable duct. The new cabinet is the perfect spot for the homeowners to store jars of herbs and spices.
To keep all the homeowners’ family photos and reminders from taking over the space, Sarah mounted a set of four corkboards in one corner of the kitchen. Painted white, the boards don’t add any extra visual clutter to the space. “It all feels much more organized and pretty!” one owner raves.
To make the most of the kitchen’s relatively compact footprint, Sarah opted to conceal garbage, compost and recycling receptacles in a deep, pull-out kitchen cabinet. The bins are now easy to access and tidily concealed.