Free Kitchen Makeover🍴

Earlier this week, I posted about the importance of neutral design.  When buying, selling or remodeling, make sure to select options that allow your home to maintain a “blank canvas”.  By doing this, you accomplish 3 things:

  1. Longevity. A timeless, ageless space that allows the trends to change while maintaining your home’s relevancy.
  2.  Save Money. You eliminate boredom and overspending long term by designing neutral spaces.  If you’re always designing your main, “stationary pieces” to be of the moment, you will get sick of the design, or you will look dated quickly and have to continuously pay to upgrade.
  3. RESALE!!  A neutral space allows you to collect top dollar.  By staying neutral, your design aesthetic won’t be offensive to potential home buyers.  BINGO – that’s what we want! $$$

However, I know what you are thinking….neutral is boring. Neutral is vanilla. Neutral is lackluster.  Well, yes, it can be if you don’t accessorize with paint and goodies from your favorite home stores. Below I have redecorated the same space 5 times to show how a plain white kitchen can be a “WOW” kitchen with just a few colored accessories. In addition, everything that I will use will be from other spots within this home. That’s right….I will be spending NO MONEY!!! I will use decor from bedrooms, bathrooms, storage areas, etc.  I will curate the pieces, find a color story and then bring it all together.  Take a look and see for yourself!

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So, here we are….starting off with a blank canvas – a neutral space.  Timeless, yet relevant and updated.  This kitchen design will last a few decades. Now for the fun part….drum roll please….

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Maybe it’s the holidays and you want to pop your kitchen with a little red to get in the spirit!! Or maybe red is your favorite color.  Whatever it is, we were able to give this far from basic kitchen a little extra LOVE.  Here is how we achieved this color story for zero dollars….We pulled out the red Kitchen Aid mixer and Kurig coffee maker from the cupboards.  Found a red candle and vase from two different rooms.  We realized the olive oil lid and wine bottle were both red, so decided to throw those props from the pantry into our color story and created a #redkitchen .

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In this example, we created a citrus story.  Feeling inspired by the mini, planted herb garden, we decided to design around it.  We swapped out a cook book for one that had pops of lime on the cover.  Found a candle and 2 vases from a storage closet in the basement, grabbed a few more vases from a bookshelf in the study and used the limes and lemons from in the fridge to complete our #citruskitchen .

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Brass is all the range right now, but I am not sure I want to swap out all my cabinet knobs and lights so quickly. Maybe I will walk before I run and do a little test drive to see how I really like brass hardware. We found quite a few brass accessories in this home without even realizing we had so many brass goodies.  We found 2 brass serving trays stored in the pantry and used one to house our limes and lemons and the other to display our spirits. In the dining room we found a candle holder with a brass base and in the master bathroom we found an amber votive and a jewelry dish, both collecting dust.  Again, all easy finds not being utilized to create our #brasskitchen .

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My client’s favorite color is orange but she was nervous that orange would be too bold for her white kitchen.  I reminded her that none of it was permanent and to let me give it a try, especially with it being fall.  We grabbed a few pumpkins from the porch, swapped out a cookbook for a cocktail recipe book, added an orange tray from storage and a few candles with orange pops to give this lovely lady her dream #orangekitchen .

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Last but not least, my favorite….the Kardashian Kitchen!!  HAHA, just kidding…………….. I love black and white and love to play with all types of patterns when it comes to this color combo.  This was the most fun for me as my client had a ton of black and white objects throughout her home.  Some of the items from the #redkitchen were reused as they had details of black and white. I found a Fish Eddy salt and pepper and sugar bowl in the spice cabinet and thought these were too perfect not to display on the counter. We used some cool pattern frames that were found in a guest room, a black and white box storing coloring books in a playroom and an amazing black vase hidden away in a closet.  Pulling these items together helped us achieve a #blackandwhitekitchen .

 Click Photos to add a little Brooklynese to your kitchen!I hope this guide helps you in recreating the space you want and deserve. Playing with color can be stressful but is way less scary when it’s not permanent. I would love to see pictures of how you update your space with color so please feel free to share in the comment section or email me at info@withinwalls.com

Have fun experimenting!! WW

DESIGN TIP: The best way to pull a color scheme together is to gather up all your extra props and accessories from different spots throughout your home and group them together by color. From there you can take inventory of what you have to accomplish a color story.

AT HOME IN JERSEY CITY WITH ERIKA, ROBERTO AND THE BOYS

A West Coast girl and an East Coast boy meet, marry and live happily ever after in Jersey City with two sons, a dog, and lots and lots of shoes.


Despite being based on opposite coasts, longtime shoe industry veterans, Erika and Roberto, had crossed paths a few times over the course of their careers. Erika was born in California and spent her life in the western half of the country, and Roberto is a Jersey City native who’s resided in New Jersey for all but a few years. After each had gone through a divorce, they met once more when Erika accepted a national buying role at Nordstrom in Seattle. After a cross-country courtship filled with Skype dates and frequent visits, the couple got engaged in 2012 and Erika quickly planned her eastern migration.

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 For this bicoastal couple, the differences are more than geographical. It takes but a moment with Roberto and Erika to appreciate how her gregarious style and breezy California girl attitude is the perfect complement to Roberto’s dry wit. But when it came to housing, however, the two were in agreement; their initial long-term rental — an apartment at Henley Place on the Weehawken waterfront — wasn’t a great fit for the long haul. With Roberto’s two sons from his first marriage — 12-year-old Ryan and 8-year-old Jack — living with the couple part-time, the space was cramped. And its waterfront location, while scenic, meant it was a bit cut off from the rest of town, making getting around by car mandatory.

The couple yearned for community and space in a walkable neighborhood that was still convenient to Roberto’s New York City, Hell’s Kitchen office. An admitted real estate junkie — “She puts herself to bed looking at realtor.com,” says Roberto — Erika set out to  find the perfect family home. “I came across Dixon Leasing early and kept my eye on their properties as they would come up,” she says.Throughout her searches, it became clear that Jersey City was a likely destination for the family. “I grew up here in Jersey City. I went to school at St. Peter’s Prep. My dad had a warehouse factory on Coles Street, right down the block. My mom had a dress store right on Newark Avenue,” recalls Roberto. “I always find my way back to Jersey City. It’s like a boomerang, it always brings me back.”

Aquiesse Candle from Fig & Olive

While the couple was considering other, smaller Dixon properties, Senior Leasing Manager, Jameel Mohammed took a chance on showing Erika and Roberto a recently remodeled townhouse. At 3,700 square feet with five-bedrooms and five-bathrooms, it was decidedly larger than the three-bedroom home they had in mind. “I love the upsell. I love sellers who can upsell,” Roberto says with a smile, Jameel said, ‘It’s a little bit more expensive, but it’s so much bigger.’ And I walked in, and it was old and new. It was like a dream.”

Fashion and design consultant Erika has a particular love for brownstones, especially those that have retained architectural details like ceiling medallions, molding and fireplaces. This brownstone more than fit the bill with breathtaking, ornate details throughout.  (Follow Erika on instagram at LOVELOCKKEY)

WithinWalls.Com Grand Parlor #ZamHomeWithinWalls.Com Grand Parlor #ZamHome

On the parlor floor, the grand living and dining rooms are enclosed by elaborate acanthus leaf moldings and egg-and-dart trim. Floor-to-ceiling window frames are baroque affairs flanking an original mirror and capturing quaint neighborhood views. The massive fireplace provides a warm focal point in the living room, while a gleaming gold chandelier descends from elaborate medallions overhead. Massive original pocket doors allow the couple to create defined, intimate spaces or an open flow through the entire level.

Red Kitchenaid Mixer

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For Roberto, the home’s massive white kitchen was love at first sight. Living spaces are uncharacteristically large at this townhouse thanks to a 1920s addition to the original 1880s structure, which expands the first three floors 13 feet to the rear. The roominess is most apparent in the bright and airy kitchen that boasts a long row of cabinets, full size professional grade appliances, a second large fireplace and a huge center island with breakfast bar seating. “There’s four of us, and I could just envision us all hanging out at the kitchen island,” he says. “And, you’ll think I’m crazy, but I’ve always wanted a TV in the kitchen. I’m a TV addict, and they had the wiring all ready to put a TV in the kitchen!”

With large families and lots of friends living both near and far, the home is regularly filled with visitors and festive gatherings. The hallway on the parlor floor serves as a gallery for mementos of their visits with dozens of small paintings created by both residents and guests. Artwork by Ryan and Jack is surrounded by a patriotic flag by Erika’s brother, a shoe by Roberto, the letter Z for the family’s last name and a portrait of Penne, the family’s Italian Greyhound.

The home’s ample outdoor space is prized by family and friends as well. A spacious upstairs deck is conveniently situated off the kitchen, and the large yard is also accessible from the family room on the floor below. Both access points feature NanaWall folding glass doors to fully invite bountiful light and air indoors and provide the perfect backdrop for entertaining. The yard is a beloved place for Penne to romp and for the boys, avid baseball players, to practice catching pop flies. For Erika, the outdoor space was also the antidote for the one thing she missed most from Weehawken — the breathtaking Manhattan views. “As soon as we got to use the backyard, I thought, ‘Who cares about a view?’ It’s so much better to have outdoor living space. I don’t know if I could go back to not having it,” she says.

Down on the garden level, the family room is a favorite hangout. With open access to the backyard and a fully stocked wet bar with sink, refrigerator, wine fridge and dishwasher — not to mention a full complement of candy jars and an espresso machine — there’s really no need to leave the cozy hangout.

The rest of the ground floor houses abundant storage, a full bathroom and bedroom, and a roomy home gym. About the gym, Erika remarks, “This was how I got him to get this house. We kept going back and forth about how we didn’t need this much space, and I kept saying, ‘There’s a gym! You’d have a gym!'”

Garden Level Guest Suite

Above the parlor floor, sits the enviable master suite lined with the home’s characteristic trim and archways. An oversized custom closet leads the way to a windowed master bath outfitted with a deep soaking tub and separate walk-in shower. The adjacent guest suite on this floor is worthy of master bedroom designation itself with a massive en-suite bathroom and two large closets. Not surprisingly, closets in both rooms are filled with rows and rows of shoes — from strappy heels to the latest must-have sneakers.

WithinWalls.com Master Suite #ZamHome

Master Suite
Second Level Guest Suite

The boys reside in matching bedroom suites on the home’s top floor. Each room includes an en-suite bathroom, and ever the doting stepmom, Erika has converted a laundry closet on this floor into a snack station, complete with mini-fridge, to house the boys’ cereal and munchies. The plush accommodations seem to suit the kids. “Our youngest says he wants to go to NYU so he can live here and commute!” exclaims Erika.

Jack’s bedroom with en-suite bath
Ryan’s bedroom with en-suite bath

Time spent with the boys is precious and focused on family and sports. “Because they’re not here during the week, they really just want to be home with daddy. So really everything is centered around this house,” explains Erika. When they’re not shuttling to and from baseball and basketball games, the family enjoys visits to neighborhood spots like Kitchen Step for hamburgers, Teppan for hibachi and Milk, Sugar, Love for ice cream.

image2“We hang out here, play in the backyard, watch TV, and do art projects. The whole idea of walking outside the house and being able to go to a restaurant or go to the comic book store on Coles Street, they’re really enamored with that,” explains Erika.

“Because they live in the suburbs, everything’s in houses. Everything’s a playdate. Here in Jersey City, you just walk, so they’re fascinated,” adds Roberto. “I think the best thing is having them see two different worlds, to see city life versus living in the suburbs. Getting to know lots of different kinds of people and cultures is really good for them,” says Erika.

Erika & Roberto are thrilled with their decision to live in a renovated Brownstone by Dixon Homes. “I love it!” she replies. “I don’t ever want to move.”

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