Design Master Class Tips and tricks from N&O Design Team prosDesign Master Class Christine Langlois

Design master class: Kitchen remodel in lakefront home maximizes storage and the view

January 24, 2014 

  • About the Designer

    Christine Langlois majored in interior design at Meredith College in Raleigh and earned a bachelor’s degree in human resource management from Florida Atlantic University. Her company, Keepsake Design, has been in business 13 years. Langlois provided the kitchen layout and design selections for this Apex kitchen remodel by Chase Building Co. in Durham. This is the stylish result. Learn how she did it on Page 4D.

  • Design Master Class

    N&O Design Team members who will share their expertise twice a month in Home & Garden are all members of the Alliance of Interior Designers, a group of Triangle-area professionals. Learn more at

The challenge

Create a new kitchen for a custom lakefront home built in 2010 on 5 tranquil acres in Apex where bald eagle sightings are common. The owners asked for ample storage, but insisted: “Don’t block the views and line every kitchen walls with cabinets!”

Super space

We reconfigured the original 12-foot, 9-inch by 22-foot layout to open up expansive water views. Three 6-foot-tall, energy-efficient windows replaced a small window above the sink that was flanked by cabinets. The large glass door opening onto the adjacent screen porch is a lofty 8 feet tall, bringing light and the outdoors in.

The home is N.C. green-certified for energy efficiency. A geothermal system keeps temperatures comfortable year round, and rooftop solar panels lessen our carbon footprint and help control energy costs. The kitchen incorporates environmentally friendly design elements, too: The green subway glass backsplash is made from recycled Coke bottles. A state-of-the-art induction cooktop cooks fast, rivaling gas, which is not available at the site. A pair of recycled boards stained in a java color, hung by contemporary stainless steel brackets, provides storage for an assortment of cups above the much-used coffee station.

The homeowner envisioned soapstone counters on the antique-white Shaker-style perimeter cabinets; black granite with a honed matte finish gave the same look without the hefty price tag. The granite on the 74- by 36-inch antique-black island mimics the graining of marble, but won’t stain or scratch like marble. A curved front stainless steel sink gives the space an eclectic feel.

Varied styles of lighting add to that feel. Recessed lights are strategically placed along the main work areas, while two Fresnel Lens pendants in Midnight Chrome illuminate the island. A modern rattan pendant hangs over the first piece of furniture the homeowners purchased some 30 years ago, a 48-inch round oak table. We gave it a modern flair with ebony stain, slipcovered a pair of discount-store Parsons chairs in blue denim and updated oak-colored Windsor chairs with a coat of paint in driftwood, a cross between gray and taupe. A chocolate brown metal outdoor gooseneck light showcases the homeowner’s beloved metal Café sign.

Terrific trick

Homeowners love kitchen islands. Just watch a few episodes of HGTV’s “House Hunters” to see their importance. But when you take a closer look, you’ll notice that some islands lack the architectural interest that their central spot demands. Side profiles, in particular, are often plain. Give that side profile personality and architectural detail by attaching cabinet doors to create a finished look. For additional interest, select a different countertop than that used on perimeter cabinets.

(Not) by the book

Mix design styles. Maybe your taste leans toward modern. Instead of using only modern furnishings, incorporate a couple of vintage-style pieces. This creates depth, personality and a sense that the room was not completed on one Saturday-afternoon shopping spree. The most inspiring rooms appear to have been assembled over time.

Keepsake Design

103 Democracy Court, Apex

919-599-7476 or

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