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Charlotte, NC 28203
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Charlotte, NC 28217

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September 30, 2020 by Chelsea Allard

What’s the Best Kitchen Design for a Growing Family?

A great kitchen design isn’t just about the traditional work triangle. Particularly for a growing family, kitchen design should also be inclusive of the myriad ways your kitchen will be used –for which activities, when and by whom. The traffic flow in, out and through a family-friendly kitchen should be a critical factor in space planning, not just during meal times, but throughout the entire day. This young family tasked us with the challenge of opening up the previously remodeled kitchen of their 1950’s Myers Park home, after hearing from other contractors that what they wanted to accomplish couldn’t be done.

Kitchen Design Goals

While not the original kitchen to the home, the remodel by the previous owners had addressed aesthetic concerns, but not the space planning. With two young children at home, our clients’ most important goal for the remodel was an open kitchen design for increased visibility and traffic flow. Their secondary goals included maintaining a formal dining room and foyer to stay in keeping with the age and style of the home; transitional style with modern amenities such as professional-grade appliances; more functional storage and additional pantry space; a large island with seating for four and to repair the faulty hardwood floors from the previous renovation.

Cream kitchen with brass pendants over the island and a large window over the sink

The angled walls with bar height pass through helped the kitchen to feel somewhat connected to the den, but it was still impossible for our clients to keep an eye on their kids while preparing meals. The tiny vestibule at the back door was tight and included two-floor transitions since the tile and den floor was higher than the kitchen and foyer, creating a tripping hazard. The light from the kitchen window couldn’t filter into the hallway or living space, creating a dark atmosphere. The plan was to remove the walls between the den and kitchen to open the space, but the challenge was ensuring enough wall space for cabinetry and appliances without sacrificing valuable storage.

A Family-Friendly Kitchen Design that Works

Ultimately, after reviewing three different kitchen designs, our clients elected to close the doorway between the formal dining room and the kitchen. This allowed the kitchen to take on a functional L-shape and kept all the major appliances out of the island, increasing usable counter space. Because the formal dining room was right next to the kitchen, losing the extra doorway didn’t impede traffic. Opening the backdoor to the kitchen made it easier to haul toddlers and groceries to and from the car.

The new kitchen design features an open plan from the den and kitchen, making it easier to drift between the two spaces seamlessly. Reframing a portion of the existing floor system to bring the whole area down to the same level eliminated tripping hazards and made floor clean-up a breeze. We left the original window in the same location, but with the removal of the walls, light pours deeper into space, making it feel more spacious. Ultimately, there was extra space to fit an even larger island than what was in the original kitchen design, providing ample seating for the whole family.


BEFORE – The awkward, angled counter with dropped soffit kept the kitchen and den separate, preventing an easy flow for daily childcare or entertaining. The barstools blocked traffic to and from the back door—the main point of entry for this family.


AFTER – Working extra storage into this kitchen design was simple thanks to the large island. Hidden base cabinets under the seating area provide adjustable shelving for less frequently used items.

Maximizing Space

Simplifying the bar design made it visually recede and increased functionality. Removing the bar sink in favor of a dry bar allowed versatile counter space to act as an everyday drop zone or a serving space for entertaining. To delineate the bar from the kitchen while keeping some visual continuity, we repeated the same cream cabinets and used the quartzite slab material as a solid backsplash. Now guests (and kids) can easily mingle between the formal living room, the den, the bar, and the kitchen during gatherings.

The cased opening and original glass transom that were formerly separating the kitchen and foyer hallway were relocated approximately 6′ to incorporate some of the former halls into the new family-friendly kitchen design. As requested, a proper foyer was maintained in keeping with the formal architecture of the home.

An HVAC return and a tiny coat closet were relocated to create space for a custom pantry cabinet under the stairs. Increasing dry goods storage was an important goal for this growing family. Tall pantry cabinets with easily adjustable roll-out shelves are a great solution for maximizing the space available within a small footprint.


BEFORE – The stepped design of the bar cabinetry made it feel heavy and intrusive and the sink and ice-maker were never used.


AFTER –  A built-in beverage center provides space for wine, beer, and mixers outside of the main refrigerator.


DETAILS – The built-in maple spice rack keeps herbs and spices organized and accessible. The fully integrated refrigerator with custom panel blends into the surrounding inset cabinetry for a traditional look.

Finishing Touches

A critical part of making the kitchen design feasible was incorporating two large steel beams —welded on-site—to support the second story floor above. Our engineering team created a structural design to ensure the integrity of the proposed kitchen design, resulting in the family-friendly entertaining space they desired.

In the den (now visible from the foyer) the colonial fireplace surround was replaced with a transitional cast stone design. Using the same material for the hearth, surround and mantel created a soothing contrast in textures as opposed to color, allowing the artwork to be the true focal point.

Custom cabinets, hidden storage accessories, matching appliance panels, and one-of-a-kind quartzite counters elevate this family-friendly kitchen design while maintaining a classic, transitional style.


BEFORE – The hood overpowered the range top and the soffit and pass-through to the den dated space. Angled walls are an inefficient use of space.


AFTER – Open site lines and clear traffic patterns are all part of this redesigned kitchen. Shades of cream, taupe, and sage green offer a soothing, timeless look.


DETAILS – Wide island drawers with built-in drawer organizers keep knives and flatware neatly sorted, right where they’re needed most.

If your current kitchen design has you frustrated and disorganized, we’d be happy to talk through the possibilities with you. Schedule a call and our team will reach out shortly.

August 19, 2020 by Chelsea Allard

The Home Bar: Revealing Wet and Dry Bar Ideas and 5 Reasons Why These Bars are on Charlotte Wish Lists

In evaluating the ebb and flow of ongoing trends the other day, we were discussing the evolution of today’s home bar. Home bars have remained popular for years, but they have undergone an evolution. From simple, compact dry bars to complete entertaining spaces in their own right, home bars still feature prominently on our clients’ wish lists. Here are some wet bar and dry bar ideas to consider:

Say Goodbye: Tiny Wet Home Bar

Well, first—let’s chat about what differentiates a wet bar from a dry bar. A wet bar includes running water, often in the form of a sink, while a dry bar doesn’t. Home bars of the late ’90s and early 2000s were often “wet bars” and featured a tiny, impractical sink smack in the middle of the countertop, rendering the remaining counters unusable. Designers and homeowners often hid home bars in an alcove near the kitchen or off the living room in an awkward hallway. The bowl-sized sinks were deal-breakers for most of our clients; they wanted them gone in favor of more flexible counter space. Today, we’re working with more functional wet bar ideas. All of the below dry bar ideas could also double as wet bar ideas.

wet_dry_bar_ideas BEFORE: This bar was added during a previous remodel, but the tiny sink only served as a dust collector.

charlotte nc home dry bar ideas AFTER: Electing for a home dry bar with a beverage center gave this couple more flexibility, extra counter space, and improved cabinet storage with a wide drawer for home bar accessories.


Multi-Functional Dry Dining Room Bar Ideas

Fast forward to today, and families still request home bars in at least half of the kitchen remodels we design. Nowadays, we take a multi-functional approach to the design to best utilize the space available. Most home bars err on the simpler side, and most do not feature sinks unless they have a significant amount of extra space.

Dry bar with kegerator and beverage center

This multi-functional space in the hallway between the kitchen and formal dining room acts as a home dry bar and drop zone for the kids’ activity schedules. The left side features a built-in kegerator, a beverage center, and extra wine and stemware storage. The right side features open shelving for books and family photos, a pinboard for schedules and Panthers tickets, and wide drawers for the kids’ craft supplies.

Some bars include an appliance for wine, beer, or other beverages and act as a landing zone for entertaining. Whether you have friends over for a casual dinner or you celebrate your child’s birthday, a dry bar gives you space separate from the kitchen to stage beverages, appetizers, or dessert.


Where to Place Your Home Bar

As for some more dry and wet bar ideas, location is key. Ideally your home bar would be located in close proximity to the kitchen, between it and another space like a formal dining room or living room. Finding the bar in the transition space between two rooms creates a natural flow for traffic and conversation, and allows guests to help themselves without entering the kitchen while you’re cooking.

Dry bar in hallway between kitchen and dining room

This home dry bar serves as a morning station for coffee most days. located in a nook off the hallway between the kitchen and the formal dining room, this bar quickly converts to the beverage station for holiday gatherings.


Home Bars Aren’t Just for Cocktails

While most home bars do feature stemware and bottle storage of some sort, they aren’t limited to alcohol. Many of the families we work with prefer beverage centers—small built-in refrigerators with multiple zones that can adequately store a few bottles of wine and a case or two of La Croix or Kombucha. (These are the types of bar ideas that we can totally get behind because they benefit the whole family.)

Beverages tend to take over the main refrigerator if left unchecked, so having a smaller space just for your daily drink of choice leaves room for more fresh produce and leftovers. 

Having a flexible space to store the special occasion china that acts as a snack station for the kids is still a worthy feature of any modern kitchen design. Thoughts on any other wet or dry bar ideas? We are all ears.

Home bar with open shelves, wine storage and white cabinets

This dry bar features a beverage center and drawer for snacks. The towers on the left and right are perfect for housing small appliances, vases, and stemware.


Take Your Home Bar Up a Notch

When it comes to wet and dry bar ideas, this one is going to knock your socks off. Let us explain. If regular movie nights and football parties are your jam, you may want to consider a more elaborate casual entertaining space. With enough room and the right design, a dry bar can quickly become a full-fledged kitchenette, preventing repeated trips to the actual kitchen.

In this case, a beverage center and a small (but usable) sink are must-haves. Ice makers and refrigerator drawers for mixers and snacks are also excellent additions. An 18” dishwasher wouldn’t be a bad idea either, especially if your hang-out zone is in the basement or a detached garage.

Modern wet bar with black cabinets and ice maker Located right inside the back door and conveniently separating the kitchen and the living room, this wet bar features a wine chiller, an ice maker, and a prep sink. It’s right off the back door, making it easy to run inside and grab a cold beverage before heading back to the lake.


Make A Statement

One of the hottest trends in home bar design is incorporating a statement backsplash. Imagine a stunning mix of materials like glass tiles, reclaimed wood, or even a bold patterned wallpaper as your backsplash. It’s sure to add a touch of personality and elegance to your home bar.

Another trend that’s taking the interior design world by storm is open shelving. Not only does it provide easy access to all your bar essentials, but it also adds a trendy touch to the space. Think floating shelves or rustic metal and reclaimed wood shelving for an industrial chic look. With a little creativity and attention to detail, you can create a home bar that not only serves its purpose but also becomes a showstopper in your home.

Whether you’d like to incorporate a multi-functional dry bar as part of your kitchen remodel, are looking for more wet bar ideas, or you’re interested in creating an entirely separate entertaining space, we’d be happy to help you design the space that’s perfect for your needs. We are ready for any dry bar ideas or wet bar ideas if you feel so inclined. Schedule a consultation with us today!