10 Tips from a Pro when Remodeling a Kitchen // Kitch Cabinetry & Design

The kitchen has been dubbed meeting central. Where everybody seem to assemble whether it’s family members or guests & even if dinner is still 2 hours away. It’s also #1 on the list of what most homeowners want or desperately need to remodel. Floors stuck in the 70’s? Wonder how people lived 10,20,30 years ago with limited pantry shelving? I mean, where do they put at least 3 cereal boxes? Those kitchen cabinets make you cringe? Yes, it’s time … to remodel your kitchen that is! I asked an amazing & experienced pro, Jenn of Kitch Cabinetry & Design here in Austin of her 10 Tips When Remodeling a Kitchen. Here you go!


1. Ask yourself, what is the scope of your remodel and do you have a contractor? There are factors such as plumbing, electrical, hvac, permitting & structural questions that a qualified contractor can deal with so you do not have to do the leg work. I can’t imagine calling each trade professional and trying to schedule each one, especially in Austin’s booming housing economy!  In the long run, it will save time, money and lots of headache.

2. I hate to use the B word, but a BUDGET is vital to a remodel.  Many times when I ask my clients their budget for cabinetry, they have no clue.  I understand that, but everyone has a secret number floating around.  A contractor can help you establish a realistic amount of money your project will cost you.

White Cabinetry Kitchen

3. Educate yourself.  Consumers know less about cabinetry than any other item in the kitchen. It is easy to get online and compare appliances, tile and flooring.  But cabinetry is different.  They are the largest, most visible, and potentially most expensive purchase in your kitchen.  Your choices are incredibly varied and influenced by your needs and tastes, budget and floor plan. When shopping around, make sure you compare apples to apples.

4. We all know you have excellent taste, but a designer can take it to another level.  Todays designers are more than fluff and stuff. They often act as contractors, hiring the correct trades and scheduling, along with sourcing lighting, tile, flooring, paint…etc. Then the magic happens. They know how to pull it all together.  Designer’s work hourly, by room, cost plus, and may even offer package pricing.  Make sure your designer has qualified contacts.  Kitchen design is a bit different than overall interior design.  At Kitch, we deal with circulation clearances, appliance specifications, will this door hit that door.  We have all seen the drawer that won’t open because it hits the oven handle!  These things shouldn’t happen with a professional kitchen designer. We want to know what you like. Tear out magazine pages, save ideabooks to Houzz, go crazy on Pinterest!  My worst client is one who walks in and says “I don’t know what I like, let’s pick out cabinets”. Be prepared for a long, painful kitchen remodel!  It saves time, money and in the end, you get a space that YOU love, not one your designer loves.

Marble Island Gray Cabinetry Kitchen

6. Ask yourself what you liked about your old kitchen and what things you would change. Storage is the most common complaint, but sometimes it is a matter of accessibility.  I typically prefer designing with tons of drawers.  You pull it out, and wala, grab what you need…instead of digging in the back of a cabinet!  You may have a corner that is completely wasted.  Pull out corner storage is a perfect way to utilize that space. Appliance cabinets, microwave cabinets and spice pull outs can also hide items that clutter the countertops.

7. Be realistic. The kitchens in magazines are in magazines for a reason!  These pages and ideabooks should be strictly conceptual when planning your kitchen space. Be prepared to be shocked a few times when getting bids for your remodel!  HGTV has given us all the conception that you can have a brand new kitchen in 2 weeks with no hiccups. Be prepared that you’ll be eating a lot of take out and cleaning up lots of dust.

8. Look before you book. So you and your designer/contractor have settled on a bid, picked out cabinetry, tile, etc.  DON’T purchase anything until you know your vision can be completed.  Even if your contractor is 99% sure the main wall you want to remove is not load bearing, get it checked.  Whether you have to cut a hole in your ceiling or call a structural engineer, getting ahead of yourself can be a costly mistake.

9. Don’t be afraid to say no and communicate, communicate, communicate. As a kitchen designer, sometimes I can get a little wrapped up in what my vision is for my client’s space.  We all have wonderful intentions, but this is YOUR space and YOUR money.  Have an honest conversation with your designer or contractor if you do not agree with the design, time frame, material selections or scheduling.  But do this BEFORE completion.  Again, it will save you money and headache if you have an open line of communication.

Mosaic Backsplash Kitchen

10. If something goes wrong during the process, its not the end of the world!  As designers, we live in a world of compromise, problem solving and client expectation control!  We understand if the wrong tile shows up, it can usually be swapped out.  If a wall was cut too short, more can be added.  Give your contractor or designer the chance to make it right before you get your boxing gloves on! Sure, vent a little while we’re forming solutions right away. Most problems are an easy fix if caught in time.


Thank you so much Jenn! Brilliant tips! Remodeling can be an arduous and long process and more expensive without the help of a Kitchen Design professional. Don’t forget to check out her work here.

May your spaces scream of beauty and awe and your rooms effortlessly curated. Interior Design Austin and beyond.

Design questions or dilemmas? Drop me a line! Click here >>>

5 Fab Friday Finds


In this Friday’s Fab finds, how about some daybeds for you? It’s seating with extra depth or for laying that lacks depth. I need one & want one for a space that can be both for lounging or sleeping. And the ones below are swoon-worthy!

1/ Rel Daybed by My Chic Nest 

blue tufted daybed

How gorgeous is this gem of a bed in that handsome wood & glamorous deep blue fabric with tufting?

2/ Hamptons Daybe by Kristin Drohan

Do you see a trend here? Elegant, deep hues like this is just stunning!

3/ Elliot Leather Daybed by Joybird

Mid-century Masculine that can be so versatile in any space!

4/ Villas Velvet Daybed by Anthropologie

And just like that, we’re back at luscious, deep blue. This time, against more ornate wood.

5/ Frances Daybed by My Chic Nest

Teal Daybed

More walls make it extra cozy!

Happy Friday! Don’t forget, this Saturday is the Tribeza Interiors Tour!

May your spaces scream of beauty and awe and your rooms effortlessly curated. Interior Design Austin and beyond. Design questions or dilemmas? Drop me a line! Click here >>>


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Tribeza Interiors Tour Giveaway

Yes folks, it’s that time of the year again! Baby it’s cold outside but on January 23rd, you’ll have a chance to be warm & cozy inside some fabulous spaces {giveaway details below}. I really like it that Tribeza has their Interiors Tour at the start of the year, it gives us so much inspiration & hopefully builds the momentum for a lot of us to finally make our own spaces well-edited, designed, curated and personal.

This year, as always, the tour is chockfull of features from the homes of some of the best interior designers in Austin or their clients. From new talents to alums, the likes of Katie Kime to one of my faves, Meredith Ellis {Read my interview with her last year here}. Here is a preview of what you will find at the tour {hint: there is wallpaper galore which happens to be one of my Top 10 Design Resolutions for 2016}:

Meredith Ellis wallpaper

A little Asian inspiration at the loo // Meredith Ellis

Page Gandy Wallpaper

Waves-a-Plenty in the Kitchen//Page Gandy

Amy Lutz Wallpaper

A parade of elephants // Amy Lutz

Katie Kime Wallpaper

Wild spots // Katie Kime

Here are the details to the giveaway: 2 Tickets up for grabs

Tribeza Interiors Tour

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Here’s how to win:

1/ Write a comment below on what you hope to change in your home this year; or

2/ Look us up on Instagram @maustevens and tag a friend you would like to invite on the tour in the comment section of any of our pics & use the hashtag #TribezaInteriorsTour.

Good luck!

May your spaces scream of beauty and awe and your rooms effortlessly curated. Interior Design Austin and beyond. Design questions or dilemmas? Drop me a line! Click here >>>

5 Fab Friday Finds : Put a Tassel on It

Have I told you I have great interior design clients? Design is all about collaboration & as they are learning from me, I am learning from them. I haven’t used tassels for drapery before but my young client wanted some! This is for the #GrandmaEclecticWithAnEdgeProject. Now, I am hooked! Tassels should be everywhere! Style a barcart, dangle over picture frames, accent a door … I mean everywhere! Put a tassel on it everyone! {Because putting a bird on it is now faux pas!}
1/ Tassel Lamp

Black Tassel Lamp Arteriors

Cousin’s It second cousin except she’s much more glamorous!

2/ Rope Tassel Drop Pull

Rope Tassel Drop Pull

Your cabinet doors will look so drop dead gorgeous!

3/ Gilt Wood & Marble Tassel Table

Gilt Wood & Marble Table

Some of my favorite things wrapped up in one table

4/ Beaded Hemp Tassels


Because Tassels can be organic too!

5/ John Robshaw Iswar Shower Curtain

A little tassel fringe goes a long way for the usually ho-hum shower curtain.

May your spaces scream of beauty and awe and your rooms effortlessly curated. Interior Design Austin and beyond.

Design questions or dilemmas? Drop me a line! Click here >>>

5 Fab Friday Finds

First Friday of 2016! What did you do all week? I mainly got organized and finishing the last quarter financial statements for Quickbooks. Ho-hum, the fun of being self-employed. I’m also reading new design books that my sister-in-law & daughter gave me for Christmas — they know me so well!

For this 1st Friday of 2016, here are my 5 Friday Fab Finds!

1/ Petite Alliance Mosaic by Tabarka

What a gorgeous juxtaposition of something organic and sophisticated. This is what they stated about the collection… & I couldn’t agree more — The warmth of wood in contrast to the opalescence of unique stone captures an understated elegance that transforms any surface into a timeless work of art.

Tabarka Studio Mosaic Tile Petite Alliance

2/ Colorful Stackable Etagere

How cute would this be in a nursery or kid’s room?

3/ Apparatus Studio Censer

Because I want my essential oils smoking from a brass torch!

Apparatus Studio Censer

4/ Fornasetti Candle

I saw these locally at Prize and it is even more adorable in person. It is pretty pricey, *sigh* but the container is definitely a keeper!

5/ Gold Brushstroke Tray

Serving in these platters will make your everyday get togethers even more festive!

Have a fun-filled weekend folks!

Interior Design Austin and beyond! Design questions or dilemmas? Drop me a line! Click here >>>

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10 Design Resolutions for 2016

Happy New Year everyone! Can you believe it’s 2016? Anywho, I do not make personal resolutions anymore … I have practically the same goals I wrote on paper years ago. I thought of putting “making a blog post at least once a week” one of my resolutions this year, but heck, for me that’s extremely hard. I’m not making any excuses, it’s just not my thing anymore. Hello, the last one I made was April of 2015. But one thing I’m promising myself is to write when it’s my thing at the moment, when I enjoy it or when I know it will give some good information. Ummm, allow me to indulge in this notion a bit :). So, without further ado, here are 10 Design Resolutions for 2016.

1/ Commit to a bold new color.

JADE garden benjamin moore

Jade Garden by Benjamin Moore was the perfect pop of color for this project.

This may not be a not so new proposition but by golly, some are still in a rut of beiges {or grays for that matter}. I’m not saying using just neutrals is bad {and there certainly is an aesthetic & style where using neutral hues is a must} but maybe go for something a little more bold somewhere in the house. The powder room maybe? The guest bedroom? Heck, even the closet or pantry.

2/ Go for symmetry.

matching gray chairs

Identical settees are face to face in the second sitting area for a young couple’s Tarrytown abode.

You must think I’ve had way too much champagne celebrating the New Year as this idea again is not new news. What I’m getting at is recently, spaces or rooms that’s too symmetrical or balanced are given a bad rap so people tried so hard to make things not too symmetrical. Sometimes {or a lot}, symmetry is importan. You achieve this by having matching items and other times by having items that are not too matchy-matchy but still cohesive with each other.

3/ Take time to think about the details

details quatrefoil knobs

Brass quatrefoil doorknobs for the cupboards in this gorgeous kitchen was the right dose of sophistication.

Have you heard of the saying it’s all in the details? Well it is! These details make the whole vision come to life. Whether it’s choosing knobs, pulls or the hand towel in the bathroom, trust me, choosing the correct little pieces matter.

4/ Give wallpaper a chance

neutral geometric wallpaper

Taupe/Cream wallpaper in a trellis pattern adorns the stair landing at this Tarrytown home. The antelope carpet is not bad either!

Really, 2016 is the year for wallpaper at your casa! So get it going and commit to having a wall covered in one. Still having cold feet? Try having it first in a space you don’t normally frequent like the powder bath or have one in a muted color & pattern.

5/ Give drapery a chance

Gold and taupe drapery

Drapery in a gorgeous fabric gives depth, texture and layers to a room, just like in this Euro-traditional dining room.

A long time ago, I was one of the many people who didn’t believe in draperies. I felt they made a space too traditional and grandma-ish but really it depends on the fabric & the style you choose. To me, it makes windows picture perfect. I must admit, I’m still not a fan of swags and valances though.

6/ Add a splash of a different style

You may have heard the advice of looking at your wardrobe to find a common trend that will help cue you in what your home style should be. If your wardrobe evokes a more polished, classic style then Chesterfield sofas and Louis chairs maybe more your thing; or if you have tons of blacks & grays then tweed mid-century sofas maybe the best fit for you. But how about adding something a little more edgy to the dining room with your Louis chairs like an ultra-modern trapeze lighting or mix in a warm, exotic vibe with the tweed sofa by adding an end-table that screams global chic. Venture out in small doses though, too much out of your comfort zone is never good.

7/ Turn spaces you normally would not use as a functional nook

home office nook

The small hallway to the balcony at a client’s house becomes the extra space for getting bills and other home stuff organized.

I’ve seen it too often, spaces that becomes the catch-all space or room. Just don’t do it. Entry ways, mud rooms, hallways to balconies … give the space a purpose and design it for that purpose.

Every space is a chance for you to turn into something beautiful & functional at the same time.

8/ Put a lot of value to awesome lighting

brass dining lighting

A brass geometric chandelier was the perfect lighting over the Saarinen-inspired tulip table and mint green wishbone chairs for this dining room.

Aside from providing illumination, the right lighting sets the mood for a room or space. Style, size, placement, wattage…all of that matters.

9/ Don’t go shopping without a plan

For impulsive shoppers, this idea probably doesn’t sound good. But for home stuff where a cabinet costs substantially more than that new trendy cropped top you’ve been eyeing, impulsive buying is just not the right thing to do. Of course, once in a while you’ll find that gorgeous lamp that you are totally in love with; hopefully when that time comes, you already have a style concept down and you know exactly where that magnificent piece will go.

10/ Hire an interior designer

I’m a little self-serving here {ya think!} but really, if design is not really your cup of tea but you do want your space to be beautiful and cohesive; or you’ve got tons of ideas and you know the style you are going for but can’t seem to edit everything down; or time is not really on your side with work stuff that has overtaken your life or kids with places to go and projects that they need your help on … then it’s time to hire an interior designer. Of course, these are not the only reasons why you should hire one. The reason is specific to you, but whatever it is, take that jump and connect with one that’s the best fit for you.

Cheers to 2016 everyone! May your spaces scream of beauty and awe and your rooms effortlessly curated. Interior Design Austin and beyond.

*** All images are mine. Please ask for permission if you would like to use any of the images.***

Design questions or dilemmas? Drop me a line! Click here >>>

Patterns and Hues in Paradise

I am seriously in love with this getaway in the Dominican Republic, a gorgeous respite designed and decorated by the amazing Celerie Kemble for her family. I doubt it’s on Airbnb & Homeaway…darn it, but oh my goodness! It’s a study in playing with patterns and colors, tying known brands {Henredon, Natural Curiosities, Stray Dog Designs} with local artisans, custom and retail, vintage and new finds. It’s airy, refreshing, bold yet playful and whimsical all at the same time.

Celerie Kimble Dominican Republic home

living room celerie kimble dominican republic bath and sitting room celerie kemble dining room celerie kimble dominican republic bedroom celerie kimble dominican republic bath and sitting room celerie kemble sunroom celerie kemble

Take me away to this place! How gorgeous is she, oh & her kids have the most adorable names — Rascal, Wick, and Zinnia. See more of the home at Architectural Digest here and prepare to swoon some more. You have to check out the front facade & the pool area … cabana heaven!


A Q & A with Mark Wilkerson // Austin Modern Homes Tour 2015

Winter is always eye candy season for design enthusiasts as home tours are back to back during this time. This weekend {yes, already!}, it is the famous and always fun and engaging Austin Modern Home Tours. Modern Home Tours, the outfit which produces the tour has now grown to include both the US & Canada with events in various cities to boot {with cities like Vancouver, Santa Fe ,Chicago & New Orleans to name a few} but it all started here, Austin. This year, there is more modern inspiration to come!

I had the privilege of doing a Q & A with a prodigious designer, Mark Wilkerson. I was instantly captivated by the home he designed because of it’s world class and avant-garde art selection in a backdrop of clean and beautiful architecture.

garbage frames


1.Art is the hardest thing to source for a design client because it can be so subjective and personal, what’s your magic tip or trick when choosing art for a space?

Art is most certainly subjective and highly personal however when working closely with a client you develop an understanding for their likes and dislikes as you make decisions regarding furniture, lighting , accessories…All of these decisions involve the same psychological process that takes place when you  purchase art. The clients aesthetics and the project budget give me a good platform for understanding where we will enter the market from a financial perspective and allows me to narrow the hunt. I tend to encourage purchasing as major a piece as one is willing to invest in and I guide my clients towards listed artists with a successful auction records in the larger houses like Christies, Sothebys and Philips. Not everyone can afford a large scale original Warhol or Serra but most people engaging the services of a designer have the budget for a minor work by a major artist; which is an excellent place to start a collection. There are beautiful original pieces for any interested purchasers at all levels of pricing; most importantly, I encourage my clients to purchase what they love.

art sitting room

2. What is your favorite feature of the home at 600 Terrace? 

600 Terrace Mountain has been a labor of love. I genuinely adore this property and will be continuing finishing the space out over the next few months but I would say my favorite feature of the house is the large Jean-Michel Basquiat on the second level. This piece is full of life and movement and sets an enigmatic whimsical tone for the majority of the common spaces upstairs. Aside from being a historically significant piece I have always been a personal fan of his work, unfortunately there is not much of his work out there to be seen, thus I feel fortunate to have the chance to spend so much time with this one.

3. Being so vastly traveled {wow, 30 countries!}, which city have you been most inspired by?

I have be influenced greatly by travel and have been fortunate to see some amazing places across the world. I have so many favorites, but I would say the most influential, from an architectural perspective would probably be Singapore or Hong Kong and from an interiors and art perspective I’ve been influenced by several Eastern European countries like Slovakia and Austria…There of course is Paris which I feel like could possibly be the epicenter of design and luxury living and is still one of my favorite cities to shop for antiques, art and objects, as well as Mexico City and San Francisco.

I told you there were a lot!

facade 600 terrace mountain

4. Tell me more about your process when designing a space.

My process for designing a space starts with simply listening to the client’s needs and translating those needs into a reality through design, art and objects. Most people have an understanding or vision of what they are trying to achieve with design, and in most cases just have trouble communicating that vision. I have found by working closely with a client and being able to translate the likes/dislikes into a workable space is easiest achieved my spending time with that person, seeing their current home, photos of interiors or art that interests them and even shopping trips together. Designing someone’s home is a very personal and intimate venture and you get to know the client on a personal level quite quickly, I mean you usually see their bedroom on the first meeting for goodness sake!


Thank you so much Mark! I am thoroughly inspired! The art selection is truly unique & captivating and it’s great to know that the process of curating this home is still evolving. And yes, design is so personal & intimate and bedrooms {and may I say the restrooms too can reveal so much about a person!}.

Check out the Austin Modern Home Tours this weekend everyone! See this home and more:

Get your tickets

Saturday, February 7, 2015

10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (CST)

 Have fun, get inspired & learn more about modern design!

A Q & A with Meredith Ellis // Tribeza Interiors Tour 2015


I can’t believe that it’s been a year since the first Tribeza Interiors Tour! Last year, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing the amazingly talented Tracey Overbeck Stead. It was great to peek inside the homes of the most celebrated interior designers in Austin and look closely as to what inspires them and fuels their creativity. One big thing about Austin, the designers are laid back, approachable, friendly and their homes? The same way as their talented owners … that is what sets Austin interior design apart — design that’s creative yet never out of reach, beautiful yet never stuffy.

This year, I am so lucky to do a Q & A with one of the designers for this year’s Tribeza Interiors Tour, Meredith Ellis. I was instantly drawn to her aesthetic because of it’s warmth, life and design that’s utterly personal. It’s curated over time with mementos that speaks of a hundred memories.

NML_Tribeza_Designers_Meredith Ellis

1. What is the best lesson you learned when you got a gig working with the amazing Bunny Williams?

The most valuable lesson I learned from working with Bunny Williams was to be patient in advancing my career.  When I landed my entry job with her at 23 I wanted to be doing the “decorating” and advance up to a designer right away.

I was naive, and didn’t realize at the time how valuable progressing slowly, smartly and really spending several years “working”in the field was important before becoming a true “designer”. It’s not always about being creative, it’s mostly about  problem solving, and always being three steps ahead.

Working for someone REALLY good, established, and with major large scale projects taught me so many facets of the business that I never could have known without years of due diligence.

Amy Bartlam-Travis Heights Home - 02

2. I absolutely adore the character & the “life” your home evokes, which vignette/s is your favorite & most definitely reflects your personality?

Hard to say, because I change things all the time!  I buy something and then I totally reorganize everything.  That’s my favorite part of design… reinvention!

But if I have to answer I would say our Living Room.  I love our Living Room because it’s such a combination of Hunter (my husband) and I… I love textiles, and accessories,  and I especially love color.

I want people to walk into our home and know something about us… our books, our photos, the artifacts and important things that are framed and displayed all over the room, they tell a story … that is OUR History.

Amy Bartlam-Travis Heights Home - 14

3. Tell me more how you chose the vibrant hue of your kitchen cabinetry. Any advice for people that’s afraid of color?

I wish I could take credit for that color, but it was here when we moved in.   It’s one of  two colors in our house that has remained.  I actually loved it, and worked the rest of the house around it.  

We did make it a little bit better though by installing a new backsplash which I thought was more appropriate for the house.

Amy Bartlam-Travis Heights Home - 13

 4. What is with English interiors that you are drawn to it?

I think particularly I am drawn to the old English Country houses… they are comfortable, and exude a sense of history without feeling too stuffy.  They are elegant and sophisticated.  I think of pretty  hard wood floors, rush matting or old oriental rugs , ornate bookcases, piles of antique books, perfectly soft and aged linen prints, beautiful dutch paintings  and collections of blue and white porcelain.  It’s just romantic and relaxing.  I think I just described Downtown Abbey.

Amy Bartlam-Travis Heights Home - 48

5. Travel is such a big inspiration for creatives; which of your travels has been the most inspiring for you & why?

I really love San Miguel De Allende. Several years ago my husband and I were married there.  But in the planning stages we had the opportunity to go into several private homes & hotels as we did research for places for our guests to stay… you walk down these small cobblestone streets, and the walls are all painted bright colors of aqua and yellow and orange.  You have no idea what sits behind the unassuming carved doors.  It’s magical… everyone we went into had a garden or courtyard overflowing with bougainvillea, jacaranda trees and greenery.  I also love the colonial Architecture, the European influence , and the all around artistic vibe.  Not to mention the shopping is pretty great.  

Profile Image by Nicole Mlakar, interior images by Amy Bartlam.


Thank you so much Meredith! You are spot on that interior design, apart from creativity is all about problem-solving.

I am so excited to come to the kickoff party and mingle with my design friends as well as meet new ones, shake hands with the best of the best. I also have my walking shoes and tour-goer gang ready to be inspired. Austin, I hope you have your winter outfit for the upcoming tour. Read more about the homes & the designers. Get your tickets here & mark your calendars! See you there!


JANUARY 24TH, 2015

10:30 am –  4:30 pm

Seriously Delightful Lighting

If I was a light fixture, I’d be one of these swanky ones — I must be looking at furnishings and decor items waaaayyy too much and in the world of design, the right lighting can make or break a space. These ones at Delightfull are just that, seriously delightful & definitely unique!

1. Floor Lamps

Janis Standing Lamp // A long-stemmed candelabra … yes, please!

Evans Standing Lamp // Charles & Ray will love this black & brass accompaniment to their iconic chair

2. Wall Lighting

Atomic Sconce // Atomic attraction has never looked so good

Parker Sconce // Simple yet not understated

3. Suspension Lighting

Matheny Suspension // Big, bold & cascading

Duke Suspension // A balancing act

Do you have a Design question or dilemma? Drop me a line and I’ll answer them for free {and absolutely no strings attached!}. Click here >>>