2020 Best Kitchens $150,000–$225,000

by Autumn McGarr



 English Manor Update

Lauren Tolles, Maison Birmingham, Birmingham, MI


When she first set foot inside the stately 1923 English manor, Lauren Tolles was awed by the architectural character – and disappointed by the small, dim kitchen with its 7-1/2′ ceiling. The kitchen, breakfast nook and scullery were all located in the same wing, and while the kitchen had been remodeled within the last quarter century, it still felt cramped and dated.

The stone walls and windows needed to stay, so Tolles set about planning the best way to add storage and light within the existing constraints. To visually enlarge and streamline the space, she ran the countertop up behind the Ilve Majestic range to form the hood and shelving. Every other wall features a light, subtly textured subway tile that harkens back to the early 1900s, bouncing light around the space.

To streamline the layout, she integrated a large island that would provide food prep and serving space, along with seating for six.

The husband wanted light marble for the countertops, while the wife preferred something more robust, so Tolles found a compromise in durable SapienStone slabs in Onice Perle that she says mimic the flow and warmth of marble.

The neutral tone cabinetry has a clean but historical feel, while the Grothouse natural walnut island features slightly more modern millwork, and a furniture-like feel, adorned with unlacquered brass hardware brought in from England for authenticity.

The scullery area was re-imagined to serve as a morning bar, prep kitchen, pantry and mudroom. Navy cabinetry features a coffee bar and toaster hidden away behind antique mirrored doors, as well as undercounter Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers, a warming drawer and a steam oven. A walnut worktop warms the space, tying into the materials used at the bar. Opposite, the tall cabinetry takes on a wainscoting appearance, while offering plenty of pantry storage.




Livable Penthouse

Sandra Diaz-Velasco, Eolo A & I Design Inc., Miami, FL


This dark penthouse apartment was focused completely on entertainment, making it a poor fit for the mature couple who wanted this to be their “home away from home.” Sandra Diaz-Velasco aimed to balance the clients’ classic aesthetic with the firm’s more modern taste to provide a warm and comfortable space that would be both stylish and livable.

The outdated kitchen lacked space and storage, and the clients needed more countertop space as well as a breakfast area. The solution required reworking the layout to provide a cozy breakfast room and custom designed island table to welcome guests from the dining room to the kitchen via a custom bar that frames the entrance.

Sumptuous curves define the space, with the Adolfo Prado Custom Kitchen Island in Calacatta marble and custom hood above adding a striking aesthetic, while light ceiling colors enhance the height sensation of the space and the wood backsplash gives the Ornare Australe cabinets a furniture look. Automated storage is hidden in the walls, enhancing the space’s functionality. Wolf cooking appliances, Miele dishwasher and Sub-Zero refrigeration completes the room.




Room Without a View

Julie Evans, JEI Design, Austin, TX


In collaborating on this new-home kitchen with LaRue Architects and Reynolds Custom Homes, Julie Evans was challenged by the need to use a large window as a focal point, despite the less-than-ideal view. The home’s configuration required the kitchen to be placed in the front of the home, and the window needed to be large enough to be consistent with the style.

To address the issue, the designer carefully selected materials, finishes and tones to integrate and frame the view with the rest of the kitchen.

The home needed to promote entertaining, so the designer focused on creating a comfortable, contemporary and inviting space. This was achieved by using a warm, neutral palette, from the Invisible Grey marble countertops to the walnut cabinetry with high-gloss white paint on the doors. The space is accented with white teardrop AERIN Agnes pendants by Visual Comfort, while Gaggenau appliances and a Best downdraft ventilation add high-end cooking appeal.

To further facilitate entertaining, the team designed the wet bar to stem from the kitchen, allowing the host to interact with guests within a pass-through.


See all of the winning projects:

2020 Best Kitchens Over $225,000

2020 Best Kitchens $75,000–$150,000

2020 Best Kitchens Under $75,000

2020 Best Showrooms

2020 Best Master Bathrooms Over $100,000

2020 Best Master Bathrooms $50,000–$100,000

2020 Best Master Bathrooms Under $50,000

2020 Best Powder Rooms

2020 Best Specialty Projects

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