Better Living Through Design

Amy Pearson Design creates a light-filled, efficient kitchen for new homeowners.

Photos by Meagan Larsen Photography

When clients approached Amy Pearson to renovate a 1952 ranch in Portland’s Garden Home neighborhood, she brought her trademark creativity to the project, transforming a dated and cramped kitchen into an efficient and serene space as functional as it is beautiful.

“Even when you initially buy a house, you can identify right away what might not work for you or your lifestyle,” says Pearson. “In this case, the clients could see the kitchen had a poor layout with an awkward peninsula, it was lacking functional storage, and they didn’t like having the kitchen and dining areas separate.”

To get her clients the kitchen of their dreams, Pearson started with the basics. She removed the wall between the dining room and the kitchen to create visual and physical flow between the two spaces and to allow floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining area to flood the kitchen with light.

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“The foundation of my design process is really focused on function,” says Pearson. “What the client finds visually appealing is then layered on top of the function.”

With storage at the top of the wish list, Pearson turned her attention to maximizing cabinet space. The first step was to remove the soffits and extend the cabinetry to the ceiling. To maximize storage for a range of kitchen tools and easy access, Pearson mixed deep and shallow drawers instead of cabinets for much of the kitchen. She carved out space for a dry bar to house the clients’ assortment of coffee-making tools and mugs, and integrated spaces allow countertop appliances to be tucked out of sight while not in use. In the full-height pantry, Pearson created a high-end look with white-oak shelves and interior drawers, as well as a counter-height, quartz-lined shelf to ease appliances in and out of storage. A pullout next to the sink houses garbage and recycling bins.

And while flow and function were paramount, Pearson’s flair for detail elevated the project to the next level — the showstopper being the blue-gray color on the custom cabinets by Rockwood Cabinetry.

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“The clients wanted a serene and clean look, but early in the design process, they shared inspiration images of kitchens that incorporated blue cabinetry. I encouraged them to go all the way with it,” she says, pointing out that large swaths of color would create an illusion of space in the 152-square-foot galley kitchen. “Every time there is a color transition, the eye stops,” Pearson says. “By keeping the color consistent throughout, the eye moves around the space, which visually makes it feel so much bigger.”

Pearson’s meticulous attention to the finishing touches can be seen in the furniture kicks on the cabinetry and in the elongated picket-tile backsplash extending to the ceiling on both sides of the kitchen. Countertops feature white Pental Quartz with subtle gray veining, and the hardwood floors were extended into the kitchen to match existing floors throughout the home. Recessed lights and subtle under-cabinet lighting provide ample illumination without cluttering the sight lines. Simple oil-rubbed bronze wall sconces above floating white-oak shelves on either side of the stove and nickel cabinet hardware provide the final touches.

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