Kitchen design with Erin Paige Pitts | Home Front

Erin Paige Pitts
Mar 30, 2017

Designer Erin Paige Pitts specializes in luxury coastal residences at her full-service interior design firm Erin Paige Pitts Interiors in Gibson Island, Md., and Delray Beach, Fla. She believes interiors of coastal homes should complement the view, not compete with the view. Mario and Katerina Todorov hired Pitts to design their custom-built, five-bedroom house, which sits on a skinny peninsula in the St. Martin River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The home’s 25-by-12-foot kitchen with water views is featured in Local Living. Read the story here.

Pitts can answer questions on how to approach kitchen design and coastal living.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. She and weekly guests, whether Martha Stewart, the Property Brothers or Nate Berkus, answer your decorating and design questions. Jura is always happy to whip out her paint chips, track down a hard-to-find piece of furniture or offer her seasoned advice on practical living and decluttering. For more than 10 years, Home Front has been an online conversation about the best way to make your home comfortable, stylish and fun. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and gripes. No problem is too big or too small, send them over.

Designer Erin Paige Pitts specializes in luxury coastal residences at her interior design firm Erin Paige Pitts Interiors in Gibson Island, Md., and Delray Beach, Fla. She believes interiors of coastal homes should complement the view. She brings a fresh modern approach to her work. Today we are featuring a kitchen Erin designed in Bishopville, Md. on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Check out the glam  25-by-12-foot kitchen with river views from all sides. Read the story here. And let's chat about kitchens or whatever else is on your mind.

Hi Jura and everyone!

I am thrilled to be the guest of today's chat talking about the most important room in the house the kitchen!  Kitchens are such a big part of how we live that designing your kitchen to be both beautiful and functional is one of my major goals on all my projects.  Send me your questions!!  Thanks again for having me today Jura!

Hi, I like the look of the lighter taupe kitchen cabinets. Can you recommend a preferred paint color? And what are you favorite marble countertop alternatives? Thank you!

Hi-  I also like light taupe cabinets and getting the color right is very important.  Not too gray , not too taupe.  I find BM Revere Pewter to be the perfect middle ground and if you want it lighter than it is standard, just have your local paint store cut the receipe by 25% with super white.  Whether full strength or cut 25% it is a great color!

Like many kitchens, I have a gap between the top of my wall cabinets and the ceiling. Mine is a little over a foot tall, and I am at a loss of what to do. If it was a smaller gap, I would probably just do some chunky molding. I don't NEED the storage, but that's the only thing I can think to do to make it look okay. What do other people do with that space? What do you suggest?

I have a kitchen I did for a client of mine in Arlington VA with the same identical issue and we added a small cabinet between with a glass door front in a contrast color and then used that same color on the island and it turned out great. Below is the finished product. 

My husband and I are starting to think about updating our kitchen in our rowhouse and I want to start with picking a new floor. The previous owners installed cheap terra-cotta tile. I can't stand it. We have a oak floors stained a med-to-dark walnut color throughout the rest of the first floor. I'd like to extend the wood floors through the kitchen. My husband thinks tile would be a better option. The floor space (not including under the cabinets) is about 6' wide by 15' long. If we pick tile, I want it to be timeless. I'm thinking of a narrow, blue-black slate. Haven't thought thru cabinet colors I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. Wood or tile? Favorite tile go-to tiles?

So the first rule of thumb is to make a small space larger, keep the flooring consistent.  So, based on that and without knowing more, I would vote for wood.  I never pick one thing for a project.  I pick everything at once, together, so I can understand relationships and how they will "play together"  Picking one thing at a time and expecting it to all work out great is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make.

You mention deliberately not taking the cabinets to the ceiling, which made me wonder how high the ceilings are in the new house. Thanks. It's really a great-looking kitchen. I am glad it is featured in the Post.

The ceilings are 13 feet which is not typical which is why the cabinets don't go to the ceiling.  However in homes with 8-10 foot ceilings I have them go to the ceiling.

HF2396

I need to hire an Interior Decorator to help me repurpose my formal living room and dining room. We never use these areas and really don't need them in their current form as we have 2 other family living areas and an eating area elsewhere in our house. However, my husband and I can't see past what they are to imagine what could be. We can do the work, but we need someone to come in an help us figure out what direction to head. I have no idea where to turn to find an Interior Decorator. Do you have any suggestions?

The best way is to find a designer you like the aestetic of and call them!  Find out how they work and what they charge.  The relationship between the client and designer has to be good to have a good finished project so go with the person you feel you can relate to best and that understands you and your family

The kitchen foot print is perfect and I can have one wall of pantries, but I am stuck on counter surfaces. I do major cooking and baking so I need a surface that is easy to maintain. I have always had corian counters and liked the fact that they could be cleaned with bleach products. If I switched to granite or quartz am I restricted in cleaning and sterilizing surfaces? Suggestions.

There are many surfaces available today that are very cleanable.  If you don't want to use marble due to possible staining issues, then I suggest Cambria, Silestone or Caesarstone.  I am not a fan of granite as it is too busy.  There are many stones from Cambria and the other two companies that look like marble but are easy to clean.

I always thought marble was a softer stone, prone to nicks and soaking up stains. Why would you put in marble kitchen counters if you are a serious cook? Give me the quartz slabs any time.

Marble is more porous but there are now products available that make it less prone to staining such as Bulletproof by Dupont.  Only you can know what you can live with in terms of maintenance.  There is no subsitute for the beauty of natural stone but if that isn't important to you, then quartz or composite stones like Cambria or Silestone have some nice options available.

My wife and I are remodeling our kitchen. We have two small children so cleaning up and dropping things are part of our daily life. We'd be happy with vinyl flooring and resin countertops, materials that give and are more economical. We also don't plan on living in our home for more than a few more years so we're sensitive to resale prospects. What do you think?

You can never go wrong in investing in a good kitchen remodel. That is what sells homes.  There are durable products available that will withstand a busy, young family but that are also good looking.  I would suggest you do a nice remodel with porcelain flooring and composite stone countertops (cambria, silestone or caesarstone) as the investment will pay for itself when you go to sell

Hi, I don't live in a coastal home, but I'm planning a kitchen re-do. Are there any rules of thumb regarding what percentage of the home's value should be devoted to a kitchen renovation? I know there are minimum costs, but at what point am I going overboard? I plan to stay in my home for 10-15 years and its current value is ~$475K. Thanks.

There is no rule of thumb and of course it depends how large your kitchen is.... I would say you should plan to spend $50K for cabinets, appliances, countertops, lighting and plumbing.  It is an important room and since you aren't planning on moving anytime soon, I would make it something you will enjoy!

We are just embarking on a kitchen remodel, and our designer feels more strongly than we do that the appliances should "match"--in finish and/or manufacturer. Does it matter? And do you have any other general guidance for someone in my shoes? I've never had a chance to make kitchen selections before, so this is all new territory. Thanks!

The appliances need to match in finish if they are stainless however, if you are doing any overlay panels that can be combined with stainless.  There should not however, be stainless appliances mixed with other metal finishes such as black or white.

Not sure this is the right place, but I thought I would ask. I am in the middle of a kitchen remodeling with a company that is going well. When the job is over, is it normal to tip the main foreman for doing a great job?

That is totally a personal call.. if you feel they went above and beyond what was expected, then yes... if not, you paid them to do the job and that is sufficient.

Thanks for joining today's chat! My husband and I recently purchased a 1904 row house on Capitol Hill. The kitchen is in a small galley in the back of the house, next to a large formal dining room. These two spaces are separated by a very large archway, so while the kitchen is quite small functionally, the space feels open. We have to renovate the kitchen and are trying to decide whether to relocate the kitchen into the much larger dining space or whether to keep it where it is. I realize that most homeowners do not regularly use formal dining rooms, but we find that we use ours often (because there is no space to eat in the kitchen). Would you recommend going to the additional expense of moving the kitchen and creating an eat in space in the current dining room? Or would you leave it where it is? One final note - we are a military family and will live in this house for 5 years at the very most, so resale value and return on investment are as important to us as creating a lovely, livable space for us to enjoy now. I appreciate your thoughts!

So, that is great you use your dining room.  I think that combining your kitchen and dining room into a large single space (as best as your architecture allows) would be wonderful. Don't think just because they are combined the dining room needs to be less formal.  I think you can have a beautiful kitchen and dining room and make them work together.  I think you'll love the space even more!

We're in the middle of remodel on our kitchen and I'm going crazy trying to pick out kitchen hardware. I've finally decided I want a substantial knob on all the doors and drawers but can't decide on a metal. The cabinets are white, the countertops a white quartz with grayish greenish specks, the backsplash is a bright green tile, the appliances are black/stainless steel, and the faucets are black because I couldn't commit to a finish. The open family room will have oil rubbed bronze fixtures. I think the oil rubbed bronze is too jarring against the white and I hate how shiny any of the brushed nickel/chrome ones are. There must be other options, I'm intrigued by glass knobs but worry about it looking to much like my grandmother's kitchen.

No glass knobs.. Yes, to oil rubbed bronze.  They will look great.  You should stick to one metal finish in the kitchen and if your faucets are in that finish, the hardware should be too!

I live in a small 1 bedroom/1 bath condo in DC. We have a narrow galley kitchen and due to budget constraints, we can't afford to do a complete gut job. We were told that a cheap way to freshen up a room is to paint the walls. Any tips on painting a small galley kitchen? Right now, it's this ugly light yellow paint and the lighting is equally terrible (overhead fluorescent lighting).

Yes, paint it all (ceilings, wall and trim) in one color that you LOVE!  Switch out the light fixtures.  Trash the fluorescent and get something you really like.  It will make a world of difference in the look and feel of the space.

Hello. I have a granite counter top in my galley kitchen. It's mostly brown-ish with gold flecks. The side with the sink has a crack that a repair person said couldn't be fixed because of it's location. The only option seems to be replacing it. We would rather not replace the other side of the counter though. Do you have a suggestion for a surface that would go with the granite. Not opposed to granite again, but think something lighter in color would be a quick update. The cabinets are light and the floor is dark. I realize this is tough without seeing it, but any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks.

I would take a good pic of your existing countertops and go to a local stone source.  They may have a remnant piece of granite of the same type.  Many granites stay consistent in color so you may luck out and get another piece of granite that is a good match for the existing. That would be my first thing and if that doesn't work out, then get a countertop that is in a solid surface stone (cambria, silestone or similar in a color that is in the granite ......

i need to replace our white stove and i'd like to get stainless steel. is it ok to replace the white appliances one at a time as needed or will it look weird not having them all the same? i have silver toaster oven, faucet, door pulls, and a stainless sink. thanks.

If possible, I would replace them all at once.  I realize that may not be possible, then just stick with all new in stainless.

Well we just are in a bind to figure out how to update lighting in our 25 year old kitchen. Sadly we still have the builders fluorescent light over the island. Would love to replace with pendants but not sure how much wattage we need to get good enough lighting to cook by. Trying to avoid tearing up ceiling for lots of recessed lights. Ideas?

Depending on the size of the island I would suggest 2-3 pendants.  I am not a fan of recessed lights over an island.  Pick a pendant with a few 60 w bulbs each and you should have enough, if not too much light.  Have your electrician put them on a dimmer so you can adjust the light level depending on the time of day.

Can you share the manufacturer's model and fabric info for the sofas? I love them. Thank you!

They are from Vanguard and the fabric is from Osborne and little. 

Erin - thanks for the tip of finding a decorator with my same style. I completely agree. However, my problem is that I don't even know where to look to find interior decorators to consider. Is there a industry site that most register with? Or do I just search Google and perhaps Angie's List to see what turns up? Or, what I am hoping, you have an alternative place to look. Thanks so much for you help! Getting my husband to agree to hire a designer is a huge step, so I need to act while he is completely on board.

I would suggest the site Houzz or the local magazine showcase a lot of designers such as Home and Design among many others

For the young family -- I actually love the Marmoleum line of linoleum flooring, and wish I had known about it when we re-did our kitchen 9 years ago. We instead have grey slate tile, and it's cold and hard. Linoleum is also very eco-friendly, a natural material (not vinyl). I would check it out.

yes, marmoleum is a great product and easy on your feet!

What's the cost of installing a pot filler as part of a major kitchen remodel. Do you think this is a worthy investment, or a fad? Thanks for your answers today - very helpful!

Pot fillers are an expensive addition to a kitchen, with the fixture itself costing close to $1K  I am not sure of the install costs. If you cook a lot of pasta in large pots or steam a lot of seafood, it is worth the investment.  However, remember, you still need to pick up the pot after you are finished cooking and dump the water... so it only saves you half the trouble

I have a small kitchen renovated around 2000 and it has the typical back/brown/gold granite. This is the only thing that looks dated in it. Should I change it? It's in perfectly find condition.

That can date a kitchen for sure... if you don't like it, then replace it... it would update the kitchen in a flash.

Cabinets should usually go to the ceiling right? I noticed you didn't here so the kitchen would not look out of proportion. But in most kitchens, there should not be a space up there, right?

yes, that is correct

What's the most important appliance to upgrade in your kitchen?

The refrigerator or stove

I'm painting my oak cabinets white this summer, to lighten up my small kitchen. I will probably use BM's Simply White; I painted sample boards in seven different whites and this seems like the best fit with the beige floor tile, black.brown/grey granite countertop, and white appliances. My question is, will I have to repaint the trim and ceiling to match the cabinets? Currently the walls are a deep red, which I love, and the trim and ceiling are some kind of white. Thanks!

That is hard to say without knowing the white used on your existing trim and ceiling.  I would say the trim should either match or be quite close...

I had an installer tell me linoleum is very difficult to install and no-one knows how to do it any more ... I'd love to use it; was I getting a lame excuse?

I use it a lot in mudrooms and I do hear the same thing.  It isn't difficult to install at all, it comes in large sheets that can be cut to any size or it comes in tiles.  They just aren't as accustomed to installing it as much as they used to and they are out of practice and/or don't want to.

Currently, the wall behind my five burner cooktop is wall board painted with a good satin paint. Cleaning the backsplash can be a problem and I am concerned that over time, cooking steam may compromise the wallboard. The wall space next to the cooktop is about 32" wide and 22" high. I'm thinking of using a plain nickel satin sheet secured to the wall. Do you have any suggestions besides subway tile, which can be hard to clean (grout)?

You can do a stainless steel backsplash or you can do solid surface (same material used for countertops). There is also a new type of grout that is stainproof.  It costs more but for behind stoves is worth the investment

What do you think of Pergo floors?

I like for basements and play rooms but not for the main living areas of a home, I prefer wood floors in those locations.

Whats the best kind of sink in your opinion.

It really depends on your lifestyle and the kitchen itself.  Stainless is the most durable and there are some great looking more modern stainless steel sinks out there.  For a white kitchen with white countertops I prefer a porcelain sink, either undermount or farmhouse

The former owners of our kitchen added a counter and the opening is not wide enough for the fridge to fit through! If it breaks, how will we get another fridge in there!

Fingers crossed the fridge doesn't break!  You will likely have to remove the countertop if it does

I have a small galley kitchen that mostly needs an update from the 1980's. And I do not want to spend a fortune. Do you have recommendations about a one-stop source for design/contractors? Will a stop at Home Depot do or a kitchen specialists, or a cabinet store? I am at a loss.

There are many cabinet shops that can offer you a one stop shop.  I would steer clear of HD.

When wood is your choice for installing a new kitchen floor, is it better to go with real wood or a product like Pergo? Pros and cons either way?

I prefer wood but there is maintenance associated with it.  Pergo is essentially plastic.  It is durable but can shrink with the seasons.  I am not a huge fan as it looks cheap.  I would go with wood or porcelain plank tile that looks like wood

We have black appliances with our cherry cabinets in our small kitchen. Do you think we need to change to stainless?

Change them if they are near the end of their usable life or if you just don't like looking at black appliances.

I am looking to give my 100-year old, childhood home's kitchen a facelift. This will be the first remodel after one in 1987 added pink formica and rose vinyl flooring. I want to add two custom cabinets (including the sink, to accommodate a drawer dishwasher), flooring, and countertops/backsplash. Believe me when I tell you this space is small, and short of knocking down exterior walls, we can't do much else. I'm okay with that. After estimates of $15,000 to $60,000 for this work, I propose to be my own contractor. How necessary will it be to hire a kitchen designer for a limited amount of change, and what can I expect to pay for that? Thank you!

If you feel confident in your abilities... then go for it but if it isn't something you are familiar with you may want to leave it up to a professional as there can be many unforseen challenges along the way.  If the scope is that limited, then I wouldn't think you need a kitchen designer.  Without seeing the space, it is really hard to say if those numbers are reasonable but I am sure you can't do it for less than $15K but how much more than that is hard to say.  Old houses can be very difficult.

We have a beach house in Nags Head which I love. The kitchen is a decent size, basically a rectangle with a round table at one end, and the working part of it, sink, stove, fridge, dishwasher all well laid out. Problem: there is no room for a broom closet or pantry of any sort. We bought a chrome shelving unit to double as a pantry, but how do people deal with the practical matters of brooms, mops, cleaning generally? We are always tracking sand in so I sweep the floor all the time, but have no better place for the broom than in the tiny sliver of space next to fridge. Solutions?

Well typically that is taken into consideration when the house or kitchen is designed... whoever originally designed the house should have allowed adequate storage....

Thanks everyone for talking about kitchen design with me today!  If you have a kitchen design project and are interested in discussing with me, feel free to reach out!  I can be reached at erin@erinpaigepittsinteriors.com 

You really whipped through our questions this week and your answers are thoughtful and helpful. Thanks a lot, Erin, for being on the chat. Next week we will have Mark Riddle from Room & Board talking about sprucing up for spring. Hope the weather holds...

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Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Erin Paige Pitts
Designer Erin Paige Pitts specializes in luxury coastal residences.
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