It seems we’re long overdue for a Design Eye Training post. I really love this series and simple exercise to help hone our interior design skills. This is my eighth post in the series- it has been September since I last shared one of these posts. Too long! Today we’ll be analyzing and admiring a rustic and textural kitchen from a designer you may recognize from my last 10 Pins post… the talented, April Tomlin! Upon further research, I also found out this Nashville home (and gorgeous kitchen) belongs to Thomas Rhett and Lauren Akin– any country music fans around here? I really love how many materials are mixed throughout this space. Even though it’s a large, open concept room- it still feels warm and inviting. Click through to chat design with me!
To quickly recap… in our Design Eye series, we observe and admire design fundamentals like scale, texture, pattern, material use, lighting plans, color, floor plan & layout, and a variety of intentional styling & interior moments pulled together by the pros. It’s an exercise I used to practice often in design school, and one I still enjoy today. By discussing and breaking down well designed spaces in greater detail, you’ll begin to train your “design eye”, build upon the design fundamentals, and can apply some of these things to your own home, if they appeal to you. I also feel like this series can really help you hone in your personal aesthetic, determining what you like and dislike… and most importantly, why. Ready to give it a try?
The warmth in this room comes from all of the wood tones and organic materials used throughout. With rustic wood floors, wood paneling on the ceiling, wood cabinetry, a wood island, and an oversized wood table with seating, you might expect this space to feel heavy and mismatched (too much of a good thing), but all of the tones work really well together. It was a smart decision to vary the tone of the wood elements, as well as the scale. You’ll also notice the juxtaposition of modern cabinetry panels paired with the more traditional rustic island. The mixing of modern and traditional is another strong theme in this space- which marks great design, in my opinion. That happy tension is visually pleasing.
In addition to a variety of wood tones, did you notice the different stone and countertop materials? April said they used black granite on the island and quartz around the perimeter (the range and window wall). There really isn’t an opportunity for a backsplash in this space, aside from behind the range. I love the way the soft, smooth plaster pairs with the brick. Another fun thing to note… did you notice the integration of little ledges or small shelves tucked throughout? These simple additions create a nice place to display stylistic and functional pieces while adding personality. Check out the example below…
Did you take note of the lighting design plan? It’s really very simplistic, as there are no recessed lights in this space. I’m assuming the range hood contains a light, and I noticed four double light chandeliers, as well as the pendant that hangs above the back sink. I’m guessing it takes on a cozy glow during the evening hours, and during the daytime- I’m guessing there is plenty of natural light, thanks to those large windows behind the sink. Check out the built-in coffee bar below…
Of course I love the copper hanging from the extra long brass rail- which will patina over time. The lantern is also a classic fixture choice for this rustic kitchen. Notice the mixing of multiple metals: copper, brass, black, antique nickel, and polished nickel!
Believe it or not- this is not the only kitchen in the home. Adjacent to this kitchen, there is also an overflow kitchen… which probably looks familiar because I used that image for the 10 Pins intro a few weeks ago. If you want to go peruse April’s portfolio and see it, click here. It’s a pretty seafoam color… Acacia Haze by Sherwin-Williams.
Interested in a video tour of this home? You can check it out here! The kitchen segment in the video starts at 2:45, if you want to skip the intro. It was fun to see other areas of the kitchen that weren’t photographed… there is a custom coffee bar, a chaise lounge tucked into the corner of the kitchen (kind of unexpected and unique), use of dead space and cabinetry- I wholeheartedly agree with April that as a designer, I’m always looking to use every square inch of space in a functional and useful way. I also had to laugh at her comment on the cafe curtain making a comeback… I’d agree with that.
I also wanted to mention the architect for this project, Pfeffer Torode. They’re very talented and are also worth a follow! I’d love to hear what stood out to you and what you’re liking or taking note of in this space? This kitchen kind of makes me want a cabin in the woods… this is the perfect vibe for it with all of the mixed materials. This space felt appropriate for January! I hope you enjoyed this one. Have a great day, friends!
PeggiJanuary 19, 2022 at 5:29 am
Good morning! That’s one impressive kitchen! The first element I noted was wood, wood, wood. I was prepared not to like it, but subtly varying tones and profiles saved it for me. The amazing bank of windows means even a wooden ceiling doesn’t feel oppressive. The modern cabinets are dreamy, and I love the symmetry of the (I think) paneled fridge and freezer flanking the stovetop. I also see the arch detail of the range hood repeated in the coffee bar across the room. When a kitchen is so humongous, I actually wonder about functionality; I do not need to be carrying my chopped vegetables forty paces to the stove. The double islands and two sinks address this. I might like a bit more workspace on either side of the stovetop, but the shelves hidden on either side are aces! The varying counter materials also help make the space seem less enormous to me; the black granite, in particular, feels grounding, and the black/iron light fixtures are also key. Speaking of lighting, I’m happy to not see recessed lights in the beautiful planked ceiling. As you mention, there’s likely to be lights under the range hood and at the coffee bar. As for styling, I see both functional and decorative items which I appreciate in a kitchen. Some softness is added with rugs, slipcovered chairs, a towel. I also like the simple dried florals and branches, although the giant pile of silvery foliage on the counter has distracted me! That’s a lotta sage. (dusty miller? mullein?) Haha. I enjoyed watching the video tour. I was able to spot the ovens and the chaise in the corner. Also, overflow kitchen! I had perused April Tomlin’s portfolio because of your 10 pins post, but delving more into this design was fun! What nosy cook doesn’t love getting a peek into someone else’s kitchen? I can’t wait to hear what everyone else noticed! Thanks for this Wednesday exercise! I hope your week is going smoothly. I’ll see you on Friday, friend!
SarahJanuary 19, 2022 at 7:03 pm
So much wood! I was skeptical at first, too… but it really feels warm and inviting. There’s definitely a lot going on! I also noted the arch details mirroring one another- that’s nice to break up all of those hard edges. I’m with you on wondering what cooking would be like in that space. I think it was a smart move to use multiple metals, stones, and wood tones. Despite the vast size, there is something to discover in each vignette… lots of pretty layering! I was also happy to see no recessed cans in the beautiful wood paneling. The slipcovers, rugs, and textiles definitely add to the cozy softness factor. SO much sage. I didn’t even notice that until you pointed it out. A lotta sage for a lotta kitchen. Ha! I hope you had a great day! Thanks for the fun design chat, xo
colleenJanuary 19, 2022 at 7:27 am
Wow! This is a massive kitchen but despite its size it feels warm, cozy and incredibly inviting. I always wonder what its like to cook in an extensive kitchen like this. Is it easier or more difficult? Hummm…..I absolutely love all the different wood tones in this space and I’m also really loving the profile of the cabinet doors. I’m noticing this profile more and more, is it called a pencil edge profile? Its really simple, clean and modern. I love it with all the jaw dropping millwork 😍 Spectacular!
The heart shaped backed stools on the back of the eating island are quite unique and interesting. They are fun!
There is so much to admire about this kitchen but Lorrie is bugging (pretty much insisting) for her walk so I have to run but Ill be admiring this kitchen later, in the video you’ve linked here Sarah. Thanks for another wonderful post! Happy Wednesday!
SarahJanuary 19, 2022 at 6:56 pm
I agree, Colleen! It definitely has that warm and cozy feel despite the enormous size. I can’t even imagine cooking in a kitchen that big. Haha! I have heard it called a pencil edge before, but we usually refer to it as a beaded edge profile… or to be more specific- outer edge beaded profile. The millwork is very well done! I also loved the woven barstools with the heart back shape- definitely a unique look. I hope you had a wonderful walk with Lorri, and a lovely Wednesday! xo
LaurenJanuary 19, 2022 at 8:24 am
Good morning! Country fan over here and Thomas Rhett happens to be a favorite. Their home is absolutely stunning. The first thing to catch my eye in this kitchen was the sheer enormity. The ceiling height itself is dramatic, but it feels just as wide as it is tall. I love the drama added by the bank of windows, and all of that light definitely helps absorb the wood tones found throughout, and offers a softening effect. I love that there is no recessed lighting. The second feature I noted is the symmetry at play-from the arches of the range hood and coffee station, to the cabinetry surrounding the range. It all balances well with the long run of cabinetry to the back, and the islands to the foreground. Looking up to the ceiling the four chandeliers create that same symmetry and balance to the long run of windows. Visually, we tend to crave that symmetry and balance, but our eyes tend to pay more attention to vertical and horizontal symmetry. It’s pretty genius to consider the perpendicular symmetry in a room this size. I love the copper sprinkled throughout but it’s the cinder bucket filled with dried florals for me. I noticed all that sage as well Peggi! Haha! Did anyone else notice the dishes on the shelf of the dining island? I can’t help but wonder with a kitchen so large (and an overflow kitchen), why store dishes here? Their kids must be very well behaved. 🤣😂 I also love the apothecary style drawers on the prep island. What on earth could be stored in them is a wonder of the imagination. I will say, I am far more partial to the aesthetic of the overflow kitchen. Did anyone else notice the brick used in the range backsplash is repeated on the floors of the overflow kitchen? I love that detail, and have always loved brick floor interiors. The depth and tone of the brick used here is stupendous! Such a wonderful exercise this morning. Thank you for sharing Sarah!
SarahJanuary 19, 2022 at 6:45 pm
We also like Thomas Rhett. I was surprised to learn this was their kitchen! It’s such a giant space, but it still feels cozy. I love all of your notes and observations, Lauren! I did not notice the dishes on the island / table storage- how did I miss those? I’m not sure that’s a practical place to store those, but maybe they were for styling purposes. Haha! I could definitely see kids (and adults) kicking their feet up there. They must have plenty of storage for those, so I’m stumped on that one. I did notice the repeated brick though- that’s an excellent way to provide a cohesive look throughout a home… by repeating materials. Such a good point! I hope you had an awesome day. xo
Jen ChuJanuary 19, 2022 at 8:15 pm
I too loved that there was no recessed lighting but I watched the Youtube video and apparently the recessed lights were photoshopped out!
PeggiJanuary 20, 2022 at 4:03 am
Oh my gosh, Jen! I just rewatched the video. Head smack! How did I miss that? You win the Eagle Eye Award! (So much better without them, right?!)
SarahJanuary 23, 2022 at 4:00 pm
I totally missed that, Jen! Amazing eye!! I had to go back and rewatch. Ha!
PamelaJanuary 30, 2022 at 10:50 am
This is one of my favorite series you do. What immediately stood out to me was using all the windows over the sink without uppers. 💗. Then the mushroom colored stained cupboards which are almost the same color as mine. They never show dirt. And wrapping the whole room in that mushroom toned wood is very pleasing yet seldom seen. I like the repetition of vertical rectangles in the window panes, cupboard doors and lantern over the sink. I love the lighting choices but I need more light, especially as I age. Fortunately my husband’s an electrician (he prefers less light) and redid all our lighting, most equipped with dimmers and in the bulb wattage and colors I prefer. He always advocates for the use of sconces which could have been brought in here attractively. Gorgeous space.
SarahFebruary 1, 2022 at 2:07 pm
I love hearing that, Pamela! Thank you for sharing. I also love that beautiful wall of windows. I think having a lot of natural light is necessary in this space, since there is so much wood and design elements that could feel heavy without it. It’s a gorgeous space! I think that’s such good advice and a great point- dimmers, choosing the correct temperature, and brightness is super important when it comes to lighting, as it can really change the way a space looks and functions… plus it allows more control based on how the space is being used at any given time. I totally agree! Sconces are also my favorite :)
MichelleFebruary 8, 2022 at 7:33 am
I haven’t had much time outside work, so have been saving this post to read for a while and I’m so glad I didn’t skip it. And thank you for the video link at then end! I’m enjoying watching a walk through this home and being inspired. We’ll be building our own home and I’m currently still designing and seeing so much inspiration that’s a bit outside the typical.
SarahFebruary 8, 2022 at 10:00 am
I love hearing, that Michelle! Congrats on your future build- that is super exciting! :) Hope you’re having a great week so far.