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Before & After

Allocating 10% of Her Reno Budget to Consultations With Heidi Caillier Gave This Seattleite the Kitchen of Her Dreams

Words by Olivia Lidbury
a kitchen with green cabinets and a wooden counter

After. Photography by Bobby Erdt

Nobody—not an architect, interior designer, or even a relative in the trade—could make sense of Lauren Smith’s kitchen.

She persevered with the original but tired cabinetry and nonsensical layout in her Tudor revival home in Seattle for 10 years, shooing guests out of the way to access the stove, and looking right onto her neighbor’s barbecue from the sink. “It didn’t mean to take so long, but we waited because we wanted to do it right,” Lauren says.

A fresh search for a local interior designer led her to fellow Seattleite Heidi Caillier. Something clicked: “I loved her aesthetic and how she honors the tradition of old homes,” explains Lauren. “Her kitchen layouts are so calming, it just felt right.” Discovering that Heidi was available via consultations on The Expert was a revelation, enabling Lauren to ‘geek out’ over all aspects of the design without having to hire someone to re-design the whole house.

A virtual walkthrough on the first call helped the pair to connect, and when Lauren shared her Pinterest boards of quintessentially English kitchens in a classic Shaker style, Heidi’s response was instinctive: “‘OK, I know who you are!”’ remembers Lauren. Over a dozen ensuing video calls, they transformed the space into a forever kitchen fit for friends and family to enjoy.

a kitchen with green cabinets and a wooden counter top
a kitchen with a center island and three stools

Before.

After. Photography by Bobby Erdt

Going with the (right) flow

The room’s window placements had proved a major blocker: everyone suggested extending, but Lauren didn’t want to interfere with the property’s footprint. Her feeling that Heidi could make sense of the space proved correct: within minutes the designer had sketched a new layout, canceling all the windows on the north elevation. “It was a big move, but it meant everything could go on that wall,” says the homeowner. “I don’t regret it at all. You have to trust the designer—they have so much experience and know what they’re doing.”

The pay-off from filling the wall with cabinetry was space for a stately, 6-foot-long work table. Lauren never imagined that there would be room, but she craved somewhere for guests to perch with a glass of something as she and her winemaker husband prep dinner (but without the unsightly overhang typical of a modern island). Showing Heidi examples online, the designer suggested topping it with walnut to contrast with the marble counter and backsplash. “It has an ogee edge that’s just gorgeous, and it brings a lot of warmth to the space,” says Lauren. Ultimately, it has made hosting seamless: “We’re more relaxed, and we don’t have to worry—we know that our guests are comfortable.”

a empty room with a window and a shelf
a kitchen with green cabinets and a white counter top

Before.

After.__ Photography by Bobby Erdt

Sweating the details

From initial design right through to sense-checking installation, Lauren allocated 10 percent of her budget to consultations with Heidi. “I’m incredibly detail-oriented and my view was: ‘If this is going to be a Heidi Caillier kitchen, then every part of it is going to be a Heidi Caillier kitchen,’ she laughs (in fact, the stained concrete brick hex tiles are the exact style in Heidi’s own home). Together they carefully considered every single brass knob and fitting. They also bonded over their affection for lighting, eventually settling on Nicky Kehoe sconces by the windows, opaline pendants from DeVol, and flush mounts from British brand Felix Lighting Specialists.

A benefit of Heidi’s locality was being able to call on her go-to cabinetmaker for the construction—at one point all three were on a call together. The hidden built-in metal dividers for sheet pans and cutting boards above the fridge bring joy daily. “It's brilliant, very pretty, and well organized,” enthuses Lauren.

a room with a wooden cabinet and a mirror
a kitchen and dining room with a wood floor

Before.

After. Photography by Bobby Erdt

Collaboration = empowerment

It was Heidi’s idea to open up the wall to the dining room and widen the far nook to absorb the space into the main kitchen (now the sink area). Those decisions inspired Lauren to turn the doorframe to the basement steps into an arch, and she has since wallpapered the staircase’s walls in Fruit by William Morris. Heidi’s reaction to both? “Oh my god, yes!”.

For the cabinets, Lauren wanted a neutral green but was wary of the color dating. Heidi steered her towards Farrow & Ball’s range and she diligently tested many samples, with Pigeon emerging as the winner. “It’s a mystical color that can look very gray or blue depending on the lighting,” says Lauren. “Here it reads mostly green. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.” She’s just as enthusiastic about the scheme overall: “Every morning when I come in here, I just cannot believe that I get to live in this. It really is my dream kitchen.”

a kitchen with green cabinets and a wooden table

After. Photography by Bobby Erdt

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