A Vibrant Kitchen Makeover

Tomato red! Lemon yellow! Blueberry blue! HGTV Magazine visited a Philadelphia kitchen bursting with delicious hues.
Candy-Colored Kitchen Makeover

Candy-Colored Kitchen Makeover

bright red modern kitchen

Photo by: Trevor Dixon (styled by Matthew Gleason)

Trevor Dixon (styled by Matthew Gleason)

By: Kathleen Renda and Jennifer Berno DeCleene

There was zero chance Amy and Michael Cohen would end up with a cookie-cutter kitchen in their 1920s Colonial in Philadelphia, PA. When they purchased the home in 2010 and took on a top-to-bottom revamp with architect Alan Metcalfe, they were single-minded about bringing bold colors to every room, including the kitchen. “Vibrant hues just make me happy,” says Amy.

With an assist from local designer Val Nehez, the Cohens pulled off a colorful, contemporary space that their daughters, Eliza, 17, and Chloe, 13, and family dog, 18-month-old Cavapoo Lola, like to spend time in. The showstopper of the redo is a 6 1/2-foot-by-5-foot wall-spanning piece of artwork—featuring thousands of salvaged plastic bread-bag tabs suspended in plexiglass—by artist Paul Schultz. Fans of sustainable design (not to mention quirkiness), the Cohens didn’t need convincing when Val suggested it. “The second I saw Paul’s work, I was sold,” says Amy. “It’s spectacular.”


Painted soft white (White Dove by Benjamin Moore), the clean-lined cabinets and floating shelves create a neutral backdrop for the kitchen’s peppy colors. The handles are from Restoration Hardware.


As a contrast to all the modern elements in the room, the Cohens chose old-school flooring: green Brazilian slate tiles laid in a herringbone pattern. Radiant heat underneath keeps toes toasty on winter mornings.


The custom 4-foot-by-7-foot design is topped with black slate and white curly maple. It offers ample space for eating, doing homework, and socializing. Built-ins include a cooktop, freezer drawers, and storage for pots and pans. The stools’ seats are hand-carved from teak root.

Vent Hood

The hood, specially fabricated from powder-coated steel, is shaped like a trapezoid. The underside is painted to pick up the bright red of the island.

Art Wall

Talk about a feature wall! For this custom creation, the artist sandwiched about 2,000 bread-bag tabs—selected from his 10,000-tab collection—between four layers of acrylic hung in six horizontal panels. Some of the plastic tabs are stamped with an expiration date, which often leads first-time visitors on a Where’s Waldo?-style hunt. “Searching for your birthday stamped on a tab is always a hit,” says Amy.

Modern Red Dining Area

Modern Red Dining Area

bright red urban dining area

Photo by: Trevor Dixon (styled by Matthew Gleason)

Trevor Dixon (styled by Matthew Gleason)

Table and Chairs

The 6-foot-long white curly maple table matches the countertops. It sees a lot of action during Amy’s annual holiday dinners—the family celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah—when there are usually 15 or more guests gathered for the festivities. The chairs have powder-coated metal legs and teak seats. The custom woven synthetic rug hides stains and stands up to wear-and-tear.

Red Wall

A sleek glass wall painted the same red as the kitchen island brings the high-wattage palette into the dining room. Open to the kitchen, the two-sided glass shelves display Amy’s eclectic finds, including bowls crafted from South African sardine-can labels.


Amy couldn’t resist the pendant lights from Graypants, which are handmade from recycled corrugated cardboard boxes. Hung at staggered heights—and casting gorgeous shadows—they’re an ecofriendly alternative to a traditional chandelier.

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