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Custom Cottage Kitchen

Designer Rodney Tassistro shares his story of a kitchen remodel that featured solid wood countertops, custom cabinetry and open shelving.

For this Baton Rouge, La., project, designer Rodney Tassistro created a high-end cottage kitchen for $60,000.

We caught up with the designer to find out how he conquered design challenges and achieved his goals for the kitchen remodel.

They wanted custom-made knobs for the cabinets, solid wood countertops with the old sink inset into them, decorative feet on the cabinets and nontypical shelving for plates.

We knew it was going to be a busy kitchen with all of the colors and eclectic artwork, so we tried to get all of the homeowners' likes but not make it too busy with the cabinetry. Simple clean lines help to move your attention around the room at all of the unique items and colors.

One of the largest obstacles was access to this space. We had to carry all of the millwork around the house and into a very small hallway to get into the kitchen area. Old plumbing was another big issue. Huge pipes that could not be shifted had to simply be worked around. The flooring was a nightmare, as well, but fortunately, I was not involved in that part.

The homeowners had been working on this for years before I came along, so there were many changes since the beginning. I realized this right away as they told me about all of the thoughts along the way in our first meeting. I tried to grab the best of what I heard, make a few edits and then push forward, not allowing them to change anything else.

It takes a great deal of effort to truly listen to a client and hear their vision. We, as professionals, are often asked for our opinions although sometimes the homeowners have a crystal clear picture in their mind. This project proved that the homeowners may not always know "how," but they definitely knew "what" they wanted. I just helped bring their vision to life.

The small details that make this kitchen are the walnut knobs custom turned in Baton Rouge. Next would be the toe space behind the feet painted black so it visually disappears. The real trick was to keep the eye moving through this kitchen: the bumped-out sink breaks the countertop and helps with this movement as well.

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