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Photograph by Emily Minton Redfield

Designer at Home: Kitchen Edition

By combining bold decor moves with smart material selections, interior designer Andrea Schumacher created a kitchen to please her pickiest client yet: herself.

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For most of us, picking out materials for a renovation is kind of like choosing a wedding dress: Once you find something you love, your search is over. Sure, you might spot something cool in a magazine or at a friend’s home, but you won’t spend every day thereafter discovering the fabulous styles you missed.

Schumacher fell hard for the India Landscape wallpaper design from China’s NSR Handcrafts: “I wanted to have a big impact without too much color,” she says. Schumacher had the paper sealed so that, in her words, “you can spill spaghetti sauce on it and it’s fine.” Photograph by Emily Minton Redfield

Professional interior designers like Andrea Schumacher don’t have that luxury when it comes to remodeling their own homes. “Sometimes I think it’s harder to pull the trigger,” says the principal of Andrea Schumacher Interiors. “You’re afraid you might see something you like better.”

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One upside of being your own client, however, is immediately apparent when you step into the kitchen of Schumacher’s Bow Mar home and behold the mural-scale, hand-painted wallpaper that serves as the room’s riveting showpiece: “You can take more risks in your own home,” Schumacher says. “It’s hard to sell [the idea of] wallpaper as a backsplash [to a client].”

The butler’s pantry satisfies Schumacher’s love of color with cabinets painted Martinique Blue by Benjamin Moore. Photograph by Emily Minton Redfield

Another plus: Knowing exactly how your family will use the space—and where form can prevail over function, or vice versa. For Schumacher, that meant indulging her love of real marble for the perimeter countertops—and having the leftover pieces of stone turned into cutting boards to protect the surface in high-use areas around the stove and sink. For the island, where her two children often post up, she chose durable man-made quartz. “My daughter likes to make slime there using food coloring, and she’s always chopping on it, so that’s 100-percent hardy,” Schumacher says, “and she knows she can’t touch the real marble.”

The rest of the kitchen’s magic comes from what you can’t see. Most of the appliances are hidden inside the campaign-dresser-inspired cabinetry (of Schumacher’s own design): Drawers hold two half-size dishwashers, and the fridge and freezer are concealed by panels with brass serpent-deity-figurine handles that echo the Indian theme set by the wallcovering. There are no upper cabinets because, Schumacher says, “I just don’t like the way they look, honestly.” Instead, extra serving dishes, glassware, and wine can be found in a blue butler’s pantry that provides a pop of color through a doorway. This mini kitchen, which Schumacher wisely had installed before renovating the main cooking space, is also a tucked-away home for less glamorous necessities like cans of soup and pet food.

Brass handles in the shape of “nagini”—female representatives of a serpent race from Hindu and Buddhist traditions—from Eyes of India guard the cleverly concealed refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. “People are always like, ‘Where’s the fridge?’” Schumacher says. “It looks like furniture.” Photograph by Emily Minton Redfield

Asked what she’d change if she had a do-over, the only thing Schumacher can come up with is that she would avoid the logistical challenge of working with a one-man shop on the bespoke millwork. To reap the benefits of larger companies’ streamlined processes, her eponymous firm has begun partnering with Wood-Mode, a 76-year-old, Pennsylvania-based, custom cabinet company, whose work her clients will be able to see firsthand in Schumacher’s new showroom—slated to open and begin hosting events this fall—in the Art District on Santa Fe. As for her personal kitchen, well, we wouldn’t change a thing either.

Quick-Fire Challenge

Four burning kitchen questions for designer Andrea Schumacher.

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5280 Home: What’s the best meal you’ve made lately?
Andrea Schumacher: My son and daughter won’t eat red meat, and my son won’t eat white meat either, so I made a smoked-salmon pasta with capers, and they both loved it. I was excited they tried something new and different.

Favorite cooking tool?
I am so happy to have a pot-filler above the range. We have those cast-iron Le Creuset pots, and it gets really heavy to have to go to the sink, fill them up with water, and put them back on the range.

Top storage tip?
I like deep drawers; they give you a lot of opportunities to store pots and pans, or you can put your plates in there.

Most overrated kitchen trend?
Just having it be plain-old white everywhere and not adding any kind of pizzazz. Hence, our wallpaper. I feel like the all-white kitchen was a reflection of the recession; everyone was making choices that were really safe because they never wanted to have to remodel again. But now that we’re in a more bullish market, people are taking steps toward being bolder, which I’m excited about.

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