Content-driven design isn’t just a term for website developers—it applies to your house, too. And it didn’t take long for Laura and Chris Koupal to realize their newly purchased 1950s brick ranch in Hilltop was in need of some serious rearranging. “The home’s formal living room didn’t match our informal lifestyle,” says Laura, a mother of three. “We just knew the space could be better utilized.”

So they brought on interior designer Beth Armijo and architect Scott Parker to create a practical layout that nixed the living room, making way for a more functional kitchen-and-family-room combination. “They wanted to be able to see the kids in the family room and have a place to eat in the kitchen,” says Armijo, who repurposed part of the existing space with a cozy breakfast nook, a handy pantry, built-in shelving, and a small desk area.

With the key architectural elements in place, Armijo turned to the fun part: introducing a colorful palette with pops of blue and yellow inspired by the homeowners’ plate collection, which now hangs above the banquette. “Mixing in those items made the room more personal,” says Armijo, who chose a bold royal blue for the kitchen banquette and a modern leaf pattern for the curtains (Ilsa Mimosa by Romo). The best part? Now that the kitchen actually works for their lifestyle, the Koupals can enjoy the details that make a house a home.

Durable Fabrics: In homes with kids (in this case, three under eight years old), juice spills and crayon scuffs are inevitable. Wipeable vinyl cushions on the banquette and indoor/outdoor fabrics on the accent pillows were essential, designer Beth Armijo says.

Continuous Finishes: To create flow, the cherry wood on the island matches the shelving in the adjacent family room. Similarly, the banquette paneling and molding tie the kitchen to the rest of the house.

Hints of Color: “Classic white kitchens can get boring without some color and textural variations,” says Armijo. Here, gray subway tile on the backsplash and white marble with veining for the countertops are anything but dull.

Dramatic Openings: “Doors are a fun way to change texture and add architectural interest,” Armijo says. The frosted glass on the study doors brings natural light into the hallway—and the transitional moldings add an unexpected modern accent.

Custom Shelves: Opt for fixed shelves rather than adjustable. “Most people never adjust their shelves, anyway,” says Armijo. “A fixed unit—without peg holes—makes for a more finished look.” Just be sure to measure your cookbooks first.


Where to Spend And Save $$

In this remodel, a strict budget drove every decision. “Figuring out what will be worth it in the long run is a critical part of that process,” says Armijo. So, where did they spend—and skimp?

Cabinets: Armijo encourages clients to invest in custom cabinets—measured and built to fit the space, exactly. Splurging on these can make an otherwise budget-conscious project feel custom and luxurious.

Lights: “Find ways to give older items new life,” says Armijo. The whimsical yellow light fixture over the banquette is actually an old light with a fresh coat of paint.

Skylights: The homeowners decided to splurge on skylights; the extra light gives the kitchen a more cheerful feel.

Molding: The case moldings planned for all the openings to this kitchen ended up being scrapped. “They looked great on the plan but were costly,” says Armijo, who notes that the smooth (and less expensive) drywall gave “a continuous feel that really works.”

—Photography by Kimberly Gavin