Modern Kitchen Blues

Breaking all the rules brought fresh design—and a real case of the blues—to a Central West End kitchen in need of a pick-me-up.

By Shannon Craig

Photography by Matt Carlson Photography


Central West End townhome owners Ellen and Jake had never taken on an interior design project before. “We didn’t really know there were ‘rules,’” Ellen says. “That kitchens had to be white: white cabinets and white subway tiles. We never thought we couldn’t do something.”

As it turns out, not knowing the rules can result in a vast departure from the cool grays of “modern farmhouse” or the warm neutrals associated with classic “French rustic.” The “Ellen Jake,” with its deep-navy cabinetry and popping punching florals, follows all the principles of good design while casually bending and breaking our understood parameters of the kitchen ideal.

“We never set out to have people walk in and be like, ‘WHOA COLOR,’” Ellen explains. “We wanted a pop of color, and we planned to do that with tile. Then we couldn’t find the right tile, and Jake found this amazing floral wallpaper. That really started it.”

Working with Andrew O’Dell at Aleto Construction Group, Ellen and Jake turned their white “very '90s” kitchen very bright and, just as surprising to them, very blue.

“We found a picture of these navy-blue cabinets and showed them to Andrew, and he was so encouraging. Actually, when we were choosing the countertop and backsplash marble, we asked if we should go with white, if there was too much blue. But he said, ‘Let’s just do it,’ and we leaned into blue.”

It’s a bold move and one that made many people say, “I don’t know about that in a kitchen,” but Ellen and Jake say it never felt different or daring to them. “It makes me feel like home,” Jake says. “It makes me take a second look before I leave. I savor it.” Ellen shares a similar sentiment and some newfound rules of her own.

“My advice? Don’t do the classic white just because you feel like that’s what kitchens are supposed to look like…then you’ll feel like you could be living in anybody’s home and not your own. Find your inspiration and make it feel like you. We made this ours—it feels like ours.”



Contractor: Aleto Construction Group 

Architect: Aesh Design 

Granite: Stone Fabricators 

Plumbing: Immerse, Hoffman Plumbing 

Appliances: AUTCOhome 

Lighting: West Elm, Reinhold Electric 

Painting: SNL Painting 

Cabeintry: Perspective Cabinetry & Design

Flooring: Mid-West Flooring