When Abbey Bishop, interior-design principle at Katheryn Robertson Ltd., decided to renovate her kitchen, easy use was key. Katheryn Robertson is a full-service design firm with an emphasis on kitchens and bathrooms, so Bishop had plenty of resources at her fingertips. "I usually go through my customers' cabinets and get them to tell me what a typical day is like," she says. "We map out a strategy for what's going to make sense for the way that person lives and what needs to be at hand."
1) GREG OSTERHAUS PAINTING
For her 40th birthday, Bishop gave herself a painting that reminds her of her childhood growing up on an Arabian cattle farm. She likes the colors, plus it covers the electrical box that was originally in the utility room.
2) INSTANT HOT-WATER HEATER
Bishop is about to replace the built-in soap dispenser with an instant hot-water heater: "They're really helpful when you're making sauces."
The tiling in Bishop's kitchen is installed all the way to the ceiling instead of stopping at the back splash: "It's what you see in older, turn-of-the-century homes."
4) ANTIQUE BAKERS' TABLE
Instead of a permanent island, Bishop uses an old bakers' table. She fills it with extra items like cloth napkins and utensils. She can move it, creating extra counter space when she needs it.
When designing her own kitchen, Bishop followed a similar process. She loves cooking and entertaining, so she designed the room to be functional but to look elegant when guests come over. Her original kitchen was small, so she expanded it to encompass space originally occupied by a utility room and added new counters, flooring and cabinetry. The new room still isn't eat-in, which Bishop prefers. "It's really just for the task at hand," she says. "Plus, I can set it up buffet-style and use my dining room for parties."
Bishop's house was built in 1952, when a lot of homes featured valances that hid kitchen light fixtures. She added arched valances in lieu of window treatments as a nod to the past.
2) COSTA ROSA COUNTERTOP
Not only does Bishop love the rich brown tone of her counter, but she says it hides little spills when she's in a hurry.