Transformations - Mark Williams

If you work in the design industry, it’s hard not to be captivated by the transformation process – taking an ugly, dated or poorly functional space and making it look and work better for the client. While there’s plenty of hard work involved in taking a project from conception to completion, there’s something inspiring about reviewing where a space started – and how it turned out.

This month’s Transformations feature takes a before and after view of a 1980’s Mableton, GA, tract home whose kitchen was in a time warp with dark, wood grain cabinets… and floral wallpaper!



The homeowners had renovated much of the rest of the home, deferring with the kitchen until they could include everything they wanted. The former space was inefficient, with a peninsula that crowded the kitchen and cut it off from the breakfast/eat-in kitchen area.

The challenge for the designer was create a new kitchen within the same footprint, with a leaner, cleaner look and more efficient layout.



Mark Williams, Mark Williams Design Associates, Atlanta, GA, changed essentially everything about the space. “They wanted everything different,” he says. “We reconfigured the entire space.”

The homeowners had an appliance list – which included a pro series range with pot filler, counterdepth refrigerator and deep sink – however, Williams could start with a clean slate beyond those requested appliance upgrades.

One primary goal was to brighten the space, in addition to ‘cleaning’ it up. As such, Williams worked with the cabinet manufacturer to create a custom warm gray finish for the new cabinets. A sepia-colored lacquer was thinned by 50% then applied with a dry brush process. “When you use a rag or wipe it on, the lacquer falls into the cracks and crevices in the details of the cabinets and doors,” he describes. “I didn’t want that detail. When you thin the glaze and use a really light, dry brush, it makes the application a little more consistent and it doesn’t build up and look heavy in the corners.”

Williams added a appliance pantry next the double ovens where the homeowners can store small appliances such as a toaster and other items they don't want on the countertop, yet need to access regularly.

Imperial Danby countertops and Yorkshire Blue limestone tiles, in a French cut pattern with a matte finish, further lighten the space. “The exterior of this home is reminiscent of a turn-of-the-century farmhouse,” he says. “It’s a white clapboard house, which is where this aesthetic came from. We were trying to reference the farmhouse feel in a modern way.”

Williams also addressed the ceiling, which was just 8’ high. To make it appear taller, he added coffers, which help to break up the ceiling’s long expanse and make it appear higher. “It’s counterintuitive,” he says, “but adding the coffers and beam details, which actually fall below 8’, psychologically lift the whole ceiling.”

This was an important element, since the kitchen shares a ceiling with and connects to the eat-in kitchen area. “With a low ceiling and a long expanse, it ‘compresses’,” he explains. “But with the coffers, the ceiling doesn’t feel low at all.”

Williams tied this breakfast area into the kitchen by ‘dressing up’ an existing closet that was previously dated with louvered bi-fold doors. He worked with the cabinet maker to create new doors, then added glass and lit the inside to make it look more like a built-in.

The final touches included new lighting. Williams incorporated glass pendants over the island which help to brighten the entire space, including the ceiling.

Photos: Erica George Dines