With three boys and a love for entertaining, the Stephens family wanted a more open flow to their kitchen.

written by LaTria Garnigan // photography by Zach Benson Photography

Having never done a renovation before on their 12-year-old home, they turned to friend and interior designer Allison Schnatmeier of Cobb-based Allison Katherine Interiors (aschnatmeier@gmail.com).

Schnatmeier and Cooper Jones of Cooper Jones Construction Services transformed the Stephens’ kitchen from dark wood cabinetry to something light and airy with a more modern and functional island and hardware.


In consulting with the family, Schnatmeier initiated a lot of conversations about how they use the space — what is most important to them, cooking and entertainment.

“Then we started looking at various trade publications (Elle Décor, Traditional Home) and pictures online (Pinterest) to get a feel of what they’re looking for,” she said.

Unlike many professionals, Schnatmeier does not shy away from the use of Pinterest in gathering ideas for design and décor. It is a wonderful tool for getting ideas, she said.

Clients might like certain hardware, colors or the feel of a room. These tools allow her to see general expectations of her clients.

Pro tip: Schnatmeier said it’s very important to work very closely with the builder — in this case Cooper Jones Construction Services — to discuss the practicality of what you’re envisioning to ensure it’s a feasible plan and works within the client’s budget.


“They needed a large island to be able to do homework and eat at … they also entertain a bit and we wanted to have a good flow,” said Schnatmeier.

She describes the style of the Stephens’ kitchen as Transitional — an underline traditional feel with some more modern aspects. Modern is the hardware chosen and traditional would be the cabinetry.

The Stephens gave Schnatmeier some input on style and color, but let her take the reins with design and functionality.

Pro tip: It’s ever so important for designers and contractors to stay two steps ahead of their clients at all times … to be able to anticipate what their questions might be. 


Lighter and brighter seem to be on the move in home décor. Also, a push toward an earthy, natural feel — sort of bringing the outside in — are core aspects of decorating now.

To keep up with the light and open feel, the Stephens’ are working with Schnatmeier to move the color of the kitchen in to the living room so it becomes one cohesive environment. The flow will really open the space and make entertaining even more efficient.

“It has really opened up the room to our keeping rooms and makes both rooms feel larger while no square footage was added,” said Ami Stephens.


With an ever changing and growing industry, what was once seen as a luxury is now standard practice in building and design. Trends are leaning heavy on hardware and lighting as the main focal points to a room.

“I tell clients those are the jewelry of the room,” said Schnatmeier.

A focus on cabinetry functionality has also become standard. With more and more families using the kitchen in a multitude of ways, it’s become necessary for smarter cabinetry.

Every cabinet has to have a purpose in order to maximize every square inch.

Pro tip: Come up with one statement piece to add an element of unique personality to your design. For the Stephens’ kitchen, Schnatmeier worked with the builder on a custom metal hood.


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