Before & After: Kelly Moseley's Calming Austin Kitchen

When Kelly Moseley lived in New York City, she was always envious of a certain friend with a large kitchen island. So when she and her husband Louie bought a 1930s cottage in Austin, Texas, she made sure she got one of her own. The kitchen was the first room the couple tackled in their new house, knocking down walls to create a big, family-friendly space with beautiful, muted gray tones and a sophisticated feel.

Luckily, Kelly runs a renovation and decorating business, Anabel Interiors, and Louie is an accomplished "handyman," as Kelly calls him (probably an understatement). She designed the room; he constructed it.

• See more of Kelly's work at Anabel Interiors.

The couple doubled the size of the original kitchen (photos 2 and 3 above), combining it with the adjoining dining room to make the new space. We love the color of the cabinets and walls and how everything blends so seamlessly. Here's what Kelly had to say about the room:

Tell us more about the pretty gray/taupe that's on the cabinets and walls
The cabinets are maple and were made to order by Omega Cabinetry. The color is called Portobello, and the finish is just an oil-based enamel. I went with a shaker panel on the cabinets with doors but kept all the drawer fronts as plain panels to give the kitchen a more modern look. The walls are painted Stingray by Benjamin Moore, to match the cabinets.

What was the biggest challenge about creating the new space from the old?
We were enlarging our kitchen to twice its original size, so I had to start over with a layout. Moving gas lines and plumbing, I had to be sure that this design was functional as well as proportionally correct for the overall space. Also, integrating the kitchen into the main living area was challenging in that I didn't want a kitchen that was too 'kitchen' looking. I was going for more of a 'library' look.

What was your biggest splurge?
Actually, there were two. One, my Viking stove. There are so many great stoves out there now, but I still love the look of the Viking the best. And my second splurge was my Ceasarstone quartz countertops. I had them honed to look more like terrazzo, and they charged a fortune for that. They also had to void my warranty since I was changing the surface, but it's Caesarstone, so no worries! It's the mort durable and well designed countertop surface I've ever worked with. I haven't had any problems, and I still LOVE them. They do look like terrazzo!

Biggest thrifty tip? Something you saved on?
Sub-Zero fridges are really the best and so beautiful, but I was spending a lot on my cabinets and stove so I decided to forgo the Sub-Zero and go for the Jenn-Air side-by-side door fridge. It basically looks like the Sub-Zero, very clean plain stainless steel panels, but it's 1/3 the price. I always tell clients on a budget to plan to splurge on one or two appliances and go mid-range for the remaining. Most brands have really reliable and well designed looking appliances these days, so it's easy to do this. If you like to cook, then I say go for the high end stove for sure.

What are your favorite meals to cook in your kitchen?
Being from the South, I love comfort food: roasted chicken, cornbread, gumbo, and pot roast..... But recently, we had a good friend, who is an amazing cook, stay with us for a few weeks. Every night he made delicious Thai, Indian, Greek, spicy fish, oh my god, it was amazing. When he left, I had all these great spices, curry pastes, lemon grass, etc. in my fridge. I may need to rethink my standard dishes!

What's always in your pantry?
Olive oil, capers and canned tomatoes. My husband is Italian, and I have kids so we eat LOTS of pasta!

What was the most important element you wanted in the new kitchen?
As it is for many, the kitchen is the heart of our house. Kids do homework and art projects there, friends come over and have wine and eat with us there.... So I wanted a kitchen that felt very comfortable to spend time in as well as lots of table top and seating space. I designed the kitchen around the island. The stove is in the island, so everything just flows from there when I'm cooking. The stools are from CB2.

Favorite cookbook?
Without a doubt, Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Cookbook. It's my bible.

You have a busy life with your own company plus kids. What are your best weeknight meal tips?
Anabel is seven and Sam is nine and "busy" doesn't even begin to describe it. I like to cook on the weekends, so I prepare lots of meals and freeze them. When I know it's going to be a crazy day, I just take something out in the morning, and when I get home, it just goes in the pan or oven for warm up. Otherwise, it's order in pizza again!

Is there a signature detail that shows up in a lot of the kitchens you design?
I'd say it's lighting. I am obsessed with all the great lighting options out there, and good lighting is soooo important! Everything on dimmers of course. First, you have to have adequate task lighting (recessed halogens preferably). Then you need light under-cabinets to really see what you are doing. And lastly, ambient light, whether it's a pendant (ours are from Lights Up! at Design Public) or a lamp. I will always give up some counter space for a lamp in the kitchen. It's cozy and inviting.

See a full tour of Kelly and Louie's house at design*sponge.

Related: Janie's Sunny, Sophisticated Black and White Kitchen in Austin

(Images: Kelly Moseley)