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Pretty Kitchen in Quiet Colors

Sinuous lines and a flaring soffit add subtle softness to a new French-flavored kitchen

Written by Amy Elbert
  • Jean Allsopp

    The horizontal wood-plank soffit above the range in Liz and Ray Gibbons’ Birmingham, Alabama, kitchen gently slopes outward from the ceiling, ending at the top of the vent hood and cabinets. “It reminds me of an awning in a Parisian cafe,” Liz says. “It’s so interesting. That’s my favorite thing in the whole kitchen.” 

    Photography: Jean Allsopp
    Produced by Cathy Still McGowin

    Architect: Barrett Architecture, 700 29th St. S., Suite 206, Birmingham, AL 35233; 205/250-6161,
    Interior and kitchen designer: Dana Wolter, Dana Wolter Interiors, 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Range Wall

    It’s not often that soffits garner such rave reviews, but the introduction of undulating lines and shapes by Birmingham designer Dana Wolter gave the Gibbonses’ new home-—and especially the kitchen—the French verve they were seeking. “I saw the need for soft lines in this house,” Wolter says.

    The custom wood hood and cabinets are painted with Sherwin-Williams’ satin oil in “Crushed Ice.” Artistic Tile’s marble mosaic backsplash sets off a Wolf range. 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Sweet Curves

    While the family room and kitchen open to one another, Wolter added curved side walls and a ceiling arch to subtly divide the two spaces. “I wanted the kitchen to open to the family room but have a more intimate feeling,” the designer says. 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Large Island

    Liz and Ray eat most meals at the large island Wolter designed that features a curvaceous white-oak base and a marble top. Perimeter cabinets have simple inset panel doors painted white, but the designer finished the island base with a pigmented wax for a warm gray charcoal hue. The island’s cabinet doors and vertical surfaces are reeded for subtle texture and a hint of formality, Wolter says.

    Lanterns with unlacquered brass finishes hang above the island, mixing amicably with other metal finishes, including chrome faucets and hardware. “I like to mix metals,” Wolter says. “It creates an aged effect in a new space.” Such details make a new kitchen special and “not like the one next door,” she adds. “And they’re classic details that won’t be quickly outdated.”

    Comfortable “Belgian Oak” counter stools from Bernhardt are covered with a leather-like fabric from Schumacher. Roman shades in “Lotus” fabric from Galbraith & Paul soften the windows. Finished with an oil sealer, French oak floors from Bois Chamois are scratch-resistant—even in this two-dog household. 

    Island and perimeter cabinets (custom, by Dana Wolter Interiors): Lane Woodworking, LLC,
    Perimeter countertops (“Smokestack Soapstone” finished with Soapstone Sealer and Wood Wax from the Real Milk Paint Co.); island countertop (“Mystery White Marble”): Triton Stone,
    Cabinet pulls (“Browning Pull-Large 7-inch/Chrome #327); cabinet knobs (“Dickinson Octagon Knob”/Chrome #319): Atlas,
    Appliance pulls (“Spindle Appliance Pull”/Chrome, 12-inch C-to-C #86343): Emtek, Hardware through Brandino Brass,
    Marble backsplash (“Calacatta Gold Octagono Polished Mosaic with Azul Cielo Dots”): Artistic Tile,
    Flooring (European White Oak/Weathered White, 3/4x7.25-inch): Bois Chamois,
    Wall paint (“Crushed Ice” #SW 7647, diluted to 75 percent semi-gloss water-based paint and 25 percent water); cabinet paint (“Crushed Ice” #7647, satin oil finish): Sherwin-Williams,
    Island cabinet color: custom wax.
    Main sink (“Shaws Original Lancaster Single Bowl  Fireclay Apron Front Kitchen Sink” #RC3018); main faucet (“Perrin & Rowe Bridge Kitchen Faucet with Sidespray”/Polished Chrome #U.4756-2); soap dispenser (“Traditional Style Soap/Lotion Dispenser #LS850P); island sink (“Allia Fireclay Round Single Bowl Bar/Food Prep Sink” #6737); island faucet (“Perrin & Rowe Single Lever Single Hole Bar/Food Prep Faucet”/Polished Chrome #U.4739-2): Rohl,
    Range (48-inch dual fuel range with 6 burners and infrared charbroiler #DF486C, by Wolf); microwave drawer (24-inch built-in microwave drawer #MWD24-2U/S, by Wolf); refrigerator (“Integrated 36-inch All Refrigerator” #IT-36RID, by Sub-Zero): Sub-Zero-Wolf,
    Range hood, under custom wooden cabinetry (#CP47I482SB, discontinued): Best Range Hoods,
    Marble utensil crock (#1944545): Sur La Table,
    Dishwasher (“24-inch Panel Ready Dishwasher,” Benchmark series #SHV7PT53UC): Bosch,
    Counter stools (“Belgian Oak Counter Stool” #337-587): Bernhardt,
    Fabric (“Ultra Leather”/Arctic #51130, discontinued): Schumacher,
    Roman shade fabric (“Lotus”/Light Cadet on Natural Linen): Galbraith & Paul,
    Roman shade banding fabric (#01838): Trend,
    Island pendants (custom LM4 Fixture in rust finish with seedy glass and custom wax candle slipcovers): Fourteenth Colony,
    Art on sink wall (by Catie Radney): Gallery 1930,

  • Jean Allsopp

    All in the Details

    The wide-plank French white oak floors were another love-at-first-sight choice, and they stand up to the wear and tear of the couple’s two dachshunds. “At first we were looking at really dark wood, but I started thinking about how dog hair and crumbs would show up,” Liz says. “These don’t show anything. They’re fantastic!”

    Designed to add softness to the kitchen, the island has curved legs, furniture-style feet, and reeded cabinet faces. The island’s “Mystery White” marble top is finished with an ogee edge.

  • Jean Allsopp

    Bar Area

    The marble backsplash, in a diamond pattern accented with blue dots, covers the walls behind the stainless-steel range and in the butler’s pantry. “I fell in love with that tile, especially when I saw it with the soapstone and white marble,” Liz says.

    Fretwork adorns cabinets in the pantry space between the kitchen and dining room. 

    Cabinet and wine cabinet (custom, by Dana Wolter Interiors); cabinet doors (custom fretwork): Lane Woodworking, LLC,
    Countertop (“Smokestack Soapstone”): Triton Stone,
    Marble backsplash (“Calacatta Gold Octagono Polished Mosaic with Azul Cielo Dots”): Artistic Tile,
    Ice maker; wine storage/refrigerator: Sub-Zero,

  • Jean Allsopp

    Warm Corner

    Even though the marble countertop takes some extra care to prevent stains, the soapstone is indestructible, Liz says. Every couple months, she waxes it with a soapstone sealer that produces a warm finish. “I didn’t want any shiny surfaces,” Liz says. “The wax makes the soapstone glow.” 

  • Jean Allsopp

    Sunny Sink

    Soapstone countertops contrast with a Rohl Shaws fireclay sink with a vintage-style chrome Rohl Perrin & Rowe faucet. 

  • Jean Allsopp


    Liz and Ray Gibbons and Enzo, their wirehaired dachshund. 

  • James Salomon