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Wood Cabinets Are Back!

Stained cabinetry sets a cozy mood in a sophisticated yet family-friendly lake house kitchen

Written by Sally Finder Weepie

Photos by Nathan Schroder


White kitchens were everywhere—even in Kacy Tolleson’s concept of what a kitchen should be—when she and husband Carter started building a new home on Cedar Creek Lake south of Dallas.  Her interior designer, Shelby Wagner, however, saw something new.

“He talked me into natural wood tones on the cabinets,” Kacy says. “I was still thinking painted cabinets and white countertops, but Shelby is always one step ahead. He sees what’s to come. He encouraged us to go with a natural, organic feel. And he nailed it. I fell in love with the stained cabinets. They give our kitchen a cozy vibe.”

Kacy isn’t the only homeowner embracing the resurgence of warm browns. “I’m doing a lot of light to medium wood-stain kitchens now,” Wagner says. “In fact, more than half of my kitchens are wood stain.”

Beaded board inspired the look of the door fronts on the Tollesons’ extra-tall cabinets, which provide the voluminous storage space Kacy needs—in a kitchen with serious function.

“At the lake, you can’t just grab something to eat at the local restaurant—there are no restaurants,” Kacy says. “I cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We also entertain a lot here, so I needed a cook’s kitchen that really works.”


To that end, Wagner outfitted the space with a powerful double-oven range, two wall ovens, a warming drawer, and a pair of dishwashers. Countertops are easy-care porcelain that gives the look of soapstone or Absolute Black granite.

“You can’t hurt these countertops,” Kacy says. That’s a definite win in a kitchen that welcomes the Tollesons’ four children and “all the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.”

To accommodate a crowd, Wagner offset the island top to integrate casual seating on bar stools that hold up to wet bathing suits.


A mammoth two-door refrigerator (the freezer is tucked in an adjacent pantry) features a glass front on one side that makes it easy to grab a drink—without creating a traffic jam in the cooking zone, where Kacy has begun to get company.

“The girls are in the kitchen baking the entire time we’re at the lake now,” Kacy says. “We bring icing and sprinkles, and they have little baking contests. They can get messy here, and it’s OK.”


Anyone without a culinary bent can chat with the cooks from a comfortable perch in the adjacent sitting room.

“It’s our favorite hangout,” Kacy says. “The kids watch TV and play games, and I can still interact with them.”

Wagner made the space cozy and comfortable with plush seating and livable fabrics in soft blues and greens—“organic colors you see out the window,” he says.

“I was inspired by the Quadrille medallion fabric in Tory Burch’s house in the Hamptons,” the designer adds. “Here, the fabric on the sitting room window treatments is very traditional, but the large scale makes it feel more casual, as do the woven chairs and jute rug.”

A fireplace keeps things cozy, even during chilly months. “It’s so pretty here, so comfortable, and there’s so much light,” Kacy says. “We want to come to the lake house all the time, not just in the summer. Everyone just loves to be here.”