When you have a kitchen that needs a top-to-bottom redo, it helps if your cousin happens to be Angela Otten, widely regarded as one of the top kitchen designers in Denver.
For Evergreen homeowner Kristine Thorne, Otten was a godsend. “Before, our kitchen was tiny and nonfunctional, basically a box,” she says. “It was horrible. It needed a total overhaul. But I didn’t even now where to begin, so it was great to have Angela come in and help me.”
One of the main issues was space. “It was clear that whoever built this kitchen was not a cook,” says Thorne. “We needed a bigger kitchen.” They achieved it by bumping out a wall into the dining room and moving an existing kitchen peninsula to the opposite wall.
As for style, Thorne says, “I wanted something rustic but with clean lines. I also knew that I wanted a kitchen that nobody else had. I don’t like to follow what everyone else is doing.”
She knew she loved blue—and she got it in the cerulean subway tiles that run along three sides. But Otten, owner of Inspire Kitchen Design Studio, persuaded Thorne that even though the blue was “family friendly and fun,” she should limit the hue to the upper walls. The bottom cabinets are a rich brownish-black, and the wall opposite the cooktop is filled with floor-toceiling cabinetry in a neutral, light-toned, textured veneer that is washable (fingerprints from Thorne’s two boys, 12 and 13, just disappear).
To top off the look: a one-of-a-kind barnwood range hood that adds just the right amount of ruggedness to the space. “I didn’t want a lot of barn wood,” says Thorne, “so it was a neat way to add a rustic little touch in what is overall a contemporary space. I like things to look clean, and with all the builtins, Angela was able to come up with all sorts of storage that I can hide things in.”
The collaboration between cousins ended up being magical. “What I loved about working with Angela is that, even though I thought I wanted someone to just wave a wand and go, ‘Ding! This is your kitchen!’ she was really good at talking to me and my family, helping us figure out our taste and then giving us options to choose from. We’re really happy with the way the kitchen turned out.”