Space of the Week: This Kitchen Renovation Is Full of Secret Storage and Old World Charm

Interior designer and content creator Bre Bertolini designed the ultimate kitchen for her multi-generational family.

Bre Bertolini Kitchen with wooden cabinets and off-white range hood and brass storage rail over black oven

Bre Bertolini

When interior designer and content creator Bre Bertolini and her husband relocated to his hometown of Poland, Ohio, they thought a stay in his childhood home would be brief. 

“His dad was still living here, but he was now alone,” she says. “He offered to let us move in while we figured things out, and six years later, we’re still here! We had our first daughter with us when we moved in, and have had two more kids.”

The house was built in 1989, and its bold palette of red, white, and black hadn’t been updated since. “My husband’s mom had a great sense of style for the time,” Bertolini says. They couldn’t afford to make major changes to the kitchen initially, so Bertolini did what she could with weekend projects—like painting the backsplash and adding new lighting—as their multigenerational family got settled. It wasn’t exactly her dream space, she admits, but she bided her time and saved money until they were able to commit to a full renovation last spring. 

“My inspiration came from a lot of European-style kitchens, ones with warm, earthy tones that make you want to pull up a chair and never leave,” Bertolini says. “I wanted it to feel new but also like it’s been there for years, which was hard considering everything really is brand new!”

Although every inch was gutted, the layout had to remain the same and a mix of DIYs needed to balance out the cost of hiring professionals. And even though Bertolini craved an Old World charm, specifically by pairing dark wood with brass, she also desired an entirely modern amenity: an abundance of storage. “I like everything to be hidden and off the counters so that our kitchen can feel lived in but not cluttered,” she says. “So having a home for everything was important.” They hired a custom cabinet maker to build each dark-oak piece from scratch, and Bertolini determined now-you-see-it spots for small appliances and dry goods to be tucked away—including inside the fluted island, where the dishwasher and garbage are also hidden. “Pretty much everything is a drawer, which I find so much easier to store things,” she says.

They brought in the pros to install a new window over the sink and quartzite countertops above the brass hardware, and had them do the electrical, plumbing, and drywall too. For her part, Bertolini applied Roman clay to the range hood and walls, and her father-in-law patched all the floor tiles when the old cabinets were removed. “He’s a tile setter by trade, so he was able to do all of that work for us,” she says. There were some hiccups, of course, like switching sconces and pendants out for others of a better size and style. But overall, Bertolini and her family were able to complete the project in about four months, and everyone is proud of how this kitchen represents a new chapter. 

“Kitchen renovations are not for the faint of heart,” she says. “Living without the room that is the heart of your home is a huge challenge, but it’s completely worth it when you’re done.”

Get the Look:

Brass Storage Rail


Brass Storage Rail

The most efficient kitchen designs incorporate a mix of open and closed storage. To show off only your most beautiful cooking tools and oven mitts, invest in an equally stunning brass storage rail.

Zara Wooden Cutting Boards

Zara Home

Wooden Cutting Boards

An assortment of wooden cutting boards will help warm up a stone countertop. For a kitchen that feels comfortable and lived-in, be sure to add wooden elements throughout.

Ceramic Pitcher With Patina from Afloral


Ceramic Pitcher

Want to lend your kitchen vintage charm—but without embarking on a major reno? Adding a ceramic vase with some patina will help. Fill the vase with fresh flowers or sculptural branches.

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