Shalena Smith of Shalena Smith Interiors and Gaga Designs does not mince words and is not afraid to describe her kitchen pre-renovation as “just old.” Nor is she afraid to own up to her mistakes, noting that when she moved into her Porter Ranch, Los Angeles area home 17 years ago, she quickly moved ahead and designed the kitchen without living in it and getting a sense of her needs, as well as the natural lighting conditions of the home. “I blew it!” she stated.
Where she didn’t blow it? Strategically re-evaluating her family’s wants in a kitchen, assessing the need for more light in the room and how it would flow into a more recently updated living/family room that already features Dunn-Edwards Antique Paper (DE6218) on the walls and Whisper (DEW340) on the ceiling and trim. In fact, Smith loved the colors’ ability to add airiness and light to her living room so much that she also opted for the same two hues for her just-completed kitchen renovation.
When COVID hit, Smith was forced to spend more of her time at home and it got her thinking about how best to utilize her space. Ultimately, it’s what spurred the kitchen remodel. Smith decided to keep her current kitchen cabinets and freshened them up with a coat of Whisper, which were set against her freshly painted Antique Paper kitchen walls. “Antique Paper feels like a warm white, very inviting. Whisper steps it up a little, a punch up in brightness,” she explained. Painting the cabinets white and adding new hardware transformed the cabinets so much that visitors keep asking Smith if they’re new.
When it comes to working with whites, the interior designer notes a common misconception she often encounters among clients — all whites are the same. Smith explained, “There are so many variations of white, and I think the reason why I love Antique Paper is it’s not too bright, not too stark.”
While Smith has worked with a number of clients over the years, she explained that there’s no experience quite like having oneself as a client. Working on her own project, Smith joked, “was a nightmare. I wanted to fire myself!” When Smith works with clients, she makes decisions quickly and decisively. With her own project, Smith found she was constantly asking herself whether she’d like the design years from now, or if she was using her budget effectively. However, among all the questions Smith had to answer during the renovation process, the one thing she was 100% set on was using Antique Paper and Whisper as the color palette in the kitchen.
Similar to the way Whisper tricks the eye in making her cabinets look new, Antique Paper on the walls has made the kitchen feel more airy and open. In fact, so much so that Smith’s friends have wondered if she’s raised the ceiling in the kitchen. “That’s the difference a new paint color will make,” she stated.
Once the paint colors were chosen, the remaining question mark in her design was regarding her countertops. She previously had black granite countertops and thought she’d go that route again, but she opted to keep things light and bright, choosing a quartz that was a different shade of white to play off her freshly painted walls.
Smith seems to have struck a chord with her kitchen remodel because she’s getting a lot of requests from new clients and social media followers to design kitchens for them in the same look and feel as her own. “Everyone’s will look just like mine because so far that’s been the request,” she laughingly stated.