Photos by Alyssa Lee
Stay-at-home-mom Jen van Buren’s problem was twofold when it came to her 191-square-foot kitchen in the city of St. Anthony near Northeast Minneapolis. Practical? Not for this active family of six. Modern? Beautiful? Well, maybe if we’re still living in 1967. Van Buren wanted a kitchen that not only accommodated her family’s busy lifestyle, but one that also befit a home in 2020. Its absence of both flair and function led her to call on Colleen Slack of Fox Interiors, who was more than eager to lay some love into the lacking kitchen.
With an inspiration-packed Pinterest board, van Buren delivered her own ideas to the interior designer, who then took the hodgepodge of pinned photos and translated them into her client’s dream kitchen. “I can look at those different images and [clients] might not see the cohesion between them, but I can,” Slack says.
The board was bursting with potential. Coral accents, navy, soft gray, and gold tones here; diamonds, hexagons, and other mod influences there. By fusing on-trend colors and classic reproductions of furniture pieces like Saarinen Tulip chairs and an oval dining table, the new aesthetic honored the home’s mid-century bones in a 21st-century fashion.
Although elevating the kitchen’s look was important to both parties, its failing function took precedence. Before, the peninsula’s overhead cabinets blocked light while the closed-off floor plan made it near-impossible to navigate—especially when trying to ship four kids off to school each day. There wasn’t adequate room for paperwork, van Buren’s cookbook collection, or the small appliances she depended on to survive busy mornings of preparing breakfasts and packing lunches.
To accommodate, Slack’s impressive problem-solving skills kicked into high gear. She removed the peninsula and its cabinetry, installed recessed LED lighting, relocated large appliances to the new pantry wall—one that resulted in storage solutions that finally met the family’s needs—and more. Behind the pantry’s navy blue exterior sit two appliance garages with integrated power strips and lights, creating easy access to the small appliances without needing to move them to the main countertop. Nearby, a drop zone with cabinets and open shelves organizes the kids’ tech and Mom and Dad’s paperwork, while drawers for knick-knacks, charging cords, and files keep surfaces clean—“making their every morning, afternoon, and evening just a little bit easier,” Slack says.
Now, thanks to van Buren’s vision and Slack’s ability to embrace the power of Pinterest, this bustling family has a well-designed kitchen for making family meals, an occasional mess, and memories that last a lifetime.