When Jackie Howard gets a call for one of her award-winning kitchen designs, her first thought is, “Please, not another white kitchen.”
The founder and owner of Scarlett’s Cabinetry, Howard has spent more than 30 years making clients’ dreams for their home come true. Her designs garnered her the title of “Best of the Best” in this year’s people’s choice awards by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Howard has seen countless trends come and go — like white kitchens, which have endured since the 1920s, when white was about the only color on offer. The country had just come out of the Spanish flu pandemic and a gleaming white kitchen was associated with sterilization, a huge selling point at the time.
Today’s crisp white kitchens can speak of cleanliness or homeyness, elegance or minimalism. In a word, they remain timeless.
“White kitchens still sell homes,” Howard says.
Award-winning Chattanooga offers tips for designing your kitchen
But today’s kitchens are no longer sequestered at the back of the house, tucked behind swinging doors and walls. They are the heart of the home both literally and figuratively. As such, Howard works to blend them into their surroundings, creating a seamless flow in the open, shared living spaces preferred today.
“Kitchens being open to the living space, you want to look in there and be happy. You want it to look like the rest of the space,” she says. “If you’ve got a lot of contrasting colors — even grays and whites — it screams ‘kitchen.'”
Here, Howard shares three of her kitchen designs and what they can teach us.
“I think the biggest compliment of this kitchen is when you walk in you really have to look for the kitchen. Each piece is like a fine piece of furniture.”
This kitchen, designed for a family of five on Signal Mountain, channels an Old World French vibe.
“You can obviously tell she wants that warm, cozy, lived-in kitchen feel,” says Howard.
But some of the most important details from her rigorous client interview process aren’t necessarily about aesthetics, but whether a family cooks together, who cooks most often, even the height of the most prominent cook. This knowledge helps her determine spacing, placement and flow.
There’s no need for a pantry.
“A lot of people are scared of giving up a walk-in pantry,” Howard says, though she recommends maximizing every square inch by opting for drawers and slide-out cupboards.
Drawers offer seamless storage, both aesthetically and practically.
“You want everything at your hands … [so] anytime you can put a set of drawers instead of cabinets or pulls [I recommend it],” she says, adding, “We know now that, except for a big stockpot, everything can go in a drawer.” Instead, keep those big stockpots in a cabinet above the fridge.
Ceiling-height cabinets are handy, even if they’re not the most accessible.
“A lot of clients had cabinets that did not go to the ceiling,” says Howard. “What’s