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The One Room Designer Amanda Barnes Will Never Forget

Neutral monochromatic kitchen with marble island.

Design: Amanda Barnes Interiors; Photo: John Ellis

Interior designers and other experts in the home industry work on an impressive number of spaces throughout their careers. But even if some of the makeovers and redesigns start to blend together after a few years, there are some rooms that are just truly unforgettable. 

So, to give designers a chance to revisit their favorite projects—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the one room these pros will remember forever. For some, there’s a sentimental connection, for others, there was an obstacle they never thought they’d overcome. But no matter what, these rooms are worth remembering.

Amanda Barns is keen on designing interiors that evoke a clear mind and a happy home. Her studio, Amanda Barns Interiors based in the Bay Area, specializes in high-end design that feels utterly California chic and oh-so-soothing—two key factors in this kitchen design, which is one space she notes she'll never forget.

"This project will always hold a special place in my heart," Barnes shares with MyDomaine. "The home was down the street from where I grew up, right off the ocean, and built for the sweetest clients. The entire experience was challenging and inspiring from start to finish."

I designed the entire kitchen while standing in it for the first time.

It's not every day that a client doesn't have a list of specific requests, but in this case, that's what made the project memorable for Barnes. "My clients asked me to design the home as I would for myself, and gave me a lot of room to run creatively," Barnes says. "This was one of those projects that I thought about constantly—and would have been thrilled to call it my own home if I could have."

Read on to dive deeper into this oceanside kitchen design.

Close up of marble island and jute barstools.

Design: Amanda Barnes Interiors; Photo: John Ellis

The client purchased this home as a spec home, which at the time included renderings for a kitchen with three tiny islands, a wine fridge on one side of the kitchen, and all the appliances on the other. But, Barnes wasn't thrilled with this original layout—and had to make some changes quickly.

"I designed the entire kitchen while standing in it for the first time," Barnes explains. "We had to remove windows, change the floor plan, edit plumbing, and more. When you make that many edits in such a short amount of time, you really have to get everyone on board—and hope it turns out exactly as you have envisioned it."

But this all was for the greater good of the space, according to Barnes. "There was no focal point or balance built into the design," Barnes notes. "The contractor had already made a lot of progress on the project by the time I was able to see the home for the first time, so I really had to sell my vision for the kitchen to my client."

Her vision for the space? A timeless, classic kitchen with elevated finishes, which soon turned into the monochromatic beauty before us. The warm and creamy beige cabinet color, while muted, is a soft yet impactful way to add color to the space. The backsplash boasts a combination of Dekton stone and Zellige tile, and the space highlights other natural materials like jute and marble.

Each piece is independently charming, and cooperatively, they really elevate the look of the kitchen.

"Each piece is independently charming, and cooperatively, they really elevate the look of the kitchen," Barns says.

The standout favorite of this kitchen design for Barnes: the bronze hardware. "If I had to pick one thing to repeat, I would definitely specify the bronze hardware again," she says.

Beige kitchen cabinets with gold hardware.

Design: Amanda Barnes Interiors; Photo: John Ellis

If the designer could choose three words to define this space, she would label it as refined, functional, and understated. Especially as a devoted organizer, Barnes knew the "functional" piece of the description was going to take lead in this kitchen.

"My client loved the finished space," Barnes shares. "And a big part of their budget was poured into this room, so keeping the kitchen as functional as it was beautiful. That was the motivation behind all of our selections."

The kitchen actually served as the primary design inspiration for the rest of the home. Barnes noted that she carried the Zellige tile onto the walls of several of the bathrooms and kept the same color palette throughout the home.

"The materials used in this space are all organic and beautiful on their own," she says. "Using natural materials that resemble art by themselves requires less polish to pull the space together. I love the veining in the slabs and the character the imperfectly finished tiles bring to the space."

The materials used in this space are all organic and beautiful on their own.

As a designer, choices and aesthetics are always evolving, and Barnes notes that is the case for her as well, though the space is still quite reflective of her style.

"Currently, I find myself leaning toward embracing minimalism while telling a story with a little more color," she notes. "You can use a loud tile or slab and let it fill the space with unique curves or edges instead of layering too many things on top of it."

That being said, there isn't much Barnes would change about this kitchen. She notes that in the original design, the cabinet color leaned a bit lighter, but she let the clients take the reins and switch up the color.

"We had originally designed the kitchen cabinets to be made from Rift Cut White Oak, but my clients changed their mind as we progressed through the project, and we switched to painted cabinets," she notes. "I absolutely love the way they came out, but I also think the original design would have been very pretty, too."

What makes this room unforgettable was the connection of challenges, triumphs, and pivots that came with the project. "This kitchen evokes a lot of joy for me," Barnes shares. "It was a challenge to pick up the pieces and quickly change the design, it was a pleasure to pull together, and incredibly satisfying to see it come to life for my clients to move into."