Fall ’23 One Room Challenge | French Bistro Inspired Kitchen | Week Two


Welcome to Week Two of the Fall ’23 One Room Challenge! I’m so excited to share more about the plans for my French Bistro Inspired Kitchen this week!


In case you’re new here, my name is Justine Dennen, and I’m the owner of Blue Leopard Interiors, a boutique residential interior design firm in Great Falls, VA. In case you haven’t heard of the One Room Challenge, it’s an eight week online event which happens every spring and fall, where interior decorators and home bloggers, undertake redesigning or designing from scratch a room of their choosing, while sharing the progress along the way. It’s not a competition, as there is no winner, just a supportive group of like-minded design enthusiasts challenging themselves to complete a room in eight weeks. Huge thanks to Linda Weinstein, the creator and director of the One Room Challenge!

Last week I shared the before photos of my kitchen, and gave you a little background on why designing a new kitchen for this home was at the top of my list when we bought it in July 2022. I also shared more about my inspiration for this kitchen – a Modern French Bistro.

Drawing up Plans

Coming up with inspiration for any project – whether for myself or a client – is one of the most fun stages of the design process, and comes easily to me. The next stage is to take the inspiration, and translate it into a functional and beautiful design. And although I knew I would have no problems choosing fixtures and finishes for this kitchen that reflect my inspiration, I knew I needed the help of a kitchen designer to execute the floor plans.  Because my husband is a developer, he has a fantastic finish carpenter, Duy Nguyen, who he’s been working with for years. And since Duy would be installing our new cabinets, we asked him to recommend a cabinet supplier. He directed us to Elite Kitchens in Rockville, Maryland. They carry two different brands of cabinetry, Leicht, which is high-end, modern, and German-made, and Mouser, characterized by timeless, American-made craftsmanship. At Elite Kitchens, I worked with their lead designer , Olcay (pronounced Ol-Jai), and together we came up with a new layout for this rather odd-shaped kitchen with lots of angles, as you can see from the birds-eye view below:


Birdseye view of the new kitchen!


The biggest changes we made to the floor plan were:

  1. Taking out the walk-in pantry
  2. Creating a new built-in pantry at the other end of that wall where the desk was previously
  3. Moving the cooktop out of the island, and replacing it and the wall ovens with an induction range and hood on the wall where the walk-in pantry had been
  4. Taking out the long, angled island and moving the prep sink from one end to the area directly across from the new range
  5. Eliminating most of the upper cabinets, other than the two above the appliance garages on either side of the range, and the china cabinet style upper cabinet on the end of the window wall, closest to the breakfast nook
  6. Replacing some upper cabinets with open shelving on range wall and window wall
  7. Moving the refrigerator from next to the breakfast nook to the other end of that same wall
  8. Creating a new bank of cabinets on the wall between the mud room and the powder room, which will be our “family command center”



New Kitchen plans looking from Breakfast Nook towards foyer and Butler’s Pantry


New Kitchen Plans looking towards sink and window



New Kitchen plans looking toward the range

What you don’t see in these renderings are the cabinet hardware or the crown mouldings on top of the cabinet, but they do give a good idea of the new layout and cabinet functionality. I thought a lot about how the new kitchen would flow, and where and how I would store all of my dinnerware, flatware, kitchen gadgets, small appliances, and everything else. By the time we were ready to submit the final drawings to Mouser, I felt pretty confident I had (over)thought every aspect of this new kitchen layout!

Choosing Finishes and Fixtures

Once we had nailed down the plans, it was up to me to choose the cabinet color and profile, plus the hardware, appliances, countertops, sinks, faucets, and lighting! I already knew I wanted most of the cabinets to be light-colored since this kitchen doesn’t get a ton of natural light. Mouser has so many paint and stain finishes to choose from, as well as offering custom finishes. I loved their “Eggshell” paint color, and decided it was the perfect light, yet warm ivory tone for the perimeter cabinets. I wanted the island to have a bit of contrast to the other cabinets, and chose the paint color “Iron” for it, as well as for the new family command center cabinet. I was originally going to stick to a shaker style cabinet, but decided I wanted something a little more interesting. When I found the Durham door from Mouser, I fell in love!

Mouser Durham Door

I love the simple yet elegant style with the rounded moulding of the Durham, and knew this profile would be just the amount of extra detail I wanted the cabinets to have! Next choice to make was the hardware, and since I had already used Top Knobs Emerald pulls and knobs in the Fall ’22 ORC in my Butler’s Pantry and loved them, I went straight back to their website to find my kitchen hardware. I was immediately drawn to the Kara Pull and Kara Knob in their Honey Bronze finish, which is really a brushed gold/brass tone.

Top Knobs Kara Pull in Honey Bronze
Top Knobs Kara Knob in Honey Bronze



That’s all for now, but come back next week when we start DEMO of the old kitchen!! Until then, I’ll leave you with something pretty…



Plus, don’t forget to check out all of the other Fall One Room Challenge participants here!

Here is my ORC progress

Week 1  ||  Week 2  ||  Week 3  ||  Week 4  ||  Week 5  ||  Week 6 ||  Week 7  ||  Week 8