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400 Spaces: Couple’s kitchen transforms into sleek, modern space
Custom Design Kitchens
Ronnie DeThomas recently renovated his kitchen with the help of Custom Design Kitchens out of Buford. The finished product is above. Below, the kitchen before the renovation.

This article appears in the April issue of 400 Life.


Ronnie DeThomas has lived in his Buford home for 15 years, and in that time he has renovated almost every space — basement, bedrooms, bathrooms — infusing each one with a modern look. 

The final piece of the design puzzle was the kitchen. Dark mahogany cabinetry and black countertops cast a drab environment. DeThomas later added a small square island for more cooking space, but it competed for real estate with the space’s original L-shaped island. 

Transforming that space became a collaborative family effort. There was DeThomas, a developer of shopping centers, and his wife, but also DeThomas’ aunt, an ex-interior designer, and uncle, who were staying at the home while in between their own residences. DeThomas also pulled in contractor Joe Wallo, whom he had worked with on other projects, and Custom Design Kitchens out of Buford. Together, they conceived of a plan to create a space equal parts sophisticated and practical.

Interestingly, DeThomas chose to go even darker with the cabinets, from the dark mahogany to simple mission-style cabinets with panel doors and drawers painted in flat black. They exchanged ornamental hardware for sleek bars and knobs, and the incongruous square and L-shaped islands were replaced by a single rectangular island with storage space built in all around below. 

“We didn’t have near enough storage,” DeThomas said. “The design of the new cabinets allowed for probably twice the storage. They basically have two levels of storages and every section all the way around the island is accommodating.”

Other elements of the space received starker transformations. Where the brick backsplash was once beige with a diagonal pattern, it is now the familiar bright-red horizontal brick of a manufacturing warehouse circa the Industrial Revolution. The black countertops are now light gray. The hardwood floors, once darker and polished, are now lighter with a distressed appearance.

Meanwhile, DeThomas took advantage of the renovation to also make some tangential adjustments to the kitchen. For instance, an ancillary room housed the washer and dryer. They repositioned the appliances and knocked out a wall to extend the kitchen area. In that space went two double-door pantry cabinets and a sub-zero wine refrigerator.

Completed in October, DeThomas and his wife are pleased with the final product and the “really unique look” of the space. 

It was also a far smoother process than previous projects. Just six months before, DeThomas had renovated a bedroom and bathroom that encountered a myriad of challenges, particularly with a shower. 

This time, DeThomas, Wallo and Custom Design Kitchens devised a plan to avoid a similar outcome. As much work was done pre-demolition as possible. They ordered the countertop material, stored the appliances in a warehouse and had the cabinets made. When demolition was complete, everything was ready to put into its place.

“It’s worked out. No second-guessing,” DeThomas said. “With anything in life, you get the right contractor, and right materials, come up with the right plan (and) you’ll be successful. The cabinet guy did a great job. My contractor was just tremendous. … We had a great experience.”

Custom Design Kitchens
The kitchen before the redesign.
Custom Design Kitchens
The kitchen after the redesign.
Custom Design Kitchens
The kitchen after the redesign.