Design Disaster? In the home decor dumps? Share your story.

November 10, 2011

Have there been moments in your life when a design disaster looms? An interior design project is on the rails or something as seemingly simple as an attempt to create an impressive table setting just seems wrong?

Our studio, Sander Architects, has been working on a pair of townhouses, which are just finishing up construction. At this point, my role as Director of Interior Design becomes more intense. Decisions on interior fixtures need to be finalized and I am always amazed at how much shifts, despite months, or sometimes years of planning.

In this case, we had found some recycled glass countertops on sale just as construction began over a year ago. The price was right, the product gorgeous, very eco-friendly—and the company promised to store them at no charge.

One slab, a silver grey with flecks of reflective glass would go into the rear unit, the grey intended to pick up the color of the concrete floors. The other slab, dark charcoal with tiny chips of color would go into the front unit with its dark grey high-gloss lacquer cabinets.

Then Murphy’s Law went to work.

When we were ready to have the slabs cut and delivered, the company told us that the dark charcoal slab had cracked and that we would no longer be able to use it in the front unit. That meant we would need to put it into the rear. In the meantime, the high-gloss cabinets for the front unit arrived and they looked, well, chocolate brown.

Panicked phone calls ensued but, in order to preserve the budget, we really had no choice but to keep the chocolate cabinets, put the silver grey on top and move the dark charcoal into the rear.

I was despondent.

Without the countertops in place it was all too easy to imagine it would look terrible.

Yesterday, I visited the job site, with the cabinets and counters in place and they looked stunning.

Image of rear unit kitchen with dark countertop.

The image above shows how the dark charcoal picks up the color of the custom steel hood. Below you can see how the silver grey has a delightful “conversation” with the grey tile, double-height feature wall beyond.

The original countertop intended for that unit would have made the cabinet color problems worse, rather than better.

Image of the grey countertop with the grey wall in the background.

Whitney Sander, the principal architect, likes to say that roadblocks often produce some of the best parts of his projects. In this case, he is right.

Do I deserve to get this lucky? I don’t know but I am grateful.

We have a blog series in the works on our readers own projects, home décor, table settings and interior design projects.

Kouboo founders, Patrice Gerber and his wife, Joey will also share their stories.

If you have one that threatened to be a disaster but worked out surprisingly well please tell us your story, we’d love to hear from you. If you want to send a photo of the positive outcome we’ll publish some of your stories in our blog. Feel free to comment below or email me at if you have images.

Check back for photos of the final kitchens.

Written by Catherine Holliss, Director of Interior Design, Sander Architects LLC.  Photographs © Catherine Holliss. Blog Post © KOUBOO LLC. All rights reserved.