Over the course of 15 years of shooting interiors and food, Philadelphia photographer Jason Varney started envisioning his dream kitchen. It would have veined white marble counters, cabinets painted a pale gray, wood accents for earthiness, and a bit of an industrial vibe to “balance the softness.” What he was picturing wasn’t for his home but for his studio, where it could be used as a backdrop and prep space, and, on occasion, an after-hours party spot.
As it was, Jason had plenty of room in his existing loft but its kitchen missed the mark. And so when two local friends, the creatives behind home furnishing and lighting companies Lostine, RTO Lighting, and Natalie Page Studio, mentioned they were turning the top floor of their headquarters into artist spaces, Jason was one of the first to sign a lease.
The setup offered perfect natural light, high ceilings, and the opportunity to build out exactly what he had devised in his head. “I’m handy and have experience in construction from my photographer-turned-contractor Dad, so I knew I could tackle most of the work myself—with some help from pals,” Jason told us. Having contacts in the kitchen business and handy friends in the same building also helped. Join us for a look.
Photography by Jason Varney (@varneyphoto), styling by Kristi Hunter, courtesy of Semihandmade.
The counters and backsplash are statuary marble, a splurge from a nearby stone yard. The floor is durable white oak procured from a mill Lostine uses.
Jason built the island himself. It houses the dishwasher and trash pullout. He added the reeded front to “match the flooring and give it a little extra visual appeal.” That detail wasn’t as hard to create as it looks: readymade white oak tambour panels from SurfacingSolution got cut to fit. The Oletto Faucet and 33-inch stainless steel sink are both from Kraus. Jason painted the island’s end panels a dark navy, Benjamin Moore’s Blue Note: “the subtle blue of the steel hood ties in with the blue of the island cabs.”
The drawer fronts—painted here in Benjamin Moore’s Silver Song— pair with Ikea’s Sektion cabinets. During the pandemic, Jason reports, the latter were hard to get: “I had to recruit a photo assistant in Houston to pick up and ship two of the missing pieces to me; they were the only Ikea in America that had them.” Go to Ikea Upgrade to see Sarah Sherman Samuel’s own Semihandmade Kitchen from years back. And here’s A Brooklyn Kitchen with Semihandmade’s DIY Shaker Doors.
Here are three more inspired kitchen designs belonging to photographers: