Interior designer Riley Sittema brings life to a 1914 Dilworth bungalow through a harmonious blend of traditional finishes, oversized fixtures, vintage finds and statement art. Her design choices have created an interior that feels new and fresh yet some how uniquely gives a nod to the heritage and character of a hundred year old bungalow. It isn’t a large space, but the soaring ceiling, serene color palette, and natural light that pours in through the windows creates inviting warmth. Riley graciously accepted our invitation to feature her noteworthy kitchen and gave us some insight into her design approach for their home renovation.

As an architecture graduate turned interior designer, Riley aimed to restore the integrity of the architecture before layering in the details that bring the space to life. It is difficult to imagine lavender walls and drop ceilings as I stand with Riley in the updated space, but as she paints the picture for me my appreciation for the transformation deepens. It is clear from the well-conceived composition that each design choice for the kitchen was thoughtfully selected. They began by restoring the original ceiling height, installing appropriately scaled windows, and uncovering the long ago boarded up doorway into the laundry room. This restoration combined with Riley’s well-curated palette of neutrals, a soothing gray paint color throughout, and honed Bianco Carrera marble countertops, the kitchen resonates Mies van der Rohe’s sentiment “God is in the details.” Those details are where you can see the playful personality of this family begin to shine.

The oversized fixture by Visual Comfort (a work of art in its own right) anchors the space and draws your eye up. The sparkling glass knobs on the cabinets almost disappear allowing the cabinets’ craftsmanship to shine. Appropriate for a kitchen, woodcuts of carrots and bananas from a regional artist are framed in gold as a nod to the gilt chandelier. Unexpected yet so fitting is a boldly colorful fish painting guarding an entry into the kitchen. It adds a pop of color and youthfulness very appropriate for her family with two young daughters. The original floors have been restored but not perfected, with a century of patina and water stains that add character and tell the story of the house’s history. Respecting the past was important to Riley as they worked to balance new and old. Above the sink rests family silver passed down from parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Highlighted by a gallery light, you can’t help but want to hear the story behind each silver tray.

It was difficult not to peek around the doorways of nearby rooms. Boldly skirted counters caught our eye along with walls whimsically adorned with wallpaper. Down the hall, an olive green velvet sofa was waiting with open arms so we couldn’t help but stop in. Like Riley, its presence was sophisticated and perfectly welcoming. I had to take a seat and stay awhile.

Riley Sittema is based in Charlotte, NC where she lives with her husband Nate and two young daughters. She is the owner of RMS Studio, a full service interior design firm.

Images by Candice Lanning,