Designer Profile – Diana Burton

Drury Design Team

How would you describe your overall approach to what you do?

My first priority is to get a good understanding of the client’s needs and goals for the space. Reviewing our in-depth design survey with the homeowner really helps facilitate the conversation. During the layout planning stage, my focus is on the “what if…

For example, what if the doorway to the mudroom could be shifted over to allow room for a longer run of cabinetry? What if an awkward corner pantry could be omitted to allow for a large island? What if a large whirlpool tub could be replaced by a sleek, freestanding unit?

What’s notable about your most recent kitchen project?

My latest kitchen project was for a young family who recently bought a grand old house in Hyde Park with plans to make it their forever home. The back of the main level consisted of a small kitchen, a play room and a powder room. With a little outside-the-box thinking, we were able to combine these spaces to create a large kitchen that is more functional for cooking and entertaining, as well as everyday living. The problematic powder room was relocated into what was a closet under the stairs. Now they have a spacious kitchen with a large island, bar area, and banquette for cozy family meals – plus, a to-die-for La Cornue range in Provence blue… be still my heart! Below are photo and video renderings that helped them envision their new kitchen. 

Any design-related obsessions?

Lighting – it’s such an important element in any space! There are so many amazing options out there, so searching for lighting can be a bit of a rabbit  hole. The fixtures you choose for your space can totally change the vibe. For example, a cool modern sputnik light fixture over an island will result in a completely different look compared to, say, lantern pendants.

Circa lighting has been a go-to source for me for some time. They have beautiful fixtures in a wide range of styles. For super cool, artful fixtures, I am crushing on Moooi Lighting. Check out their iconic Herculeum fixtures and their newest Starfall chandeliers!

Hammers and Heels has some very unique modern/organic fixtures.

Hubbardton Forge is also worth a look.

Oh! And I have to mention Legrande pop-out outlets.  In the scheme of things, they are a relatively inexpensive upgrade, but they create a really nice, clean look. 

Any non-design-related obsessions?

Cooking and baking are my longtime obsessions. I love tweaking recipes, planning menus and reading cookbooks like novels! It really warms my heart  that my husband and three grown sons have all become passionate cooks. We are constantly sending each other links to recipes and, of course, sharing photos of our latest creations! It’s a great way to stay connected.

A few of my favorite recipe sources include Smitten Kitchen, Omnivore’s Cookbook and The Splendid Table.

Take us through a favorite bath project… any particular design features or accomplished goals that stand out?

Two baths come to mind.  The first is a sleek space in a mid-century modern home. The client wanted a spa-like space with an Asian influence.  A teak ceiling and shower bench that appears to float are two favorite features of this bath. 

 The second project is much more traditional, featuring slabs of gorgeous marble on the walls in the vanity area and in the shower, as well as elegant dark wainscot panels throughout.

What’s a movie, TV show or place to visit that features fantastic design?

Nancy Meyers movies come to mind for me. She has become somewhat of an icon in the design world for the cozy, elevated homes featured in her films. I particularly love the dramatically different homes in “The Holiday.”  The modern house owned by Cameron Diaz’ character is amazing! I so want her bedroom with the remote control shades. Also amazing are the kitchens in “The Intern,” “It’s Complicated,” and “Something’s Gotta Give.”

Any notable trends in what your current customers are asking for?

Trends… that’s a tricky subject! Of course, we try to keep abreast of what’s trending on social media and in design magazines, but I encourage my clients not to get too swept up in the latest design fads. Renovating your home is a big investment, so it’s important to be sure that the foundational elements of the space are enduring and can withstand the test of time. Thoughtful combinations of materials and colors keep things fresh without risking dating new spaces!

Describe an unexpected bump in the road and how you handled it.

I had a client who wanted to open up their kitchen to their family room. An awkwardly-placed bathroom added by the previous homeowner created a big roadblock, as did a chimney that ran from the basement all the way out the 3rd story roof. We were able to find a spot for a tiny bathroom, but removing the chimney would have cost tens of thousands of dollars, and was NOT in the cards. The solution was to make the exposed brick of the old chimney a focal point and work with it instead of against it. The chimney became a great spot to house a wall cabinet for wine glasses near the dining room, and open shelves on the kitchen side. I was very proud to have earned an NKBA Best in Show award for my design work on this kitchen!

What’s your favorite “other room” (non-kitchen, non-bath) project and why?

I recently worked on updating a bar and wine cellar for a long time client. We took the space from very traditional (think stained cherry cabinets and heavy carved moldings) to light, fresh, and inviting. The wine cellar features unique pull-out racks that offer easy viewing of bottle labels even at higher levels, as well as a “secret” storage area for his private stock.

Any tips, tricks or advice for customers as they head into a project?

My best advice is to find a designer with the resources and experience of a proven company, and then be open to truly collaborating. Sometimes it’s challenging for homeowners to visualize something other than what they have been living with in their home. A good designer with a fresh set of eyes can offer creative solutions that you may not have considered, so be open to new ideas and input!

I’m not sure who said it, but my favorite quote about remodeling speaks to the successful elements of any reno:  “Good design, meticulous planning, a great contractor, and a patient family!”

What have you learned from your years of being a designer?

Oh my gosh… so much! There is really no substitute for years of experience in this business. We’ve all heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I’ve learned that it takes a TEAM to renovate a home. Engaged clients who are able to go with the flow during construction, dependable sources for quality materials, and experienced, knowledgeable contractors who do great work – put all of that together and you get outstanding projects and great experiences along the way every time!

What’s your favorite part of the design process?

Choosing my favorite part of the process would be like choosing a favorite child! I love the space-planning phase because it’s the foundation for the whole design. Choosing materials is so much fun because that’s what defines the aesthetic of the space. And walking through the finished project is really amazing! It’s so rewarding knowing that I have helped make someone’s home a bit more livable and lovely.  

My favorite thing about what I do is really the challenge of creating wildly varied spaces that really reflect the homeowner’s taste and sense of style. Right now I’m working on a funky eclectic kitchen for an artist, a rustic “Montana spa” -inspired primary bath, and a more traditional kitchen clad in gorgeous Calacatta gold marble with some unique design details. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

About Drury Design Kitchen and Bath Studio

Founded by Gail Drury, CMKBD in 1987, Drury Design’s Client-Focused Design™ approach integrates design recommendations, materials selection, and construction management into one seamless customer design, project management, and build experience. For kitchen, bath, and home remodeling ideas view Drury Design’s design portfolio or stop by the studio at 512 N. Main Street in downtown Glen Ellyn, Illinois.