This post was done in partnership with Café Appliances, who sponsored this post by providing the compensation and appliances to make it happen! I’m incredibly lucky to be a member of the Café Collective, a group of nine women with impeccable style and expertise in the realm of home design, fashion, lifestyle, and food. Be sure to follow along the next few months to find out more — as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own, and thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Hummingbird High possible!

When I remodeled the kitchen in my Portland house, I thought that I was making timeless design decisions. I chose neutral colors that I swore I wouldn’t tire of and stuck to a mute color scheme of gray and white cabinets and walls to match practical stainless steel appliances. I played it pretty safe, worried about making bold choices and statements that I would grow out of in a few years.

Five years later, my kitchen is still wonderful in many ways: I still love the functional and opened-up layout catered to my needs (I mean, there’s a baking station and everything), and I still adore the classic subway tile, double sink, and quartz countertops with the look of marble but have the practicality of granite. But it felt like something was missing, and I couldn’t quite place my finger on what. More and more, I found myself on Instagram and Pinterest saving and re-pinning kitchens that looked like the opposite of my own — kitchens with bold, deep green or blue cabinetry centered around beautiful and unforgettable dramatic ranges.

So when Café Appliances invited me to join the Café Collective, I felt like I had won the lottery: Café Appliances are beautiful showstoppers in any kitchen, and absolutely unique in their design. Unlike most appliances that are stainless steel or come in shiny colors, their appliances are matte. Furthermore, the hardware is fully customizable — you can pair the Matte Black or Matte White appliances with Brushed Copper, Brushed Bronze, Brushed Black, or Brushed Stainless steel hardware. It was everything I’d been admiring in other kitchens for years and years.

The partnership kicked off with a short flight to Louisville, Kentucky to visit their headquarters and meet the other members of the Café Collective. Immediately, I was blown away by the incredible talent of the other women in the group: we were a mix of fashion, lifestyle, food, and home bloggers and designers (some of whom I’d been following for many years) from all across the country. For the next few days, we were immersed in all things design and Louisville: we took a quick tour of the factory to learn how the appliances were made; we learned how to make bourbon cocktails; we designed our own necklaces and earrings; and we made succulent wreaths. Oh, and we ate a ton of good food, of course.

My favorite event, however, was working with the Café Appliances designers in their mood boarding room. The room was filled with all sorts of materials like marble and tile squares, carpet and fabric samples, paint chips, all the different kitchen cabinetry and appliance hardware, and more. Their design team instructed us to build our dream kitchens using everything in the room.

For my mood board, I gathered everything I’d been admiring on Instagram and Pinterest for so long: a beautiful white professional range, brushed bronze and copper for the hardware and flatware, all paired with a deep green to make everything pop. I kept everything I loved about my current kitchen too — I threw in a marble block with subtle gray veins to represent my beloved quartz countertops and a warm wood to represent my house’s original Douglas fir floors.

At the dinner that night, as we went around the room to share our boards and explain our design choices, I was absolutely floored — even though we’d all pulled from the exact same pool of materials, each of us designed an entirely different kitchen, every one unique and a good showcase of our personality. In Justina’s kitchen, I saw the bright pops of green she’s known for; in Rochelle’s I saw the leopard print often found in her wardrobe. And looking at our boards, I noticed that none of us had played it safe in our choices: everybody’s kitchen was filled with dramatic colors and metals, using materials with bold, one-of-a-kind patterns like marble and terrazzo. Every single one was beautiful, creative, and an awesome showcase of everybody’s distinct personal style.

Our bold mood boards allowed me to figure out what was wrong with my kitchen — while nice in its neutrality, it was missing a part of me. The grey, the white, and the stainless steel appliances represented the safe and practical side of me that studied economics in school and worked many years in finance and tech, sure. But it was also completely missing the courageous and creative side that created this blog and makes cakes that look like weather patterns and broken pottery.

So in addition to switching out my boring stainless steel appliances for beautiful Matte White Café Appliances, I’m going to be refreshing my kitchen to fully reflect my whole self. The new kitchen will actually be based on the mood board below that I designed during our retreat; I’ll be pairing a matte white double oven range, fridge, hood, and dishwasher with Brushed Copper hardware and repainting the bottom cabinets to a deep, warm green to make them pop. Be sure to follow along on Instagram as I refresh the kitchen in the next few weeks, and I’ll be sharing the full reveal early next year on Hummingbird High!

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