After thirteen years of living in their Raleigh home with a problematic kitchen, Linda Orser and Skip, her husband of fifty-three years, decided they had to either move or renovate. They opted for the latter and enlisted the talents of Anne Wagoner Interiors to transform their outdated kitchen into a showcase where they could display their extensive antique ironstone collection. “After realizing that our design requirements were different from basic kitchen design, our builder, Sam Barrow, recommended Anne after working with her on other projects,” Orser explains. “And she’s absolutely a delight to work with.”  

 “I was the missing link,” says Wagoner, principal designer of her namesake Raleigh-based design firm. “The client had a specific design direction that she wanted to accomplish, and the builder is so fabulous at executing things, but he didn’t quite know how to get there. I came in with conceptual ideas and bridged that gap.”  Wagoner embarked on translating Orser’s vision, which was largely based on Swedish decor, into a reality. “I adjusted some of the finishes and the details to highlight the level of sophistication that Linda had in mind,” Wagoner explains. “For example, they had planned on glass-front cabinetry with backlit lighting. Instead, I chose to do European-inspired wire mesh over those areas so that it had another level of finish, up a notch from what a builder would have known to do.”

In a nontraditional twist, Wagoner keeps the palette  monochromatic, using a light neutral taupe color on the walls, cabinets, and trim to minimize contrast and make the kitchen appear larger. Wagoner also cut half-moon shapes into corners of the quartz countertop of the island to be purposeful about the clearance issue. “I wanted to be strategic and give it a bespoke detail,” she notes. The distressed-wood rolling library ladder, brass hardware, and custom faux antique pine finish on the back of the hutch add visual contrast. “My decorative painter made the hutch look like an antique piece of pine furniture that Linda had loved in an inspiration photo,” Wagoner explains.

Savvy at turning design challenges into opportunities, Wagoner dealt with the awkward placement of the pantry by celebrating it. She admits, “I either had to make this really fabulous, or it was going to ruin the rest of the kitchen.” She created custom hand-carved doors, had them distressed and painted with a custom blue glaze, and finished with centermounted brass hardware. Behind these exquisite blue doors, Orser stores much of her ironstone, which had previously been scattered throughout her home. The builder added detail to the millwork inside the pantry so that the doors can be left open, and a delighted Orser says that when she has guests over, she adds electric tealights to highlight her collection.