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An Eye On Design:

February 27, 2014

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Contemporary Kitchen Remodel

May 6, 2013

How this outdated 1950's kitchen was turned into a beautiful contemporary and functional space that reflects the lifestyle and personalities of its hip-young home owners.

Sometimes all a room needs to be renewed is a fresh coat of paint and a few new accessories, and in other instances a total overhaul is the only true remedy for an outdated and dysfunctional room's design. For this 30-something year old newlywed couple, it was time for a complete kitchen remodel, being one of the last rooms of their mid-century contemporary Southern Californian home to be updated. However, where do you start with such a daunting task, in a room known for being the most expensive to renovate? That's where I came in. With the help of Leon's Construction, a local independent contractor and a well laid design plan, we were able to completely transform this outdated kitchen.



Functionally and aesthetically, there were a number of reasons why this kitchen didn't work for the homeowners. From outdated cabinets that were starting to fall apart, to a refrigerator that's placement blocked the flow of entry from one room into the other, to limited prep surface space for cooking, to limited storage space that led to cluttered counter tops, to poor lighting and a poor layout, as well as several outdated major appliances.... It was clear that just about everything needed to go.


New Floor Plan


In my initial assessment of the room, several things were clear to me... the most important being that the east wall, with the majority of the major cooking appliances, needed major reconfiguration - as can be seen in the "Before" photos above. The placement of the refrigerator (the only space it could currently be) stuck out over the frame of the door that lead into the dining area, as well as blocking entry into the room when opened. The electric cook top only had about a foot of counter top space on either side, making it difficult to prep food near the stove. The double ovens (while retro in appearance) weren't fully functional and stuck out into the space and the pantry wasn't quite deep enough. Additionally, the space above the cabinets was being wasted with an unattractive air soffit that took up a square foot of space almost all the way around the kitchen, and the cabinets were clearly beginning to fall apart.



So, what did we do?


Completely gut the kitchen! Salvaging what could be reused and  replacing what needed to be replace. To make the kitchen functional we would need to relocate the refrigerator, create additional counter top space around the cooking area, remove the soffit to open up the space and take the cabinets all the way to the ceiling, and refurnish the space with energy saving appliances and using as many sustainable materials as the budget allowed. 


The homeowner initially wanted to potentially keep the tile flooring the same, but because the footprint of the room was going to be altered, it would have been nearly impossible to find more of this particular tile. Additionally, after the cabinets had been removed water damage to the sub-flooring was found beneath the sink and dishwasher area, so the sub-flooring in this area needed to be replaced making salvaging the old tile even more impossible.


Homeowners Wish List:
  • More counter top space around the stove,
  • New appliances: gas stove/oven, microwave, dishwasher,
  • Easy to clean, groutless counter tops,
  • New cabinets,
  • Red Accents,
  • Additional storage with easy access to the back of cabinets,
  • Reuse of the orange light above her eat-in kitchen area,
  • Reusing the refrigerator (at least for the time being),
  • Creating an area they'd want to bring their friends into,
  • Low-maintenance finishings,
  • and limited involvement in the process

After & Before

What I did: 

It was my goal to create a kitchen that was both aesthetically pleasing and functional. I wanted the space to speak to the sensibility and personality of this busy professional young couple, as well as projecting a warm and inviting atmosphere for entertaining, and using low-maintenance and durable materials and appliances. I accomplished this through meticulously researching various products and materials, as well as pulling in details featured in other areas of the home... (elements such as medium-toned hardwood furnishings, earth tones and pops of color, stainless steel, etc...) and used these elements as a guide for what would reflect the design aesthetic of the homeowners, as well as creating a cohesive design that felt as apart of the home as any other room in the house.


It was also my goal to use economical products that would be both durable and energy saving, and sustainable-yet natural materials. We kept: the faucet fixtures, all small appliances, dishes, and cookware, the refrigerator (to be replaced at a different point in time), and Surinam wrap holder. We replaced: the flooring, cabinets, counter tops, back splash, sink and garbage disposal, the dishwasher, microwave, stove/oven, hood, light switches and plates, and light fixtures. And added: fresh herbs, new drainer, shelves, and other accessories around the kitchen.

  • Theme/Style: Modern/Contemporary with sleek surfaces, clean lines, great flow, and natural elements
  • Color Scheme: White, Cream, Brown, Yellow/Orange, and Red
  • Finishes: Stainless Steel and Nickle, Glass, Wood
  • Feeling: Fresh, Inviting, good for entertaining, low-maintenance
The Process

The Cabinets - For this particular project I choose custom built maple stained hardwood cabinets with shaker doors and crown molding. The color is both rich and warm and contrasts beautifully with the newly painted cream colored walls and ceiling, and white trim. The wall color was chosen to brighten up the space and create a clean backdrop for the medium tones of the wood cabinets, as well as to contrast the other finishes chosen for the space. The cabinets were then finished with sleek stainless steel long handles (seen in the photos in the "After" section below). Some people, mistakenly think that modern/contemporary design can only be cold spaces, void of detail or natural elements. On the contrary, the mid-century modern movement was influenced by architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Eames, and others whom celebrated nature... just in a sleek and more simplified way than their predecessors.

Custom Cabinets


The Counter Tops & Flooring - The material chosen for the counter tops in this kitchen was silestone.  I knew that whatever material was going to be chosen for the counter tops needed to be light in order to contrast the cabinets, as well as brighten up the space further. This stone was also inset into the windowsill. The color of silestone chosen was "Capri Limestone"... a beautiful cream colored stone, with flicks of reds, oranges, browns, and greens in it. Subtle enough to not be garish, yet beautifully picking up the colors in the tile back splashes chosen for the space. Silestone was also chosen for its durability and low maintenance factor. The flooring is 12x24" porcelain tiles, in Limestone Bianco, which I had the contractor lay like brickwork in the same direction lengthwise of the kitchen to further elongate the space, making the room feel larger. This material was also choose for being durable and easy to maintain. The sink is a granite composite double-basin sink, deep, in white; resistance to staining, cracking, scorching, and scratching.

 New Counter Tops


Tile Back Splash - For behind the stove a chocolate brown ceramic tile in 4x4" squares, was chosen and taken all the way to the ceiling to add height to the space and add another rich, dark element to the room. Above the counter tops, colorful mosaic tile was chosen to bring some color and fun into the space. Once set, all tile in the kitchen (including the floors) were grouted with the same tan grout, pulling each together. Flicks of color in the counters playfully tie into the colors that dance through the mosaic back splash.

New Tile Backspash


After 4-months of planning, demo, a couple of unforeseeable setbacks, installation, and a few finishing touches, the project was finally finished! As you can see in the pictures below the orange accent light that once hung over the kitchen table was moved above the sink becoming a point of interest and a pop of color. We repainted the window casing, restoring the color it had once been. We added 6 herbs in blackboard-paint painted ceramic pots to the window, creating a fresh indoor miniature herb garden. And a new drainer, in the accent color, red, and stainless steel fits into the space like a glove... kept out of the way on the windowsill. Additionally, I cleaned up and we reused the faucet that had already been in the kitchen.

 The West Wall


In the middle of the kitchen we installed two identical larger circular ceiling lights with a nickel finish, brightening up the space quite a bit at night. I love the glass that we had the custom cabinet guys inset into the cabinet doors on the east wall. They are opaque with textured glass, with a pattern of little rectangles like the tiles on the floor.  We replaced the old hood, with a wall mounted stainless steel and glass one... that goes all the way up to the ceiling; and replaced the electric stove top and broken double ovens with a five-burner stainless steel freestanding convection oven; and the sleek long stainless steel handles I mentioned earlier. Also... as you can see we created over 5 combined feet of counter space around the oven, making cook-prep an easier task. Also, not pictured (but can be seen in the final photos at the end), are the large floor to ceiling pantry that sits to the left of the refrigerator and above it... taking up less space along the wall, yet offering more space for food and appliance storage.

 The East Wall


When it came to the eat-in area, the homeowners wanted the space to tie into the rest of the kitchen, though not take too much additional money. The quick and affordable solution was to reuse the existing table and chairs... though pushing them against the wall instead of floating in the middle of the space. We also cut an ikea shelf (that wasn't being used, but existed in the house) in half, painted it red and finished it with black iron shelf holders. The shelf was then outfitted with cookbooks, and other accessories from other areas of the home. We also flanked the shelves against a painting the homeowner received from a friend, and balanced them by centering the two as one on the wall.

 The Eat-In Area: a simple low-cost update


And with that... the kitchen was complete. It is now months later and I still receive happy texts about how much the homeowners love their new kitchen. I can't wait until they're ready to replace that refrigerator, it will further open up the space and complete the look. 

 What a difference! 


Checkout the My Artistic Bliss interior design studio Well Designed for more about my design services. 

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