Just as certain clothes can signify an era, so can some kitchens. The one in Laurie and Kent Adamson's Cape Cod—style house, in San Clemente, California, dated to 1985 and revealed its past with "oak, lots of oak!" says Laurie, from honey-colored floors to golden cabinets to whitewashed decorative beams. Though Laurie, an occupational therapist, and Kent, an orthopedic surgeon, love to entertain, they waited 19 years and until the last of their three children was a teenager—before tackling the room. Then they got to work. Guided by local designer Debbie Nassetta, they created a smart-looking, high-functioning cooking space in the 13½
-by-19-foot kitchen without moving walls or changing the locations of the island, cooktop, wall ovens, or sink. Barn-red Wood-Mode
cabinets and walnut and marble counters replaced the 20-year-old oak boxes and acres of ceramic tile.