A Kitchen Redo with Added Function and Lots More Charm
A minor size adjustment plus major changes in style and layout make this kitchen a better fit for the house—and the family who uses it
When a 75-year-old house loses its soul, few things are more gratifying than getting it back. That's how Nadine Wener felt after erasing all evidence of the 1980s from the kitchen of her 1937 ranch, in Long Beach, California. "Before, it was claustrophobic and dark, with a dreadful fluorescent ceiling fixture right in the middle," recalls Nadine, who is an enthusiastic cook.
Shown: Classic cabinets in sunny yellow get a boost from a high-contrast checkerboard floor. Twins Luca and Nina gravitate to the little peninsula.
Working with designer Dana Jones and general contractor Thomas Cole, she set in motion a six-week redo that improved the room's size and function as well as its cottage spirit. Says Cole, "We stripped it down to the bones," then annexed a small laundry room, added insulation, and repaired the subfloor. He also installed a Dutch door that Nadine had bought for $50 years earlier and stored, like a hope chest. Jones sketched out seven layout options; ultimately Nadine opted to keep the space as open as possible by widening the passageway to the dining room and setting it off with a small peninsula. "It's a nice place to sit and have a cup of coffee," says Nadine, "and the children love to eat there in the morning. It's my favorite spot."
Shown: The 1980s left behind dark cabinets, black-grouted tile countertops, and dingy floors.
The peninsula's turned-wood pedestal adds a strong design element while leaving space for stools.
Reeded-glass fronts and crown molding contribute to the custom cabinets' vintage look.
The Dutch door was painted to match a piece of vintage Fiestaware. Nearby prep space incorporates a niche for the microwave and open shelves with pull-out baskets for onions and potatoes.
Pull-out baskets: Rev-A-Shelf
The boxy 143-square-foot space was claustrophobic, with chopped-up prep space and no place to sit down.
Adding 55 square feet allowed the hall doorway to move and the layout and traffic flow to improve. The space was also opened up more to the dining room, creating a spot for the peninsula.
1. Took down a wall to annex the laundry room and put the fridge and a new pantry near the largest prep space.
2. Shifted a doorway to improve traffic flow and create a place for the wall ovens.
3. Widened the passage to the dining room for a more open connection, making room for a peninsula and stools.
4. Replaced the exterior door with a salvaged Dutch door, which invites in fresh air and friendly neighbors.
5. Added prep and cleanup space within easy reach of the sink, microwave, fridge, and pantry.