clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Simple Kitchen Design, Timeless Style

A square layout, classic white cabinets, and neutral stone counters add up to a kitchen that will stand up to decades of use without looking dated

Making a Kitchen That Lasts

Photo by Mark Lohman

When the emphasis of a kitchen remodel is handsome practicality, the room can work hard for years without looking out of sync with the times. That's what the avid cook who owns the space shown here envisioned, having endured a badly planned galley kitchen for years. The house that she shares with her husband and their two sons in Manhattan Beach, California, was built in 1940 as a one-story weekend place not meant for serious cooking.

Looking Ahead

Photo by Mark Lohman

Needing more room overall, they asked local architect Michael O. Eserts to add a second story and a kitchen that would be "simple and clean, and which they would still love in 30 years," says Eserts. He moved the bedrooms upstairs and turned the old galley into stairs, a sitting nook, and a powder room. The easiest part of the project, he says, was tucking the new kitchen and an adjacent breakfast area into the footprint of the old guest suite. Efficient and well proportioned, the new space has an island and loads of marble countertops, which provide a luxurious amount of work area. The white-painted cabinets with inset doors are a model of organization, with each designated to hold specific items such as cereal boxes or food-storage containers, while the Viking offers serious cooking power. Highly functional but warm, the kitchen has a timeless style that will stay fresh for years to come.

Breakfast Nook

Photo by Mark Lohman

The breakfast nook, where the family eats most meals, is out of the meal-prep area and has sliding glass doors leading to the patio and garden. A large niche was carved out of a wall next to the table so that the owners could have a space for rotating displays of decorative objects.

Open Shelves

Photo by Mark Lohman

Open shelves, within reach of the dishwasher, are a convenient showcase for colorful dishware. The owners chose a showy brown Rosso Danielle marble for the American Marble & Onyx counters and had it honed, rather than polished, for a softer look. Using it for the windowsill created a waterproof plant shelf.

TOH Pro Advice: Michael O. Eserts,

architect, Los Angeles, says, "Open shelves for display help personalize a kitchen. Recess them into niches for a clean, built-in look."

Wine Cooler

Photo by Mark Lohman

A Viking wine cooler is tucked under the snack counter (on the kitchen side). With the built-in bottle rack alongside the Sub-Zero refrigerator, it helps make entertaining easy.

A Place for Everything

Photo by Mark Lohman

Shelves for short-term wine storage are a clever use of a sliver of space.


The long, narrow kitchen had few counters, bad workspace, and bad circulation.

Before Floor Plan

Photo by Ian Worpole

The galley was more than 200 square feet but cramped and poorly organized, with an exterior door that invited traffic—and traffic jams.

What They Did

Photo by Ian Worpole

By relocating the kitchen during a ground-floor reorganization, the architect was able to create an ultra-functional square-shaped workspace.

1. Relocated the kitchen to what had been a ground-floor guest bedroom. The architect kept the room's original footprint.

2. Built counters along the perimeter of the room and created an efficient work triangle that encompasses the sink, stove, and refrigerator.

3. Added an island with drawers for utensils and a slide-out trash can—handy during meal prep. The new workspace has no door to the outside, so traffic flows around the island, not through the room.

4. Installed a skylight above a trio of windows, made possible by a small setback on the new second floor.

5. Carved a breakfast room out of the former guest bath. Sliding glass doors replaced small windows, providing access to the garden and bringing in light.