The galley kitchen was the first thing Jodi wanted to change when she bought her beautiful mid-century home. It felt dark and cramped, with cheap cabinets and outdated features. She called and asked if we could help her create a modern, zen kitchen in a style that would harmonize with the rest of the home. Her new kitchen features:
- An open wall to the living and dining room
- Custom cabinets and open shelving
- Hexagonal tile backsplash
- Custom range hood
- New appliances
- Mid-century stylistic details
Opening the Wall
“The wall in the kitchen was blocking the view! The backyard is where the best view is, but you couldn’t see it.”
– Jodi, Homeowner
The first task was to open and connect the spaces on the main floor by removing the wall between the kitchen and living-dining room area. With open sight lines, the once-dark kitchen now feels bright and spacious. We increased the size of the kitchen’s recessed lighting to enhance the light even more.
Installing Cabinets and Open Shelving
“The kitchen had all-Ikea cabinets. It was pretty inexpensive given everything else in the house, so I knew I wanted custom cabinetry.”
We wanted to design cabinets that were beautiful and functional, and that harmonized nicely with the rest of the home. First, we chose warm walnut tones to balance out the steely blues and rich hues of the space.
Next, we installed a gray manufactured quartz countertop that’s easy to clean and maintain. The refrigerator and freezer units were installed under the counter, an arrangement that helps the kitchen feel more open and spacious.
We installed open shelves on the upper walls to provide visual interest and keep the kitchen feeling spacious. Jodi wanted to display some of her favorite stone and porcelain cookware in the kitchen, so the shelves add space for these decorative and functional items. Cutting the shelves at an angle helped maintain clear window views.
Jodi wanted a small seating area in the kitchen where she could have a quick meal, or for a friend to sit while she was cooking. We added a small extension to the counter for this purpose, dubbed ‘the breakfast bar.’
Innovations and Problem-Solving
Challenge: We needed a table leg for the breakfast bar that would be strong enough to support this portion of the quartz countertop but still be delicate-looking-enough to fit the mid-century style. Given the rigidity of quartz, there couldn’t be any fluctuation in the leg.
Innovation: The solution was to create a solid-yet-elegant steel t-shaped leg that was set into the floor and tied into the adjacent cabinetry in such a way that it was stable, yet looked like it was floating out on the end.
Challenge: Jodi had a good friend who offered to hand-fabricate the continuous cabinet pulls. This turned into a bigger challenge than we’d anticipated, because we weren’t expecting the degree to which each handle had to be bent perfectly in order to line up at the right angle, so that they would all look continuous. If the pull was even the slightest degree off, it was easily noticeable.
Solution: We had to return the handles for re-fabrication several times so that everything lined up perfectly. We also created a new policy to never hand-bend continuous cabinet pulls ever again.
Challenge: Cabinet veneers often have regularly repeating patterns, as one tree is sliced for veneering. Where possible, we wanted the cabinets to look like one long single plank of walnut, with an organic-looking pattern.
Solution: We first cut the panels to the horizontal lengths of the cabinets. Before the vertical cuts were made, the lower run was flipped 180 degrees so that there was no visual repetition in the pattern. This created the unique and slightly random look we were after. The grains between cabinet fronts were carefully matched between each panel to create a continuous flow from one cabinet to the next.
Creating the Range Hood and Backsplash
“Initially I was thinking we would do a steel surround on the hood, because I had steel on my fireplace at the time, but they came up with a better custom idea that wouldn’t involve the weight of steel.”
The range hood offered a great opportunity to create a unique element of interest that tied nicely into some of the steel elements throughout the house. Originally Jodi wanted to use her old range hood, but we convinced her to go with something custom, to create more of a statement piece.
The backsplash offered another opportunity to bring in some style and beauty to the kitchen space. We chose 3-dimensional hexagonal tiles with reflective aspects that create different visual patterns depending on which way the light is reflecting off them. We love how the appearance of these tiles can shift with the slightest change in the light.
Innovations and Problem-Solving
Challenge: We wanted to create a range hood that would feel modern, harmonious, and able to hold up to heavy use in that area of the kitchen. We wanted it to have a forged-metal look, while still being light enough to mount to the wall.
Innovation: We used a hand-applied, metal-infused plaster finish, polished it to a satin sheen, to give the hood the appearance of a solid block of forged steel.
Creating Stylistic Harmony
Jodi wanted to modernize the kitchen in a style that harmonized with her home’s mid-century-modern aesthetic. We approached this from a few angles:
- We added metal elements in the form of the breakfast bar leg, the cabinet pulls, and the range hood that echoed both the stairway’s delicate metal detailing as well as other metallic elements throughout the home.
- Next, we chose rich, earthy, and stylish tones that play nicely with the rest of the home, allowing room for splashes of color in the form of plants, art, and seasonal accents.
- This project also included adding fixtures and finishes in the living room that would tie in with the kitchen. We added custom cabinets and a steel entertainment system that harmonized with the kitchen cabinets, creating more continuity between these newly connected spaces.
“I love the end result. I think it’s gorgeous. It fits the house really well, and has a really great feeling to it.”