Renovating a renovated kitchen

Back in 2007, during the house flipping craze, homes all over LA were bought and then cheaply “renovated” before going back on the market a month later for double the price. Having spent the good part of a year searching for a mid-century modern home within our price range and being outbid on some homes we adored, we finally settled on the home we currently live in. It’s architecturally interesting but not by a “named” architect. The exterior of the home is fairly original, but not the interior. Tragically, the man who flipped the home stripped out every original detail of the interior. The mid-century finishings I longed for were in a dump somewhere and meanwhile, the interior had been replaced with a minimalist, contemporary style (i.e. a lot of IKEA). The new kitchen was decent with walnut cabinets, a white Caesarstone countertop,  and mid-range stainless steel appliances. We lived with it for four years, then leased the house out to tenants for 3 years. In that time, the walnut cabinets we were told were solid stated to peel their veneer. Strange design choices and “cheeped out” details bore their ugly heads. IMG_1208

Before moving back into this home in September 2015, we knew we had to fix many of the problems from the flip, starting with the kitchen. With minimal light in that section of the home and black slate floors from the flip, which we didn’t want to deal with changing out, I determined a white lacquer cabinet would be a big improvement. Bye bye dark walnut. Walnut veneer that is. I worked with a custom cabinet maker to design a kitchen that would work best for the small space.


I can’t lie. I’m a sucker for trends and brushed brass hardware on white lacquer makes me happy. These particular drawer handles and pulls are from the Lewis Dolan Bar Series.

I don’t know about you but I am so tired of stainless steel. Especially, large industrial looking refrigerators and stoves. They remind me of Escalades and Hummers. Unnecessary and showy. Luckily you see less and less of those cars on the road and hopefully kitchen appliances will follow suit. Needless to say, I went with a custom panel refrigerator and dishwasher from Miele. I have not been disappointed. I’ve had Miele dishwashers before and loved the quality and look so much, I decided to go with all Miele appliances, with one exception. We needed a specific size drawer microwave to fit in out existing island footprint (again, didn’t want to deal with the floors) and this one by Wolf was a perfect fit. It’s an amazing space saver to boot.


Countertops were a no brainer. I’ve loved carrara marble for as long as I can remember. I chose a slab with soft grey veins and decided on a waterfall installation on the island. The kitchen island is literally in the middle of the house so it needed to be a decorative centerpiece as opposed to purely functional. The only problem with carrara marble is that it’s extremely porous. The smallest drop of oil or red wine will soak into the stone and it’s nearly impossible to remove the stains. Luckily, I had learned of a protectant called Tuff Skin from a friend who had also recently used carrara marble. This is a miracle product. It’s essentially the film that they use to tint windows on cars except it’s clear. You can spill anything on your marble and have no issues. It’s virtually impossible to see. If I didn’t tell you it was there, you would probably never know.


To carry over the brushed brass on the drawer pulls, I chose a kitchen faucet with cross handles and a sprayer from Newport Brass. The sink is an Allia fireclay undermount. It’s wide and deep so piled up dishes are rarely visible.


A final touch of brushed brass can be found in the pendant light hanging over the sink. I found this one at Rejuvenation. It’s called Cedar and Moss, which is confusing since there is another lighting company that is named Cedar and Moss who makes incredible fixtures, but I digress.

The walnut is not 100% gone! We needed some more shelving but didn’t want to clutter the small space with more cabinets so we chose to go with simple shelving on either side of the window.


All that white required a pop of color. My grandmother had a turquoise kitchen which I loved. Turquoise has always been my favorite color and the color is synonymous with midcentury color palates. I hadn’t decided on turquoise until I had a kismet moment at the Heath Ceramics factory in Sausalito. You may recall from my previous blog post that I have a small obsession with Heath Ceramics. While visiting a good friend in the Bay Area, we made a side trip to the Heath factory where they sell factory seconds and overstock at pennies to the dollar of the regular price. I knew I had a small backsplash to tile and hoped I might find something there for it. After being lead into a magical shed behind the main factory building, I discovered this matte turquoise custom 2×6 tile. For a mere $60, I was able to buy more than enough square footage. I did have to borrow a second carry on from my friend and carry 100+ lbs of tile on the plane home but as you can see, it was worth it.


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