It was time for a new start for this kitchen nook in a 1933 Spanish style duplex in Los Angeles.
The centerpiece of the room, a 50s reproduction Formica top kitchen table with handle-back chairs, had served the homeowner well for many years. The set up was snug with two chairs, but with the addition of a child, playdates and visiting grandparents, the need grew for more seating, and four chairs was a crowd.
The nook measured 99” x 93” with a 93” high ceiling. The room adjoined a long narrow kitchen with original bright yellow and green wall tiles and matching counter top. The original wood floor had been replaced with faux wood vinyl planks. The much-patched lath-and-plaster walls were dingy and dinged, and the windows sported mismatched aluminum mini blinds.
Arch Interiors Design Group of Beverly Hills was brought in to help create a new look for the space, centered around a shiny new white fiberglass reproduction of a mid-century modern classic – the Eero Saarinen Tulip 30” table, with four chairs with bright yellow cushions ($825, InStyleModern.com). The sleek set fit more comfortably in the space, and the pedestal style legs eliminated the cluttered look in the room.
With the table and chairs as the starting point, Arch Interiors’ Christopher Grub and Linda Turner conceived a fresh retro look for the room, from top to bottom, all within the moderate budget requirements of the client.
The design team tackled the room from the top down. Starting with lighting, they chose the Fillista pendant lamp from IKEA ($29.99), inspired by another mid-century modern classic – the Henningsen Artichoke lamp for Poulsen.
“We wanted to update and soften the mid-century look and make it livable. The house has a vintage kitchen and we wanted to keep some of that feeling in the space. And there’s a young child in the family so we wanted to keep it fun,” explained Turner.
To pick up the colors of kitchen tile, Turner added a pattern to the ceiling to bring the eye up to the beautiful tray ceiling and its dramatic oversized molding. To execute this concept, David Brandon of David Brandon Designs conceived of an argyle pattern which complemented the pattern of the kitchen tiles and the furnishings in a way that was slightly retro, but not gimmicky.
“I thought the argyle worked because of the diamond pattern, and also it felt nostalgic but not dated. I feel argyle has that same timeless quality,” said Brandon. “I wanted a look of fun and whimsy, but still classic and never out of style.”
Brandon’s contribution to the makeover was the most painstaking. Using a projector and a laser ruler he traced the basic pattern onto the ceiling. He made many minuscule adjustments to accommodate for the slight irregularities in the room dimensions, owing to the 80-year-old home’s settling. He accomplished the final strokes of “stitches” through the argyle pattern while holding a straight edge and painting each line by hand.
“There was a lot of math in getting it to be symmetrical,” said Brandon. “The hash marks through the print were also a challenge because I only had two hands. It took some trial and error.”
Brandon used a palate of minty greens and more than six shades of yellow to achieve the desired effect. He chose Sherwin Williams Emerald paint, which he favors for its smooth application and its suitability as a long-lasting, high-hiding and washable paint ideal for the high-traffic kitchen nook. He covered the walls with a matte French Vanilla, then created depth effects in the ceiling design with various yellows — Lemon Chiffon, Straw Harvest, Cheerful, Solaria, Classic Light Buff, and greens – Aloe and Easy Green, and trimmed in semi-gloss Decisive Yellow.
The results of Brandon’s neck-breaking efforts are spectacular. The pattern draws the eye up and makes a statement from the moment you enter the room.
To balance out the color on the ceiling, Turner used white and stainless steel in the accessories, with accents of blue-green and yellow, to bring the eye down through the room. She found affordable decorating items to complement the ceiling design and new furnishings, including floor- length drapes (Luxury Linen Grommet Top 88-inch Curtain Panel, $69.99, www.Overstock.com) to help ground the space, and a natural woven rug (6’ Round Hand-Woven Braided Natural Jute Rug, $107, Overstock.com), to add texture.
The old blinds were replaced with embossed 2” faux wood blinds ($39.99, www.BrylaneHome.com) for a bright and clean look. Accessories were simple and sleek, such as the curtain rods (Adjustable Curtain Rod Set with Pewter Ball Finial, $29.99, Overstock.com), with a simple ball finial, in keeping with mid-century modern design.
Artwork was kept minimal with two pieces: A circa 1960s black and white lifestyle photo of the client’s mother, and a large print of a vintage surf scene, Cruise California by David Grandin, ($204.99, custom framed by BrylaneHome.com).
The designers’ challenges included incorporating both a kitchen cart and a water cooler, which the client wanted for functionality, in a small space without drawing too much attention to them.
The old butcher block cart was replaced with a stainless steel professional kitchen cart (Danver Cocina model, as assembled with drawer and towel bar, $704, HomeDepot.com), and the outdated and cumbersome water cooler was replaced by a compact stainless steel Aquaverse water cooler ($229, Costco.com) with sleek modern lines, which made the pieces feel integrated into the space.
Turner selected an assortment of décor items from HomeGoods, including a vase, ceramic tea pot, coffee press, fruit basket and glassware, seeking out pieces with clean lines, geometric patterns, and shapes reminiscent of mid-century modern design. Her color scheme for accent pieces consisted mostly of white or neutral colors, or stainless steel, to balance all the color on the ceiling. She used the pops of blue-green and yellow to carry the color from the ceiling through the room.
For another touch of class, Turner set the table and cart with items from Williams Sonoma including Herringbone Stripe table linens in Sunflower ($24.99 for set of 4 napkins) and a small Ceramic White Cake Stand ($29.95) and Jars Cantine dinnerware in yellow, ($384.95 for 16-piece setting). All available at www.Williams-sonoma.com.
To complete the picture, Turner styled the table for our photo shoot with colorful fresh flowers, scones, and iced coffee from Whole Foods.
“We hope that the space provides a bright, cheerful place for the family to enjoy casual meals together and makes them happy to start the day when they have breakfast in it,” said Grubb.