Growing up in Florida in the 1980s, I spent countless weekends at my maternal grandmother’s 55-and-over complex where she’d serve me Velveeta, V8, and a dubious soft drink alternative known as Shasta. While the processed goods destroyed my stomach lining, I’d obsess over (albeit while smiling) how much I detested her hospital green kitchen decor and its lack of comfortable seating. 30 years later, I was able to turn my childhood dream of kitchen redesign into a reality when my Los Angeles contractor Michael asked for my help with his own childhood kitchen.
Similar to many of today’s newly constructed homes, Michael’s 1950s-era townhouse in the Hollywood Hills features an open concept kitchen with a neighboring breakfast nook. Since the nook is also sort of a pass-through area from the living room into the kitchen, it was pretty tricky to create a space plan that was aesthetically correct and functional.
In addition to the breakfast nook situation, the kitchen needed to be brought up to date with countertop appliances, a classic color scheme, counter-height seating, and extra serving space for desserts. Here’s how Michael and I worked together to turn the dated space into something more deserving of its camera-ready Hollywood owners. After all, this space was more likely to see organically grown potted herbs than boxed imitation cheese and caustic soda alternative.
The biggest issue with the breakfast nook was the position of its entryway to the kitchen – right smack in the middle of the back wall. This ruled out the option a long rectangular table due to traffic flow. The solution? A round table justified to the right of the opening, centered on the kitchen’s pass-through. This leaves enough space to roll the serving cart (Design Your Own Kitchen Cart in Stainless Steel and White) when dessert time is in action. In keeping with the mid-century architecture of the building, I opted for Control Brand’s 42-inch Round Saarinen Tulip Dining Table with a white marble top. It’s easier to navigate around and allows for more seating. I paired this great table with molded plastic chairs featuring chrome Eiffel bases.
Drawing on the cobalt blue Mexican tile of the kitchen counter tops and back splash, I used red and white accents (as in the dinnerware and flatware) layered against walls painted blue-grey. To bounce natural light from the windows and artificial light from the overhead artichoke fixture throughout the nook, I covered its walls with space-age mirrors. Do you think I chose these astronaut-ish mirrors before or after I ran to the Hollywood Arclight theater for the premiere of the Sandra Bullock/George Clooney film, Gravity? Whatever you guessed, you’re probably right.
Sure, the kitchen was last updated in the late 1950s, but you wouldn’t know it thanks to all of the small changes we made. First, we covered the dated floor tile with a floating cork floor system. Next, we painted the kitchen walls periwinkle before introducing red everywhere, from the open cabinets to the countertop mixer, pots and pans, striped area rug, toaster, and blender. For seating as useful as it is architecturally appropriate, I chose wood and steel stools which evoke the feeling of a mid-century modern school house. And just to leave a little piece of me behind, I bestowed Michael, whose last name begins with F, with not only monogrammed mason jar glassware, but also flasks, one marked specifically for me, and the other marked specifically not for me. Cheers.
–Brian Patrick Flynn, HGTV.com producer/designer
See all of Brian’s amazing Styleboards here!