Modern Kitchen Renewal - Page 3

Recipe for makeover: modern homes that restore joy, functionality, and style to the mid-century kitchen

A trend in Europe has been to keep all tall pieces, such as the refrigerator, double oven, and pantries, on one wall; and keep shorter elements, like sinks, cook tops, and low cabinetry, on another. "Large islands and peninsulas are also a trend, particularly when the wall between the kitchen and dining rooms disappear to create one large living space," Pentic says.

One of Olson's recent open designs included the Hahn-Clark Eichler in Palo Alto. In their striking remodel, new white concrete countertops top black cabinets and shine in front of stainless tambour wall cabinets. "We also covered the fireplace wall in black stone, which is what you look out at from the kitchen," Olson says. "This was a classic Eichler situation—with the flying coffins blocking all the views before."

"Now, we are able to multitask," Ava Hahn says. "We can cook while watching the baby, or while socializing with family or guests in the dining and living areas, or while watching the evening news. The kitchen, dining, and living areas are all unified into one beautiful space that makes it a joy to hang out at home."

The Kights worked together to complete their kitchen remodel. The most important choice, they say, was high-end Finnish plywood cabinetry for an authentic look. "As Birch plywood was used extensively in the original 1950s design, this product was a natural choice for the counters and cabinetry doors," Greg Kight explains. "The outer surface of the counters is plastic laminate similar to the 1950s original design."

The couple used environmentally friendly cork flooring, which is used in many modern homes. The result, the Kights admit, was a kitchen they could spend many happy hours in.

"To see this kitchen through from concept to completion has been extremely rewarding," Kight says. "The design-build relationship allowed for an intimacy where the kitchen was permitted to ultimately express its true form and function."

To create a more inviting and functional space in their Eichler, the Nicholls looked to Fu-Tung Cheng, an influential Bay Area designer known for his work with concrete, for inspiration. Scot and Carmen decided to use open walls and cabinet space for an airier feeling. A new, large island features a concrete wall and pull-out drawers. Swinging doors to the patio also brought the outdoors inside.

"Less formality invites people to take on new roles and rules in dining," Scot Nicholls says. "There is more participation in the preparation of the meal, and the openness invites interaction with others who may be relaxing in the patio but are not out of range for conversations that are going on in the kitchen."

No matter how extensive the renewal project, investing in the kitchen of a mid-century modern home will help keep it a treasured and enjoyable space and worthwhile investment for years to come.

Photos: David Toerge, John Eng, Arthur Coleman Studio, Rochelle Kramer of; and courtesy Sue Olson Designs, Paul Kaplan of, Kevin McPhee, Scot & Carmen Nicholls, Carol Bua & Todd Clark, Greg & Anna-Karin Kight, Jennifer & Paul Freudenberg

The Eichler Network sincerely thanks all of our readers who submitted before/after photos and anecdotes of their kitchens. Hopefully space will allow us to feature more of them in the future.

La Vita é Bella, Inc.
Sue Olson Designs
• Keycon, Inc.: 650-965-1256

How Do 'You'
Spell Renewal?

When homeowners approach a kitchen renewal project, early in the process it is important to put pen to paper and note a few important considerations. There are several questions to ask yourself as you navigate through the planning process. For example:

• How long do I plan to live in my home? If you plan to stay in your home permanently, your approach and budget may be very different than if you expect to move away in a few years.

• How do I want to use the space? If you envision the space being used for helping your children with schoolwork, it may call for a different approach than if you intend to entertain large groups.

• How much do I want to spend? One of earliest decisions that should be made is the budget. While budgets are certainly subject to change and revision during the remodeling process, it is very important to begin with a budget in mind.

• Should I upgrade or do a full remodel? What approach is best for me? This involves thinking through whether it makes more sense to restore, to upgrade, or to fully remodel the kitchen by gutting it and creating a new space. This decision will be based on a whole host of considerations, including needs around budget and timing.