Tasked with tackling an outdated kitchen with awkward architecture (read: an odd C-shape layout and varied ceiling levels), California-based creative Ginny MacDonald took it all in stride. The first step? Getting rid of the imposing peninsula to open up the stuffy space.
The clients—a couple pregnant with their first child, who were looking to refresh their cookie-cutter home—initially asked the designer to elevate the space into one that was “beautiful, but also practical and timeless,” MacDonald recalls. Though they originally wanted a modern farmhouse look, “we wanted to push them away from that and go more classic,” the designer says.
Informed by the SoCal home’s lush surroundings (“we liked the idea of making it feel like an extension of the outdoor space,” the designer says), the remodel called for combining muted green and cream tones with natural wood finishes and classic bronze fixtures. The homeowners were a bit skeptical of the off-white hues at first: “They wanted to go a little lighter,” MacDonald reveals, “but I think the off white makes it stand out a lot more, and kind of keeps it warm and cozy.”
Above all, “we wanted to highlight the pantry area,” she notes. To direct eyes to the custom built-ins—MacDonald, who teamed up with local contractor Watson Bros. on the project—deliberately hid most of the appliances (including the panel-ready fridge and the dishwasher) inside the bespoke cabinetry. The walnut trim on the range hood seamlessly complements the sage and ebony cupboards and gold pendant lights, altogether lending the space its sophisticated feel.
The herringbone backsplash exudes an earthy yet elegant vibe without being too ostentatious, while the quartz countertop was a pragmatic pick: “We would’ve probably chosen marble, but being a young family, they wanted to keep it more durable,” MacDonald says.
Arguably the most challenging aspect of the renovation was working around the existing roof line structure. “Over the sink, there’s a beam, and in an ideal world, that wouldn’t be there,” she admits—though adds it would have been far too costly and impractical to move. And of course, there was the pandemic. The project, which started in January 2020, months before lockdown, was slated to be completed within six months, but instead took twice as long to finish. “We did have to keep pushing the end date due to Covid-related delays,” the designer says. “Timing was definitely a main issue.”
Ultimately, it all came together rather seamlessly. “They were very flexible and trusting with our decisions,” the designer says, “and put their full faith in us to execute them.”
See more of the transformation below.
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