Before and after: A “cave-like” kitchen and dining room gets a major makeover

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Designed by Julia Newman Julia Adele Design worked with his clients in Long Beach, California, to transform their former “cave-like” kitchen and dining area into spaces that would better serve their family on a daily basis. Sure, the hybrid room was big, but the closet was dark and heavy and didn’t reflect the home owners’ aesthetic at all. The layout, while open, also felt disjointed. So in addition to improving the look of the rooms, one of Newman’s main goals for the project was to better delineate the kitchen from the dining area.

“The footprint of the existing kitchen was generally fine, except that it had one side that was completely open,” she explains. “In open floor plans, it’s important to be creative in designating spaces.” The solution? Adding a peninsula, which is not always preferred over islands in larger kitchens. This strategic move, Newman says, “not only helped delineate the kitchen from the dining area, but it also added extra storage and convenient seating for kids on the go.”

When choosing materials for the room, durability was the name of the game, but finding fixtures and finishes to brighten the room and draw in natural light was another consideration. This had to be done without altering the windows in any way, which Newman says was a challenge. She started with the flooring first. “The tile in the kitchen felt dated, and the hardwood floor was so dark it ate up a lot of natural light,” she says. “In the end, we chose vinyl for its durability and cleanability in lighter variegated shades to brighten the home and provide a natural feel.”

Once the flooring was in, Newman and her clients could focus on the fun stuff: the cabinets and countertops. Falling in love with a specific countertop material—Gabana quartzite—shaped many of the other design decisions to follow in the hybrid space. “White felt like too much maintenance for a home with young children,” says Newman, explaining why this particular stone was so appealing. “This material can withstand a lot and still look new.” She also adds, “The colors in it were bright enough and the polished finish helped reflect the natural light coming through the windows.”

Newman chose a putty-like color for the Shaker-style cabinets to complement the countertop choice. “White cabinets can be difficult to maintain, and with such a large kitchen, it can look stark,” she comments. “I wanted to bring in some heat.” Meanwhile, an off-white backsplash and farmhouse sink, both chosen in high gloss, help to throw light around the room, Newman explains. Brass taps further warm the room. To finish things off, Newman chose black pieces for the stools, dining room chairs and cabinet hardware. These hits of black ground all the lighter shades and add a little bit of edge.

Now Newman couldn’t be happier with the finished kitchen and dining room combination. “Making a family home for us means creating a space that can grow with the family and can evolve with their needs,” she says. “For example, the peninsula is now a great place for small children and high chairs. In a few years it will be the perfect place for homework.” Even better, the renovation has made entertaining easier for Newman’s clients. She adds, “This project transformed this space into a home and a place for the family to gather. ”

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