Kitchen Gets Funky with New Retro Makeover

Kitchen Gets Funky with New Retro Makeover

By Barbara Capella Loehr

Indeed, this kitchen, located here, gets funky with its new retro makeover that was inspired by the works of Mid-Century designers Charles Eames and Hubert Wasserman.

Combining the efficiency of a professional-style kitchen with the feel of a funky bar that looks futuristic but has roots firmly planted in the Mid-Century Modern era, the kitchen is exactly what the owners wanted, says Elena Sobel, ASID. She designed this kitchen along with Carlene Anderson, CKD. Both are with Carlene Anderson Kitchen Design, Inc. in Oakland, CA.

"This was a remodeling project that included expanding and brightening up the existing kitchen, as well as designing much more efficient storage and cooking areas," explains Sobel. "The new kitchen design needed to include a party area/display and a bar area with a unique multi-layered lighting design that could be used for both cooking and partying activities."

Working with a budget of $60,000, Sobel and Anderson made this happen, expanding the kitchen from 130 sq. ft. to 180 sq. ft. According to Sobel, the duo "included some unique appliances and curvaceous lines that added a playfulness and flow to this otherwise bold look. Colors in combination with the streamlined cabinetry and the grayness of the concrete countertops create an interesting contrast, while cooling down the heat created by delicious reds and yellows.

"The whole idea behind the look was to create a clean, modern look using smooth cabinet doors, stainless steel appliances and concrete and granite countertops," Sobel continues.

She further cites other decorative elements that lend this retro design its flavor, including original artwork, retro-style furniture and "a unique 'three corners of a circle' coffee table" that was hand-crafted by Sobel.

The kitchen remodeling project was not without its share of challenges, notes Sobel.

First, some of the existing appliances had to be relocated, which involved moving a circuit and doing a complete electrical rewiring of the space to accommodate the function the owners wanted.

"We installed a Heartland Metro dual-fuel range, replacing the existing cooktop and oven, which were located at opposite ends of the original kitchen. Therefore, we had to move a 220V electrical line," Sobel explains.

To minimize plumbing costs, the sink was kept in its original place. This allowed for more room in the budget to put down much-needed new flooring, according to Sobel. An old aluminum window was then re-placed with a new vinyl
casement window, giving the room a more updated look that was in keeping with the new design.

Once these challenges were addressed, Sobel and Anderson moved on to dealing with the owners' requests, including cabinetry that offered pull-out waste containers and pull-out small appliance storage, as well as in-cabinet lighting that provided the desired ambiance.

The owners also wanted "to convert the existing coat closet to a pull-out, full-height pantry that faced the kitchen" for easy access, notes Sobel.

Sobel and Anderson addressed these issues by designing custom cabinetry that was hand-crafted by Tom Madge of Concord, CA-based Magic Fabrications.

"The cabinetry features pull-out, below-countertop dish and small appliance storage, lit open shelving and unique upper cabinets with sliding doors and custom-designed glass panels," explains Sobel.

Aesthetically speaking, the cabinetry showcases what Sobel calls a "Bauhaus" style with a reconstructed wood Italian veneer finish by Tabu on smooth doors. These blend with perforated steel cabinet doors from Grass Hardware. Flush handles and tandem undermount glides from Häfele complete the cabinetry.

The design team next turned its attention to creating the kitchen's new curvy island. Sobel took the reins on the design, creating the inlaid, lighted glass fixture using elements from Hera, as well as designing the two-color concrete countertop. The entire island
was then hand-crafted by Matt Rodgers of Flying Turtle Cast Concrete, Sobel notes.

"The island includes a perforated, lit-up front panel and bar seating area, as well as a custom-assembled walnut butcher block section, by Magic Fabrications, for chopping and baking activities," relates Sobel.

The grayness of the concrete countertop on the island offers a nice contrast for the red lava Italian granite (Red Mariachi) from Architectural Stone Co. used as the perimeter countertop surface, Sobel says.

"The counter by the sink features a carved-in drain board," she adds.

The perimeter tops were fabricated by Oakland, CA-based Marble European Style, she reports.

Funky function
Sobel and Anderson also included a plethora of function in the form of both large and small appliances.

For instance, the duo installed the previously mentioned dual-fuel range and highlighted it with a distressed mirror backsplash and a custom-designed, stainless steel, semi-circular hood that echoes the semi-circular design of the oven window. As for function, the vent hood features a Rangemaster blower.

A U-Line stainless steel wine captain, a Samsung retro-look microwave, a matching Heartland Metro stainless steel refrigerator and two Fisher & Paykel dishdrawers not only add to the ease of entertaining, but also lend themselves to the retro look, notes Sobel.

Small appliances include a blender and an electric kettle in the kitchen's bar area; a food processor, upright mixer and breadmaker located in a pull-out shelf below the butcher block "baking center" in the island, and hand-mixers located in a drawer on the other end of the island with a duplex outlet.

All of these combine to create the smooth, seamless function needed before, during and after a party, Sobel says.

A Kohler oversized faucet and counter button disposal switch and an Elkay stainless apron sink round out the kitchen's functional design.

Night light
The lighting design Sobel and Anderson created also goes a long way to create the fun and funky retro party atmosphere the owners desired.

The natural light from the new casement window is enhanced by unique lighting fixtures supplied by Design Resources in San Francisco, CA.

The aforementioned custom island glass fixture also adds a futuristic vibe.

Uplit display shelves that use lighting elements from Hera hold multi-colored glasses that appear to be glowing. This glowing illusion adds to the slick, bar-like ambiance of the retro-look kitchen, concludes Sobel.