Kitchen at a Glance
Who lives here: Cherie Nelson, who created the kitchen with her now-late husband, Rick Nelson
Location: Carlsbad, California
Size: About 132 square feet (12.2 square meters) before and 140 square feet (13 square meters) after
BEFORE: Cherie and Rick wanted to give the public spaces in their house a facelift, focusing on updating the cottage’s dated kitchen, with its mustard-yellow walls and ceiling, brown tile countertops, builder’s grade oak cabinets, white appliances and ceramic tile floor.
But just before the kitchen project was finished, Rick was diagnosed with cancer. He had to have surgery and chemotherapy almost immediately. The couple asked their designer, Karen Wirrig of Karen Cole Designs, to help them quickly organize a backyard wedding so they could celebrate their love in their newly renovated home.
After a hard fight, Rick passed away in December 2014. The updated kitchen and home were something the couple created together, and Cherie views it as somewhat of a memorial to their time together. “When you’re able to spend 24/7 with the person you love and treasure, that’s a gift,” Cherie says. “That’s something special I’ll have with me forever.”
A wall between the kitchen and living room was also removed, so all the spaces could flow together. “The lighting plan was extremely poor, and the floor plan was difficult,” Wirrig says.
A light tube brings in more natural light while looking like a standard light fixture. “Within the tube is an LED light, so at night it lights up and doesn’t look like a black hole like a standard tube would,” Wirrig says.
Wide-plank engineered hardwood flooring with a beachy feel anchors the space and complements the walls that have a blue-green color that was Rick’s favorite. The new island in the middle of the room offers storage and a spot for casual meals.
An upgraded stainless steel refrigerator with a French door sits in about the same location as the old refrigerator, but the kitchen’s new five-burner gas cooktop was moved to the island. “This allowed us the space to add a convection-microwave combo and standard wall oven plus a warming drawer where the old range once stood,” Wirrig says. “This offers many more cooking options in the same square footage, and makes the kitchen much more usable.”
Island chimney hood with glass canopy: Frigidaire; island cooktop and wall ovens: KitchenAid; island swivel stools: Amisco Industries Ltd.; refrigerator: Samsung; flooring: Hallmark Floors Inc.; tubular skylight: Solatube Home Daylight; all paint by Dunn-Edwards Paints: Sky Glass DE6303 (walls), Ash Gray DEC751 (island) and Whisper White DEW340 (cabinet, base molding and ceiling)
The sink window is framed by an eye-catching backsplash made from 2- by 8-inch frosted glass subway tiles. Random metallic mosaic tiles of polished and matte glass in ivory and taupe add visual interest under the upper cabinets. The tiles help “reflect light on this north-facing wall, and it’s also our only wall opportunity in this kitchen to make a statement, since the rest of the walls have appliances and cabinetry,” Wirrig says.
The backsplash complements the two neutral beige colors used for the perimeter, buffet and island quartz counters. The perimeter counters are a lighter beige to reflect light, while the island and buffet tops have more of a sand color, which offers contrast but also keeps with the coastal feel of the room.
Pendant lights over the sink have seeded glass that mimics the bubbles seen in ocean water. The pendants are mixed with well-placed recessed lights and undercabinet LED light bars to provide both general and task illumination.
The cabinets have lots of storage options, including a blind corner pullout in the lower cabinet to the left of the sink. “It’s the most efficient way to use a dead space corner,” Wirrig says. “This kidney-shaped double shelf fully extends so you can access all of your cooking equipment without having to crawl underneath.”
A double trash pull-out is located under the sink next to the dishwasher.
Dining room chandelier: Hinkley Lighting; dining room furniture: existing
The buffet was placed between the dining table and dishwasher to make cleaning up and entertaining easy. The buffet includes drawers for napkins, tablecloths, utensils and large serving platters.
A textured wall covering was used for the inside back of the buffet’s upper glass cabinets for visual interest.