A Cook’s California Kitchen

Renovation of a 1940’s Kitchen

What happens when you’re born to cook, but your kitchen isn’t? That was the case for the woman who hangs her apron in this beautiful Southern California, Spanish Colonial Revival home.

Spanish Colonial Revival Style Home

The existing kitchen had vintage 40’s charm—but its style was not in keeping with the home’s architecture or with its rich color palette.

And it was far from convenient for a home chef, even causing her backaches from working at the low countertops.

“The counters were too low for comfort and not deep enough to accommodate a dishwasher, according to Don Hornbeck who accomplished the design for the renovation with his partner, designer Nancy Manning. “The original kitchen had no place for the refrigerator that had to be in the service porch through a doorway behind the main
cooking area.”

Kitchen Before West View

Kitchen Before North East View

and After
Kitchen After North View

Kitchen After Northeast ViewBesides a comfortable place to work and appliances befitting a modern cook, the client wanted to “Update and beautify the kitchen, while increasing storage and efficiency
for entertaining.”

Another view Before
Kitchen Before South View Towards Breakfast Room

and After
Kitchen After South View

Kitchen After Southeast View 2

For the color palette, the designers pulled colors from the decorative tiles they scored in a local tile shop’s markdown section.

Malibu Tiles FindGranite and Sample of Cabinet Color

The Malibu Tiles (left) and the countertop granite and cabinet paint color sample (right).

“These Malibu tiles are of the same era as the house, said Manning. “There were so many beautiful colors in the tile that the creative juices were really flowing for us. Also, the tile resonated well with the other fully saturated colors used in the rest of the house.”

Hornbeck and Manning approach their projects while considering a home’s design as a whole. For example, the decision to set kitchen tiles on the diagonal spoke to a bathroom’s decor. “One (very cool as-is) original bathroom has green and black tile set on the diagonal,” said Hornbeck.

Tile Design for Above CooktopPlanning for Backsplash Tile Pattern

Planning the layout for the tiles above the cooktop (left) and for the backsplash (right).

Progress of Breakfast Room Paint Job

Breakfast Room Niche Detail

I admired the shift in the predominant color from the warm brown in the main kitchen, to the blues in the breakfast room.

“This is mainly due to the amount of cabinetry in the kitchen, which we painted brown,” said Manning. “We made the decision to keep all the built-in cabinets in the breakfast room the wall color, so you see much more blue-green in that space…We find that the dialogue created by the juxtaposition of complementary colors can really animate a space.”

What’s the designers’ advice for homeowners planning a major kitchen remodel?

  • Consider your lifestyle and the desired function of your kitchen.
  • Be realistic about how much you want to invest.
  • The look of your kitchen should fit well with the style of the whole space as well as improve the practical functionality.

And here’s their advice about fitting a modern kitchen into an older ‘shell:’

“Some things really do need to be updated. If you are a serious cook you really don’t want to be baking in a 1940’s oven. The trick is to integrate the modern appliances into the style of the home. We celebrated the contrast of new stainless appliances with old style cabinetry.

“We kept elements like the arched doorway to the breakfast room, added a rustic corbel at the cooktop and seeded glass in 2 cabinets, which are consistent with style of the house.”

More photos and a play-by-play of this extensive renovation—including the tweak to get the perfect cabinet paint color—be found at Hornbeck Design Partner’s Facebook page.

Nancy Manning and Don Hornbeck can be reached through their full service design firm, Hornbeck Design Partners in Redondo Beach, California.


Do you think about your home’s design as a whole, or more room by room?

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4 Comments for “A Cook’s California Kitchen”

Beautiful. Love the bold color choices. (and malibu tile, yum!) Looks like this kitchen gets plenty of natural light so the dark colors don’t create a cave.
In my own home, I keep all spaces in mind when decorating/renovating. It’s too small to break it up with choppy design. The only exception has been my daughter’s room. Currently, it’s a wasabi green and has, in the past, been various other bright colors not found in the rest of my cottagey/farmhousey home.

So Gorgeous! Nancy and Don are amazingly talented and have the best taste for beautifying homes.

A great fit to the design of the house. Love the tiles and colors.

Those tiles are the best, and so is the house. Living in the midwest, we don’t often see that authentic style.

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