Wednesday, January 9, 2013

French Kitchen styled for California living

Right off the kitchen area: A sign from a shop in Provence. Photo:Suzanne Sylvester

A girl had a dream: To save her pennies to buy a home and make it her own.

There was no help from current husband, ex-husband, lottery, bank robbery* or family money to lean upon. The dream would have to take root in hard work and perseverance.  (*plausible if Jason Statham was my sidekick.)

My 16 years in commercial real estate afforded this dream to come to fruition. Found a perfectly-suited beach bungalow within walking distance to the ocean. It was perfectly suited as it had no existing updated design so it could be made completely my own. A complete tear down on the interior without having to pay for someone else's style and taste. (Thanks to friends Natalie Hughes and John Hunter for helping me see this vision come to light with their architectural drawing prowess!) Built in 1920, I'm only the second owner.

Complete interior tear down indeed. Given my passion for cooking, I went to work on saving to rip out the galley of a kitchen and build from the ground up. A moment to find the best possible materials and wait until I could afford the rest. The latter, as it turns out, is not so much as a financial roadblock as it is a design one. What to choose, what to choose.....someday I'll pick the backsplash tile which speaks to me....

Soon enough the rest of the elements will come. For now I savor the fact that the kitchen was built 100% by steadfast determination, a Midwest work ethic which serves me well to this day.


Oooof! We were worried we'd find Jimmy Hoffa. 

Saved the plumbing for a bar area right off the kitchen. Yeah, um, did not save the wallpaper.

The existing pantry was barely large enough to hold the dog treats, let alone my tea and champagne!

The elements:

While searching for materials, I knew I wanted to break some rules.  I am in love with white kitchens, but wanted more warmth and something more in line with the French farmhouses I vacationed in throughout the villages of France.

Photo: Marcia Prentice
Flooring: I stayed in a home in St Tropez with some friends that had the most gorgeous amber-colored hardwood flooring. I knew I wanted to bring back the feel but loved the wide planks of American country homes. The variation of knots and depth was spotted in a rarer wood, Australian Cypress. I immediately knew I would be married to that wood come hell or high water.  Since I had removed all the walls to the various small rooms of living, dining and kitchen, I installed the wide-planked Australian Cypress the full length of the home to give the beach bungalow a sense of greater flow.  Due to strict California environmental laws, I was limited to the glossy feel I was after. So I mixed my own. Then added three coats to create a heavenly sheen.  (To this day we can slide in our socks during dinner party dancing!)


Photo:Suzanne Sylvester; Styled: Kathy Delgado

Millwork:  Off-the-rack cabinets didn't tug at my heart or my eye so I opted to work longer hours and save even more pennies. Custom cabinetry was created with the help of my new friends at Naples Kitchen Studio. A warm honey color and custom trim brought in the elements of a friend's home in Normandy, France where I had spent a summer week.  Not a big fan of oak, so I found love with maple. The standard wood knobs were given to a friend and I went on the hunt for something more appealing...

Hardware:  While in Paris, I stumbled upon a flooring shop the size of a standard walk-in closet. Glorious hardware was sitting off to the side in a box but the price was far more than I had budgeted   so I thanked monsieur and left. I did not stop thinking about that hardware the entire 13 hr trip home to California!  They soon landed via parcel post with the present of a French cookbook, by dear sweet monsieur!  I did "beat" them up a bit with a hammer (quelle horreur) much to my millwork architect's wide eyes and mumblings under his breath of "crazy bitch".
Photo: Suzanne Sylvester

Counters:  Sandstone and concrete  were materials I had toyed and played with samples for days on end. One day I saw a piece of broken granite at a contractor's office. I was amazed at how the light hit the variations of the exposed stone.  I immediately knew that I would chip away the perfectly rounded bullnose edge everyone seems to love so. The sleek black granite was far too formal for my taste so I requested it honed.  The subcontractor showed up with three large slabs of granite and when I refused it pointing to my sketch of how I wanted the edges, they left the granite in the backyard and walked out mystified. "We'll have to call the boss."  Eventually "the boss" showed up explaining to the "lady" that she was out of her mind and didn't understand "these things" and how granite is to be installed and used and designed and blah, blah, blah.   As I hadn't yet moved into the house there wasn't a stitch of paper around. I walked to my car, grabbed a yellow paper pad, pulled from my knowledge of legal contracts in the commerical real estate world, drafted a 3 paragraph waiver, signed, dated and shoved it in front of him.
"Sign this. You are legally and financially released from all obligations regarding this granite and you're now paid in full. Now break my counter!"  The result was so well loved by the subcontractor that he asked permission to use it as the cover for one of his brochures. That was 10+ years ago and I'm still so very much in love with the look.

Island: After toying with a kitchen table, I preferred a working service at the proper height for rolling out dough and so forth. A permanent island seemed so predictable and in every house you see. That just wasn't for me. I searched through shelter magazines and found one in Maison Coer that had the most amazing drawers! I sketched one out and sent both picture torn out of the magazine and sketch to a millwork contractor in Canada whose work I had seen. At the time it was far more economical to have it done in Canada and the contractor was a proven source. The hardware pulls were found at a local hardware store but only came in a super shiny nickel. So I soaked them for 2 weeks in a vinegar mixture set in the sun. Fabulous results for me!  I opted for a butcher block instead of marble as I wanted the island on hidden casters and since it would sit on wood, a softer material than tile or stone, my fear is it would have left indentations. The casters allow me to roll it off to the side for large dinner parties.
Photo: Marcia Prentice

Curtains: I love as much California sun to come through so I prefer little to no window treatments. However, being mad for textiles I did find a solution to marry both wants. Standard curtains, blinds or anything of the sort is far too expected so I discovered linen runners I fell in love with in the South of France (which I now carry). Installed two decorative NAILS (yes, Nails) at a local speciality hardware store that specializes in crafstman style (soooo inexpensive) and simple curtain rings from Target in burnished gold. The runners are from Vintageweave Interiors with no sewing involved in case I want to turn them back into runners at some point; I merely  folded them over to create a unique valance of sorts. Love the simplicity!  {Runner available in blue/black, red, or white stripes. More photos in the blog post below or to purchase: TEXTILES AT VINTAGEWEAVE INTERIORS}

Pizza Oven:  There was one designed, purchased and on its way from the East Coast.  Contractor forgot to add in the plumbing and reinforced flooring and now there isn't one.  As you can see I've forgotten about it and am no longer holding a grudge. (!!!)

Xavier Pouchard stools. Photo: Suzanne Sylvester
Thank you taking a peek. We all have different design aesthetics but I always think it's interesting to see how people--real, everyday people--live in their kitchens. I use my kitchen daily, it's not just in the house for show.  Carving out a bit of what inspires you in your own home is what it's all about. Odd, I know, but every time I place my silverware in the drawer I feel a sense of pride that this is the home I  own. It's my little American beach bungalow dream. All lil' itty bitty square footage of it!
Photo: Suzanne Sylvester

All  accessories shown: Vintageweave Interiors
Photo: Marcia Prentice

Marcia Prentice, one of my most favorite photogs,  took some AMAZING shots for Apartment Therapy, one of my most favorite home decor sites!  All the goodies can be seen and read about here, with everything from sources to a fun Q&A about the process:
Apartment Therapy Kathy Delgado/Vintageweave Kitchen Tour

Marcia came for lunch and we laughed and chatted and laughed and laughed some more. We took some photos, too. Enjoy! Voulez-vous manger?
Photo: Marcia Prentice

Vintageweave Interiors
*French Farmhouse Lifestyle & Antique Boutique*

7928 West 3rd Street (5 businesses west of Fairfax)

Los Angeles, CA 90048



Richard said...

Fantastic blog! I thoroughly enjoyed visiting and reading about your adventure in restoring your home! Best wishes!

Mel said...

So lovely! Really enjoyed reading about you and your kitchen on Apartment Therapy. I LOVE the french door cover -- using the table runner. How did you attach the hardware at the top? It looks like small curtain rings? Also, is the longer, lower part of the runner on a tension rod? I have two beautiful doors I'd like to try this on, and would love to know more about how you did it. Thanks for sharing!

Kathy said...

Thanks, Richard!

Thanks, Mel! I found two decorative NAILS (yes, Nails) at a local speciality hardware store that specializes in crafstman style. (So inexpensive) and simple curtain rings from target in burnished gold. The runners are from Vintageweave Interiors and no sewing, I only folded over to create a unique valance of sorts. It hangs freely (no tension rod)! I love the simplicity so thanks for appreciating it, too!

natalie. beyond the reef said...

I love the before/after pics! I think the grit and determination shows more when you can see the 'before'....such a warm and inviting space. Thanks for sharing the process. Cheers!

Carina said...

WOW! When you said tear down you meant it! I wasn't quite expecting you were talking about right back to ground level. It gets a French thumbs up from me. :)

Jenny said...

Did you say Nails? ;)
I love your kitchen KD, it looks so cozy and inviting. I absolutely adore the apron sink. Call me before you re-do your kitchen next time, I have just the spot for it. good job. xxx

Kari said...

Its beautiful, I love every last detail! I'm so glad to finally see pictures of your house! I would love to see more!!! You have the most amazing, charming taste...


Kari said...

And next time I am in LA (in July) I WILL be coming to your shop, finally! I can't wait!

Roberta said...

Thanks for featuring Kathy's kitchen! I've been to her gorgeous shop brimming with French antiques a couple of times while visiting my daughter in LA and she is lovely. This kitchen looks like a happy and cozy place to enjoy a glass of wine with friends! (it is a small bungalow after all..and wasn't 'styled' for a magazine feature) One would be hard pressed to get a wide angle shot of my (750 sq ft) tiny beach house kitchen. Please feature the rest of Kathy's house!! I would love to see it.

Roberta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roberta said...

p.s. my entire cottage is 750 sq ft...not the kitchen:))

Elma said...

This is amazing!! I have an oak kitchen and seeing this I would like to do the same style!! Well done:)
Where did you find those beautiful green bottles??

Kathy said...

Thanks, Elma. As noted, all accessories are sold through my shop, Vintageweave Interiors. As we are strictly a French importer!

This wood is NOT oak but maple.

Cheers, and thanks for your post!

Lisa @ Lisas Creative Designs said...

OMG It is just gorgeous! The warmth of the wood makes it feel so inviting. Love the floors! Makes me want to go visit the French Countryside. Mayeb someday I will get there!

Paper Shredder said...

Bon appetite, that was lovely blog reading and also the French inspired designs and kitchen.

Suzane said...

A pretty important functions of one's kitchen are to store, prepare and cook food and to accomplish related tasks including dishwashing.disney plus not working on samsung tv