Eye for Pretty’s Nicole Salceda worked with a Northern California family to create space without removing any walls.
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Space of the week modern rustic kitchen with vintage style runner rug, wooden island, and black metal pendant light
Credit: Jessica Brydson

Nicole Salceda, owner at Eye for Pretty design studio, describes the residents of this Northern California home as being "an active family with three young children who love to entertain," so it was no surprise why she was called in to do a renovation: The kitchen didn't reflect their personalities. 

"There was adequate space to work with, but it was primarily lacking in character and functionality," Salceda says. 

The floorplan had wraparound white cabinets with a contrasting black backsplash and countertop, but an island in the middle was too narrow for seating. A soffit just below the ceiling hid necessary ductwork, but it also managed to make the entire room feel smaller. And even though the existing range and sink placement overlooked the backyard, a positive detail Salceda and the couple wanted to keep, they all felt that more could be done to fulfill a hard-working yet stylish upgrade. 

Kitchen with white cabinets and warm wood tones
Credit: Jessica Brydson

"The owners, lead designer Sarah Diaz, and contractor Keith Haisley wanted to create a bright, welcoming environment where the family could enjoy meals together, gather with loved ones, and relax," she continues. 

Considering that many kitchen layout changes tend to whack down walls alongside dated features, the most surprising aspect of this project is that Salceda and the team managed to enlarge the island, carve out room for a bigger refrigerator and freezer, and turn up the storage capabilities without touching any walls. "Storage is always a big-ticket item, especially in a kitchen," Salceda says. "We maximized cabinet space by adding things like the counter-to-ceiling hutch on both sides of the range, and deeper drawers in place of the double oven." 

As far as style goes, the team went for a minimal aesthetic that envelops everything in natural light. They replaced the old cabinetry for bright white Shaker boxes, installed fresh hardwood floors, put in new Calacatta quartz for the countertops, and added a shimmering zellige tile backsplash. Two oversized pendants hang above the island, which now seats four, and a pair of black sconces match them above the nearby sink. 

"Our studio's signature brand aesthetic is warm minimalism," she says. "We like to take advantage of materials and textures to really warm up the space. The scale of the oversized pendants keep from being overwhelming because of their open and airy nature. They are a focal element we love!"

The one-year project was completed in June, and encompassed most of the common spaces, an office, two bathrooms, and the staircase. Salceda is proud of how much they were able to accomplish, as well as how smoothly it all ran, but she's particularly glad she was able to deliver on a fun-loving kitchen that didn't come with major demolition.

"I think some people believe they have to move massive walls and do a ton of engineering to make a space work for them," she says. "This kitchen is a perfect example that shows you don't need to do that. By reworking the layout and making some smart design decisions, it feels completely new and much larger than before."

Modern Rustic kitchen with white cabinets and wooden island base
Credit: Jessica Brydson

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