Space of the Week: This Kitchen Remodel Is Midcentury Modern Done Right

It also has a few eclectic twists. 

Midcentury modern kitchen with teal textured island and open shelving
Photo: Photography by Charlotte Lea / Styling by California Casa

The owners of this midcentury house in the Pacifica neighborhood of San Diego loved that it was a piece of local history. As a property built by architects William Krisel and Dan Palmer, the structure harkened back to a beloved era in design—it's just that many of the details had been lost to prior updates. "The home had been remodeled but the midcentury-modern style was not kept," says Abbie Naber, owner and principal of A. Naber Design. "When the owners had the opportunity to remodel themselves, they were excited to bring back some of those inspirations, especially in the kitchen."

The kitchen was tucked into a corner at the back of the house, under a high-pitched ceiling covered in a honey-toned wood. Naber and the couple wanted to keep the existing ceiling and install custom walnut lower cabinetry and open shelving to match. Naber admits that this was a lot of wood tones to accommodate, but thought that terrazzo flooring and a three-dimensional backsplash would provide a balance that would still be in keeping with the theme.

"Given the size of the kitchen, the major challenge was fitting everything that needed to fit while also creating more of an open feel," she says. The open shelving would maximize vertical square footage and bring the eye upward, even though the footprint would mostly stay the same. The biggest shift Naber incorporated was moving the fridge to the wall opposite the sink so that there would be an accompanying area for a washer and dryer. "It created more cabinet space, too," she adds.

Once the major pieces were in place, the owners and Naber focused on putting their own twist on midcentury style. The trio agreed early on in the process that a teal island with fluted paneling would bring much-needed color and texture to the kitchen, and woven pendant lights overhead would act as a reminder that the beach is close by. "With a mostly neutral and wood-forward kitchen, I think the teal fluting adds a crucial layer that's still part of a midcentury palette," Naber says. "The remaining details also have so much depth. The backsplash has this beautiful brown glaze, and the terrazzo floor picks up so many specks of color when you look closely."

The kitchen renovation was completed last fall after about a year of work, and Naber is proud that she and the owners were able to renew this home's classic style while simultaneously honoring the couple's current eclectic tastes. "I love how the components of the space came together in such an original way," Naber says. "I believe that by taking a risk in pairing some of these elements together, we were able to do something that isn't easily replicated."

Get the Look:

01 of 04

Terrazzo Tiles

Cle Terrazzo Tile with flecks of color on a square tile
Cle Tile

Earth-toned flecks in rust, brown, and gray float in a beige cement base. By incorporating color in a subtle way, terrazzo tiles can bridge the gap between various hues in a space.

02 of 04

Leather Bar Seats

Woven Leather and wood Bar Seat
Saffron and Poe

Crafted from rich leather and teak wood, these counter stools will stand up to years and years of use. Some leather conditioning oil will help the natural beauty of the leather shine.

03 of 04

Woven Pendant Lights

Woven Pendant Light
Serena and Lily

Woven pendants suspended above the kitchen island lend levity to the space. In a home that isn't far from the beach, the open-weave light fixtures nod to the nautical.

04 of 04

Walnut Floating Shelves

Walnut Floating Shelves

With open shelving on top and closed cabinets below, this kitchen balances storage with style.

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