Great Kitchens: Mediterranean Magic

Plenty of remodel tales have dismal beginnings, with descriptions of dark, dank or cramped spaces. But for Kari McIntosh (Kari McIntosh Design) and her husband, the first lines of their renovation narrative read more like a romance novel than a horror story.

"When we first set foot inside the house, we fell in love," she says of the 1930s era Mediterranean dwelling on the San Francisco Peninsula. "We loved the beams and the graceful windows. Remodeling in a way to preserve the style was a no brainer."

Given how appliances have evolved over the last several years, keeping the classic lines of a home is always a challenge in the kitchen. But McIntosh was determined to retain the charm and style that drew her family to the home in the first place. To design for the here-and-now, she looked at the past. "One of the things we loved about the house were the dark ceiling beams with a green-and-orange stenciled pattern," she says. "I brought those colors into the kitchen." Thus, her upper cabinets are a dark oak and the lower cabinets are painted a light green.

The fine points of the cabinetry also give a nod to the past, with turned spindle-like details at the corners that mimic furniture. "In the old days, there would not have been cabinets like this," McIntosh says. "They would have had pieces of furniture, and we gave the cabinets that look." In addition, the wrought iron handles speak to the home's curving metal staircase.

Of course, this house is a for a modern family, so items like a large, stainless steel refrigerator and microwave are present. They are knit into the program by an elegant La Cornue range that uses both stainless steel and copper finishes.

But perhaps her boldest design decision was to leave in existing elements. Though contractors tried to dissuade her, she insisted on keeping the brick chimney flue in this room. "We like the brick, and we felt it honored the history of the home," she says. To add a layer of functionality, she installed rows of pot racks on it.

In the age of super-size kitchens, many a breakfast room has been swallowed during a renovation. But McIntosh decided to preserve and freshen up the small eating space adjacent to her cooking space. "It has become the heart of our home," she says. "This is where we gather as a family to eat breakfast and dinner. It's a much different experience than lining up at a kitchen counter—we are actually looking at each other."

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