This Kitchen Feature Revolutionized Cleanup for a Family of 4
A big renovation starring small-space design principles.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:16 AM
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This week on Domino, we’re celebrating the heart—and workhorse—of the home: the kitchen. From up-and-coming cabinet styles to top-selling paints to try to just-dropped appliances, we’re serving up ideas for every type of budget. Check in daily to see what’s cooking.
Genie Hoover woke up on Mother’s Day 2017 and decided it was time to move. Tired of the conventional setup of her picket-fence home in Los Angeles, she and her husband, Chris, popped by a few open houses and compiled a short new-home checklist that would make any modern-thinking Angeleno proud: something smaller and hyperefficient, more exposure to nature, and a shorter commute to the office. “The goal was to lose a thousand square feet,” says Genie. “I had a fantasy that I could live in a tiny house and reduce my wardrobe to five white shirts for work.”
Then the couple’s real-estate agent showed them a 1958 mid-century modern property, designed by pioneering architect Ralph Bowerman. It was bigger than they needed (nearly 3,000 square feet) and not exactly close to work, but the floor-to-ceiling windows delivering canyon views and the potential to create a fantasy, open-plan kitchen sold them. “The house told us what our priorities were,” says Genie.
With the help of L.A.-based interior designer Liza Reyes, Genie applied her beloved principles of small-space living to create a multipurpose kitchen that makes as much sense for entertaining as it does for easy weekends at home with Chris and their two daughters, Eden (13) and Coco (11). They added functional storage and meticulously measured built-ins all while staying true to Bowerman’s vision. The result: a high-functioning room that allows for a healthy balance of solitude and family togetherness—both all the more important once COVID hit.
“The tweenagers are fortunate to enjoy the privacy of their own rooms, but they do emerge once in a while to make TikTok videos and, on rare occasions, talk to us,” jokes Genie. Here, she and Reyes share their strategies for building a do-it-all kitchen.
Overthink Your Storage
Genie took inventory of everything she wanted to store in the built-ins, down to wrapping paper and cleaning products. “I even measured out the space I needed for kitchen linens,” she says. She also handed Reyes and the cabinetmaker detailed sketches of an interior layout for the closets, which comes as no surprise given Genie’s mother, Hyon Chough, owned Blueprint, a pioneering modern furniture store in L.A. Now there’s no mad scramble to hide clutter before people come over. Plus they saved by using simple plywood for the exterior panels.
Keep Essentials in Sight
Open shelving spans the back wall of the kitchen, and it has revolutionized cleanup. “I barely have to step away from the dishwasher when I’m unloading it,” says Genie, who loves a Heath Ceramics plate and has started throwing pottery on a wheel in the backyard. “And knowing it’s organized with the exact amount of space we need keeps me from buying more.”
Measure Once, Measure Twice
Reyes and Genie met their organizational match when they started working together, measuring and remeasuring, then taping off areas of the kitchen floor where the massive, 91-inch island would stand. Reyes abandoned the classic triangle to line up the appliances along the wall, so the island counter space isn’t interrupted by the sink or the cooktop. She also suggested a 42-inch clearance between the sink and the work surface. “There’s plenty of room here for family meals or to just coexist without stepping on one another,” says Genie.
“The desk is where we’ll look up recipes or browse through family pictures or research what movie we all want to watch,” says Genie, although lately Chris has claimed the workstation as his office. The small loft overlooking the kitchen is the ideal spot for the girls to read and chill, separate but still together. “The table is for eating, visiting with friends and family, and the occasional art project,” adds Genie. “Especially during quarantine, we realize how lucky we are that we have this flexible, comfortable space.”
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