Photography by Marisa Vitale

Published on July 12, 2021

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The night before the demolition on their circa-1957 Thousand Oaks, Los Angeles, kitchen began, designer Natalie Myers’s clients thanked the old appliances and cabinetry for doing a good job all those years and said their goodbyes. Well, to all but one: They asked to keep the buttercup yellow wall oven. “I said, if it works, we will find a way,” recalls Myers. Now situated within the island, it’s the only retro detail that remains from the original Cliff May–designed space, which had gone virtually untouched for 60 years (it had been featured in Disneyland’s Kitchens of the Future back in the day). “They wanted to honor the history of the house,” explains the designer. 

The oven’s bold hue called for more daring elements, including a dramatic waterfall island and terrazzo floor (the old terracotta was sadly unsalvageable once they started taking down walls). “The chips actually have some flecks of gold in them, so it picks up on the buttercup color nicely,” says Myers. Ahead, she walks us through the maximalist-approved, mid-century–inspired renovation. 

Make Way for More Backsplash

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Taking down the nonstructural half-wall that separated the 160-square-foot kitchen from the living area meant an opportunity for a peninsula with seating. While the Kelly Wearstler tiles on the backside of the dining nook speak to the nearby emerald green sofa, Myers went with a more neutral, textured tile from Ann Sacks for the backsplash. But for visual impact, she carried them all the way up to the ceiling. “It just feels more finished,” she says of not leaving any white drywall exposed. “It’s one of those things that define a budget build from a luxury one.” 

Find Your Grounding Element

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Cladding the island in engineered Silestone was a practical decision (the owners were preparing to welcome their first child during the renovation) and an aesthetic one. The major splash of black fulfilled the couple’s request for maximalism. “I studied the wife’s fashion and jewelry a bit, how playful it was, and translated that into material combinations,” says Myers.

Think Outside the (Oak) Box

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In lieu of pricey, popular white oak, Myers brought in light ash-wood cabinets—a departure from classic, dark mid-century walnut. “It’s cool to try new woods and mix it up,” she says. “Not every kitchen has to look exactly the same.” To bring the bright detail full circle, the designer had the existing ceiling beam wrapped in blond wood and painted the posts white. 

Skip Pricey Slabs

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The new terrazzo floor was a surprising budget save: It’s made up of 24-by-24-inch tiles from Concrete Collaborative (around $15 per square foot) but it looks like it was poured in place. “You can’t really tell where the break is because there’s so much pattern happening and it’s so organic,” says the designer. Keeping the perfectly functioning, decades-old oven also helped keep costs down, but more important, it’s a piece of the past. 

Photography by Marisa Vitale

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