This Vancouver Island Kitchen Reno Is Grandma Chic at Its Finest

Cue the built-in ironing board.
Lydia Geisel Avatar
yellow house with pitched roof

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For designer Kyla Bidgood, the term grandma chic isn’t just a way to describe a space with frilly pillows and chintz wallpaper. She considers it as a synonym for longevity. “I think back to my grandmother, who had her kitchen for 30-something years,” says Bidgood, who founded her eponymous studio in 2011. “She kept it in immaculate shape. There was a lot of care that went into it.” That approach to design–the idea of making a space that’s meant to last a lifetime—is something Bidgood and her team strive for on all their projects. But for one recent renovation on Vancouver Island, it was all too relevant.

A young couple, who now have two children, purchased a 1920s house that looked straight out of a storybook, inside and out. The interior was a pastel time capsule adorned with delicate lace, intricate patterned wallpaper, and ornate trinkets. Right away, Bidgood could tell the home just fit its owners. “The wife’s demeanor is very soft and sweet, and I think it’s so important that the spaces that we design reflect the people we’re designing them for,” she says. Bidgood wanted to maintain the sense of coziness and timelessness while also making the space functional for their growing family. 

Keep Everyone Together 

kitchen sink with pink tiled counters
The kitchen, before.
periwinkle and yellow kitchen
Paint (yellow), Waterbury Cream by Benjamin Moore; Paint (blue), Yukon Sky by Benjamin Moore; Range, Lacanche.

Part of the existing kitchen’s charm was its size: Bidgood appreciated that the area was closed off from the formal dining area, making it all the more intimate. But to give her clients a little extra prep space, she bumped out the sink wall ever so slightly. The small addition created a nook in each corner of the room that is perfect for tucking small appliances out of the way. 

Dip Retro Cabinets in Sunny Pastels

periwinkle and yellow kitchen
curved cabinet opening and closing

Incorporating curved cabinetry felt like a safe move for a family with young kids (the fewer sharp corners, the better), but also because the millwork is reminiscent of the home’s era. The slatted upper doors are another nod to old-school kitchens, which featured similar openings for airflow. “They have a function to them, but they also add this really beautiful charm,” says Bidgood. To ensure the woodwork lasts 30-plus years, Bidgood opted for sturdy birch-wood boxes. Meanwhile, the pastel periwinkle and butter yellow palette add some much-needed freshness to the space. “You don’t see these soft pastels in a kitchen often, but it’s got a softness to it,” adds the designer. 

Scour for Local Stone

kitchen with floral wallpaper
The kitchen, before.
slatted fridge panel
Appliance Pulls, Rejuvenation.

Knowing that 100 years ago, it wasn’t all that common for people to import slabs of marble from Italy for their kitchen counters, Bidgood hunted for stone nearby. As luck would have it, Vancouver Island has a quarry of marble that produces three colors (black, white, and gray).

kitchen window with sink in front
Sink, Kohler; Faucet, DeVol; Wood Pegs and Cabinet Knobs, Lee Valley.

“We really wanted that craftsmanship, that feeling that someone local made all these cabinets, and the stone itself is from Vancouver Island,” she shares. 

Save the Quirks That Still Make Sense

kitchen breakfast nook
The kitchen, before.
ironing board

The section of cabinetry in the dining nook is original to the house—Bidgood and her team simply painted it the same shade of yellow as the rest of the room and swapped out the knobs. But the real relic from the past is the ironing board that flips down from the wall. The designer kept the funky detail, because, on some days, it’s actually really useful to have an ironing board in your kitchen. “The reality is, you’re ironing your shirt in the morning while you’re trying to get your kids’ breakfast together and drinking your coffee,” she points out. 

Go Trendy With Lighting

dining room with floral tablecloth
The dining room, before.
view from dining room into kitchen
Paint (ceiling), Watercolor by Benjamin Moore; Wallpaper, Adelphi Paper Hangings; Tile, Cardamom and Crater Lake, Fireclay Tile.
traditional dining room with blue ceiling
Chandelier Shades, Alice Palmer & Co.

The dining room reno came down to a series of cosmetic tweaks. Bidgood plopped a new gas insert in the fireplace and surrounded it in checkerboard tile, swathed the walls in a floral paper, and installed a chandelier with skirted shades with red stitching. When blending old and new, Bidgood often leans older with the built-in elements (i.e., millwork) and playful with furnishings and lighting. “Because those things are easier to change,” she notes. It also prevents a home from feeling like a history museum. “There’s less creativity when you’re just creating a replica of the era,” she adds. “I like putting a modern take on what’s appropriate for the home.” Grandma would approve. 

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.