Home & Garden: Space of the Week: An Outdated Yellow Kitchen Gets a Budget-Conscious Makeover

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When Velinda Hellen, a Los Angeles-based interior designer and an Emily Henderson Design alum, first saw her clients' kitchen, it was a Coldplay song come to life: the walls, the trim, the cabinets, they were all yellow. Designing for a young, creative couple, Hellen sought to modernize the dated space, sneak in more storage, and even incorporate some of the top kitchen design trends. Find out how she checked all the boxes, while still keeping the budget in check.

Velinda Hellen Design / Photography by Sara Tramp / Styling by Emily Edith Bowser © Provided by Real Simple Velinda Hellen Design / Photography by Sara Tramp / Styling by Emily Edith Bowser

The Before:

Velinda Hellen The yellow kitchen before the makeover. © Provided by Real Simple Velinda Hellen The yellow kitchen before the makeover.

The Vision:

When Hellen first met her clients, Jeff and Claire, they were new parents and new homeowners. "Jeff is a composer and Claire a book editor for LACMA [Los Angles County Museum of Art], so they both had creative flair and a willingness to be bold. They wanted a user-friendly, easy-to-clean space that was, 'Modern meets vintage/'60s-inspired,'" she explains.

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Avid cooks and coffee drinkers, Jeff and Claire also requested a coffee zone, as well as space to display their favorite cookbooks.

The Reveal:

Velinda Hellen Design / Photography by Sara Tramp / Styling by Emily Edith Bowser © Provided by Real Simple Velinda Hellen Design / Photography by Sara Tramp / Styling by Emily Edith Bowser

After the transformation, the space feels clean and bright, thanks to light Caesarstone countertops, a white tile backsplash, and a fresh coat of white paint. The tambour effect on the island and the terrazzo-style floor reflect modern trends, yet nod to retro style.

The results look like no expense was spared, but Hellen made some strategic decisions to keep the project on budget. "The number one design decision we made for the sake of budget was keeping everything that worked or worked well enough," says Hellen. "Since the placement/functionality of the sink, range, fridge, and pantry/island worked, we left that alone." By sticking with the existing layout and plumbing setup, she avoided a costly reconfiguring of the space. "We also kept the existing parquet flooring throughout the house, which worked so much better with the final Cal-coastal meets mid-century-clean design." Finally, IKEA cabinets fitted with Reform doors and a budget tile backsplash help lower the cost of materials.

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For a kitchen refresh that's both on-budget and on-trend, borrow some of these clever design ideas spotted throughout the space.

Get the Look:

Velinda Hellen Design / Photography by Sara Tramp / Styling by Emily Edith Bowser © Provided by Real Simple Velinda Hellen Design / Photography by Sara Tramp / Styling by Emily Edith Bowser

Tambour

Whether on walls or sliding bar cabinet doors, tambour is seeing a resurgence in popularity. This time around, the dark cherry or walnut veneer is appearing in lighter finishes.

The tambour effect on the island is essentially sheeted, half-round dowels in an alder finish. "Being on sheets, it was easier to install," Hellen explains. Light oak stools from Article match beautifully with the veneer.

To cover the tall sides of the pantry, long half-round dowels were installed individually.

vandykesrestorers.com for similar Tambour Kitchen Island © Provided by Real Simple Tambour Kitchen Island

Green Kitchen Cabinets

The Benjamin Moore Color of the Year 2022 solidifies it: green is the "it" color right now. To introduce the trend, Hellen outfitted affordable IKEA cabinets with Pistachio fronts by Reform.

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And when you're ready for a change? Just the lower cabinet fronts can be switched out, rather than replacing the cabinets themselves.

reformcph.com clean design kitchen with green lower cabinets, window, pendant light © Provided by Real Simple clean design kitchen with green lower cabinets, window, pendant light

Terrazzo

Over the past couple years, terrazzo and terrazzo-inspired designs have been showing up on everything from flooring to tabletops to coffee mugs. The flooring in the kitchen is Ventura Terrazzo Tile by Concrete Collaborative.

concrete-collaborative.com Tambour wood cabinet closeup with brass pull © Provided by Real Simple Tambour wood cabinet closeup with brass pull

Brass Fixtures

Although matte black hardware has recently become a trendy choice for kitchens, brass faucets, soap dispensers, and drawer pulls are still having a major moment. More than just a shiny addition, this single handle faucet with touch control and a pull-down sprayer makes it easy to wash up, even when your hands are full.

$622, us.kohler.com Kohler Brass Faucet in sunny kitchen © Provided by Real Simple Kohler Brass Faucet in sunny kitchen
Including four of this year's top kitchen design trends. © Velinda Hellen Design / Photography by Sara Tramp / Styling by Emily Edith Bowser Including four of this year's top kitchen design trends.
terrazzo kitchen decor terrazzo kitchen decor cream colored kitchen cabinets 2020 cream colored kitchen cabinets 2020 oak tambour sheets oak tambour sheets

David Chang's fried chicken restaurant Fuku cuts ties with ghost kitchen Reef in favor of competitor Kitchen United .
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