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New Weekly Article Cozy Corner
A Kid-Friendly Kitchen Nook Remodel
The home of Cristin Bisbee Priest—wife, mother, interior designer, and blogger (www.simplifiedbee.com)—is a well-built ranch completed in 1940. The 1,685-square-foot house is located in San Mateo on the San Francisco Peninsula in an older, charming neighborhood of cul-de-sacs with hidden parks at the end of each street. “Soon after buying the home, we gutted the kitchen and installed white kitchen cabinets with dark-black granite countertops. A small 6-foot-by-6-foot nook at the end of the kitchen was original to the house and had served as a breakfast area,” says Priest. “There was a dining room where we could all eat as a family, but since we had two young children, we needed a cheerful place for them to eat and snack, do art projects, and eventually do homework.”
The existing nook appeared dated with a Formica table and open-base, wooden benches. Because the area was off a living room that featured green and blue accent colors, Priest decided to add a green trellis pattern wallpaper by Manuel Canovas to brighten the nook. “The green pattern spoke to me and complemented the rest of my color scheme in the home,” she explains. “To achieve a touch of warmth in the predominantly black-and-white kitchen, I took the old Formica tabletop to a cabinet maker, who had built the kitchen cabinets, and had him create a butcher block in the exact same shape. We attached that to the original legs.” Priest then redesigned the benches and had them made by the same local cabinet maker. “I like to design spaces that look attractive, but are also very practical. This area needed storage and organization. I designed the new benches with deep drawers that slid out—a perfect location for containing and controlling clutter. When the children were very young, we used them to store things like sippy cups. Later, they held art or homework supplies,” she says. The benches were painted white to blend with the kitchen cabinetry.
Priest upholstered the bench cushions with a bright green that picked up the color of the wallpaper. “I knew I needed to select something that would be more of a performance fabric; one that would survive children and pets. I considered vinyl, but then I found the perfect color in patent leather in a local store,” she explains. “Sometimes leather can be too thick for a normal sewing machine, but this product worked for my seamstress. And, it’s heavy-duty and so easy to wipe down.” Priest wanted to mimic the warmth of the butcher-block table and chose a simple bamboo, cordless shade from The Shade Store.
The chalkboard on the wall opposite the table is the “command center,” according to Priest. It contains news, notes, and a calendar. It’s visual and children can be involved in what is to be posted. “I find that if I show that I am organized, my children mimic me,” she says. Priest uses a catchall tray that she found at a flea market to hold spray paints, crayons, pencils, etc. It helps corral several items that would otherwise be clutter; it helps to create the illusion of organization and provides a cohesive look.
Priest advises that homeowners not be afraid to hang art that means something to them. And, that applies to children’s art as well. “It doesn’t have to be fine art. It doesn’t have to be matchy-matchy. If it’s painted or drawn by someone who is special to you, hang it,” she says. “Artwork brings a personal touch to any space.” She recommends using picture frames with easy access so you can use one frame to rotate multiple pieces. This way, you’re not doing a formal framing every time you want to change some artwork.
The pendant lamp that illuminates the nook was ordered from Arteriors Home. “When the lamp was delivered, I was surprised that the interior was yellow! I didn’t expect that,” says Priest. “But as it turned out, the yellow blended perfectly with a flower in an oil painting by my grandmother that I hung in the nook.” She adds that homeowners should not be discouraged by the occasional surprise and encourages them to keep an open mind. A surprise might end up being the exact touch that a design redo needs. Written by Carolyn M. Runyon. Photography by Jennifer Jacobson Photography.
Raul Acuña - Raul has been in the Real Estate Industry since 2005. Raul began working at an REO brokerage before opening his own REO company in 2010. Raul has a business degree from Cal Poly Pomona, ....