Designer Christine Vroom didn’t want to make this classic style too predictable.
It’s no wonder that when Mike Levine, a luxury builder in Los Angeles, and his wife, Isabella, came across a dilapidated bungalow built in the 1950s that they knew its best days were behind it. The rundown property had a kitchen consisting of white cabinetry coupled with old hinges, with matching ceramic tiles on the countertops that were separated by thick lines of grout. The space was outdated for sure, but it still had potential—not only because of Mike’s background, but also because of the home’s location.
“It’s located about two blocks from the beach in the heart of Hermosa, a small surf town in Southern California,” says designer Christine Vroom, who was hired for the project. “Mike and Isabella bought the house as a tear-down, and wanted to rebuild one that felt beachy without being too trendy.”
Vroom describes the couple as having a lot of personality while still being casual, and aimed to create an atmosphere that reflected those laid-back yet welcoming sensibilities. She also wanted to ensure that the home would be suitable for children, considering that Mike and Isabella had a small baby and were expecting another at the time. Once the old bungalow was torn down to make way for a modern property with a larger, taller footprint, she focused her attention on the most important room for a growing family: the kitchen.
“They were inspired by the beach, but didn’t want the space to feel overly coastal,” she says. “Since it’s a new build, I was able to give them a completely new layout. Everything from the cabinets, to the tile, to the flooring, to the large pantry, to appliances—you name it, it’s new!”
The kitchen spread across the back wall in the great room of the home, joining the family area a few steps away. They chose classic white cabinets to wrap around the space and reach up to the high ceilings, and then added chrome hardware to coordinate with the stainless steel appliances. But the show-stopping feature of the kitchen has to be the countertop-to-ceiling blue tile backsplash. A pair of glass pendants hanging above the large island are clear so as not to obstruct the view.
“We kept a pretty neutral palette, so we decided that we wanted to bring in color with the tiles,” Vroom says. “Blue is a color that can be seen two blocks away at the beach, so it was a safe yet bold choice.”
And while the tiles bring in an appealing sheen, it’s the graphic finish on the backs of the island’s chairs that really add a layer of dimension. “The space begged for a more woven texture,” Vroom continues. “Between the solid Shaker doors, the glossy backsplash, and the polished countertops, we needed to counterbalance those details with a richer element. So, these barstools worked really well.”
Construction started at the end of 2019 and finished just as 2021 came to a close — a marathon that required the family to get their own private space down the street for the duration of the build. Thankfully, Mike, Isabella, and their kids have since gotten settled in these new surroundings, and Vroom is confident that they’ll stand the test of time.
“It’s easy to do a white kitchen with a blue backsplash, but the key is to layer,” she says. “Play with texture, sheen, and metal tones, and then warm up the space with wood and texture.”
Get the Look
A counter stool with a woven back adds a textural element to your kitchen.
Brighten up your kitchen with a colorful backsplash. This zellige tile is perfect for providing a beachy look that’s still subtle.
Globe Pendant Light
A hand-blown glass pendant light keeps the space feeling open and modern.
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