This Midcentury-Modern Kitchen’s Color Palette Took Inspiration From a Vintage Photograph (2024)

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About a decade after graduating from the University of Florida, Chelsey Cox and Rachel Rector returned to Gainesville in 2020 and founded their interior design firm, Chinotto House. The two women sought to bring bold, contemporary style to Central Florida, where countless midcentury homes are begging to be rehabbed with flair. The owner of one such 1950s house, a professor at their alma mater, recently enlisted the duo to reimagine her crumbling kitchen.

“It basically looked like a grandma had lived there,” remembers Rachel. “She needed something that felt fresh and young, like her. We wanted it to feel bright and contemporary, with a nod to the midcentury design. Our goal was for it to fit seamlessly into the style of the house.”

Chelsey and Rachel ripped out the grimy mint green cabinets and dated tile counters before addressing the real problem: the lack of natural light. They couldn’t alter the existing galley footprint, so they chased away the darkness by knocking down two walls and installing a sliding door with glass panels that funnel sunshine from the laundry room to the cookspace. They also built a peninsula that invites gathering and conversation.

AFTER: “[The peninsula base] is a concrete pillar tiled with the micro moons mosaic, which is a marble that pulls in all those earthy tones that we liked in the landscape photograph,” says Rachel. “It was definitely quite a splurge. It was about $150 a square foot, and we had originally proposed it for the backsplash, but because of the cost, we decided to get it on the post. We can still enjoy it, but not break the bank.”

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Aesthetically, Chelsey and Rachel took cues from an oversized vintage landscape photograph that the original owners had left behind. They borrowed its retro, earthy color palette for elements like rich mahogany-toned cabinets and a pistachio-hued backsplash, then added a vibrant pop with citron paint on the floating shelves and pocket door. To honor the history of the home, they opted for large format terrazzo floor tiles. It’s just the right amount of midcentury.

Location: Gainesville’s Florida Park neighborhood is home to many University of Florida professors, since it’s just a few blocks away from the campus.

BEFORE: “She had actually already started demo work when we came on,” shares Chelsey. “It was in that in-between state when we got there.”

The before: “It hadn’t really ever been updated, so the kitchen was not functioning well,” says Chelsey. “Things had been added on at different points in time and it was really not cohesive at all. But we knew we couldn’t change the footprint of the house, so we had to figure out how to work within it.”

The inspiration: “One of the pieces that was left behind by the original owners was this vintage photograph that they had taken and blown up really large and framed themselves,” shares Rachel. “We were so inspired by that. We pulled our whole color palette out of it, these earthy, midcentury tones, and then we added a jolt of color with a citron yellow to bring in that Chinotto House special sauce.”

Square footage: About 150 square feet

Budget: $85,000

AFTER: “There were some shelves suspended over the countertop in the original design, so we wanted to keep that idea, but continue them all the way across the wall,” explains Chelsey. “We referenced that original feature and then built on it, essentially. Then we took it another step up by painting it that citron color, which is a Farrow & Ball Kelly Wearstler collection paint.”

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Main ingredients:

Floors: Artistic Tile Veronese Crema Field Tile

Backsplash: Inax Yohen Border in Turquoise Green Mix. “We chose KitKat tiles, which just look so beautiful,” muses Rachel. “It’s this beautiful turquoise green mix, with a speckled place to it. We used a mint-colored grout, which is a really fun pop of color. And our client loved it so much. We had originally planned to just take it up to the shelf height, but she wanted to go all the way to the ceiling.”

Cabinets: Pommele figured sapele wood veneer lowers and high-gloss white uppers by Straw Woodwork. “The pommele figured sapele wood has that midcentury warm mahogany tone to it, but with a really nice wavy grain, which is just a nice way to get some movement on flat front cabinetry,” explains Chelsey. “We paired that with a high-gloss white upper to bounce the light around.”

BEFORE: Chelsey and Rachel knocked down two walls to open up the kitchen as much as possible without changing the footprint.

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Countertop: Siesta Key Quartz. “It’s kind of like a rest for your eye,” describes Chelsey. “It was a budget-staining material, as well.”

Custom shelf and laundry door paint: Farrow & Ball Archive Collection Citrona

Wall paint: Farrow & Ball Archive Collection Salt

AFTER: A warm brown tambour hood adds texture to the compact kitchen.

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Hood: Surfacing Solution tambour panels, installed by Mike Mann. “Because it was a tight space, we added a lot of curves to make the flow feel really comfortable,” reasons Rachel. “For the hood, we had to custom fabricate a curved shell, then we put tambour on it, and then we had a local fabricator install it and stain it to match the cabinets.”

Faucet: Moen

Sink: Blanco

Island post: Artistic Tile Micro Moons Black Mosaic. “It’s a concrete pillar that was custom fabricated and then tiled with the micro moons mosaic, which pulls in all those earthy tones that we liked in the landscape photograph,” shares Rachel. “It was definitely quite a splurge, about $150-per-square-foot. We had originally proposed it for the backsplash, but because of the cost we decided to use it on the post.”

Counter stools: Target Threshold Bowden Faux Leather Barstool in dark green

Appliances: Bosch range, dishwasher, and microwave

Lighting: Dutton Brown Color Echo Pendant in Spa and Orren Ellis Wilman Resin Sconce in White. “Those white resins sconces were a budget choice for us, since we spent quite a bit on the hard finishes,” says Rachel. “It was really important to get some vertical light in that space, not just overhead light. We really wanted to light those walls up. We also incorporated under cabinet lighting to create a sexy mood in there, on top of being functional.”

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Runner: Dash and Albert Handmade Flatweave Wool Rug

Most insane splurge: Chelsey and Rachel spent the most on the pricey micro moons tile for the island post. They also consider the decision a save, though, since they would’ve spent much more if they had used the tile on the backsplash.

Sneakiest save: The forest-hued Target stools were the biggest bargain.

The best part: Rachel loves the color palette, while Chelsey is most proud of how they maximized the layout. “My favorite part of design in general is when you turn a constraint into a feature,” she says. “We couldn’t expand beyond the existing footprint, so opening up that wall and adding that curved peninsula that juts out into the dining room was really a game changer.”

What I'd never do again: “If I had my way, I would never use another can light,” says Rachel. “Luckily, in this project, we only needed a couple and then we were able to supplement them with the decorative fixtures that really elevated the ambiance. But in a perfect world, we’d only use decorative fixtures instead of overbearing can lights.”

Final bill: “We came in fairly close, at around $92,000,” says Rachel. “We went over budget because she ended up wanting to replace the flooring in the dining room and entry, in addition to the kitchen. We splurged on some high-end terrazzo tiles that really brought in that midcentury look and just made the space cohesive.”

AFTER: The interior designers paired pommele-figured sapele wood veneer lowers with high-gloss white uppers.

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This Midcentury-Modern Kitchen’s Color Palette Took Inspiration From a Vintage Photograph (2024)

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