July 8, 2013

To renew a dated look, a Mexican bungalow avoided the typical local colors and expensive additions. “I focused on how it was going to be used,” said designer Sandra Espinet. With the possibility of soon selling the property, the owners requested a neutral design. “I decided to make it palatable for anyone and not too specific,” added Espinet.

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Facing a kitchen that had not been updated in over two decades, Espinet “changed everything. Everything had to go,” she said. Faded wood cabinets, dated appliances and white countertops bedecked the previous kitchen, along with a side counter instead of an island. Despite the obvious need to start new, Espinet affronted a greater challenge: a small budget

“As a luxury designer, you always stay with more expensive products,” said Espinet. “It was really good to take the time to learn that more mainstream products are actually great.” Alder wood cabinets and granite countertops were chosen and made locally to cut down on the price. “You have to know your area and your sources,” Espinet advised on buying locally.

The money that would have been spent on a wine cooler was put toward appliances, and the wine is now stored in the new island. Since the carpentry and appliances cannot be easily changed, these items make up the bulk of the spending. Above the island, glass pendants with a metalized finish pair with most palettes.

The new freestanding island gives the kitchen a focal point and a more modern layout. “I think islands are more updated when you can walk around them in the kitchen,” commented Espinet. “It’s open-planned living and it gives it a little more of a loft feel.” A darker finish distinguishes the island from the lighter cabinetry and backsplash.

Covering the walls between the cabinets, the tile backsplash has a simple make and a simple goal. “There’s no fussiness,” said Espinet. The tile puts the focus on the hood, which is the kitchen’s main adornment.

“It turned out a little bit of California with touches of Mexico,” said Espinet. The hood embellishes the kitchen’s palette of cream, taupe and burnt orange. With a mountain outside the front door and the ocean two roads back, the colors embrace the rustic colors of mountains more than the blues of the ocean.

“We used neutral for the base, but the upholstery has mountain colors,” said Espinet. “That creates a little bit of texture without going wild and screaming that we’re in Mexico.” Espinet’s team of designers took their knowledge of the area and made a team effort of scouring the area for less expensive but quality materials.

“I think that’s the beauty of this kitchen,” said Espinet. “It proves you can get a great kitchen at a great price.”


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