Real Estate

'Timeless design' and a livable space

Creating a dual-purpose kitchen and laundry room

Sitting around their yellow dining-room table, surrounded by red, earthy walls and brightly painted sculptures from Mexico, filmmakers Pam Walton and Ruth Carranza look through the doorway at what they call their 1950s-style kitchen, which features a checkered floor, painted cabinets and a washer and dryer tucked into the corner.

"We wanted a kitchen that fit the house," Walton says.

Walton and Carranza's mission-style home, located near downtown Mountain View, was built in 1941. Over the years, Walton and Carranza have maximized their living space by building shelves into hallway walls and turning their detached garage into an office.

However, until 2010, Walton and Carranza had lived with the home's original kitchen, which had a dishwasher that needed to be plugged into the kitchen sink in order to operate, not enough counter space, and shallow, too-low cabinets with "old, grungy wood," Carranza says.

"The paint was peeling off the cabinets, the stove didn't work well, and the floor looked hideous," Walton adds.

Jamieson Simpson, of Harrell Remodeling, was intrigued by the project, which was even more challenging because the old laundry room, adjacent to the kitchen, had a smaller water closet containing a seldom-used toilet.

Although taking out the toilet would turn their house into a single-bathroom home, Simpson says that Walton and Carranza "were more than willing to lose the extra toilet, open that space up, and see how we could integrate it into the kitchen."

Simpson also helped Walton and Carranza choose the materials for their kitchen, citing the importance of using quality materials and recognizing the versatility of a monochromatic color scheme, which is classic but can be enhanced with bright appliances and accessories.

"This is a timeless design," he says of the kitchen, "and the selection of the materials should be easy to maintain and may be stylistically most subtle so they can stand the test of time."

For example, the kitchen's countertops are a darker, mottled green, which complements the stainless-steel appliances as well as the black washer and dryer.

In addition to acknowledging the counter color as an aesthetically good choice, Simpson also notes, "I steered (Walton) towards quartz because it's extremely durable, it's easy to maintain; you really can't stain it and it's difficult to scratch.

"There are probably less expensive materials to choose, but we know that these materials will last for decades to come."

The kitchen also boasts a Marmoleum, checkered floor, which Walton describes as a dark gray and off-white. They decided against recessed lighting in favor of hanging lights, which characterize the "old 1950s schoolhouse" look, Walton explains.

Although Carranza is happy with the kitchen -- especially the storage space next to the washer and dryer, which Walton playfully refers to as "Ruth's broom closet" -- she would change the floor color if she could.

"The black and white floor shows dirt," Carranza says. Walton adds that the white sections of the floor get dirty easily and that the problem may have been avoided if they had chosen a darker floor or if the lighter tiles had more texture.

During the remodeling process, Walton and Carranza did run into some trouble. Initially, the tiles they chose for the backsplash area were a bright white, but the whiteness of the tiles made the off-white sections of the floor look dingy, Walton says. They had to delay project completion for a month while new, off-white tiles were hand crafted.

Initially, Walton and Carranza wanted to create a space that would hide the washer and dryer, serve as a breakfast nook and be separated from the kitchen from the dining room with a sliding door, but their budget, which they had already pushed from an initial $50,000 to $70,000, would not allow for the changes.

Walton says that, in the end, she and Carranza are happy with the decision to allow for extra costs. "We get so much joy out of that kitchen -- we spend most of our lives in there that it's totally worth it."


Designer: Jamieson Simpson, Harrell Remodeling, Mountain View, 650-230-2902

Cabinets: San Antonio Cabinets, Palo Alto, 650-494-6773

Goal of project:

Remodel kitchen/laundry room

Unanticipated issues:

Color mismatch; discovered wiring problems during demolition

Year house built:


Size of home, lot:

200 sq ft kitchen in 1,100-sq-ft home on 9,500-sq-ft lot

Time to complete:

8 months (2 months design, 6 months construction)


Initially $50,000; spent $70,000


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