A Thrifty New England Kitchen, by Way of LA by

Issue 86 · The Summer Kitchen · August 19, 2013

A Thrifty New England Kitchen, by Way of LA

Issue 86 · The Summer Kitchen · August 19, 2013

Shortly after Abby Weintraub and Matt Manfredi bought their 1941 Hancock Park house, they watched it gobble up their savings: new roof, furnace, pipes, wiring, and air conditioning. Faced with a cramped kitchen last touched in 1984 by Laura Ashley-loving former owners, they waved an SOS sign and architect Barbara Bestor came to their rescue.

Bestor didn't flinch at the couple's request for a total transformation on a relative shoe string. Instead, she took a look around the house, which the couple term "Hollywood Georgian," and made some masterful room reassignments. She designated the unneeded formal dining room the family room—the couple has two young kids and a casual, all ages approach to entertaining.

Meanwhile, a small den morphed into the dining room, and by taking down a wall between it and the kitchen, Bestor created an open-plan cooking and eating setup that makes both spaces feel bigger and brighter.

Lastly, she oversaw a gut renovation of the kitchen itself, mindful of the couple's desire for a clean, high-functioning setup that looks entirely at home in a period house: "We took the elements of a lovely 1940s kitchen and rebuilt them for now," says Barbara. The couple—she's a graphic designer specializing in books; he's a screen writer and an avid cook—are East Coast transplants who thoroughly appreciated the new old-fashioned details and practicality. "Barbara is known for her California look, but she grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and she has a real New England sensibility," says Abby. 

 Photographs for Remodelista by Jessica Comingore

Bridge faucet and Carrara marble counter in Barbara Bestor kitchen, Remodelista

 Above: Barbara Bestor preserved the kitchen's original steel-framed casement windows and added more. This one is new—it came from Torrance Steel Window Co.—and opens up views to the expansive backyard. "It's true that steel windows are more expensive than wood," says Barbara, "but they offer a very different effect in important ways: size of mullions, flat profile, and continuity with the period of the house." As for the kitchen faucet, after a long hunt for the right design that wouldn't take months to arrive, Abby found their Axor Montreaux bridge model by Hansgrohe on Amazon. 

Barbara Bestor classic kitchen design, Remodelista

 Above: Instead of a space-hogging island, the new kitchen has a Carrara-marble-topped peninsula that serves as a breakfast counter and holds a six-burner Aga stove (surprisingly less expensive, the couple found, than the equivalent from Viking or Wolf.) The pendant light is a 1969 Verner Panton design from LA's A + R Store that comes in 10 colors.

Barbara Bestor LA dining room, Remodelista

Above: The kitchen is open to the dining room carved out of what had been a tiny den clogged with deep bookshelves and too many doors (some were closed up and all remaining door frames got streamlined). The bentwood Bento Chairs are by Swedish group Form Us With Love and came from the A + R Store.

porthole window in Barbara Bestor designed dining room, Remodellista

 Above: On a dining room wall, Bestor inserted a porthole window that frames the dining room's Tom Dixon bronze copper shade pendant, and provides a glimpse of the backyard from the front foyer. "I wanted to have a visual connection with the outside but a traditional window would have looked like a mistake," says Bestor. "The circle reads like a mirror and preserves a sense of privacy. It's more Magic Castle than Barcelona Pavilion."

black mantel stillife with Duncan Hannah painting, Remodelista

 Above: A detail of a ship painting by Duncan Hannah on the mantel, the den's lone feature that was preserved.

Barbara Bestor-designed white kitchen cabinets, Remodelista  

 Above: White painted poplar cabinets were designed to look, as Bestor puts it, "sort of old-new." The upper cabinets have glass fronts that lend a lightness and prevent the tight space from feeling crowded. In keeping with the traditional look, the counter is polished Carrara marble. 

White kitchen cabinets with square craftsman knobs, Remodelista

 Above: Faceted craftsman-style wooden cabinet pulls were sourced from Nice Knobs.

Steel framed kitchen windows, Remodelista

 Above: The steel framed windows are painted Black Bean from LA company Dunn-Edwards Paints.

Barbara Bestor small white kitchen remodel, Remodelista

 Above: A washer and dryer are sequestered at the far end of the kitchen, where they're on hand but not visible from most views. The oak flooring matches the original floors in the rest of the house. Barbara and Abby both credit the overall success of the remodel to a first-rate crew headed up by contractor, David King of DTK Builders in Los Angeles.

Barbara Bestor designed ktichen desk and microwave niche, Remodelista

 Above: Whenever anything was deemed too expensive, Barbara pulled a new trick out of her bag. This desk is made from Ikea dark butcher block sanded and stained to look like teak. "It's one of the most commented-on features in the kitchen," says Abby. "Everyone loves the wood and asks what it is."  The cabinet above it has a built-in nook for a microwave.


Barbara Bestor kitchen with outsized subway tiles, Remodelista

 Above: The walls are tiled in outsized subway tiles—6"-by-12" Northern Lights tiles in Dover White from Mission Tile West.


Above: The peninsula that extends from the counter is detailed with a handy bookshelf for cookbooks.

Barbara Bestor-LA-kitchen-remodel

Above: The fridge—a 48" Kitchen Aid—stands discreetly at the back of the kitchen.


Above: A gloomy glimpse of the setup B.B.B.—Before Barbara Bestor.

Black painted back stairs with yellow handrail, Remodelista

 Above: Formerly sectioned off behind closed doors, Bestor opened up the backstairs. They're painted a glossy black and outfitted with a pole bannister in Benjamin Moore Bumble Bee Yellow—no nonsense New England, points out Abby, with a hit of sunny California.

More easy kitchen takeaway? Check out our ideas-packed kitchen gallery.

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