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Kitchen of the Week: Commercial Components Meet Minimalist Chic, Extreme Before and After

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Kitchen of the Week: Commercial Components Meet Minimalist Chic, Extreme Before and After

June 6, 2024

Los Angeles designer Michaela Scherrer likes to strip problematic interiors down to their bones, so she can wield her minimalist magic on blank slates. In her work, she aims to give people what they need not only in terms of comfort but psychological boosts. “I hone into the energy of everyone and every thing and how it all connects. Every single item down to the hardware has to have the right frequency and fit together,” she says.

Michaela took on this extreme makeover 15 years ago. It was a rescue of sorts for her beloved relatives: Michaela’s cousin Elizabeth Miller, her husband, David,  their four boys, and their menagerie (dogs, cats, birds, chickens, and pigs only begins to cover it).

The Millers bought the 1970s ranch house in Calabasas, CA, because it offered the basics at an affordable price and there was enough land for them to run a small farm on the side—Elizabeth is a holistic nutritionist and David is a family doctor. But the builder-grade home emanated, in Michaela’s words, “a sense of stagnation and dreariness.” Elizabeth and David welcomed in Michaela and her trusted construction team, Louis Cruz and Jose Angel, to transform the place, with a special focus on the kitchen (scroll to the end for a Before glimpse).

To create a space big enough for many hands to cook together, Michaela took over the adjacent family room, excised all of the existing finishes (plus a nonstructural wall), and left the rafters exposed. With a goal of functionality and togetherness, she introduced bespoke, commercial-grade, stainless-steel components and a few antiques, creating a pared-down rustic-industrial look just about unheard of at the time. It’s still remarkably fresh looking. Come see.

Photography by Yeran Terzian (@yerann), courtesy of Michaela Scherrer (@michaelascherrer.atelier).

a marble topped stainless steel island kitted out with double sinks rises at th 17
Above: A marble-topped stainless steel island kitted out with double sinks rises at the center of it all, surrounded by Traulsen commercial refrigerators, twin dishwashers (out of sight under the island), and stacked ovens next to a Wolf range. All of it is easy to clean and indestructible.

To maximize storage, the island is approximately 11 by 5 feet; Michaela had all just about all of its components fabricated to size for the space. She notes that readymade Stainless Steel Commercial Work Tables with Under Shelves are available via the Webstaurant Store. The walls are painted Benjamin Moore’s Paper White at half formula. Read about Michaela’s pale paint mastery in DIY: How to Mix the Perfect Shades of White.

all of the miller brothers cook—duncan and truman are shown here. two ga 18
Above: All of the Miller brothers cook—Duncan and Truman are shown here. Two galvanized steel bins on wheels hold trash and recycling; the family uses simple strip magnets hold the trash liners in place. The rafters were kept raw—they’re finished with a matte wood sealer—and a skylight brightens the space.
duncan and michaela&#8\2\17;s late sidekick oli : &#8\2\20;when we were 19
Above: Duncan and Michaela’s late sidekick Oli : “when we were in a place where things could get knocked over, I would say ‘Oli, make yourself small’ and she immediately went under the counter and waited patiently.” At the end of the island near each sink, two hard-to-see work stations with cutting boards and scrap bins came from Italian stainless-steel kitchen specialists Alpes Inox.  The faucets are by KWC—they’re akin to the KWC Bistro E. For similar commercial-style faucets, go to 10 Easy Pieces.

The concrete floor is the exposed under layer: “we stripped the existing floor, removed a layer of vinyl, and ground and then polished the concrete,” says Michaela.

next to the range, there&#8\2\17;s a butcher block cutting area, painted wo 20
Above: Next to the range, there’s a butcher block cutting area, painted wood drawers, and flea market crates that Michaela put on wheels—they hold napkins and other kitchen linens. The dining table is a restored antique farmhouse design with a vintage bakery shelf behind it.
the fireplace was existing and formerly part of the family room, surrounded by  21
Above: The fireplace was existing and formerly part of the family room, surrounded by a brick wall that Michaela whitewashed. She offset the steel with brass elements, such as this Futagami Towel Bar available at Nickey Kehoe.
michaela had the lacy drawer and shelf inserts laser cut: in an otherwise tough 22
Above: Michaela had the lacy drawer and shelf inserts laser cut: in an otherwise tough-looking setup, they add a touch of softness, she notes. Admiring the olive oil container? Italian fusti can hold all sorts of things, see Aha! Hack: Olive Oil Container as Laundry Soap Dispenser.
the bakery shelves are a good landing place for cutting boards and aprons. abov 23
Above: The bakery shelves are a good landing place for cutting boards and aprons. the bakery shelves are a good landing place for cutting boards and aprons. abov 24Above: The space is designed to make everyone feel at home. This is Lincoln, the cat.

Before

the kitchen was formerly half the size: that&#8\2\17;s the family room in f 25
Above: The kitchen was formerly half the size: that’s the family room in front with a partially bricked wall.
it was a kitchen of nooks and archways, wall flourishes, and a tiny island. 26
Above: It was a kitchen of nooks and archways, wall flourishes, and a tiny island.

Michaela Scherrer is a longstanding member of the Remodelista Architect & Designer Directory; we featured her dining room on the cover of the first Remodelista book (see more of the house on pages 150-161).

Take a look at her Grecian-Inspired Guest Suite with the World’s Tiniest Spa Bath. And here’s a Pasadena project of Michaela’s from 2010.

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Frequently asked questions

Who is the designer behind the extreme makeover in the 1970s ranch house in Calabasas, CA?

The designer behind the extreme makeover is Los Angeles designer Michaela Scherrer.

What is the special focus of the extreme makeover in the 1970s ranch house in Calabasas, CA?

The special focus of the extreme makeover was on transforming the kitchen and creating a space big enough for many hands to cook together.

What components were introduced in the kitchen to create a rustic-industrial look?

Bespoke, commercial-grade, stainless-steel components and a few antiques were introduced to create a pared-down rustic-industrial look.

What did Michaela do to maximize storage in the kitchen island?

Michaela had all the island components fabricated to size for the space, maximizing storage.

How was the concrete floor in the kitchen transformed?

The concrete floor was transformed by stripping the existing floor, removing a layer of vinyl, and grinding and polishing the concrete.

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