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Deema Tabbara Lopez had a very specific vision when renovating her Los Angeles kitchen. In addition to opening up the layout and adding a 9-foot island, she desperately wanted to add character and soul back into the modernized space. 

“This house was built in the 1950s and has so much charm, but the renovated kitchen felt very modern,” says the creative behind Pretty on Fridays. “I wanted the renovated space to feel like a Nancy Meyers movie set — a cozy, layered mix of modern and traditional.” 

Armed with a Pinterest vision board, IKEA’s kitchen planner tool, and a keen eye for thrifted gold, Tabbara Lopez managed to infuse the space with plenty of vintage character — and then some. “I basically wanted my kitchen to feel old, and it finally does,” she says.

Ahead, the interior design enthusiast shares how to restore a decades-old home back to its original glory, from the tile selection to artwork. 

Embrace Handmade Tile 

When asked what set the tone for her kitchen aesthetic, she immediately referenced the tile. “The backsplash tile is traditional Zellige; they’re worn and imperfect in the best possible way,” she notes. “And, I just love the checkerboard floor tile — it lends a more traditional feel to the space and boasts a beautiful worn finish that looks like it could be original.” 

Head to the Thrift Store

A firm believer that artwork makes a space, Tabbara Lopez spent considerable time at the thrift store in search of ornate frames, artwork, and decorative knick-knacks. “Almost all of the artwork is vintage, including everything in the gallery wall,” she notes. “I also found a lot of vintage canisters, bowls, and glassware for the open shelving, which ties the look together.” 

Consider Built-Ins 

While the shiplap and wainscotting were original to the home (and part of the reason why Tabbara Lopez fell in love with the space), she did add the built-in bookcase and banquette near the breakfast nook. “These custom elements really helped bridge the gap between the kitchen and dining areas,” she explains. “Plus, the built-ins aligned with the vintage-inspired look I was going for.” 

Opt for Traditional Cabinetry 

In keeping with her modern-traditional theme, Tabbara Lopez went with Semihandmade’s classic DIY shaker cabinet fronts topped with clean quartz countertops. “I definitely wanted cabinets with visual interest and character, and the traditional Shaker fit the bill,” she explains. Modern elements, like the tulip dining table, cone pendant lights, and open shelving, lend a necessary touch of contrast to the finished space. 

Add in Wood Elements

Compared to the old kitchen, Tabbara Lopez’s new space feels much warmer and more inviting — thanks in part to the wooden accents. “The open shelving, woven blinds, wood counter stools, and gold picture frames really add a warm, textured element that the old kitchen lacked,” she notes. “These touches warm up the overall palette.”

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Island Hopping

A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.