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Mollie Crutcher photography

When Mollie Crutcher moved into her California home in 2018, the 1924 dwelling needed a face-lift. While rich in charming character, it was segmented into small, dysfunctional spaces, says Crutcher. And the kitchen was one of the worst offenders. 

The cooking space was walled off, with just one entrance in and out, not to mention it wasn’t up to modern building codes, she explains. So, she and her husband, Steven, set out on a reno project to brighten the space, increase functionality, and upgrade the aesthetic.  

“Opening up the space was most important, particularly because we knew we couldn’t add square footage,” Crutcher says. We wanted it to feel as big as it could in the existing space.”

To achieve this, the couple opened up the wall that once closed off the dining room. “Now it opens up to our eating area—a space that’s central to our house—in between the living room and the kitchen,” she says. “We use that space for eating, chatting, drinking, working, doing laundry… you name it.”  

To add to the illusion of extra space, the couple also replaced the existing exterior door with a Dutch door, complete with a glass top to let as much light in as possible. 

The overall color scheme also adds to the airiness of the space, “As a photographer, design was also super important. I’m not a fan of everything white or gray,” says Crutcher, who says she prefers color in moderation. “I wanted it to feel warm and inviting.” After much deliberation, she narrowed in on Treron by Farrow & Ball, a green shade that wasn’t loud or trendy, but instead timeless and warm, without skewing yellow. 

In a way, the resulting look is a marriage of British country cottage and Japanese wabi-sabi, says Crutcher. Semihandmade’s DIY Shaker fronts add cottage charm, while the white walls, custom wooden shelves, and Rejuvenation aged brass hardware lend to the minimalist feel. 

It’s not all about style, though. Despite the limited square footage, there’s plenty of functionality. “I love the look of open shelves, which is why we did them on one side, but they’re not practical in terms of storage and hiding things you don’t want to see,” says Crutcher. To balance this out, they installed a longer-than-standard cabinet on the side of the stove, plus added an enviably large built-in pantry on the other side of the fridge. The result is a customized storage-friendly kitchen that fits perfectly with their lifestyle.


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