Blend of old, new spices up loft kitchen

Nalini is a hip young urbanite who just bought her first home — a century-old, converted loft in the heart of the city. It’s a super-funky space, and Nalini just loves it, but the cramped kitchen just didn’t fit in with the condo’s high ceilings, wooden beams and exposed ductwork. The layout was awkward, there was little storage space and there were the awful pink walls. The kitchen was dreary, uninspiring and just not conducive to cooking and entertaining — two must-haves for Nalini.

It was so dreadful that Nalini (and her beloved dog, Fozzie) didn’t even want to unpack until the eyesore of a room was taken care of. So, while Nalini and her canine companion moved out for a short while, I moved in with my crew to turn this small kitchen into a more functional space for Nalini and her friends.

I started by opening up the kitchen and changing it from a cramped U-shaped room into a more practical L-shaped space. I then got to work on the details. Nalini liked the idea of combining the old with the new, so I decided to give her a kitchen the perfect blend of the traditional and the contemporary.

I kept the modern stainless steel appliances as well as the kitchen’s base cabinets (but refaced some and retrofitted others to create more usable space). I then created a very long, sleek quartz-topped countertop along one wall and incorporated white, Shaker-style cabinets, a dishwasher and a stainless steel beveled-edge sink with the most high-tech faucet I’ve ever seen.

On the adjacent wall, I refaced the cabinets in the same Shaker style and kept the existing stainless steel fridge, stove and microwave. But, for some extra modernity, I added a beautiful built-in coffee maker and a state-of-the art wine fridge.

To bring the two areas together — and to add a splash of color to the room’s neutral color scheme — I put in a fresh-green glass tile backsplash with unsanded snowy-white grout.

I then got started on the focal point of the room — a new kitchen island that really brings together the idea of old and new. I found a long reproduction wooden antique cabinet that works perfectly as an island and added a surface of traditional white Carrara marble. I then put some upholstered barstools around the island so Nalini’s friends will have a place to sit while she cooks dinner for them. Above, I put up three stainless steel pendant lights with frosted diffusers that give off a really cool industrial vibe.

And I created a little something for Fozzie — a funky little dog bed of his very own. It is made from green and brown linen and has his name ("The Foz") embroidered on it.

By saving some of the old, adding a bunch of the new and reconfiguring the rest, I created a traditional/contemporary kitchen that will be a delicious space in which Nalini (and Fozzie) can cook, eat and entertain. Now that’s divine!


Interior decorator Candice Olson is host of HGTV’s "Divine Design." For more ideas or information visit Her column is syndicated by Scripps Howard News Service.

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