The best kitchens blend style and substance—great to look at, fun to hang out in and, most importantly, easy spaces for cooking and entertaining.

This kitchen ticks all those boxes now, but it wasn’t the case when Avian Rogers and her team from Moderne Builders in Palm Springs, California, first saw the space. “The kitchen was pathetically dated and, frankly, had been done at some point with very low-grade ‘country’ cabinets that didn’t suit the house in the least and cheap Formica countertops,” Avian says.

A mid century kitchen makeover with a dangling pendant light, orange dining stools, and white countertops.

Fitting Updates

For a 1960 William Krisel home surrounded by mountains in the heart of the Southern California desert, this dated kitchen just wouldn’t do. The homeowners wanted something better fitting their modern home that would also be functional when they entertained. Over a six-month renovation, which also included updating both of the home’s bathrooms, Avian set about achieving these goals in a manner suiting not only the home’s original style but also its stunning natural surroundings.

A mid century kitchen makeover with an orb light fixture, single table, and island seating.
Originally a second home, this 1960 single-story William Krisel home in Palm Springs had been updated with a cookie-cutter contemporary kitchen that just didn’t fit. A thoughtful renovation brought warm-hued wood cabinetry and clean lines into the kitchen for a cohesive look with the rest of the home.

“Given that the house is a classic Palm Springs midcentury home, in a neighborhood adored by midcentury enthusiasts, we wanted to bring in themes from the period like clerestory windows,” Avian says. “Opening up the kitchen and updating the style and function were at the top of the list.”

Let There Be Light

The clerestory windows were added in the nearby living room (as well as the master) and the sliders were reframed to bring the outdoors— and natural light—into the once-drab kitchen. A partition wall at the entry was removed to make more space for the island and to make the kitchen more prominent for visitors. Gloss white was selected for the countertops and lower cabinets, with walnut chosen for the uppers and island. The ceilings were painted white to further brighten the space. Light-reflecting polished concrete was selected for the floors. Contemporary furnishings with a midcentury sensibility were chosen for the new space. The hanging light fixtures were installed based on the style and drama they would add.

A mid century kitchen makeover with a long island, orange dining stools, and wood cabinetry.
The island serves a number of functions; it’s a space for preparing food, serving food, eating food and gathering with guests. To better accommodate all these functions, designer Avian Rogers chose not to install matching waterfalls on each end of the island but instead selected a long overhang for one end that would be ideal for serving food when the homeowners entertain.

Combined together, all these elements add up to a kitchen makeover that perfectly suits this midcentury home. “The kitchen is a wonderful complement to the overall vision of the house and certainly ‘the hub’ of activity for the family and guests,” Avian says. “It also works beautifully into the overall space as the walnut treatments add to the ‘furnishings.”

A mid century living room with a slanted white ceiling and an array of sleek mid century pieces.
Now returned to its modern roots, the kitchen makeover flows harmoniously with the rest of the home. The white-painted ceilings and polished concrete floor unify the kitchen and living room. The walnut cabinets complement the furnishings found throughout the home, including the dining chairs and console in the living room.


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