Getting the look: A postwar kitchen joins the new century

Photo: Christian Hommel Photo: Christian Hommel

When Jon and Lauren Thompson bought their Rugby neighborhood house three years ago, it was more than 60 years old and “in need of significant updates” throughout, said Jon. “The kitchen was the low-hanging fruit.”

Besides aqua-hued formica countertops and a “gross” linoleum floor, the old kitchen suffered from layout problems. An exterior door to a small porch broke up the work space, leaving a narrow section of countertop stranded in no-man’s-land. The kitchen was separated from the dining room by swinging doors.

“It was a really tight work space,” Jon said. “We like to host, so we found that our friends were cramming into the kitchen. We knew right away that it needed to open up.”

Combining ideas from their contractor, Mike Ball of Element Construction, and Jon’s brother, local architect Ben Thompson, the couple decided on a simple but effective plan. The exterior door would slide toward the living room (with that small porch growing into a larger deck). The wall between the kitchen and dining room would turn into a bar, keeping the two distinct but connected. “We didn’t want to lose the formal dining space,” Jon said.

And, of course, new finishes would freshen it all up. Better Living supplied the prefab cabinets and, said Jon, helpful advice about kitchen functionality. The white cabinets contrast nicely with black matte-finish granite countertops and grey-blue subway tile, and Lauren found retro pendant lights at IKEA for $30, a steal compared with the similar ones she’d seen at Restoration Hardware for $300.

A farmhouse sink completes the look. “I wanted to wash my babies in the sink,” explained Lauren. (She has, indeed, bathed 20-month-old twins Ryland and Sophie there.)

The two are pleased with how it all works—for cooking, baking, and hanging out. “The whole house felt updated by doing this one room,” Lauren said.