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French Style Inspires a Modern Kitchen

The sophistication of Provence meets California living in a graceful Santa Monica kitchen

Written by Sally Finder Weepie

A bit of Provence lives in Mary Glowacki’s heart, so it’s no surprise that she invited the beauty of the region into her Santa Monica home.

“I’ve always had a love for France,” Mary says. “I’ve been there many times since I was a student. Now it’s my middle-school son who’s studying French, and we visit as a family. I love the lightness, the freshness, everything that is Provence.”

To bring that vibe into her family’s California home, Mary turned to designer Caren Rideau, another confirmed Francophile.

“I was excited to be part of Mary’s dream of building a Provence-inspired house,” Rideau says. “We didn’t want to go over the top, though. It’s about creating a feeling, borrowing from Provence, rather than being too literal and doing something that doesn’t fit in California.”

Instead, Rideau’s interior architecture gently nods to Provençal style: limestone and French oak flooring, a barrel ceiling in the butler’s pantry with timeworn brick placed on edge, aged wood beams spanning the dining room. Only in the heart of the cooking zone does France make an unequivocal statement—on a La Cornue range, shimmering in stainless steel with polished-brass accents.

The range anchors one of three separate “stations”—for meal prep, cooking, and cleanup—that Rideau created to give the kitchen optimal functionality and effortless flow.

A pair of wall ovens—one a speed oven that’s a boon for a couple with two young boys—work in tandem with the range while a large island offers plenty of space for prep. It’s handy to a deep apron-front sink, the center of a cleanup zone surrounded by cabinets rich with tableware storage.

Gray tones on base cabinets form the heart of a livable palette that also includes plenty of white—on the backsplash, countertops, and display shelves crafted of elegant marble. Warm natural wood tones on upper cabinets and the island—accented by gleaming European brass hardware—punctuate the scheme. “I wanted to do something more organic with the island,” Rideau says. “It softens the palette, yet still feels timeless.”

Enduring good looks continue through the butler’s pantry, a hardworking link between the kitchen, breakfast area, and formal dining room. An arch of weathered bricks caps a space packed with modern-day utility—must-haves like Mary’s coffee station and a beverage fridge stocked with juice for the kids.

“I love how all of the areas work well together,” Mary says. “Every-thing is functional, and at the same time, it’s so pretty—sophisticated but also comfortable. Every day it makes me smile.” +

Interior designer: Caren Rideau   Architect: Philip Vertoch