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Pretty Kitchen with a Fresh Palette

A kooky-shaped island and dark cabinets make way for a logical new layout, clean lines, and warm hazelnut finishes 

Written by Amy Elbert
  • John Merkl

    Bunny Berdick is too much of an extrovert to be stuck cooking in a corner with her back to the world. So a few months after moving to their home in Granite Bay, California, Bunny and her husband, Ed—both accomplished cooks—tapped the expertise of mother-daughter design team Catherine and Justine Macfee to create a better-functioning and friendlier kitchen. 

    Photography: John Merkl

    Interior designer: Catherine and Justine Macfee, Catherine Macfee Interior Design, 10004 S.E. River St., Truckee, CA 96161, and 20 White Oak Drive, Lafayette, CA 94549; 530/584-5000,  


    Cabinetry (custom, Shaker style): Feist Cabinets & Woodworks Inc.,
    Cabinet pulls (“371.5 Hex Pull”/Light White Bronze); cabinet knobs (“3990 11/2-inch Newport Knob”/Light White Bronze): Ashley Norton,
    Countertop (Azul Atlantico Limestone/Honed): Aurora Marble & Tile,
    Range (#GR 366/Stainless Steel); range hood (“Pro Chimney Wall Hood” #PWC422418/Stainless Steel); wall oven (“30-inch E Series Built-In Single Oven” #SO30TE/S/TH/Stainless Steel); microwave (#MW24/stainless steel): Wolf,
    Refrigerator (24-inch #642/Stainless Steel): Sub-Zero,
    Backsplash (“Grove Brickworks Field Tile”/Butler Bisque, Glossy): Waterworks,
    Art by range: owner’s collection.
    Rug runner (antique): Aga John Oriental Rugs,
    Wood floors (custom, wire-brushed white oak): Nor-Cal Floor Design Inc.,
    Sink (#RC3018WH, 30x18 inches, by Shaw); faucet with side spray (“Country Kitchen”): Rohl,
    Counter stools (#F24 Rush Bar Stool): Laura Lee Designs,

  • Kitchen Before

    The space was probably original to the 2004 house, Bunny says, and it was overdue for an update. “The appliances were dated and the island was odd-shaped and at a funny angle,” Bunny says. Other drawbacks included a lack of storage space, no prep area by the range, and worn-out cabinets. “My husband and I both enjoy entertaining and cooking, and this kitchen just wasn’t working for us. We wanted something lighter and with clean lines.”

  • John Merkl

    After: Lightened Up

    Color was key as the Macfees toyed with varying hazelnut hues for the custom-made floor-to-ceiling cabinets. “We wanted a cool palette—taupe with a little bit of green,” says Justine Macfee. “We tried probably 10 different finishes trying to find the right one. Then we added the distressing for texture.”

    High-gloss backsplash tiles with a pitted surface also played a role. “We walked this fine line of having lots of great textures but also cultivating a refined look,” the designer says. “We were going for California rustic meets classic and traditional.” 

    “We see a willingness with our clients to play more with color and painted finishes on cabinetry,” she adds. Cabinets extend to the ceiling for more storage and a streamlined look. 

  • Kitchen Before

    Appliances were shifted for improved work flow. 

  • John Merkl

    After: Improved Function

    The design duo reconfigured appliances and fixtures to create a layout centered on a 4x10-foot island with a farmhouse sink. The island sink makes the kitchen feel open, Macfee says, so the cook can interact with those seated at the island and in the dining area.

    A new dual-fuel range stands opposite the sink, with plenty of counter space on either side. The size and placement of the island was key to anchoring the space and making the room functional and friendly. “We focused on centering the range on that island so it felt really balanced,” says Macfee.

    Honed limestone countertops are finished with a hefty 2 1/4-inch-thick edge that is in keeping with the scale of the room. Counters on each side of the Wolf range offer handy work space.   

    Faux-wood vinyl floors were replaced with 8-inch-wide plank French oak finished in an eco-friendly, no-VOC oil/stain. “We really wanted the strength and warmth of that wood floor, and we played around with some natural processes to finish it,” says Macfee. “The finish brings out the great variations and lights and darks of the wood to show off its grain and texture.”

    Woven rush stools from Laura Lee Design are generously sized for comfort and bring interesting texture and a California rustic aesthetic to the space.

  • John Merkl

    Stainless Accents

    Centered on the island sink, the Wolf dual-fuel range is the kitchen’s workhorse and focal point. Stainless-steel finishes for the range, refrigerator, and dishwasher complement the hues in the limestone countertops and add subtle sparkle to the room.

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    Super-Size Sink

    The Shaws farmhouse-style sink with Rohl faucet is one of homeowner Bunny Berdick’s favorite features. “It’s huge. I can easily clean a giant roasting pan or rinse and prep a whole turkey,” she says. “I’d never go back to a double stainless-steel sink.”

  • John Merkl

    High-Low Sheens

    A thoughtful mix of sheen levels adds energy to the space. The glossy finish on the Waterworks Grove Brickworks tile brightens the backsplash and highlights the pitted and distressed patina. The tile’s “Butler Bisque” color informed the designer’s paint selection for the cabinets. 

  • John Merkl

     Natural Elements & Artisan Details 

    “Limestone has wonderful movement, with lights and darks and bits of fossil,” says Macfee. “It is high-maintenance- and will stain if some foods are allowed to sit on it. But if you love the look, it’s totally worth it.” The stone’s matte finish provides a nice contrast with the high-gloss tiles and low-sheen painted cabinets.

    The custom-made cabinets’ Shaker styling and a distressed finish reflect today’s trends toward simpler, more straightforward designs and artisan finishes. Ashley Norton door and drawer hardware in a white bronze finish complements the stainless-steel appliances in the room.

  • John Merkl

    Cozy Seating

    A freestanding table and chairs in an adjoining dining area were replaced with a wall-hugging banquette, custom-made to follow the room’s existing curved wall, where windows face the backyard. Cushions covered with performance indoor-outdoor fabrics are easy-care and inviting. “I have a dog and a husband, and things do get dirty,” Bunny says. “I needed something durable and comfortable.” From the banquette, you can socialize with people in the work area and view the television in the adjoining family room, she adds.

    “At first we weren’t sure about doing the banquette, but I’m so glad we did. We use it every day, and whenever we entertain, people sit there,” Bunny says. Plus, the bench seats lift for storage—deep and generous enough for Bunny to keep her 12 place settings of  Christmas china plus a large punch bowl and cups.

    An antique Oushak runner and a dining table made from reclaimed wood pump up the room’s warm vibe and personality. Those elements bring life to a space, Macfee says. “We like materials that have character, soul, and a story.”

    Back and chair seat cushions are covered in a striped fabric from Kravet, and the banquette seat is a faux woven Technohide from Rodolph. The round table from GJ Styles has a rustic finish that enhances the room’s relaxed feel. Bistro chairs are from World Market.

    Dining table (“Round Table in Natural Elm,” 60 inches #LD38-NA): GJ Styles,
    Chairs (“French Bistro Chairs”/Light Walnut #433870): World Market,
    Chair and banquette back cushion (“Eastwood Modern” #32825.411): Kravet,
    Banquette seat cushion (“Fair and Balanced”/Slate #FBL 2657 E): Rodolph,
    Banquette pillow, left (“Elan”/Deep Mauve #ELN 2287 H): Rodolph,
    Pillow trim (“2.75-inch Aristotle Greek Key”/Ashley Grey #977-33661-05): Samuel & Sons,
    Banquette pillow (“Selim”/Ritz #I6496002, by Fadini Borghi, discontinued): Pierre Frey,
    Banquette pillow trim (“Giacomo”/Brown #34733-2): Clarence House,
    Art above banquette (Red Wood Weave): Paul Schick,
    Chandelier: owner’s collection.
    Wall paint (“Bleeker Beige” #HC-80); ceiling paint (“Bleeker Beige” #HC-80, cut 50 percent): Benjamin Moore,
    Accessories: Catherine Macfee Collection,

  • John Merkl


    Homeowner Bunny Berdick and her sweet pup.

  • Werner Straube