How To Make “A Cook’s” Kitchen – It’s Not Just About The Appliances

From Em: Today we have a kitchen reveal of a friend, collaborator and fellow blogger, Barrett Prendergast. We were hanging out a couple of years ago chatting about how we could collaborate on her kitchen and while I had NOTHING to do with the design of this (she did it all and did an awesome job) I agreed to produce/publish the reveal when it was all done – win/win. So a couple of weeks ago Bowser and Sara went over and shot Barrett’s awesome kitchen (you must read until the end and see the befores) that works wildly better for her and her soon-to-be three sons + husband. More on her below. Follow her and hot tip – she also runs Valleybrink Road where we buy our gift boxes throughout the year for friends/family/clients – they are wonderful.

Hi everyone. Barrett Prendergast here. I’m the founder of gifting company Valleybrink Road and lifestyle blog Barrett and The Boys. I’m so excited to be sharing the story of our kitchen renovation with you! To be honest, my husband and business partner, André Vippolis, managed the entire project, dealing with all of the nitty-gritty details, and is still recovering from the stress of it all. It was a WILD ride, and we learned SOOO much. Before we jump into all the design details and obstacles we encountered as construction newbies, let me give a little background. 

André and I bought a small Spanish bungalow in an area of Los Angeles called Atwater Village ten years ago. Initially built in the 1920s, the house was a flip. It had been tastefully redone with a combination of Ikea and Home Depot products and finishes. After losing out on so many places and looking for what seemed like forever, we were so grateful to get a home with great bones. We fell in love with the breezy feel and open kitchen vibe. The kitchen was simple, with white cabinetry, a farmhouse sink, grey countertops, and an island in the center. The kitchen had some strange design choices, including a desk nook and a stackable washer/dryer smack in the middle of one of the walls. Still, there was tons of potential for a future redux.

Over the years of living in and using the space, we started to dream of all the things we would change. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had an actual range with a vent? Can you imagine what we could do with six burners and a large oven? For two people obsessed with food, cooking, and entertaining, the kitchen’s 24″ cooktop was a challenge. You could never cook two things at a time, as the burners were so close together and the pots didn’t fit side by side or diagonally. We were also desperate for more storage. And, as we had one child and then another, it started becoming harder and harder to find a place to store anything. We thought, wouldn’t it be nice to trim down the poorly designed island so we could have more flow and movement while cooking and hosting. And on and on.

So, a year ago, we decided to finally take the plunge and create the kitchen of our cooking dreams. But on a budget. Our goal was a bright, spacious, functional cook’s kitchen that was kid-friendly and great for entertaining. The most important things to us were:

1) High-quality appliances
2) Increased storage and a large pantry 
3) An island where our kids and friends could gather comfortably as well as be utilized for prepping and cooking.
4) A home espresso machine setup
5) Increase the natural light in the space 
6) A big sink and quality faucets

We had a relatively clear vision of what we wanted the space to look like (constantly pinning away). To save money, we had an architect’s assistant prepare drawings for us based on our mood board and the goals mentioned above. We were also able to partner with many incredible brands that helped bring the kitchen to life on a budget. And, while it took much longer than expected, we made it through and are in love with our new kitchen! Here’s how it all came together.


Sconce | Tea Kettle | Blue Dipped Ceramic Bowl (similar) | Vinegar Dispenser (similar)

Appliances: As we mentioned above, we had been dreaming of having appliances that were more conducive to cooking. We decided to go with Thermador as their appliances are solid performers with a good reputation among cooks. They have a great ultra-low simmer feature and the ability to have more burners with high BTUs on their ranges. The design of their Pro Harmony line is clean and modern without looking too high-tech. We were also able to get a free dishwasher and rangehood with the promotion they had running at the time we made our range and refrigerator purchase.

Refrigerator | Wood Veneers | Custom Cabinets

Appliance Pulls (in satin brass) | Cabinet Pulls ( in stain brass)

Storage: With our goal of increased storage in mind, we decided to dedicate one entire wall in the kitchen to the pantry, fridge, and extra shelving for cookware, ceramics, dinnerware, serving pieces, etc. Initially, our laundry was along this wall in the kitchen, along with a random desk area we never used, leaving very little room for the pantry or any other storage. We decided to do floor-to-ceiling cabinetry and a built-in fridge to get the most storage and shelf space while keeping as much as possible put away and out of sight. We opted for custom cabinetry from AT Designs and chose GL Veneer’s Premium Rift Cut White Oak veneers for all the cabinetry and Emtek hardware for all the finishes. The neutral tones of the veneer bring a lot of soft warmth into the space. By having cabinetry that goes floor to ceiling, we were able to triple the amount of storage we originally had in the room. Rather than having cooking appliances on the countertops, like our Kitchen Aid Mixer or Vitamix, we can now store these items out of sight and bring them out as needed.

Flooring | Stools | Ceramic Pitcher | Footed Bowl (similar)

Space: Cooking, especially when you get in the flow, is almost like a beautiful dance. You might be sauteing something, then spin around to grab more ingredients before making your way back to the stove to finish it all off. When space is tight, it’s more difficult to find that cooking flow. After years of cooking in our kitchen, we knew we needed more space to move around while still maintaining the island. Removing it would have significantly reduced how much usable countertop space we had to utilize. Also, the island is where everyone gathers. Our kids and friends always love to spend time in the kitchen with us when cooking, so we wanted to create a comfortable place for them to sit and connect with us. We chose Article Esse Stools in White Oak with a leather seat for the island seating. They are comfortable and fresh-looking, while the oak color and leather complement the kitchen’s tones nicely.

Wall Tiles | Countertops

With cooking and prep at the top of mind when designing the kitchen, we wanted to make sure we had enough usable counter space and that the material would be durable. We opted for Caesarstone countertops in London Grey. We chose this for its balance of performance, price, and quality. It’s less prone to staining and easier to clean and maintain than more porous natural stone such as marble. The London grey color has cool tones that compliment the warmer tones of the GL White Oak Veneers and the FireClay Tiles in Milky Way we used for the backsplash and shelf wall. We loved the contrast between the subtle texture of the handmade tiles and the smooth quality of the countertops. We also brought in the most beautiful indoor plants from Folia Collective as an added touch on the floating shelves, and by having them line the top shelf, our countertops and island still have a lot of usable space.

Espresso Machine | Espresso Grinder

Home Espresso Machine Setup: Two small children mean hectic mornings, and often for us, not great sleep. We need our coffee! We’d always been in the habit of getting a cappuccino outside the house after a morning Americano from our trusty Bialetti. We decided it would be great to learn to make our coffee drinks and have them whenever we wanted. So, we knew that our new kitchen would have an espresso machine setup plumbed in when we remodeled. This way, we would never have to fill and clean a tank multiple times per week. We partnered with Pasquini Coffee Co. to make our coffee dreams come true. They set us up with a beautiful Bezzera Duo De machine and a Mazzer Mini Electronic A grinder. We had the machine panels custom powder coated white and selected the grinder in white as well. 

Skylight | Ceiling Flushmounts | Plants

Light and Lighting: Adequate natural light is so crucial to both of us when we are cooking. We also wanted the space to feel calm and inviting. The kitchen ceiling was always high and on a slant but had faux-wood beams across it. So, we ripped out the beams and decided to add a solar-powered skylight from Velux right above the island. It brings beautiful natural light into the kitchen throughout the day, along with touches of blue skies. It also opens, which helps with air circulation if it gets hot or a little smokey when cooking.

As for lighting, initially, we were thinking of adding pendant lights above the island but then decided to keep the space open and airy, adding two additional surface mount lights around the skylight instead. We chose Cedar and Moss Swift surface lights for the ceiling and RBW Dimple Flush Mounts as sconces on each side of the archway for accent. We added LED strip lighting under all of the lower floating shelves, which has turned out to be a beneficial detail when cooking at night. Also, switching out the dark engineered flooring in our entire house for a lighter engineered wood floor from National Hardwood, #304, made all the difference in how bright and light everything now feels.

Sink | Faucet | Beverage Faucet | Kitchen Towel (similar) | Glass Canisters | Pot Brush (similar) | Dinner Plates | Salad Plates | Cereal Bowls |

Sink and Faucet: The combination of being parents and foodies causes us to spend a great deal of time at our kitchen sink. With this in mind, we knew we wanted something larger than our original sink and more durable. We decided to go with Kohlers’ Strive stainless steel sink. For the faucet, we chose their Crue Kitchen Faucet in brushed brass so that it would complement the Emtek brass pulls throughout the kitchen. Having a larger sink has been a gamechanger for cooking and cleanup. 

Here are the before and afters:

And, that’s about it! Thank you for letting us share our little kitchen journey with you and hopefully it inspires you to design some of your kitchens with cooking and entertaining at top of mind!

*Design by Barrett Prendergast
**Styled by Emily Bowser
***Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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