Rowhouse Retirement Begins With Modern Kitchen

Candice Olson helps a retired couple move into their dream house by gutting its kitchen.


This kitchen is not exactly what the homeowners had in mind when they decided to settle here for retirement.

This kitchen is not exactly what the homeowners had in mind when they decided to settle here for retirement.

Before: Lacking Sophistication

Before: Lacking Sophistication
Ken and Annette were longtime suburban dwellers, but their downtown jobs and long commutes left them longing to live in the heart of the city. They found the home of their dreams, a charming, Victorian heritage row house, during one of their long city walks. It needed tons of work, and they bought it with an eye to moving in slowly and retiring there for good.

While they wound up their life in the suburbs and planned the upcoming renovation, they let their three grown children become tenants in the new digs. But a year passed and the kids were making themselves too comfy. The place was even dirtier than before and was just one pizza box away from total kid domination.

Mom and dad wanted to reclaim their space, so they called me in to help figure out how to update the frat house disaster. My advice was to start with the heart of the home: the kitchen, which would help set the tone for the rest of the design. What better way to get rid of the kids than to undertake a massive renovation in their favorite room! So I gave the kids their walking papers, called in my crew and geared up to turn the awkward, dreary space into a sleek, updated kitchen for two: Ken and Annette.

After: All Grown Up



It took a complete gut and the design vision of Candice Olson, and this kitchen is finally divine. Now the newly-retired homeowners can relax and enjoy.

It took a complete gut and the design vision of Candice Olson, and this kitchen is finally divine. Now the newly-retired homeowners can relax and enjoy.

After: All Grown Up
I started by stripping the room bare and starting from square one. I painted the entire space in creamy beige and gave one wall a special treatment with a chocolate, metallic vinyl graphic material. I also removed the room’s ancient linoleum to make way for a new heated, mushroom-colored porcelain tile floor.

Then I got busy on the particulars. Ken wanted a sleek, modern kitchen, but Annette wanted some traditional touches to maintain the home’s historical character. So I chose appliances, accents, lighting and accessories that would blend the contemporary with the conventional.

Along one side of the room I installed an entire wall of espresso-colored cabinets. I then put in gorgeous, white quartz countertops and a stunning backsplash of chocolate, coffee and cream-colored, mosaic glass tiles.

To contrast all of the dark brown and white in the room, I put in state-of-the-art, stainless- steel appliances, including a side-by-side fridge, an oven with a warming drawer, a wine refrigerator, a deep basin sink and a built-in espresso maker.

In the middle of the room, I created a 14-foot-long kitchen island. I divided the island up into two areas: a lower area with a built-in sink and storage that will serve as a bar area, and a higher area that will function as an eating center. I covered it with the same white quartz as the other counters, and I also put in two dazzling, linear crystal fixtures above.

For additional sparkle, I installed recessed lighting on the ceiling, task lighting at the upper cabinets, accent lighting near the shelves and path lighting on the lower storage cabinets. I also put up some beautiful, woven wooden blinds and sheer, striped drapes on the patio doors.

After some final accents and accessories, the kitchen was ready to be reclaimed by its rightful owners. By blending modern tiles, cabinets and floors with a variety of traditional finishes, Ken and Annette got a kitchen that turned out to be elegant, contemporary and kid-free. Now that’s divine!

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