In the Details

A ’70s kitchen gets a thoughtful redesign for the 21st century.
home design by benning design construction
Photo by Kat Alves

There’s an old jazz ballad that posits that when it comes to love, “it’s the little things that mean so much.” The same can be said of kitchen design. Thoughtful details are often the difference between a kitchen that merely looks good and one that actually functions smoothly for daily living and is a joy to live in.

Take this kitchen in an iconic midcentury-modern home in Carmichael’s Del Dayo neighborhood. When it needed a refresh, the team at Benning Design Construction focused on smart, subtle details both practical and beautiful—changes that enhance the home’s original architecture rather than interfere with it.

vertical grain of cabinets by benning design construction in this home
The continuous vertical grain of the cabinets gives the impression of being one piece of wood, adding to a sense of visual calm in the room. Rather than puncture the slatted ceiling in order to install canned lights, Benning and his team devised a clever solution: They carved a narrow channel in the beams and ran LED strip lights flush with the wood for an elegant, barely-know-they’re-there effect. Photo by Kat Alves.

“The home was completely original, down to the ’70s appliances and the parquet flooring,” says principal Eric Benning, who credits lead designer Miche Victoria (who is no longer with Benning) for spearheading the transformation. “Our firm has become known for ‘restovating’ these types of homes by preserving the style while bringing them up to today’s standards. It’s a fun challenge to find that balance.”

drop down table
A drop-down table was specially designed to hug the island. The V-shaped leg propping up the table allows ample legroom for three chairs and is an example of “the painstaking measures we go through to get details perfect,” says Eric Benning. Photo by Kat Alves.

In a home with no crawl space or attic, great care was taken to upgrade the lighting, plumbing and electrical systems without marring the original floors or ceiling. Understated finishes like the stacked tile backsplash and the streamlined hood allow other features—like the veined quartzite countertops and the wall of oversized windows—to steal the spotlight.

A lack of decorative molding and trim pieces helps preserve the spare lines of the architecture. “In homes like these, the less the amount of material transition the better,” explains Benning. “It’s often harder to do something clean and simple, but it’s worth the effort.”

kitchen shelving
By limiting open shelving to one small corner, the kitchen remains spare and tidy. “With those shelves, we were able to create some interest where the cabinetry meets the window while preserving the view and the natural light coming in from the window,” Benning says. Photo by Kat Alves.