Mixing It Up


Designer Laura Nathan had already worked with homeowners David and Karen Westphalen for a few years when the couple asked her to overhaul the kitchen in their Davis home. That history meant that Nathan came to the job with a keen understanding of their style and needs.

“We had built up a rapport working on other projects in the house, so I already knew their lifestyle and how they use the house,” says Nathan. She describes the couple as “very social people” who like to entertain. “Dave’s the cook in the family, so the layout of the kitchen was important to him. And Karen likes slightly cooler color tones and a traditional feel.”

“That’s what I loved about working with her,” says Karen. “I hardly had to give her any direction. She just knew what would work for us.” What Nathan created for the Westphalens is a welcoming space awash in natural light and filled with a subtle mix of materials and comfortable, classic furnishings. It’s a place where the couple can effortlessly host a dinner party for eight or lounge by the fireplace with their dog.

The paint on the cabinetry is Benjamin Moore’s Northern Cliffs.

Nathan gained square footage (and ample sunlight) by pushing a wall out into the former patio and framing the dining space with tall windows. “In addition to thinking about colors and textures, I’m always thinking about how much natural light I can get into a space, because it’s the natural light that makes it feel good,” explains Nathan.

She gave the kitchen a completely new look by replacing “builder-basic” finishes—think white tile countertops and natural oak cabinets—with a customized mix of elements, including paint, stone, glass, wood and metal, that together form an unexpectedly cohesive space.

“There are several different materials, but it doesn’t hit you that way,” notes the designer. “You can have many different things in a room if you balance them and have some complement between them.”

For example, countertops in two materials and colors, black granite and white quartz, set off contrasting cabinet colors on the island and along the wall, each outfitted with different hardware. Seeded glass doors on some of the upper cabinets “give a sense of depth to the space, and I like that I’m not overwhelmed by flat cabinetry,” says Nathan.

The kitchen, dining and living space together make an attractive great room whose colors, textures and finishes possess long-term appeal. “You want it to be fresh and of the time, but you also want it to be timeless,” she says. “Here we have classic elements mixed with more modern lines. I think it’s that balance that feels good in any room.”

dining room