Before and After: An Old Kitchen Learns New Tricks With a Window-Filled Addition and a Santa Monica Meets Sussex Aesthetic

published Oct 2, 2022
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Credit: Courtesy of Laurel Gallucci
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When Laurel Gallucci, the co-founder of Sweet Laurel in Los Angeles, daydreamed about her ideal baking headquarters (and home kitchen!), the dated cook space in her newly-purchased home wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. The kitchen was tiny — about an eighth of the size of what it is now!” says Gallucci. “All I remember thinking was the kitchen was quaint and definitely not [at] its full potential, and the appliances would need a major upgrade if I was going to do all the baking and entertaining like I normally do.” With big things on the horizon for the Sweet Laurel business — boxed baking mixes, workshops, photo shoots, and more — Gallucci was ready to tackle a redo that would inspire her, function efficiently for her family, and serve as a beautiful backdrop for all the things she needed professionally. Luckily, she knew exactly who to call for help getting the aesthetics, layout, and appliance choices just right: Claire Thomas, her Sweet Laurel bakery co-founder, designer, and creative director. 

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The duo got to quick work sketching out a design and establishing a plan for the layout. “Claire and I had an established mood board within minutes — the vibe was Santa Monica meets Sussex — and capturing the essence of Sweet Laurel,” says Gallucci. “We knew the space needed to be filled with light…  this would help for photography but also the tone of the home.” Adding in far more windows would get them there, and then they’d draw their color palette from the trees just beyond those windows, which best manifests itself in the kitchen’s IKEA cabinetry, painted in Light Pine (DE5535) by Dunn Edwards. “I always wanted a window breakfast nook, and I remember that being something we also designed the kitchen space around,” Gallucci adds. 

Credit: Claire Thomas
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Of course, to add more windows and the aforementioned custom banquette, the kitchen’s footprint had to expand. Fortunately, the house sits on a corner lot, so Thomas could grab space from a side yard to creation an addition, which Gallucci said ended up being “50 percent windows.” The new kitchen would be about 600 square feet, large by anyone’s standards really but apropos for two baking mavens hosting classes, filming tutorials, and hosting events. They’d vault the ceiling to make the space feel bright and airy with open shelving instead of upper cabinets on the kitchen’s sink wall. There’d still be an intimacy to the space though, thanks to warm brass hardware finishes and that cute, cozy nook in the corner, built for breaking bread (or eating cake!) and furnished with Room & Board’s Ventura Round table, June Chairs, and custom pillows in Trip Oatmeal

When it came to the countertops, Gallucci and Thomas wanted ample prep space for baking and creating but also accommodations to fit a large film crew and something that would look beautiful but also stand up to heavy use. For that reason, a grand 12-foot-long Caesarstone Stratuario Nuovo countertop island takes center stage, quite literally, in the space, which is oriented almost like a galley kitchen due to the size of this feature. (The duo had actually used a similar material in their bakery and were impressed by the engineered stone’s  performance and convincing, marble-like veining). New Café appliances went in to bring the cook space up to speed in terms of BTUs and smart technology, including three ovens total (with remote pre-heating!) and Gallucci’s first dishwasher, if you can believe it. The appliances’ white finish and bronze accents work well with the light, bright feel in the space but also help reinforce the Santa Monica modern meets English garden vibes throughout the project. 

Credit: Claire Thomas
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Again, all of the cabinetry comes from IKEA, but it looks high-end, thanks to its soft green paint job and the fact that Thomas surrounded it with so many custom moments and special touches for Gallucci and her family. “There’s a gorgeous little espresso bar for Laurel‘s husband, Nick,” says Thomas (pictured above). “Floating shelves show off Laurel‘s collection of antique flatware, and the herringbone wood floors from Duchateau give it an old world feel.”

Credit: Claire Thomas

Part show kitchen, part hardworking family space, Gallucci’s setup is an extension of her job, sure, and has some features that aren’t for everyone; everyone that walks through those doors though can appreciate how relaxing the vibe is and can take inspiration from its earthy greens and beiges, organized shelves, and bespoke details. “It has to do with the color palette, the openness of the space with the vaulted ceilings and French windows, and the trees and sunlight,” says Gallucci. “It’s truly pleasant to be in the kitchen and a space where we’ve created so many amazing memories.”