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From “tastefully bland” to history-worthy: Steven and John transform their Palm Springs kitchen

mid century kitchen beforeThe kitchen in Steven and John’s Palm Springs house — designed by midcentury architect Herbert W. Burns — had been pretty nicely updated, albeit, admittedly “tastefully bland.” Once in the house, there was no question that this creative couple — Steven Keylon is a landscape historian, and John De La Rosa, a metal sculptor — would revive the deserving space with a period kitchen remodel befitting its provenance. Very interesting to me: Steven and John also have been restoring the original colors used inside the house, which drove their choices for the kitchen cabinetry. This level of attention to detail is not something I have seen very often — a true restoration mindset — I’m extremely impressed! 

midcentury kitchen afterSteven wrote:

We bought our Herbert W. Burns designed house in the Deepwell Estates neighborhood of Palm Springs two years ago. We actually moved to Palm Springs from Los Angeles for the house!

We had long loved Herbert Burns’ Late Moderne style, and it fit our collection of Gilbert Rohde for Herman Miller furniture perfectly.

The house was pretty much a blank slate. It had been a wreck 10 years before, but our friend Jacques Caussin, one of the co-founders of Palm Springs Modernism Week, had bought the house to save it from flippers who didn’t know what they were doing.

granite countertop in midcentury kitchenmid century modern kitchen design

Because the kitchen had been badly redone in the 1970s, and that later kitchen was in deplorable shape, he quickly put in an Ikea kitchen with granite countertops, to keep it “tastefully bland,” since he was planning on quickly restoring the original features to flip the house himself.

vintage refrigerator in midcentury modern kitchen

In the last two years, we’ve been restoring the house, including returning the paint palette to the original colors Herbert Burns chose for the house. One of the primary colors is a wonderful muted pinkish-tan color, he used to harmonize with the Arizona sandstone chimney.

salvage steel kitchen cabinets

When we bought it, we knew we wanted vintage steel cabinets, but it took two years of searching to find a set nearby. John found a set of pink General Electric cabinets in Beverly Hills, so we rented a big truck and grabbed it all.

beige steel kitchen cabinets

We were up against the clock, as our house was scheduled to be on a big tour for a weekend celebrating the work of Herbert Burns, which the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation (PSPF) planned a few weeks ago. I’m on the Board of PSPF, and wrote Burns’ biography for the event. 

Sink:

beige steel kitchen cabinets

We worked like mad to get the kitchen done in time, and did it, with minutes to spare! We seriously were hanging cabinets an hour before people were going to arrive.

storage nook in kitchen

The kitchen was originally GE’s “petal pink,” but had been repainted at some point in the past in a color that was almost identical to Herbert Burns’ pinkish-tan. So we sprayed them in the same color, polished the hardware…

formica charcoal boomerang laminate

…and had Formica Skylark countertops in gray, with stainless steel trim installed.

Formica boomerang laminate in charcoal, so thrifty too, and in various sizes:  

kohler delafield sink

Your blog was a wealth of information, so we thank you! That’s also how we sourced the kitchen faucet. I painted the stainless steel dishwasher to match the cabinets. 

Kohler Delafied sink with metal (hudee) ring:

Central Brass kitchen faucet:


vintage stove

Our 1948 Tappan DeLuxe stove was in storage, as was our 1950 Hotpoint refrigerator, so we are happy to have them back again. We’ve still got to work out the vent exhaust situation…

Thank you, Steven — what a great project. Your research also is making me fell the pinky-beige love. I don’t think pinky-beige gets much love. This is literally a “Pinky Beige” in our first-and-best Sherwin Williams Suburban Modern paint color collection. Pinky beige is a fine color! 

Nicely played.

  1. Evelyn Scott says:

    I love how the pink brings out the floor. I didn’t even notice the floor before. Also the countertops are perfect.
    We had a petal pink GE refrigerator in the 60’s. My mom made matching pink gingham curtains. Love!

  2. Susan Doucleff says:

    I love seeing this terrific transformation. I grew up in the ’50’s and ’60’s with a Petal Pink GE kitchen (including a Petal Pink GE fridge) in a 1952 ranch house in Indian Hill, a suburb of Cincinnati. My husband and I salvaged the entire kitchen, including the barely used original dishwasher…and built-in oven and stove (all of which was in nearly new condition because my mom didn’t cook) before the house was sold and demolished five years ago. We kept a few of the pink cabinets for our own ’50’s ranch basement. Everything else was donated to Building Value here in Cincinnati. The entire kitchen is now installed in an artist’s house in an old Cincinnati neighborhood.

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