Project Description

Bennett Residence
North Clairemont Retro Kitchen
2012 | Clairemont Mesa


  • Expanded Kitchen Cabinets Toward Dining Area to Create More Usable Counter Space and Storage in Kitchen
  • Raised Height of Partition Cabinet Between Dining Room and Breakfast Nook
  • Kept Old Archway Between Kitchen and Family Room
  • Installed a New French Style Glass Back Door

Kitchen Details


  • Cabinets: Beech Veneer Cabinet Doors, Matched Grain for a Clean and Sleek More Modern Cabinet Style
  • Cabinet Finish: Conversion Varnish Top Coat w/ Very Light Stain
  • Countertops: Retro Style, 4 X 4 American Olean Matte Ceramic Tiles in Snow Mist (#0095) with Blue Accent Dot Insets and No-Drip V-Cap Edge
  • Backsplash: American Olean Matte Ceramic Tiles in Snow Mist (#0095) with Blue Accent Trims
  • Wall Treatments: White 4 x 4 Tile With Blue Trim
  • Flooring: LVT Luxury Vinyl Tile: Slate Appearance


  • Refrigerator: Freestanding Refrigerator
  • Cooktop: GE Profile PGP953 30″ Gas 5 Burner Cooktop
  • Oven: GE JTP30 30″ Undercounter Convection, Installed as Under Cooktop Oven
  • Hood: Broan QP236WW 36″ Hood
  • Microwave: GE PEM31DMWW Under Cabinet Microwave
  • Dishwasher: Bosch SHE43R52UC in White

Project Overview

This home is located in the north Clairemont area, built sometime in the early 1960’s. It had original cabinets and countertops, and it just basically needed an upgrade. The client was striving for a retro look and wanted a very simple sleek and modern cabinet style to go with the retro look of tile counters and white appliances, avoiding the current Stainless Steel trend. The flooring looks like slate and is textured like slate, but it’s actually luxury vinyl tile (LVT). I love that product, it’s a great solution. In this particular case, it was put in over a slab floor, so it was easy to install and resulted in a feel that’s very soft on the feet. It’s a commercial-grade product, so it looks and wears very, very well.

During the decision making process for the cabinetry, we looked at thermofoil and melamine doors to save the client money and get the most bang for her buck. She almost chose some thermofoil options, which would have had a similar look as this product, but she was ultimately really set on wood doors and the unlimited color options associated with wood. We wound up using a wood veneer door made with European “steamed” Beech wood. It is the least expensive wood that I have available. It really wasn’t that much more expensive than the thermofoil option because this is a door I make myself rather than buying it from a door manufacturer. Most other commonly used wood options like maple, birch, or oak would have been considerably more expensive. She liked the more uniform grain of the beech, and it also gave her the ability to pick exactly the stain color she wanted without the color and wood species limitations that come with thermofoil.

The main reason I call this a retro look is the tile countertops and backsplash in this kitchen. She really wanted tile countertops — she liked the look and the idea of the old style tile countertops with a “no-drip”edge on it (which is called a v-cap). The retro look is also reflected in her appliance choicesforgoing stainless steel appliances and in favor of the classic white appliances. She chose a very traditional style hood and a freestanding refrigerator. Even the under cabinet microwave, under cooktop convection oven, gas cooktop, and dishwasher are all white.. All of her material and appliance choices fit the retro style, while the white tile pattern with delft blue accents are borrowed from another older style called “Country French”.

In regard to the functional solutions we implemented, the kitchen is actually not too dissimilar from the original floor plan. It is definitely larger. Like most “builder kitchens”, this one had the sink and range both stuck into the corner and sitting almost on top of one another. We moved the refrigerator and the pantry outwards more into the dining room area, all without disrupting the seating and walkways. This move allowed us to relocate the cooktop 24” to the right and the sink as far left as possible while still keeping it under the kitchen window to create more counter space and usable storage space between the cooktop and sink, which is the heaviest used counter in all kitchens. The small peninsula cabinets that separate the dining room from the breakfast table is very close to the same location it was originally. We did make them a bit deeper and a little taller, and also put doors on both sides for dinnerware access from both the dining room and breakfast areas. The counter on this peninsula doubles as a great serving place for either table as well, resulting in great functionality for multiple spaces.

Notice the placement of the recessed LED down lights over the counter tops as you look around the kitchen: they are not in the typical brain-dead architectural geometric pattern seen in most magazines. These kitchen lights are placed where they are needed over work spaces, in front of cabinets so the cabinets are highlighted and you are not standing and working in your own shadow like you would if the lights were behind you in a geometric pattern in the ceiling. We also supplemented the lighting with under cabinet fluorescent lights.