“Barefoot Bohemian” and “Traditional English” aren’t usually phrases uttered in the same sentence, let alone the guiding directives at the foundation of a design plan. “But this family knew that’s exactly what they wanted in their kitchen redesign,” interior designer Heather Cleveland says. “So, we rolled up our sleeves, challenged our own design assumptions, and created a look that’s all their own.”
The house was built in 1910 in Berkeley, California—and like many couples, clients Jack and Laura had distinct visions for their kitchen’s finishes. “Born and raised in England, Jack loves traditional English kitchens,” Heather says. “For Laura, California’s laid-back hippy vibe is more her style. Our job? To fuse these two seemingly disparate tastes into a signature style. Thankfully, these clients were true design partners. More than just voicing vague opinions, they really wanted to participate in the process, which was a lot of fun.”
The kitchen’s original layout was originally quite awkward and technically four unique spaces—a small existing kitchen, an under-stairs closet, a closet from an adjacent bedroom, and a laundry room. “It was almost a game of Tetris, figuring out how to move walls and expand the kitchen without compromising how the rest of the home functioned,” the designer says. She drew up a more functional layout. “We removed the laundry area, putting that in a closet in another room, and took the space from another closet in an adjacent bedroom to create the walk-in pantry for more storage,” she explains. “We lifted the low windowsills so we could run more cabinets under them, thus extending the kitchen two-fold. We united all the spaces and gave it a more cohesive look.”
Style-wise, the couple worked to ensure it’d be the right blend of his and hers. “Jack sourced some of the fixtures from back home,” Heather recalls. “The brass rails, cabinet pulls, taps, and lighting are all from the iconic British company deVOL.” As a nod to California’s natural beauty, walnut cabinetry (from John Wilson Cabinets) provides the perfect contrast for the swirling sea foam quartzite countertops (from All Natural Stone). “But, while most cabinetry here in California features overlay doors (which are more forgiving to subtle shifts after earthquakes), Jack was insistent on inset style doors to achieve that Old-World feel,” Heather explains. Finally, a 48” Viking range grounds the entire space and provides the perfect focal point.
There is a lot of storage to hide away essentials, but the couple also requested there be room to display favorite pieces. “Well-seasoned cast iron skillets, passed down from Laura’s mother and grandmother hang above the range, while a set of vintage scales from Jack’s mother rests on the shelf to the left,” Heather tells us. There’s also a wooden rotary phone that’s more than just decor: it was retrofitted to function as their home’s landline telephone. “Perhaps most impressively,” Heather says, “while the renovation was underway, Laura spent months at a local ceramic studio throwing a set of dishes for their new kitchen. Not only did she design and create each piece by hand, but she even formulated the perfect glaze. Now, they’re displayed lovingly in the glass-front cabinetry next to the apron sink.”
The project took about five months, expanding Heather’s design vocabulary every step of the way. “I feel like this project and these clients really developed and expanded my own aesthetic,” she says. “They had such a clear vision; it was definitely me following their lead at certain moments. I feel like this experience will absolutely impact future projects. I’ll be bolder about mixing in some traditional, proper elements into more modern spaces, and—as cliche as it might sound—thinking a bit outside the box.”