Ventura Blvd Editor Linda Grasso Renovates Her Kitchen with the New Modernist Collection from Dacor.
It’s an entertainer’s dream.
- Photographed byShane O’Donnell
It all started with the kitchen cabinets. A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided to get rid of the golden-hued color throughout the main living space of our house and paint the walls white. We loved the freshened-up look, but it made the kitchen, with its honey-glazed cabinet finish, stand out like a sore thumb. When we went with white walls, we also switched up décor, moving from traditional to transitional. The kitchen’s Tuscan or French country vibe, with wrought iron accents and “muddy,” distressed tiles, didn’t match our new aesthetic.
CENTER STAGE A custom, matte black, metal stove hood with a brass band and the Dacor Modernist Collection range (note the cool, 7-inch touch screen up by the knobs) are the focal point of the kitchen. “Once we chose those as central elements, everything else just fell into place,” shares interior designer Orit Srour.
And we couldn’t just look the other way. Not only does my family prefer to gather in the kitchen, but it is a revolving hub for friends, neighbors and just about anyone my husband takes a liking to. No matter where I place the hors d’oeuvres, everyone winds up in the kitchen. Plus with the home’s open floor plan, the kitchen is fully visible from the front door. For me, coming into the house and seeing the kitchen was a killjoy.
A fresh coat of paint on the cabinets seemed the easiest solution. However when I got my painter’s bid, I thought: Geez, for that price I could probably get all new cabinets with an updated design. We got an estimate for Shaker-style cabinets, and indeed it was more expensive, but it wasn’t a deal killer. (This palatable price point was before we decided to add a fancy appliance garage, “magic corner” for pots and pans, and large, built-in pantry.)
The plans for new cabinetry then triggered an appliance evaluation. Do we really want to build new cabinets around this 15-year-old refrigerator that never seemed large enough or this wine cooler that never seemed cool enough?
Our fate was sealed when I happened to stumble upon a new, innovative line from Dacor at Snyder Diamond in North Hollywood. The beautiful design and novel features of The Modernist Collection appliances captivated me—particularly the 48-inch range, which offers two distinct baking spaces. On the left, there is a full steam oven with the power of convection, so you can do things like steam fish yet still get a sear on top. On the right is a huge 4.8-cubic-foot oven with a dual, four-part convection system that allows you, for example, to bake cupcakes and roast garlic at the same time (with no taste transfer). The range has smart technology like built-in Wi-Fi and the ability to be operated remotely.
The Dacor column refrigerator and freezer also appealed to me—with a sleek, streamlined design that includes flush doors (that literally disappear into the cabinetry) and a stainless steel interior with wrap-around LED lighting. Unlike most models, there is no visible vent. The coup de grace though was the cocktail icemaker which crafts perfectly shaped, over-sized squares. I could envision our next cocktail party: I’ll take mine on the rocks. Our plans to paint cabinets suddenly morphed into an entire kitchen redo.
“When I walk into our home now, I immediately see the bright, airy and inviting space, and it feels like a reflection of my husband and me and where we are in life.”
At that point, I brought in my silver bullet, Orit Srour. We’d done a couple of home features in VB magazine where she was the designer, and I was drawn to her sophisticated sensibility—punctuated by clean lines and striking accessories. I also have a practical side. No matter how beautiful something is, it has to work for our lifestyle. As a mom of three, Orit understood. And as luck would have it, Orit’s husband, Steve Srour, is a licensed contractor (silver bullet number two) so she brought him in to round out our team.
For cabinetry, we went with a simple, Shaker-style painted in two shades. On the lowers, we used a lacquer that was a copy of Farrow & Ball’s Down Pipe Grey. For the uppers—as well as the entire section by the refrigerator—we lacquered with a copy of All White. (F & B paint does not come in lacquer.) Orit felt using white on top would make the kitchen look larger.
The existing kitchen center island, a well-made, alder structure, was a debate. We flirted with revamping it a bit (new legs and doors) so it would feel more contemporary. But then we switched directions, deciding to make it stand out by doing a custom grey finish—with hints of silver, black and brown.
SEAMLESS DESIGN The flush “disappearing” door of the Dacor stainless steel column refrigerator, the 48-bottle wine cooler with dual temperature zones and the custom appliance garage.
My husband had one request. He wanted a wood, butcher block top on the island. Despite concerns about upkeep, with him leaving pretty much every other design decision up to me, I felt I had to give in. In the February ARTS issue, we’d done a feature on the talented wood artisan Felipe Lopez, and he lived just a stone’s throw away in Studio City. I visited his woodworking shop, and we chose a beautiful walnut for the top. We loved the look of the unfinished, natural wood (with four coats of a protective glaze on top—fingers crossed).
Speaking of stain resistance, I originally wanted to use Calcutta marble on the countertops but ran into two roadblocks. First, Orit felt that for someone who cooked and entertained, the marble would get too stained; secondly, the price. We planned on using stone as a backsplash, which required a total of three slabs. That put the expensive Calcutta out of reach. After an extensive search trekking through the stone yards of the Valley, we zeroed in on a man-made quartz called Dekton. Because it has extremely low porosity and contains no resins, Dekton is very chemical resistant.
As the centerpiece of the kitchen, we selected a matte finish, black metal, custom stove hood with a 3-inch brass band by Modern Aire. The manufacturer is based in North Hollywood and that turned out to be one of those occasions where “buying local” was a stroke of luck. We had some challenges when it came to installation and, with a moment’s notice, the team at Modern Aire came to the rescue.
Whether we’re talking table settings or jewelry, I am drawn to the use of mixed metals. We chose a solid brass sink faucet (and accessories) by California Faucets and sleek “espresso” cabinet pulls by Emtek. Along with the stainless steel Dacor appliances and the black stove hood with its brass accent, my metal amalgam was complete.
After eight weeks of living without a kitchen and stressing about escalating budget factors I could not control (Who could’ve guessed that when we ripped out the walk-in pantry there wouldn’t be wooden floor under the walls?), my dream hub is a fait accompli. When I walk into our home now, I immediately see the bright, airy and inviting space, and it feels like a reflection of my husband and me and where we are in life (i.e. soon-to-be empty nesters).
Now we’ve gotta do something about the master bedroom.
Like the look? Get it here.
Appliances by Dacor, Modernist Collection
Available at Snyder Diamond
12825 Vanowen St., North Hollywood
Orit Srour Designs
Owner: Steve Srour
Cabinet Pulls and Brass Faucet
My House Plumbing & Hardware
18919 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana
Walnut Center Island Top, Kitchen Table and Banquette
Felipe Lopez Woodworker
Modern Aire Custom Stove Hood
Available at Universal Appliance & Kitchen Center
12050 Ventura Blvd, Studio City
Custom Cabinetry and Floating Shelves
Owner: Bobby Saraf
Dekton Stone Fabrication
Navy “Savannah” Rug
Locations in Sherman Oaks & Agoura Hills
Center Island Custom Finish
14739 Oxnard St., Van Nuys
353 N. La Brea Ave., LA
He may be deskbound during the day, but catch Ryan Levitus in his free time and you’ll discover a fit and focused father of two, with a physique that rivals that of any professional athlete.