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Interior Photography by Roger Davies for Dacor Appliances

5 Things

An Interior Designer’s Genius Tips for a
Kitchen Makeover

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Amy Kehoe

| cofounder, Nickey Kehoe Design Studio

The LA design firm Nickey Kehoe has long been a go-to for vintage furnishings and accessories with a sense of whimsy. The owners, Amy Kehoe and Todd Nickey, split their time between their retail store and their design studio in West Hollywood, while also dreaming up custom furniture for their own NK Collection.

Recently, Kehoe found herself bringing her work home with her—embarking on a soup-to-nuts kitchen renovation project for her 1920s Spanish cottage in Los Feliz. The challenge was a familiar one: Breathe new life into a highly trafficked kitchen with modern updates (courtesy of home-appliance brand Dacor) but maintain a warm, lived-in vibe, which is a Nickey Kehoe signature. “I like the idea of conversing around the table while dinner is being made,” says Kehoe, who prioritized a big, beautiful dining room table for the space. “It makes the kitchen more intimate.” Kehoe gave us some useful design tips that she and Nickey apply across their projects and that proved particularly clutch for her own family’s living space.

  • 1
  • Treat the Kitchen as a Living Room

    “At Nickey Kehoe, we think of the kitchen as the heart of the home,” Kehoe explains. “There’s a gravitational pull to the kitchen, so I focused on incorporating details that create a sense of inclusion.” For Kehoe, that translated to sourcing an antique breakfast table instead of an island to encourage conversation. She omitted a tile or stone backsplash to help soften the look of the space—and to visually connect it to the adjacent family room. She added this table lamp by Sofia Studios to the countertop for a warm glow. “It acts as a night-light to signal that the kitchen is closed,” she laughs.

  • Sophia Studio Round Lamp, Nickey Kehoe, $1,100
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  • Invest in Smart Appliances

    While there’s an almost overwhelming number of options in the marketplace, Kehoe homed in on Dacor for the brand’s ease of use and intuitive technology. “The first time I opened the refrigerator door, I gasped,” she says, pointing out that the interior is lined in stainless steel. “It’s both advanced and elegantly simple at the same time.”

  • 36” Built-In French Door Freezer, Dacor, $9,365
  • 3
  • Consider Open Shelving

    “Lately we’ve been seeing our clients replace their upper cabinets with curated open shelving,” says Kehoe. Kehoe’s own home has abundance of storage for stashing any unsightly kitchen gadgetry, so it wasn’t hard to part ways with her old cabinetry. “With open shelves, I’m more inspired to use dishes solely based on the fact I see them more often,” she says. “Living—and really using—my collection of Astier de Villatte dishes and La Soufflerie glasses, along with vintage platters makes me happy.”

  • ASTIER DE VILLATTE ADLAIDE COLLECTION CERAMICS,
    Nickey Kehoe, price upon request
  • LA SOUFFLERIE BELL WATTER GLASS, Nickey Kehoe, $16
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  • Think About Wooden Countertops

    “My clients are always surprised when I bring this up, and it’s not for everyone, but the truth is wood is quite durable when it’s finished for the kitchen,” Kehoe says. When she is busy in the kitchen, she lets her cookware and utensils pile up, so there’s something about a wood base that helps soften the visual clutter, she explains.

  • NICKEY KEHOE CHERRY WOOD BOWL, Nickey Kehoe, $168
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  • Go Vintage

    “We found this scalloped-edge pendant in Europe, so our new NK Collection scalloped sconce has a similar feel. Over at Nickey Kehoe, we love incorporating vintage lighting into our projects. You don’t end up switching out your lighting as you would upholstery or bedding, so searching for these kinds of treasures is totally worth it,” she says.

  • Nickey Kehoe Scallop Sconce, Nickey Kehoe, $435
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