Designer Mandy Cheng Created the Sunny Kitchen of a Food Photographer's Dreams — Here's How

makeover of the week - Mandy Cheng Kitchen after

Design: Mandy Cheng, Photo: Madeline Tolle

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“The kitchen in this 1970’s Mediterranean revival was tightly configured, closed off from the dining and living areas, and about half its present size," interior designer Mandy Cheng says. "After getting to know the clients, I learned they loved to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Additionally, the wife is a talented food and lifestyle photographer who planned on using the kitchen as a setting for her projects. Knowing this, I set out to create a kitchen that was open with lots of great light.”

Meet the Expert

Mandy Cheng, owner of Mandy Cheng Design in Los Angeles, is known for her California style, pairing contemporary and vintage pieces with natural tones and organic elements.

Before:

Before shot of kitchen.

Courtesy of Mandy Cheng

“The kitchen layout was cramped, and the aesthetically challenged all-brown color theme didn’t work for the client as a backdrop for her photo shoots. The black and brown granite countertops continued up onto the backsplash and made the heavy kitchen feel even heavier,” notes Cheng.

After:

Kitchen countertops.

Design: Mandy Cheng, Photo: Madeline Tolle

“I blew out a wall that connected the kitchen to the dining room and created a peninsula with bar seating to make the area feel more integrated," Cheng says. "It’s now an inviting space that’s perfect for daily use, entertaining, or photo shoots. The large windows over the sink and the sliding glass doors supply tons of natural light.”

What Changed:

  • Color scheme: Navy, white, and hints of natural wood give the space a bright yet calming feel. 
  • Cabinets: The blue shaker-style base cabinets add a pop of color against the white oak floors, while the white glass-front upper cabinets keep things light on top.
  • Cabinet hardware: Brass knobs and pulls pop against the blue and white cabinets and add sparkle.
  • Countertops: 1.5” thick quartz countertops are carried over onto the backsplash around the range. 
  • Backsplash: White subway tiles, with charcoal grout, were installed behind the coffee station and sink wall for added depth and character.
  • Bead board wall: Vertical 1” x 6” shiplap paneling was applied to the walls around the breakfast nook for texture.
  • Floor: New white oak floors were coated in a natural matte stain.
  • Pendant lights: Two white porcelain pendants add a muted glow over the island.
  • Lights over sink: Sconces with blue porcelain shades and brass hardware are a nod to the base cabinetry.
  • Window treatments: Natural wood woven shades provide privacy and add a softness to the all-white walls.
  • Stools: Cane-backed white oak counter stools mirror the kitchen’s relaxed aesthetic.
  • Breakfast nook: The nook makes use of the corner light and provides a casual spot to eat or work.
  • Table: A custom oval-shaped white oak top is paired with a white, tulip-style base.
  • Light above table: The natural-toned flush mount echoes the soft tone of the white oak tabletop.
  • Nook stools: Simple bent wood stools offer additional seating.
  • Sink faucets: Muted gold faucets tie into the brass cabinet hardware and wall sconces.
  • Shelving: The floating reclaimed wood shelves were locally sourced and add a bit of rustic charm. 
  • Appliances: New professional-grade appliances were purchased while the original refrigerator was re-purposed with cabinet matching paneling; a flip-up cabinet above the fridge serves as storage for special occasion platters.
  • Accessories: A home coffee station includes four different coffee grinders, cookbooks, and plants to add color and warmth to the space while cutting boards tie into the room’s natural wood tones.

Shop The Look:

breakfast nook.

Design: Mandy Cheng, Photo: Madeline Tolle

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