Photo by Stephen Schafer
Kitchens are more than industrial spaces for cutting vegetables, baking pies and washing dishes. To Gay Zide, kitchens are the center of the home, a relaxing and gathering place where the cook prepares food while talking to nibbling taste-testers huddled around a center island.
This is what Zide wanted in her kitchen. But it wouldn’t work in her 1929 Ventura bungalow. So she gutted the kitchen along with the adjoining family room and laundry room in September 2004. The space then re-emerged in May 2005 as a large kitchen soaked in natural light with the comforts of the laundry and living rooms.
In a previous life, the slim kitchen was a product of her mother’s 1950s remodeling project. Zide’s parents, Gly and M. Jay Gibson, bought this house for $10,000 in 1945. Zide moved back into the house in 1998 to help take care of her ailing mother. After her mother’s death, Zide was ready to make the kitchen her own.
Her goal was to open the area, but maintain a warm and cozy feeling. “So you walk in and go ‘ah, you’re home,’ ” Zide said.
Since this was Zide’s dream kitchen, she also wanted a fireplace and a comfy spot where she could put her feet up while watching University of California, Los Angeles, basketball games on television.
“I wanted the cottage, beachy look and it all had to be built around the TV. It drove them (the kitchen designers) nuts,” Zide said.
Even though she already had a fireplace in her formal living room, Zide wanted a second one installed in the kitchen. But it had to be a “no muss, no fuss” fireplace where you flip a switch and instantly get the fire’s warmth and glow.
With tight space constraints, this request left the kitchen designers at Ventura’s Kitchen Places scratching their heads. The compromise was a zero-clearance fireplace that hugged the wall. On chilly winter nights, Zide simply flips that switch and the kitchen soon has the “perfect atmosphere.”
The eight-month construction was an extreme makeover in which everything from the plaster to the plumbing was replaced. The only remaining original piece is the door leading to the hallway and its glass doorknob.
“People who see it say it can’t be the same room,” Zide said.
Photos By Stephen Schafer
The beauty is in the details in this multi-use kitchen. The nearly unnoticeable details fit together like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle.
The 300-square-foot kitchen centers around an emerald granite island holding the stovetop and down-draft exhaust system that sucks hot air from the stove through a pipe underneath the house instead of the usual hood. There is ample space for at least three people to sit at the island while the chef prepares a meal. Utilizing a traditional triangle work space, a person can easily move between the glass front refrigerator to the double sinks aligned under the sliding windows. Three dangling lights hover over the island while built-in spotlights shine on the countertops.
A trim of white lace that Zide had for 30 years, but never used, drapes above the window. Other features include a double oven, Lazy Susan corner cabinet and dishwasher drawers.
In the corner, behind what looks like a closet door are the stacked washer and dryer. A light automatically comes on when a person opens the door.
Many of her friends and co-workers were surprised by Zide’s desire to remodel her kitchen. Zide admitted she doesn’t cook or bake, except for the occasional pancake. Cooking is her daughter’s thing. Jennifer fills this kitchen with clanging pots and aromas from tossing stir-fry in a wok. Zide, a public defender, usually finds her place in the armchair in front of the television after a stressful day.
“I’ve always been a relaxing person. (Before this remodeling) I really didn’t have a place to relax,” Zide said.
The glass doors of the white cupboards reveal Zide’s mother’s turquoise wedding dishes. Hand painted tiles of faded sunflowers line the yellow walls. The simple elegance of Kansas’ state flower reminds Zide of her mother, a Kansas native.
From all directions, music is piped into the room through tiny Bose speakers huddled in the corners. This surround sound system provides a soundtrack of up to 400 compact discs. But it plays second fiddle to the 37-inch plasma television sitting in a built-in bookcase.
This kitchen incorporates the yin and yang of Zide’s life. It is modern meets traditional. The two elements move in and out of the kitchen in perfect balance so that it’s not predictable or hinged on one particular side of her personality.
Sitting in the kitchen designed for “the person she would like to be,” Zide smiled as she looked around the room. She wouldn’t change a thing. Wait. There is one thing she would have done differently.
She would have bought a bigger television.