A Budget-Friendly California Kitchen Remodel

Shortly after Abby Weintraub and Matt Manfredi bought their 1941 Hancock Park house, they watched it gobble up their savings: new roof, furnace, pipes, wiring, and air conditioning. Faced with a cramped kitchen last touched in 1984 by Laura Ashley-loving former owners, they waved an SOS sign and architect Barbara Bestor came to their rescue.

Bestor didn’t flinch at the couple’s request for a total transformation on a relative shoe string. Instead, she took a look around the house, which the couple term “Hollywood Georgian,” and made some masterful room reassignments. She designated the unneeded formal dining room the family room—the couple has two young kids and a casual, all ages approach to entertaining.

Meanwhile, a small den morphed into the dining room, and by taking down a wall between it and the kitchen, Bestor created an open-plan cooking and eating setup that makes both spaces feel bigger and brighter.

Lastly, she oversaw a gut renovation of the kitchen itself, mindful of the couple’s desire for a clean, high-functioning setup that looks entirely at home in a period house: “We took the elements of a lovely 1940s kitchen and rebuilt them for now,” says Barbara. The couple—she’s a graphic designer specializing in books; he’s a screen writer and an avid cook—are East Coast transplants who thoroughly appreciated the new old-fashioned details and practicality. “Barbara is known for her California look, but she grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and she has a real New England sensibility,” says Abby.

Photographs for Remodelista by Jessica Comingore

Above: Barbara Bestor preserved the kitchen’s original steel-framed casement windows and added more. This one is new—it came from Torrance Steel Window Co.—and opens up views to the expansive backyard. “It’s true that steel windows are more expensive than wood,” says Barbara, “but they offer a very different effect in important ways: size of mullions, flat profile, and continuity with the period of the house.” As for the kitchen faucet, after a long hunt for the right design that wouldn’t take months to arrive, Abby found their Axor Montreaux bridge model by Hansgrohe on Amazon.

Above: Instead of a space-hogging island, the new kitchen has a Carrara-marble-topped peninsula that serves as a breakfast counter and holds a six-burner Aga stove (surprisingly less expensive, the couple found, than the equivalent from Viking or Wolf.) The pendant light is a 1969 Verner Panton design from LA’s A + R Store that comes in 10 colors.

Above: The kitchen is open to the dining room carved out of what had been a tiny den clogged with deep bookshelves and too many doors (some were closed up and all remaining door frames got streamlined). The bentwood Bento Chairs are by Swedish group Form Us With Love and came from the A + R Store.

Above: A detail of a ship painting by Duncan Hannah on the mantel, the den’s lone feature that was preserved.

Above: A washer and dryer are sequestered at the far end of the kitchen, where they’re on hand but not visible from most views. The oak flooring matches the original floors in the rest of the house. Barbara and Abby both credit the overall success of the remodel to a first-rate crew headed up by contractor, David King of DTK Builders.

Above: The peninsula that extends from the counter is detailed with a handy bookshelf for cookbooks.

Above: A gloomy glimpse of the setup B.B.B.—Before Barbara Bestor.

Above: Formerly sectioned off behind closed doors, Bestor opened up the backstairs. They’re painted a glossy black and outfitted with a pole bannister in Benjamin Moore Bumble Bee Yellow—no nonsense New England, points out Abby, with a hit of sunny California.

Looking for more kitchen inspiration? If so, browse through Remodelista‘s Room Gallery of more than 2,000 images of kitchens.


Karen Gee4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo4 years ago

Kitchen remodels always capture my attention. Thank you for sharing this remodel. I love white kitchens. The dark brown cabinets that have been so populare feel dark and oppresive to me.

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago


Peggy A.
Peggy A4 years ago

Very nice thank you for posting.

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K4 years ago

Lovely. What was the 'shoestring' price tag?

Anne G.
Anne G4 years ago

Looks lovely now, certainly a vast improvement, but I can't imagine what those nice, glossy black stairs will look like in a month of wear, though. Maybe they won't wear shoes in the house, that will save those beautiful floors.

Cathie Sparrow
Cathie Sparrow4 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you Remodelista, for Sharing this!

Lynnl C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Alexandra Gundelfingen
Alexandra G4 years ago

Nice, thanks, but not for my budget :))