KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Jun 12 2017

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Back to the Original

Gurdon Wattles, a banker credited with funding the first movie studios in Hollywood, owned a mansion in the early part of the 20th century in Hollywood. Last year was the first time the mansion was open for public viewing, to host the Los Angeles Wattles Mansion Showcase.

Happening for the second year in a row, the showcase this time presented a challenge to the designers: celebrate Hollywood with a certain time period in mind. We talked with the bathroom designers in a previous story, but we of course wanted to know more about the kitchen. Designer Kathleen Beall of Dana Point, Calif.-based Beall Design Group, chose the 1920s as her inspiration in designing the home’s kitchen suite.

“I chose the 1920s and the movie ‘The Artist’ to represent the era when the original family, the Wattles, chose to live fulltime in the home,” said Beall, adding that it had been a vacation home for the them up until then.

She had been told that the city, which owned the property, was having difficulties renting out the mansion because the kitchen was in such disrepair. Working with her plumbing showroom, Beall started to restore the kitchen to its original glory.

Restoration Challenges
“The largest hurdle was that I wanted to retain the historic and original Carrera marble herringbone countertop, which meant we would need to restore the original cast-iron sink,” she said.

Since the backsplash tile was shattered and needed replacement anyways, she was able to remove the sink for offsite restoration and replace the unoriginal faucet with a period-style model. By using the original sink, the designer did not have to take out any of the original Carrera herringbone countertop tile.

“My tile installer reattached the herringbone tile counters and cut out and replaced the original grout with new grout,” said Beall. “The counters are a major source of conversation for those visiting the space, as they represent an era of craftsmanship.”

Vintage Look
After replacing the backsplash with subway tile similar to the original, she updated the kitchen appliances with those that feature a period look, like the 1908 La Cornue range. The 1970s-era wall faucet was replaced with a period-style Rohl wall faucet, and a new touch drain was installed. When the house was built in 1908, gas light fixtures were used. The fixtures Beall chose were inspired by the originals and maintain a light and airy look in the kitchen.

“Now a year later, the city has told me that because of the kitchen restoration, the mansion experienced non-stop rentals this past year and often had a waiting list,” said the designer. “They attribute this to the painstaking attention to detail in our restoration of the sink areas and the overall space.”

Photography by Mary E. Nichols

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