Nothing kicks a reno into high gear like a bun in the oven. That was the catalyst for author and lifestyle photographer Leela Cyd, who moved into a 1950s bungalow in Santa Barbara, California, with her husband, David Kilpatrick, a stop-motion video director, in early 2016.
Location was everything for the couple. The house is close to the ocean and just blocks away from Leela’s childhood home. But the kitchen left much to be desired: Termites had done a number on the cabinets, the sink didn’t work, and the fridge was rusty. In the fall, with their son, Izador, on the way, the couple got down to business creating a functional space for their soon-to-be family of three.
The design plan centered around two main projects: installing a vintage Wedgewood stove (Leela’s dream appliance) and carving a big pass-through window above the sink (an idea born of a late-night Pinterest session). Turns out, that opening would also make for the perfect breakfast bar, allowing Leela and David to capitalize on the SoCal weather and enjoy a true indoor/outdoor lifestyle.
As for that megawatt cabinetry, lots of color swatching—and pumping up the saturation at the paint store—led the couple to a peachy-pink, sunset-inspired shade. Sure, they ate a lot of takeout for almost five months while construction crews worked, but the end result was worth it. “I can’t help but be happy cooking in here now,” says Leela.
"Color is a big joy and focal point for us," says Leela. We've used shades of the sky and sea all through the house and pulled ideas from our time in India and Europe."
Leela and David borrowed their pink-and-green combo from an old Parisian building they saw while on vacation. White walls and aqua-trimmed windows round out the palette.
"Materials matter," says Leela. "I chose marble counters since I shoot a lot of photos in the kitchen and marble is very photogenic. I'm OK with stains and scratches."
Leela’s Strawberry & Thyme Switchel
Leela has written three cookbooks. This tart apple cider vinegar–spiked drink comes from 2017’s Tasting Hygge, and the mix is often in the fridge in case company stops by.
Leela's fourth and latest book, Styling for Instagram, focuses on how to build a visually stunning social media feed.