What’s Cookin’? The Best Home Kitchens in Pasadena

Whether you cook, order in, or eat out—a home’s kitchen is much more than a place to store, create, and serve food. Here we explore a quartet of spaces throughout the city—each with their own distinct style and range of functionality.

Modern Marvel

Armed with courage, Miranda Hayes took on overseeing the construction and design of her family’s new 3,563-square-foot, midcentury home in Pasadena. To tie in the modern open floor plan with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass walls, she needed a light-colored paint with a matte finish to give a sense of serenity, juxtaposed with the modern steel frame throughout. “The whole house is an indoor-outdoor space with the kitchen in the center,” says Hayes, who cooks nearly every night. “We just wanted it to be very open, very welcome.”

Hayes opted for Curator paint in “Statement” with an enhanced matte finish from its line of 144 colors. “The paint had to be a matte finish because I wanted that calming feel,” she says. “It’s a very clean kitchen, and I don’t like to see things on the countertop. Everything has a place.” The kitchen was designed with low-profile Bulthaup cabinets with White Zeus Extreme countertops from Silestone.

Spanish Lesson

“It was so dark and gloomy, and they really wanted to make it light and bright,” designer Jahanna Nichols says about the kitchen that she helped completely transform for her clients—a young family. The goal was to open it up while keeping the Spanish aesthetic. Nichols accomplished this with the help of vintage lighting from Revival Antiques in Pasadena and authentic, made-in-Mexico furniture from DeMejico in Valencia, Calif. “They were brave clients, willing to take risks,” Nichols says, noting unique touches like colorful tiles from Mission Tile West on the wall behind the range. “It was a collaboration with the clients—we wanted to bring the Spanish-tile feel to the space, and they’re fans of color,” she says. “We thought of doing the whole wall as opposed to doing color throughout the space—we wanted to make that the focal point. It was a super fun, super brave choice.” Her personal favorite part? The cabinets wrapped in plaster that give the kitchen an “old hacienda vibe.”

East Coast Eden

“It was a Cape Cod home, and they wanted to stay within colors you’d find at the beach,” says designer Nichole Michael of the palette she kept consistent throughout her client’s new construction Arcadia home. For the kitchen, she opted for everything Walker Zanger —the flooring, backsplash, countertops—so “even though there was a casual feeling, they were very high-end materials that we used,” Michael says. “Throughout the whole house it was very important to them that it was family friendly. Because their children are young, they wanted it to be childproof and dog-proof.” The clients opted for practical touches without sacrificing quality, as in the wood-look tile flooring (also Walker Zanger) and Kohler plumbing fixtures. The kitchen in the 5,950-square-foot home also features lighting by Hudson Valley and custom cabinets by Nicole Michael Designs. Off the kitchen, Michael added a long desk area for the family’s two children. “Fortunately, this design was in place before COVID hit, and it just happened to work out beautifully,” she says. But there’s more to the kitchen than meets the eye. Every drawer had some sort of insert, Michael explains. Plus, in the backroom there’s a butler’s pantry, and off of that, an ethnic kitchen, where her client does her main cooking.

High Style

For the kitchen of this one-bedroom penthouse apartment, designer Jeanne Chung was guided by the homeowner’s request for more storage. “There was a lot of space up top that wasn’t being used, so we decided to build all the way to the ceiling, which is accessed by a rolling library ladder,” says Chung. “When it’s not in use, it can be pushed up so that it’s not sitting in the aisle, and it can be lifted and stored in the loft.” She also added a railing in the bedroom around the corner to make it easy to move the ladder to the loft. However, the ladder isn’t meant to be the focal point of the 1,400-square-foot space. By using a hammered brass sink by Thompson Traders out of North Carolina, Chung made the kitchen sink the star of the show. The glass and brass cantilevered shelves above it are by Palmer Industries. The faucet, a custom split finish from Newport Brass, was another unique touch. “When working with different manufacturers, brass tones often differ, so you have to use it sparingly,” Chung says. As for the striking Farrow & Ball painted cabinets, she explains that she chose a “very dark charcoal grey, not black because it can tend to look a little too harsh,” which made the space impactful but still inviting.