Click here to sign up for our newsletter!
Design Ideas
A Small Kitchen with a Unique History
Designer Shannon Ggem had to build a tiny kitchen where one was never intended to exist. Read on to find out why and how she pulled it off.
The charm, character and construction of old cottages are all qualities cherished by their owners. But there’s another quality that makes them even more special: They each have a story to tell, and though it was built nearly a century ago, this cottage’s story continues to unfold. The house is situated on Malibou Lake in... Keep Scrolling
Written by MERYL SCHOENBAUM
Photography by BRET GUM
Styling by SHANNON GGEM AND JICKIE TORRES


The charm, character and construction of old cottages are all qualities cherished by their owners. But there’s another quality that makes them even more special: They each have a story to tell, and though it was built nearly a century ago, this cottage’s story continues to unfold.

Light aqua cabinets in a kitchen with exposed beam ceilings and a bright red dutch door.
“For newer elements, I think the heron, snake, owl and bird lamps add a lot. We are surrounded by the glory of nature here, but so close to the city that it feels so lucky to see wildlife in Los Angeles.”

The house is situated on Malibou Lake in California. This close-knit community was established in 1922 as an enclave for Old Hollywood film stars. Rustic cottages dot the landscape surrounding the tranquil water. It’s typical to see neighbors paddle by in their kayaks on a lazy afternoon. The cottage has been owned and loved for the past decade by Shannon Ggem, a veteran interior designer, and her husband, Andy, a contractor in the luxury real-estate sector. They share the home with their cat and two dogs.

Small Space Solutions

Shannon’s tiny kitchen is tiny for a good reason: many of these homes were never built with a kitchen in the first place. Since the lake cottages were all vacation homes within a gated community, the homeowners were much more likely to dine in the community clubhouse with the private chef than cook in their own homes. So the previous owners did what they could to squeeze in a tiny kitchen near the back entrance of the cottage.

Bright red door opening into a cottage kitchen with rustic vintage island and light aqua cabinetry.
UNCOMMON SEATING. Shannon’s creative side is evident in her seating selection for the dining table. Rather than rely only on chairs, she placed a stylish rattan dining sofa with a 1940s satin cushion from The Ranch Uncommon. A custom cube pillow is by The Drapery Guy, Westlake Village. The windows look out on Shannon’s favorite view: Face Rock, part of Malibu Creek State Park.

When Shannon set out to remodel it, she knew it had to have a historic feel to make it feel seamless. Too much cabinetry could overwhelm the small cottage kitchen. Shannon and Andy opted to treat the refrigerator with wall paneling instead of more cabinetry. “I love the panel-ready fridge with the wall paneling on it,” Shannon says. “I think we needed a little break from cabinets, so it provides that.”Andy added a skylight to take advantage of the beautiful eastern exposure. A full-height backsplash ends in a charming dry-sink detail.

Handmade wooden dining table surrounded by intricate dining chairs, looking out a large wall of windows next to a fold down bar.
NATURAL DINING. Andy built the family dining table from salvage beam splits with the rough side cut off. Its rustic quality makes the table appear to have “grown” inside the house, bringing its natural surroundings indoors. The Art Deco fold-down bar cabinet is an homage to the home’s historic roots. The impressive Great Dane portrait was a vintage find at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

A KITCHEN FIT FOR A PUP

The 9′ 6″ x 9′ 6″ kitchen features cabinets painted aqua with a high-gloss finish. Centered by a perfectly distressed antique butcher-block island, a black rubber floor, hairpin-leg barstools and even a dog-feeding station. Equipped with its own spigot for easy refill of the water, and an upper drawer that holds the dogs’ food–which proves a small kitchen can still work hard and be fun. The recessed cabinet detail suggests a dog bone— an intentional detail, Shannon says.

Small stainless steel range with a mirrored subway tile backsplash surrounded by light aqua colored cabinets.
Shannon carefully considered the way new finds would relate to the historic architecture and décor of the house as well as its natural surroundings.

The kitchen has a dog-feeding station with its own spigot for easy refill of the water. The drawer above holds the dogs’ food.

Light aqua kitchen cabinets with a creatively built-in dog feeding station.
Built-in dog-feeding station with its own spigot for easy refill of the water, while the drawer above holds the dogs’ food.

If you love the vintage butcher block in this kitchen then you’ll love this post on Beauty + Function in a Small Kitchen. 

Of course, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of cottage inspiration! 

 

you might also enjoy...