Design Notes on a Galley Kitchen Remodel

Concert pianist Lara Downes puts her love of re-envisioning the past to work in a galley kitchen remodel that features reclaimed items beautifully remade.

| May/June 2012

  • Lara Downes says her family's life has been changed by the ability to congregate in their beautifully renovated kitchen.
    Photo By Rik Keller
  • Concert pianist Lara Downes decorated her renovated kitchen with reclaimed materials including powder-coated vintage bar stools, a 1930s wall-mounted school clock, an old stainless steel medical table, and vintage sign letters and a mid-century light fixture she found on eBay.
    Photo By Rik Keller

When concert pianist Lara Downes and her husband, Rick, a marine biologist, wanted to open up the dark, narrow galley kitchen in their 1962 home in Davis, California, they did so with character and sustainability in mind. A vintage clothing and décor enthusiast, Lara searched in secondhand stores, on eBay and craigslist for treasures she could put to work in her galley kitchen remodel. Guided by her own sense of style and artistic nature, Lara used creativity and open-mindedness to design a kitchen that offers a modern point of view with a link to the past—much as she does in her musical career. Her most recent concert and record, “13 Ways of Looking at the Goldberg,” includes Lara’s re-imagining of Bach’s classic 1741 “Goldberg Variations,” one of the most famous works in all of classical music history.

What inspired the design of this kitchen? What were your main objectives in design? 

We were inspired by the light and open feeling of our 1962 house, which felt contradicted by the original dark, narrow galley kitchen. We wanted to make the kitchen more consistent with the rest of the house, as well as acknowledge the role of the kitchen, especially in our house, as a family hub and center. Our family life has been tremendously affected by the ability to congregate in this beautiful space.

What were your main motivations in designing this renovated kitchen?  

We wanted to create a flexible space that could serve as a family gathering/dining/work/crafts area; an entertaining center; and a serious cooking space. The original kitchen kept everyone out of the room when cooking was in progress. We wanted a spacious, open area where our whole family could be together and the person who is cooking (usually my husband, Rick) could be part of a group (family and/or friends) during the process.

Which items in this kitchen are reclaimed or antique? 

6/26/2015 4:37:18 AM

Very nice! It seems she had used powder coatings on kitchen cabinet. I am also looking for kitchen remodeling and came to know about powder coating. To know more, visit

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