An Elegant Kitchen Remodel Compromise

A sleek renovation captures a Woodlawn couple’s complementary style.

Photography by Amara Holstein February 3, 2014 Published in the February 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

“The cabinets are tall, dark, and handsome, like Magda,” says Hinson (right). “And I chose the quartzite countertops, because they were rough-and-tumble.”

The kitchen, they say, is the heart of the home. But when Magda Gianola and Holly Hinson bought their 1909 Victorian in the Woodlawn neighborhood, it was more of a mess. “It was a 1980s Tuscan explosion,” remembers Hinson, a neurologist. 

Unlike the former kitchen’s drab “Tuscan explosion,” blacks, whites, and browns make up the color palette for the updated space, against which oranges and blues—a persimmon stool, a collection of blue Heath Ceramics vases, a bright orange Le Creuset dutch oven—provide bright punctuation.

Under the direction of Michael Howells of Howells Architecture and Design, the couple stripped the room down to the studs.

“We wanted a modern space not at odds with the vintage surroundings, with mindful material choices,” says Gianola, a data scientist at Nike. And because Hinson can often be found stewing a cassoulet at the stove, the pair wanted a kitchen that cooked as nicely as it looked. 

The result is a refreshing departure from the former incarnation.

“I’m much more extroverted, and Magda can be more introverted,” says Hinson. “Michael captured that in the materials.” Sleek custom cabinets of Oregon black walnut by Wolf and Son Cabinetmakers panel the space, and handmade Heath Ceramics tiles line the walls vertically, flashing shadows from their matte graphite contours.

On the light side, creamy quartzite streams along the deep counters, white oak flooring matches the rest of the house, and new and larger windows provide views to the garden outside. 

As Hinson puts it, “I think we ended up with a butch kitchen that’s not

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