Aran Goyoaga sets down an unframed canvas among the sample materials on the table—a portrait of her aunt (and namesake) painted by her father. The pigment of her skin is a near match to the square of maple butcher block; the blue-green background plays off the Benjamin Moore “Sea Glass” paint swatch. “It was the perfect finishing touch,” says Katie Hackworth, her interior and architectural designer.

The two friends recently completed a down-to-the-studs update of Goyoaga’s ’70s-era kitchen. For nearly six years the cookbook author and food stylist lived with faux wood Formica counters, oak-paneled walls, splintering floors, and no dishwasher. On her wish list: a wall of windows, a spacious island, white oak flooring, and access to the back garden of the 1918 Queen Anne craftsman.

“Her kitchen is her office,” says Hackworth, “and she needed as much natural light as possible.” (Goyoaga does her own photography for both her cookbooks and her James Beard Award–nominated blog, Cannelle et Vanille). Goyoaga wanted a space that was “airy but austere, nothing too fussy—imagine a 1920s English hospital.”

Her husband, Chad, who happens to be an experienced contractor, led the cadre of friends and family who pitched in with everything from demo to framing to fabricating the cabinets. The project took just over three months, with few of the usual pain points of a remodel. “I knew almost everyone coming in and out of the house,” says Goyoaga. “It gave us the luxury of talking decisions through along the way.”

Today, Goyoaga often finds herself recipe testing at home rather than heading to her studio. The painting perches on a shelf above the radiator and hanging market bags, tying the room together in more ways than one.

How to Get a Room of One's Own

1. Get Sentimental: A piece with personal significance can make a newly redone room feel like home.

2. Love It? Leave It: This matte gold radiator is the only remnant of the pre-reno space.

3. Peaceful Palette: Warm white hues and calming blue-gray accents set a tranquil tone.

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