10 Kitchen Upgrades That Will Make You Feel Like You're in a Nancy Meyers Movie
Channel your inner Meryl Streep with these tips from design pros.
Picture it: You pull a tray of hot croque monsieurs from the oven in your modern farmhouse kitchen à la Meryl Streep. Or you put the kettle on in your cozy cottage kitchen just like Kate Winslet. It's pretty hard to watch movies like It's Complicated or The Holiday without having a bit of house envy, especially when it comes to the kitchens. After all, this aesthetic is what inspired the recent "Coastal Grandmother" trend.
"Family-focused spaces are at the heart of all of Nancy Meyers movies, and can even make viewers feel like they're coming home," says Mark Woodyatt, director of Tile Warehouse.
This ability to create comfortable and warm sets is just one of the reasons why the filmmaker is such an icon—and why countless fans have tried to emulate her style, incorporating textured neutral fabrics, open shelving, soft blues, and more. And if you're looking to give your kitchen the beach house-chic Meyers treatment, we've consulted design and architecture pros to get their best advice. Keep reading to learn about 10 kitchen upgrades that will make you feel like you're in your very own Nancy Meyers movie.
Add a farmhouse sink.
A farmhouse sink is an oversized sink with an apron front. They were first introduced hundreds of years ago in Britain and France. Before indoor plumbing, these sinks had to be large and deep so that water could be brought in by buckets.
In more recent decades, they've become a popular way to add "a charming, rustic appeal that will make your kitchen feel cozy and inviting," explains Kevin Wang, interior designer and co-owner of Inyouths LED Mirrors. "You can find farmhouse sinks made from all sorts of materials, including ceramic, fireclay, soapstone, and even copper."
And, farmhouse sinks are featured prominently in Meyers' movies Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday, and The Intern.
Put white tiles on your backsplash.
"Tiling is often a key feature of the [kitchen] overlooked by viewers that can play a huge part in the room feeling so homely," notes Woodyatt.
For a Nancy Meyers feel, choose sleek, white tiles. "In The Intern, Jules (Anne Hathaway) has a stunning subway-tile backsplash in her kitchen," notes Wang. "This classic look is both timeless and chic, and it's easy to install yourself. Plus, subway tile comes in a variety of colors and finishes, so you can find the perfect option to complement your kitchen's style."
White subway tiles are also featured in Erica Barry's (Diane Keaton) kitchen in Something's Gotta Give.
Upgrade your lighting.
Sometimes, an upgrade as simple as adding a statement light fixture is all it takes to transform a room. This is a tactic Meyers often employs on her sets, adding oversized pendant lights in the kitchen.
You'll find this in both modern homes like Amanda Woods' (Cameron Diaz) contemporary Los Angeles kitchen in The Holiday, as well as more rustic residences such as Jane Adler's (Meryl Streep) California-cool Santa Barbara kitchen in It's Complicated.
For the latter aesthetic, "choose a cone made of pewter or brushed nickel, both of which match the stainless-steel appliances and hardware of this kitchen," says Raquel Kehler of Room Crush.
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Go for open shelves and glass-fronted cabinets.
A big part of the coastal grandmother style is carefully curated minimalism. You don't want tchotchkes everywhere, but you do want some designated areas to display things like plates, vases, family photos, and cookbooks. Enter Meyers' penchant for open shelving and glass-fronted cabinets—something that is seen in nearly all of her kitchen sets.
"Open shelving gives kitchens a breezier and more modern look and can be accomplished either by replacing existing cabinets or by simply adding shelves to available wall space," says Grace Baena, interior designer of Kaiyo Used Sofas.
Likewise, adding glass doors to some or all of your cabinets is simpler than replacing the entire thing. They also "let in plenty of light and make your dishes look like they're on display in a museum," notes Wang.
Paint those cabinets blue.
Another easy yet impactful upgrade is to paint your cabinets a soft blue, which Kehler calls "the epitome of cottage coziness." Perhaps the best example of this is seen in Iris' kitchen in The Holiday.
"If you already have wooden cabinets, simply paint them with a pale shade of blue, such as Pantone 545 C," advises Kehler. "If you don't have cabinets like these, look out for wooden cabinets with framing beads (small grooves cut into the wood), just like Kate Winslet's character has in this movie. Be sure to keep the handles and drawer knobs wooden too, as metal will make the look too modern and take away from the aesthetic."
The kitchen in The Intern showcases darker gray-blue cabinets that work well with a more modern kitchen. They're paired with some previously mentioned fixes (white subway tiles and open shelves) to maintain that light and airy feel.
Opt for neutrals everywhere else.
The leading ladies in Meyers' movies can often be found wearing white jeans, cream-colored sweaters, and breezy fabrics. This neutral, beachy vibe applies to their homes, too.
Start by painting the walls "a bright white or light neutral color," says interior designer John Linden. Then, you can add textured beige fabrics on bar stools, dining chairs, banquettes, or curtains.
To round out the color palette, incorporate "brass fixtures and dusty shades like navy blue or sage green," suggests Stefan Bucar, writer and editor-in-chief at Rhythm of the Home.
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Incorporate wooden accents.
Wooden accents fit with a neutral, textural room and also add a subtle touch of rustic charm. If you're going with open shelving, you can keep them unfinished. You can also incorporate bar stools with wooden legs, a wooden cafe table, and, of course, hardwood floors.
For a super simple upgrade, set out some wooden cooking utensils, suggests Lily Will, founder and CEO at Ever Wallpaper, referencing The Intern kitchen. Teak or acacia wood bowls and serving platters are nice, too, and are available in a variety of price ranges.
Invest in some copper pots.
To hang on your pot rack, of course. Think back to Nina and George Banks' (Diane Keaton and Steve Martin) kitchen in Father of the Bride. The entire room was anchored by the huge pot rack hanging above the kitchen island. In It's Complicated, a wall-mounted statement pot rack sits above the stove.
Both of these feature a mix of regular steel pots and pans (which you probably own) and gorgeous copper cookery. The latter has become increasingly popular in recent years, so you can find these pieces at most home stores.
Enhance your kitchen island.
Most kitchens in Nancy Meyers movies have a large central island. We realize that, depending on the size of your room, you can't just plop in a huge island, but there are some ways to emulate the style.
In most cases, the islands have a marble top, but "one great way to reuse your existing countertops is to paint them and seal them with an epoxy," explains Bucar. You can go for a color or finish that resembles real stone.
To go all out, pair granite countertops (or a similar hue) with white subway tiles to resemble the kitchen in Something's Gotta Give, which was "hailed the 'most copied kitchen of all time' by Hollywood Reporter after the film's release in 2003," according to Woodyatt.
And no matter what kind of island or counters you have, top them with a bowl of fresh fruit or a cookbook on a display stand to complete the look.
Create an open layout.
We saved this for last because it's probably the most time-, cost-, and labor-intensive, as it will likely include you knocking down walls. But for a true Nancy Meyers feel, experts say an open layout is the way to go.
A lot of this has to do with natural light, explains Linden, so a simpler strategy is to install a skylight or glass-fronted doors. Then, just grab your glass of wine or coffee and croissant and relax in your easy, breezy kitchen!