OAKLAND, CA — It’s said that the key to a happy life is balance. Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that balance is also essential to good design.
This was particularly evident in a whole-home remodel that needed to integrate old and new elements while remaining family friendly for several generations of users.
“The principal concern for the new vision of the home was to modernize the functionality, create ample storage and pantry space, and provide a comfortable environment for this multi-generational family,” says Alisa Hofmann, CGBP, of Winans Construction. “We worked on a total of seven rooms: kitchen, breakfast nook, laundry room, main floor bathroom, living room fireplace, and upstairs bathroom and water closet.”
The construction, which lasted a total of six months, began with the main floor remodel. The design needed to stay within the existing footprint of the home, while improving flow and functionality. Several rooms, including the kitchen, required the relocation of walls, while an enclosed porch was incorporated into the main house design to expand the livable space and accommodate a breakfast nook and cabinetry for the pantry and other storage.
When Hofmann first walked into the space designated by the homeowner as the site of the future kitchen, she realized it was short on natural light and would not be “the warm center for gathering that kitchens are desired to be. The existing laundry room had the sunniest space in the house!”
Hofmann continues: “The greatest challenge to overcome was piecing together the puzzle of the downstairs rooms so that the ‘new’ spaces didn’t feel like an after-thought to the building structure. Moving the laundry room from the sunniest area of the house to the site of the original galley kitchen was key in executing a successful reworking of those spaces.”
After taking stock of the spaces she was directed to redesign, Hofmann suggested that the wall that separated the porch from the interior be removed and reworked so that there could be a cozy breakfast nook that would take full advantage of the bay of windows at the southeast corner.
“What an amazing transformation this made, not only for a separate eating, reading, gathering and reflection area, but also for the kitchen, bringing the morning light in to where breakfast is prepared!” says Hofmann. “It was important to the clients that both the breakfast nook and the island counter can fit many family members.”
The new kitchen is 288 square feet, while the separate breakfast nook in the southeast corner of the home measures an additional 84 square feet. The kitchen island seats three comfortably on bar-height chairs; the countertop measures 7'3" in length at a depth of 34".
According to Hofmann, the homeowners fell in love with the appliances at the Miele showroom. “Warm cups for their built-in café-fresh coffee was an exciting addition to the appliances selected,” she says.
The colors were primarily chosen for their warmth, she says.
“The cabinetry, both maple on the perimeter and mahogany on the island, are made of FSC-certified materials without any chemical additives such as formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds, and all of the tiles were handmade locally in northern California,” notes Hofmann.
The homeowners were heavily involved in the selection of details for their main living spaces, including handblown light fixtures from Oggetti in the breakfast nook. “The couple drew their inspiration from the glass artist Dale Chihuly’s exhibit on display at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park; each is unique but contains common design elements such as color and shape that tie them together.”
Finally, all of the window and door moldings in the kitchen had been removed prior to the remodel, so replicas were created based on original millwork in the living and dining rooms, further integrating the rooms’ designs.
In Hofmann’s words: “Dream kitchens come only once in a lifetime; this was theirs.”