New Layout Makes Home More ‘Family Friendly’

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.”


While the downstairs received the majority of the construction effort, there was a laundry list of things to be done on the second floor, as well. “The home itself had gone through many uses. It was originally a single-family home, but was used as a boarding house for many years prior to the current owners’ purchase in the mid-1980s. The lady that ran the boarding house installed a kitchenette on the second floor that was removed during this remodel as required by building codes,” says Hofmann.

The master bath came next. This 60-sq.-ft. bathroom is described by the family as “the wife’s bathroom.”

Hofmann jokes that her only direction from the homeowners’ for color selections was “not pink.”

“The motivation for the colors and style was to modernize the functionality but keep the charm and feel of an older home,” she says. “The clients prefer baths, but like the option of the walk-in shower.”

It was discussed whether to use the existing tub as a shower, but the clients felt that the high tub height may pose a problem in the future. Keeping the bath and shower area separate was the best decision for them, according to Hofmann.

“The most interesting visual element of this space is the reuse of the existing tub and the period-style plumbing fixtures that were fitted for it,” she adds. The claw-foot tub was refinished and paired with fixtures by Sign of the Crab.

Convenience was the first order of business. This led to the inclusion of beadboard wainscoting that is a low-maintenance PVC product by Azek. Soap niches and small shelves at tub level were added to minimize bath bottle clutter and to keep bath toys from falling behind and under the tub.

For more about this project, click here.

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