Custom Kitchen Dishes Up Some Home Cooking

Asked to create a custom kitchen for a recent whole-house renovation, Steve Salazar, CKD, knew that the design required some home cooking. After all, how else to best accommodate the needs of a client who is confident enough to leave a lucrative position in the tech sector to start her own professional chef service?

Salazar, of Irvine, CA-based Sea Pointe Construction, explains: “The work included new custom cabinets throughout the kitchen, as well as granite and walnut countertops. We also needed to incorporate a custom walnut chopping block and a custom stone, glass and tile backsplash.

“The layout we created includes a large L-shaped space with expanded and prominent cooking area, and large island with two distinct work areas, as well as a seating area,” he explains.

“The previous kitchen was large and U-shaped with a large peninsula and small island. That layout was too big for one cook and the island was an obstacle to the traffic flow. In addition, the oversized peninsula divided and separated the kitchen from the adjacent family room,” Salazar describes.

The new kitchen, which measures 17'x30', features a larger overall layout, but with a smaller, more efficient work triangle.
“This kitchen and island layout allows for greater flow between the kitchen and family room, with more functional access to the sink, clean-up and prep area,” Salazar describes. He utilized Omega Cabinetry, granite countertops and a wealth of appliances from Dacor, Sub-Zero and Fisher/Paykel, among others, in the space.

The new design also allowed Salazar to replace an under-used, clumsy kitchen desk area with a state-of-the-art wine storage area, which features a tall wine refrigerator from Sub-Zero and display cabinetry of glass, crystal and light. “It adds to the charm of the design,” he notes.

Salazar’s firm also provided general contracting services, including demolition; complete electrical and full plumbing; framing and structural modifications to add new windows into the backsplash; relocation of the gas line and ducting for the new range and hood.

“The results of the project include completely new flooring for most of the first floor,” reports Salazar, “which provides more depth and warmth to the existing architecture of the entry and dining room.”


To create an environment conducive to professional-style cooking, Salazar made a variety of changes to the previous layout – and added a couple of focal points as well.

“The 48"-wide professional Dacor range, mosaic range back and cantilevered mantel hood create the focal point of the kitchen,” he observes.

These additions are accented by symmetrical base cabinets flanking the range, according to Salazar. A turned leg on each side complements the strength of the stainless steel range, and the “beautiful, arching mantel detail disguises the professional Dacor hood liner and warming drawer,” he notes.

Also integrated into the kitchen are a main Sub-Zero refrigerator; Miele and Fisher/Paykel dishwashers; and the main sink, which features a Brizo “Pascal” faucet with infrared, hands-free controls.

“The refrigerator, dishwashers, warming drawer and tall wine cooler all feature integrated door panels,” he says, “to unify the kitchen cabinetry and keep it from looking too commercial.”


To aid food preparation and storage for the homeowner, Salazar specified “Santa Cecilia” granite countertops, which feature custom-sculpted, two-layer nosing, and solid Danish Spekva walnut wood tops for the integrated cutting board and wine center countertop.

Likewise, a one-of-a-kind stone and glass backsplash, with mosaic accent tile from Sonoma Tilemakers set within, creates a softly honed and tumbled marble tile look.

According to Salazar, the storage accommodations of the previous kitchen were generous, but not very functional, and needed to be addressed as well.

“The new kitchen features slightly more cabinet storage with significantly more function as each cabinet is planned inside and out for its individual needs,” he explains.

Therefore, Salazar selected Omega Cabinetry on the perimeter of the room in cherry wood with a nutmeg stain and coffee glaze.

“This was complemented by a distressed blackberry black opaque finish with a sand-back, revealing a berry red stain finish for the island,” he adds.

A secondary prep area was also incorporated onto the island, including a second sink, a prep-and-clean section complete with a dishwasher drawer, and a tall storage cabinet topped with a swing-out, flat screen A/V monitor for music or television enjoyment.

He also cites the use of lazy susans, pull-out internal drawers, tray dividers, cutlery inserts, utensil dividers, knife block inserts and adjustable shelves as adding to the storage possibilities, while also improving overall workflow.


According to Salazar, proper lighting was critical to the design.
He explains: “Part of the remodel included enhancing the existing overhead recessed lighting and creating a completely new task lighting system beneath all of the upper cabinets.”

Citing California restrictions (Title 24), Salazar notes that modifications to the pre-existing recessed lighting were kept to a minimum. Therefore, most of the impact came from Sea Gull Lighting’s ambiance low-voltage task lighting beneath the cabinetry and the use of low-voltage lighting both in and on top of the upper cabinetry. Lighting controls were centralized with the use of Lutron lighting controls.

The lighting design was complemented by installing new opaque glass windows flanking the range in the backsplash – which brought further daylight into the kitchen, Salazar explains. Likewise, the existing soffitt was removed to maximize room volume and add an “airy” feel to the design.

The final touches came from porcelain tile flooring, which was installed in the kitchen, family room, entry and powder rooms.