Two Hawaiian Kitchen Remodels Receive Top Honors

HONOLULU, HI — A galley kitchen that was transformed into one home’s centerpiece and a dramatic vacation home renovation that opened the kitchen to the family, dining and living rooms were recognized at the 20th Annual BIA Renaissance Building & Remodeling Awards.

The galley kitchen – which won the Grand Award in the Kitchen & Bath Division (more than $50,000) – was designed by Studio Becker Hawaii’s Rick Cowan, CKD, and Tiare Cowan-Broad, CKD.

The vacation home remodel that also centered on a revamped kitchen was orchestrated by Carolyn Pace, AKBD, also with Studio Becker Hawaii. It snagged the Grand Award in the Residential Remodeling Division ($150,001 to $350,000).

These awards “recognize excellence in commercial and residential building/remodeling projects in Hawaii and the professionals who created them,” according to the Hawaii Remodelors Council (HRC) of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii (BIA-Hawaii), a 400-member trade organization affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

One award for each category was given in the Kitchen & Bath, Residential, Historic, Hawaii BuiltGreen, Landscaping and Commercial categories. Entries in the Residential, Historic and Commercial divisions were eligible for the Overall Grand Awards. And the Carl Reppun Award recognized a small size contracting firm for a residential project.

All entries from kitchen and bath designers, architects, designers, contractors and developers were judged on creativity, principles of design, materials used, value, visual appeal, overall quality, environmental elements, interior space and sustainability, workmanship and functionality. All winning designs, including Studio Becker’s, were honored at an awards gala last July.

Here, Kitchen & Bath Design News spotlights these two award-winning kitchen remodels.

From Galley to Great
The owners of this closed-in, cramped galley kitchen in Portlock were tired. Tired of the bland 1970s ceramic countertops and floors that needed constant cleaning, the white laminate doors with oak trim, and the outdated appliances. Tired of the clutter and dysfunctional design. And tired of the isolated laundry room layout.

They desperately wanted to bring the kitchen, and laundry room, into the 21st century. Enter designers Rick Cowan and Tiare Cowan-Broad. Cowan co-owns Studio Becker Hawaii with Cowan-Broad and her husband. Cowan-Broad also owns her own local interior design firm, TCB Island Interiors.

The designers were charged with the giant task of remaking a kitchen completely void of color and design emphasis into a warm, inviting and elegant space that would set the tone for the rest of the home. More importantly, they had to first reintroduce function and light, and incorporate the laundry into the kitchen. Achieving these goals was not without some challenges.

“The homeowners requested that we minimize wall construction and tear-down, so we had to work mostly within the existing floorplan,” note Cowan and Cowan-Broad. However, they were able to cut back the wall between the kitchen and laundry room to create an open, seamless transition between the previously divided rooms. In its place, they created a bumped-out corner with a wrap-around countertop for folding cloths, and incorporated an undercounter washer and dryer. Floating cabinetry below the windows at the back wall provides abundant storage for both kitchen and laundry. It also blends well with the home’s new Travertine flooring.

“The design allowed for a seamless transition into the laundry area and improved natural lighting and airflow into the kitchen,” note the designers.

They were also able to enlarge and relocate two windows, close up a under-utilized door leading to the outside, remove the shutter doors and relocate an electrical panel.

“We were even able to convince the owners to leave the lava rock column at the entry, [which added] an outdoor element and maintained the outdoor Hawaiian island feel,” say Cowan and Cowan-Broad.

They then addressed the kitchen’s lack of storage by installing Studio Becker birch cabinets chock full of storage options, such as an appliance garage, wine storage, deep drawers, spice pull-outs, a trash drawer, a corner unit and two tall mechanized pantry units.

The cabinets feature a rich honey tone to add warmth and elegance. The dark green granite countertops with gold accents have the same effect, as do the stainless steel cabinet pulls and knobs, and stainless steel appliances, including a GE Monogram refrigerator, hood and convection oven, a GE Advantium microwave and a Thermador cooktop, which became a focal point.

“To draw the eye to the cooktop and decorative hood, we centered them on the viewing wall and bumped out the cabinetry below using angled spice pull-outs and deep drawers for pots and pans,” explain Cowan and Cowan-Broad. Large, double-hung windows flood the space with natural light, add formal symmetry and beautifully frame a full-height rustic backsplash made of honed marble tiles. New track lighting with dimmer switches and toekick rope lighting enhance the flood of natural light from the new windows.

A Blanco sink paired with a Grohe faucet completes the kitchen renovation.

Great Wide Open
This ambitious vacation home renovation began with one simple request: new kitchen cabinets to replace the ones that had been damaged as the result of unfortunate flooding in the absence of the homeowners.

However, during initial conversations with Studio Becker Hawaii designers Carolyn Pace and Rick Cowan about the cabinet replacement, the homeowners disclosed that although they currently kept the house as a second home, they eventually planned on some major renovations in order to retire there.

“Specifically, they wanted to open up the kitchen to the family, dining and living rooms, [and] bring the outdoors in by opening up the views to the beautifully landscaped backyard and Ko‘olau mountain ridgeline. They also wanted to add a peninsula prep and eating counter, a small home office area and display shelving,” recall Pace and Cowan.

Other major modifications the couple desired included upgrading the downstairs guest bedroom and bath to make them accessible; integrating the outside covered lanai into the rest of the home; removing the acoustical ceiling finish; repainting the interior and exterior of the home; upgrading the lighting and cooling system, and installing wood flooring throughout the downstairs living space.

Based on the newly discovered wishes voiced by the homeowners, the design duo developed a plan that incorporated all of these modifications, and transformed a comfortable, modest vacation home into an inviting, spacious and contemporary space that easily accommodated entertaining and facilitated accessible living.

“The most important objective was to expand the U-shaped kitchen footprint and open this primary living space to the rest of the home. This was achieved by removing the dividing walls and awkward archways that separated the kitchen from the dining and family rooms,” says Pace. “However, we discovered there was a load-bearing wall that supported a second story.”

The designers solved this problem by installing a Glulam beam to carry the weight.

Simultaneously, they created “look-through,” contemporary-style shelving to display the clients’ artifact and heirloom collection. It helped define the formal living room and kitchen while preserving outdoor vistas, the designers note.

“This initially ‘modest’ kitchen renovation was further complicated by the discovery of the complex and poorly orchestrated main water manifold. This resulted in opening the concrete flooring and completely reorganizing the manifold. We then concealed it behind the pantry,” notes Pace.

Then, Pace and Cowan were able to install the desired peninsula prep and eating counter and small home office area.

Relocating the sink, cooktop and refrigerator further improved the working areas of the kitchen, further note the designers.

They replaced them with a Blanco sink and faucet, Bosch cooktop and Thermador refrigerator, respectively. A Bosch dishwasher, GE Advantium oven and GE convection oven finish the appliance selection.

Piranha green granite tops add interest, as does cabinetry in two different styles – Studio Becker Venecia in cherry veneer and Studio Becker Castello in beige lacquer.

The downstairs guest bedroom and bath were also upgraded to make them more accessible. Their respective makeovers included expanding the doorway from the family room to the guest bedroom, and the doorway to the bath, to 36".

Next the designers replaced the guest bedroom window with double French doors.

Then they began gutting the guest bath and replacing the flooring with natural green non-slip slate. They installed a low-curbed shower stall fitted with grab bars, as well as a more decorative sink and wall-mounted faucet atop an antique Chinese furniture piece.

“From the subtle blend of Asian, tropical and contemporary styles to renovating for accessibility and entertaining, the clients’ wish list was completely incorporated into this renovation,” concludes Pace.