San Jose Fun Kitchen Remodel

Updated: Mar 4

This project is dear to my heart because I designed it for my friends who I have known for years. I usually try to avoid working on friends’ projects because I prefer to keep my personal and professional lives separate, but this time I had a gut feeling that everything would go smoothly. It did.


They had been living in the US for several years and had just bought their first home. The structure had solid bones. It was an attractive house in need of a little TLC in the bathrooms, and a lot more in the kitchen. They decided to tackle the bathrooms by themselves and did an amazing job. For the more challenging kitchen they enlisted me.

The kitchen was old and had to be gutted. The kitchen and dining room were also separated by a pony wall, which made the spaces look much smaller than they actually were. The most imminent thing was to remove this separation wall. However, this resulted in the need to move the sink to a more practical place, which is at the window that faces the street. To fit the sink at this spot we had to raise the window frame. Luckily, there was enough room to move it up without having to make the ceiling higher. Now my friend can greet people who come to her house from this well placed window.


I suggested two kitchen layouts for my friends. One featured a small island and the other a peninsula. We discussed the pros and cons of each layout, and they opted for the island option which I think is the best choice.

There were just a couple of more things that needed to be done to improve the airiness of the house and use of natural light. One involved the wood-burning fireplace that was situated between the living room and the kitchen. It felt awkward and blocked the light coming in from the back yard. Surprisingly, the contractor gave a good quote for removing the fireplace, which was not going to be used by my clients anyway. Demo-ing the fireplace didn’t cost as much as we anticipated and my clients benefited not only from more natural light and interior space but its removal also gave way for extra storage in the kitchen. The improvement is immense. The second issue involved designing the kitchen in a way that would also open up the small entryway of the house, which felt narrow and dark. The new entryway now feels light and spacious.



Here you can see how the space looked like after demo with the fireplace intact, and after we demo the fireplace and closed all walls with drywall:





Here is how it looked like when we laid the tiles:



Material selection:

My friend is a colorful and cheerful person who loves bright bold colors. We knew from the outset that this kitchen was not going to be your run-of-the-mill white or in any way bland. My friend is also a very clean and tidy person, and one of her priorities was to install materials that were low maintenance and would clean up easily - especially the floor. To match her lively character we designed an intriguing blend of hexagon tiles and wood parquet flooring. I was so happy when they agreed to tie off the hexagon tiled section of the room using a creative layout that flowed more organically into the wood parquet, rather than going for a more expected abrupt straight cut-off line. I had been wanting to do this layout for years. My clients were excited, I was thrilled, and we watched intently as the tile man lay down those tiles. The guy who installed the wood parquet was less thrilled. You should have seen the look on his face when he understood that he had to cut each plank to fit the hexagon angled tile and match it perfectly.


The kitchen cabinets are painted light gray, while the island is painted dark teal. Both these colors compliment orange, which is my friend’s favorite color. The brass hardware and light fixtures soften the look, and the walnut shelves and stools add a modern clean-lined vibe.

I found this project to be the most fun this year, and am so grateful that I have these people as both friends and as clients. Even after my initial hesitation at mixing friendship and business, and even after experiencing together the natural ups and downs that come with any remodeling project, we are still friends! Can you believe it? I am so happy that I could assist them during such an exciting moment in their life.


And no for the part I love most, the "before" pictures :-)



Here you can see where we moved the sink to:




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