30 DECEMBER 2019


by Beth Booth

Today we were excited to meet with Fred and Lisa in Vista, California. They have a large, beautiful single-story Mediterranean ranch style home on a very spacious piece of land. It has a great back yard, a large pool, and even a guest house. The home itself is nicely laid out and has some upgrades, but mostly the finishes are builder-grade or tract home in their quality. It’s a relatively new house, so I was somewhat surprised to get the call to come out. After walking through the home, I understood why she called!

While the rest of the house was somewhat comfortable and laid out appropriately, the kitchen was in really bad shape! I was surprised at how many issues stood out to me in this space. First, the home is large, but the kitchen itself was really small. Considering the overall size of this house, the kitchen and dining nook are totally undersized. Scale is very important in any design aspect, but especially so in a kitchen, which is the number one equity driver for any homeowner. The kitchen is the heart of the home, the gathering place, and the entertaining hub. For a home this size, with such a great back yard, there should be parties galore here! But with the kitchen being so small and choked off from the rest of the home, there weren’t many gatherings going on here!


Aside from the size, the aesthetics were outdated and not up to my client’s standards. It has wallpapered soffits, fake red cherry cabinets, and gold speckly granite. Lisa showed me pictures of the style she was going for, and it was anything but what I was seeing in front of me. She wanted a cool white and grey vibe with scattered black accents. A modern kitchen with clean lines and definitely, no wallpaper!

Finally, the layout and lack on connection to the rest of the house is a big issue we need to tackle. Even if my client was given a brand-new kitchen in this existing space and layout, there would be fundamental issues that were not addressed. The nook is unusable because it’s too small and blocks the only small door out to the back yard. The dining room is in a completely separate wing of the house, making entertaining impossible. Understandably, my client doesn’t want to cook dinner and then walk in each dish by hard down long dark hallways.

This kitchens biggest problem isnt the
aesthetics. It s the layout, size, and connectivity to the rest of the house.

The difficulty here is going to be simple; budget vs goals. She called me out for a consult to just repaint the cabinets and change the countertops, but as a professional, I can’t let the conversation end this way! I am going to have tell them the truth. This kitchen’s biggest problem isn’t the aesthetics—it’s the layout, size, and connectivity to the rest of the house. Our proposed plan is going to be a fundamental transformation of this space. We will propose an addition off of the back exterior kitchen wall that connects with the family room wall. This will allow me to double the size of the kitchen and family room, and with the extra space, I can put the new dining room exactly where it should have been placed all along, right next to the kitchen!

I know it will take some time to show them that this is the best option for this home. It’s a larger investment than they originally wanted to spend, but in the long run, I know if they ever chose to sell, buyers will expect a bigger, better, more connected kitchen from this already stately executive-style home.


A few months into the design phase, and Fred and Lisa are totally loving the vision for this place! One of their greatest passions is to entertain and bring people gather together, which they can’t currently do in their small kitchen and disconnected dining space. They have seen the 3D renderings for themselves and can now see how much this addition will completely transform their home. This project has gone from a paint job on some cabinets, to a fundamental overhaul of the kitchen, dining room, family room, and living room.


In order to help with the budget, which is obviously way over their initial thoughts based on the minimal scope of work, we are value-engineering some of the key construction aspects. Instead of complete openings to the family room, we are doing some posts and short half walls. At first, this seemed like a design concession. How will this affect the open concept? Will it look unintentional, like we left a post standing at the last minute because we didn’t know how to move it? But now that we have rendered it and worked multiple angles, I am confident this will not look like an afterthought! I think it’s going to look deliberate and actually add to the overall architectural feel of the home. Open concept is great, but that doesn’t mean the entire area needs to be a wideopen box. These walls, posts, and beams are going to frame in each space and give the definition needed. We want the living room to feel different than the kitchen, which should feel different from the family room. So, adding these value options, I think, will actually be a nice added layer to this design plan.

The biggest challenge is actually meeting the needs of his and her styles! She wants all white and black, but he’s afraid that it will look like a hospital. How will I help these 2 get on the same page? I don’t ever want to cater 100% to only one person while the other is left out in the cold. This is a home Fred and Lisa are going to live in and enjoy together, so it’s my number one objective to make sure they both love it and feel at peace here in this home. I know I can incorporate her love for clean & classic with his need for warmth.

We have finally broken ground on this kitchen and dining room addition renovation! The permit process ended up taking longer than expected and came up with a lot of last-minute hoops to jump through. Luckily, Marshall is the most tenacious person I know, so of course, he got it done! Taking down an exterior wall is always a big deal, but I’m always surprised at how much is actually involved. We have roofers, framers, foundation crews, electricians, plumbers, and HVAC people all on-site, working to redirect existing lines and get the new lines into the new space. Our crews all work so well together, no finger-pointing, no blame game, no excuses, just get the job done! New windows and doors are about to go, triggering stucco and drywall teams. It takes a small army to make a remodel possible. Because I’m moving the kitchen sink from an existing wall to the new island, there is a lot of concrete that needs to be channeled through in order to move the water and waste lines. Things are so easy to move on paper, and sometimes designers miss the building implications of their layout choices and decisions. I’m glad I have Marshall to check my work in the design phase, this ensures that all of the moving of appliances, plumbing, windows, and walls are accounted for in the build phase.


Completion! There is nothing more exciting than a brand new kitchen, except maybe a new kitchen that happens to be connected to a brand new dining room and family room! I can’t believe the transformation that has happened in this Mediterranean ranch home. What began with dated, highly saturated warm colors has been completely transformed into a calming, modern palette. We used cool neutrals like black, white and gray. And although Fred was fearful that this scheme would feel sterile and cold, he loves the look, feel, and vibe of the new addition. There is wood tile through the areas, which bring cohesion to the new space.

The countertops are white marble-like quartz, with real and natural white and grey marble at the backsplash. The white and black cabinetry offer contrast, but also work well together in unifying the kitchen. Oversized pendant lights at the island and modern linear pendant at the dining room are fun accent pieces. The glass hutch and open shelf area offer more storage and function, but also create a distinction between the kitchen and dining room. If a kitchen is oversized, I like to add areas that connect but also offer a reprieve from everything so ‘kitcheny’ or redundant. The family room has wall to wall built-ins for tons of storage and function, the dining room now fits a generous 9’ farmhouse table. The kitchen has tripled in size and now has plenty of pre-space, counter space, and storage. These types of transformations never get old! I’m so glad they trusted our vision and plan for this space. In the end, I know they will be able to host friends and family gatherings here, and that’s the biggest reward.

Update: Nearly 2 years after the build, Fred and Lisa relocated to Los Angeles to be closer to their family. Their Vista home that we remodeled sold instantly, for over asking price. All of the feedback was the same, “this kitchen is amazing!” We knew it was a step of faith to do the bigger than anticipated remodel, but we really believed the return on their investment would be 10 fold if they did the full addition. Turns out, it’s a win-win! The new buyers are thrilled with their open concept modern farmhouse beauty, and my clients got what they needed from the sale price. Cheers!