Open kitchens pose several challenges. Among them: editing the space to control what’s immediately visible. The jury praised this kitchen’s downplaying of utilitarian functions by camoflauging appliances, integrating them into space, and, in turn integrating the kitchen into the rest of the house. “In so many kitchens,” says architect Neal Schwartz, “it’s the refrigerator designs the space.” He continues that instead of surrounding the fridge with cabinetry—which can make that big box appear even bulkier—he set the fridge around the corner from the L-shaped space. Efficiency prevails: The fridge is steps from the workspace and adjacent to a landing area. Tucking it around the corner makes the main room feel lighter. It’s a trick that Schwartz uses in other kitchens, including Crook|Cup|Bow|Twist, another Watermark Merit winner.

The island is flexible enough to accommodate big parties, yet the scale feels right for every day. Here, Schwartz designed a table that breaks into three parts: One gets pushed against prep area of island to supply a kitchen-table component. The other two sit together as a dining table and slides over to join the other two for super-big parties. “Now, you’ve freed up all this kitchen area for people to mill around by getting the breakfast table out of the way.”

The jury also praised the use of color and materials here, including a backsplash that’s a blown-up photo of local grasses fronted with a glass pane. (The backsplash, which extends all the way down to the counter, is abstract up close and takes on more definition from across the room.) “The kitchen engages with the site, the views, and the land,” concluded the judges.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.