GRAND/KITCHEN OF THE YEAR BEST KITCHEN IN A SINGLE-FAMILY DETACHED REMODELED HOME—LESS THAN 3,000 SQUARE FEET; SPECIAL FOCUS—CUSTOM DETAILS

ECO-CONSCIOUS TO THE CORE IS how one might describe the owners of this century-old house. Early adopters of the electric car, the couple first hired serrao design/ architecture to incorporate solar panels into their San Francisco home. When they later decided to open up their second-floor kitchen and living spaces for a more loftlike view of the city skyline, they turned to the same architects to factor Earth-friendly ethics into the design.

Blending sustainable materials with a Latin-influenced palette (inspired by the couple's travels in Mexico), architect Jay Serrao handily squelched all notions of green products as homely. The full-overlay cabinets are faced with custom-stained, vertical grain white fir veneers, laid up on Medite II MDF, a formaldehyde-free substrate. Clear-coated bamboo floors offer a natural blond finish, and the countertops and backsplash are fashioned of recomposed Eurostone, an Italian product manufactured from marble and quartz chips that offers mustard yellow among its standard colors. The slim, space-saving fridge is a Danish high-efficiency model designed by David Lewis of Bang & Olufsen fame.

While the space is modest in square footage, it is generous and thoughtful in detail. The colorful cabinetry is reminiscent of a Mondrian painting, with its asymmetric composition of open and closed modules. A raised bamboo plywood (ply-boo) perch on one side of the kitchen island creates an edge for social interaction.

BD060501252L1.jpgClick here to view image gallery.
BD060501252L1.jpgClick here to view image gallery.
Need to pack mega-functionality into a tight space? Take notes from this small, fully loaded kitchen island.
Photo: John Todd Photography Need to pack mega-functionality into a tight space? Take notes from this small, fully loaded kitchen island.
BD060501252L1.jpgClick here to view image gallery.
BD060501252L1.jpgClick here to view image gallery.
 A flip-up countertop supported by a custom stainless steel hinged bracket. This prep surface can be stowed flush against the island when not in use.
Photo: John Todd Photography A flip-up countertop supported by a custom stainless steel hinged bracket. This prep surface can be stowed flush against the island when not in use.
A raised board helps separate social and work space, and custom shelving offers storage and visual interest.
Photo: John Todd Photography A raised board helps separate social and work space, and custom shelving offers storage and visual interest.

“Bamboo is a wonder material for green building in both regular and plywood form,” Serrao says. “It grows several feet per day and is harder than maple. It's very dimensionally stable and doesn't have issues with warping.”

Just as the design solution treads lightly on the Earth's natural resources, so were the architects careful with the client's financial resources. “We didn't go for extravagant materials,” Serrao says. “But we also weren't completely [frugal] in the sense that everything is very custom, including the cabinets and the steel fabrication. A lot of attention and care went into those elements.”

Entrant/Architect: serrao design/architecture, San Francisco; Builder/Cabinetmaker: CrackerJack Arts, San Rafael, Calif.

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