If you’re building on a lot with an enviable position high in the hills, your No. 1 priority should be to capture the panoramic views. Architect Mark English and his team of Masha Barmina and Andrea Sessa did just that in the design of this simply detailed modern home overlooking the Santa Clara valley. But they also wanted the kitchen to stand out. “Our goal was to create a serene home environment that would allow for focus on the tremendous views,” English says. “On the other hand, the kitchen, as the hub of the home, needed to be warm, striking, and cheerful.”

Indeed. The design team achieved warmth (perhaps even heat) with a brightly colored island that sets the figurative tone for the space. “Orange has an optimistic feel about it,” English declares. The color plays off of the abundant light filtering in via large adjacent sliding doors and strikes a bold contrast to the white countertops and base cabinets, and smoked and clear glass.

At 500 square feet, the kitchen is the perfect size for entertaining guests. But it feels even larger thanks to the open floor plan that allows the adjacent spaces to merge. “Partly shielded behind a partition wall, the kitchen still preserves lines of sight to the adjoining piano room, sitting room, and great room,” the firm says. Bamboo flooring installed throughout living areas adds warmth, while also helping to meld the rooms into a cohesive whole.

Entrant/Architects:Mark English Architects, San Francisco; Builder:De Mattei Construction, San Jose, Calif.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Jose, CA, Los Angeles, CA.