The house was a California mishmash from the 1950s, with badly executed add-ons that looked like they were done with scrap pieces of lumber, recalls designer Douglas Esparza. Some walls were framed without full studs, and only two of the kitchen walls could be moved. Luckily, the owners were open to change. They wanted something that would contrast with the quasi-Tudor façade of the house. So, the remodel began with a revved-up modern redo of a tired 1960s kitchen.
The homeowners are serious cooks who sought surfaces that were low-maintenance—no paint or veneer. They chose stainless steel cabinetry, porcelain stoneware floor tiles, and a quartzite top for the kitchen island. Finally, to warm up what could have been a sterile room, an entire wall was covered with reclaimed barnwood, playing rustic against modern.
The client was adventuresome when it came to a range hood, too, requesting something other than the profile of an inverted T. The house had insufficient power for their first choice, a pendant lamp–style vent, so Esparza opted for a pipe-shaped vent.
Splurging on the Italian stainless steel cabinets turned out to pay off unexpectedly: Besides pleasing the owners, they helped avoid what could have been a huge headache. Uneven joists made it such that the kitchen floor had a ½-inch drop from back to front and 1-inch drop from side to side. The cabinets, with their adjustable legs, made a tough job easier.