Prior to its renovation, this Orinda, CA kitchen was dark, outdated, and had poor circulation. Designer Sherry Hope-Kennedy recalls, “The knotty pine ceilings were dull and camouflaged by traditional wooden cabinetry which made the space look heavy and segregated.” The clients had two goals: to blend their conflicting styles and make the spake feel more open. He wanted to fold in his Japanese heritage with clean, modern style, while she wanted to express her love of travel and leaned towards traditional European aesthetics. But together, they agreed function was most important. “Because they love to cook and entertain, they wanted to create a space that allowed for ease of conversation and flow between the cooking, dining, and sitting areas,” Sherry says. “They both agreed that the kitchen felt cramped and was disconnected from the rest of the house.”

Sherry and her team at Studio SHK totally overhauled the existing floor plan, knocking down walls to create an open flow between the adjacent family room and neighboring dining area. “We removed a floor-to-ceiling structure that blocked the view from the kitchen to the family room, reconfiguring the area to create a more inviting space that allowed the views to be seen from all angles,” she explains. “To blend his and her styles, we took a cue from Japanese tea houses which pair black and darker woods with lighter walls. To create a similar effect, we painted the walls a white shade with warm undertones, and created high contrast with black elements.” The ceiling beams were painted black, along with black bases for all of the pendant light fixtures. Grey laminate cabinetry is juxtaposed with claro walnut, which has a sculptural look, while a warm white herringbone-patterned backsplash with a subtle grey border anchors the back wall.  And for the countertops, granite in a honed, leather-textured finish.

The space has depth and richness yet still exudes a light, tranquil ambiance, which Sherry credits to a reduced material palette in earthy tones and varying finishes. “The result is a warm, contemporary yet light space,” she concludes. By repeating certain forms, playing with asymmetry, and using an abundance of texture, the space feels light and bright, just as the clients hoped it would.