As is the case with so many homes, a renovation in the 80s had removed quite a bit of charm from this Oakland home. However, the main concern was the function–or rather, the lack of function altogether. The clients, a family of four, hired designer Nicole Yee to thoughtfully transform the space to better suit their lifestyle. With the addition of custom cabinets in each room, now everything has a place, removing the opportunity for clutter to gather. With ample storage, the homeowners are able to maintain a bright, clean space that highlights the minimal aesthetic they love.

Yee also kept the environment top of mind during the 8 month project, incorporating some savvy eco-friendly design decisions along the way:

Hi Nicole! We’d love to know more about this project.
This is a 1930s historical home in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, CA. It was remodeled in the 1980s in a haphazard effort that depleted its charm. Rough texture was blown onto the walls then coated in dark, shiny paint. Posts sprung out of the kitchen counters. Decorative wooden plaques were hung above each window in a failed effort to add architectural interest. Lack of storage made it inevitable that the house always looked cluttered.

Creating a durable, functional space for my client–a family of four including two adults that love to cook, two athletic teen boys and a dog–was the goal. Aiming for a minimal, yet interesting vibe, I knew the design needed to be practical, bright and beautiful.  

What were some of the elements you brought in to make this home super functional for the family of four?
I began the transformation by eliminating an interior window wall, and dated glass block throughout. This allowed us to open both the entryway and the stairs. Next we relocated a huge heating duct that was previously an eye-sore as you entered the house. This freed up an entire wall to create desperately needed storage, and a more formal entry. 

Since the boys are very active in sports, I needed a clever solution for storing umpteen hooded sweatshirts, sneakers, cleats, balls, gloves, bats, etc. Now those items are neatly hidden in dedicated cabinets in the newly created foyer. 

The relatively small kitchen is laid out with the maximum possible prep surface. Two cooks can sail comfortably past each other while there’s still room to sit at the island.

This home has some really eco-friendly elements, correct?
I always factor environmental impact into my designs, so we made careful vendor and product choices to lighten the carbon footprint.The cabinets in this home were made locally in Oakland using wood products from environmentally responsible, legally harvested forests. The kitchen backsplash tile was also handmade locally. The counter material is quartz made from recycled materials. We always use LED lights, no-voc paint and energy-saver appliances. The new windows are energy-certified. We salvaged the original hardwood floor and just patched and re-finished it rather than gutting it and starting with new material. 

We donated old furniture for re-use. The beautiful new dining room table is made from FSC certified wood and was purchased locally. We created a custom pull-out cabinet configuration for easy composting. We encourage this feature in all our new kitchen designs!  

See more details + insight in the slideshow.