When interior designer Kelsey Tu and her family, including two young boys, moved from Los Angeles to the Bay Area, she knew that she wanted a home that offered both character and comfort. As a professional designer, she wasn’t put off by the idea of taking on a complete renovation; in fact, it was important to her to make sure that her new home met her family’s needs.

“With two young and active boys, we lead a very busy (sometimes messy!) and casual lifestyle,” she said. “We often host holidays, family events and dinner parties as we both love to cook and entertain.” This meant that the materials she selected had to be hardwearing. In the kitchen, for example, she opted for a Jet Mist Granite countertops for the perimeter that was reminiscent yet harder than soapstone. For the island, a contrasting Perla Venata quartzite was selected that offered stain and heat resistance. They rounded out the stone with handmade ceramic tiles by McIntyre Tile for the backsplash, cabinetry by Blue Ridge Cabinets, and brass faucets by Devol that offered a vintage feel.

Although this three-story, 3200 square-foot home needed a new layout, with walls taken down between the kitchen and dining room to accommodate the new island, Kelsey was intent on preserving the original architectural charm of the building. “There were some incredible original details, such as the hand-painted wood ceilings in the living room, dining room, and foyer, which were all maintained,” the designer explained. “The motifs on the ceilings were seemingly inspired by Moorish designs and reminiscent of some local landmarks built around the same time, such as the Fox Theater in Oakland.” Kelsey also kept many of the beautiful archways in the living area, removing the wrought iron gates that were obscuring them.

Having worked on many historical projects, though, gave her the confidence to remove some original details that weren’t doing the space justice. “The original mantel on the fireplace, while small in scale, was a 100-year-old hand-carved piece that had a lot of character,” she said. “It was a tough decision to get rid of it because it was a special piece of art, but ultimately it wasn’t right for the space.” The walls, with a rough-textured stucco, were smoothed to provide a cleaner more contemporary look.

“Our aim with the design aesthetic was to be somewhat traditional to honor the style of the house while keeping things clean, simple and uncluttered,” Kelsey said. “We love it and feel lucky to live in such a beautiful and family-friendly home!