San Carlos, CA is a Bay Area city that’s undergoing a major boom in residential design. “This once fairly quiet town has increasingly become a highly coveted location for young families looking to settle in, and build up in their forever homes,” designer Emily Kates tells us. When two of her dearest friends found the perfect site, they enlisted Emily to bring their dream home to fruition. “They also just happened to have a third bun in the oven when we broke ground,” she says with a smile. “Needless to say, there was some extra fire under me to execute this with perfection and ensure we came away with a gorgeous home and a fully intact friendship!”

Aside from it being a beautiful space, it was important to Emily that every space of the home would feel thoughtful and useful. “With three growing children, and a constant stream of friends and family coming through, we needed to have ample storage, outlets in the all the right places, proper lighting, and good circulation to name a few,” she explains. Even though starting from scratch could feel intimidating, Emily found the process exciting. “The magic (and challenge) of a brand new, ground up project is that there are no existing design parameters and the end product essentially materializes from nothing. I always feel that it’s great responsibility to build something beautiful and meaningful.”

Architect Natalie Hyland of Hyland Design Group and contractor Terry Babb of Millennium Enterprises Inc worked in tandem with Emily and the clients, ensuring everything unfolded fairly seamlessly. Since the clients had fairly traditional sensibilities, Emily created an architecturally classic envelope while punching up to reflect their youth and vibrancy. “Even with an awesome team and wonderful clients, I still spent (way too many) nights awake, working through, and worrying about, every detail,” Emily recalls. “From the paneled foyer to the powder room’s nickel-gap siding, to the box beams and columns in the family room- it all had to feel connected, purposeful and cohesive. I wanted the perfect floor plan flow and for every tile, fixture, tread and bannister to feel fresh, but in some ways like they’d been there forever. No pressure!”

In the slideshow, Emily takes us on a tour of the space. (Wait until you see the gorgeous kitchen…)