At first glance, the renovated kitchen in a house on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill looks like it belongs in a showroom. But behind the tall white cabinets lies a slew of professional features that allows the residents, two culinary hobbyists, to whip up gourmet meals for large groups of friends. “The residents wanted a functional kitchen with clean lines and a contemporary appearance,” says architect Ryan Jang. Before the renovation, the kitchen looked off-the-shelf: stained wood cabinets, a white tile backsplash, and a stone counter. The residents felt the space was lacking a modern sensibility, wasn’t durable, and was poorly laid out for their cooking style. “A lot of kitchens you see in publications and online look good but don’t seem very functional,” says Jang. This was a unique challenge in that the owners wanted a kitchen that was functional while maintaining high aesthetic standards.”
Integrating the 255-square-foot kitchen into the open-plan living and dining areas guided the design pro- cess. “Everything does a good job of disappearing,” says builder Jeff King, who disguised the Miele refrigerator, drawers, shelves, and a custom speed rack (usually found in commercial kitchens, speed racks are about six feet tall, set on wheels, and used as intermediate storage to free up counter space) with uniform cabinet fronts. To maximize the space’s usability, Jang specified an island that is large enough for people to gather around and that allows those preparing meals to face the rest of the great room. He considered placing the range on the island, too, but found that a hood would obscure sight lines—so he stationed it against the rear wall. The pietra grigio marble–topped island offers a natural counterpoint to the glossy white cabinets and stainless-steel appliances. “Instead of overdoing it with unnecessary finishes, we tried to visually refine and simplify the design as much as possible,” says Jang. “It’s minimal and an intentional contrast to the rest of the existing traditional space.”
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