Bright kitchen renovation breathes new life into original features


The brief for this San Francisco kitchen remodel seemed relatively simple. Create a light and airy new look that stays in keeping with the overall feel and original features of the 1913 Spanish Colonial style home. So far so simple. However, the key kitchen ideas for the remodel were also to blend the different design preferences of the homeowner wife and husband. She loves colorful and bohemian looks while he prefers mid-century modern style.

The interior designer responsible for this careful balance was Adrian Dagli, founder of Interior Wanderer (opens in a new tab). Adrian worked with the couple to ensure that all of their priorities for the new kitchen were taken care of.

1. Keep the kitchen light and bright

kitchen with long and narrow island, pale blue cabinets, wooden floor and bar stools

(Image credit: Margaret Austin)

One of the main concerns of the owners was that by enclosing a central atrium to increase the square footage of the kitchen, they would lose some of the natural light in the room. With that in mind, says Adrian, “It was absolutely essential that everything was light and shiny with all the finish selections.”

Adrian advised to keep kitchen counter ideas clean and simple, to ensure light reflects into the room. The Caesarstone in organic white was therefore the perfect choice for this.

Likewise, by selecting light paint hues for the cabinets – Soft Chamois by Benjamin Moore for the base cabinets and the island with Quietude pale blue-green by Sherwin Williams for the wall of the cabinets – the room remains a bright space.

Suspended from wooden beams through the skylights, two large antique brass pendant lights ensure the island is well-lit night and day.

2. The bar area reflects the original features of the house

Vaulted alcove with open shelving and terracotta backsplash in kitchen with white worktop

(Image credit: Margaret Austin)

No design element in this kitchen says “Spanish Colonial” like this new bar. Indeed, when Adrian was considering home bar ideas for the new space, it seemed like the perfect place to reference the home’s original architecture. In fact, Adrian says the inspiration for the design of this bar came to him when he first visited the house.

“We knew that many of the legendary features of the house were going to be demolished,” says Adrian. “Our goal was to reconstruct them in a modern way? and an arched bar seemed like the perfect opportunity, not to mention a natural fit to restore the terracotta we lost when the old kitchen was removed.

3. A standout stove sets the style theme

blue white and green tiled kitchen backsplash with open shelving and cream cooker and white extractor hood

(Image credit: Margaret Austin)

When it comes to key appliances, the top of the list and the first item to order was the La Cornue (opens in a new tab) cook.

“From the start, customers wanted a double oven and we all fell in love with the distinctive character of La Cornue,” explains Adrian. “We knew this would be a colorful kitchen so we opted for ivory to ensure it would fit in with future design plans. This little number immediately set the tone.

What about the inspiration for the retro oven hood? “We knew a large custom oven hood would add so much architectural charm to the expansive wall of the range,” says Adrian. But it didn’t stop there. “Every curve in this kitchen was designed to perfection,” she adds, “not the slightest of which matched the arc of the hood to the bell of the sconces.” This is the real attention to detail.

4. Key design detail? The tiled backsplash

white green and blue tiled kitchen backsplash with open wooden shelves and white cabinets below

(Image credit: Margaret Austin)

Another key design element came up when Adrian was researching kitchen backsplash ideas. Although she showed customers a selection of traditional tile samples, these stunning blue, green and white zellige tiles from Tiles of Ezra were the ones that stood out.

If you ever wanted to hear a backsplash success story – and let’s face it, who doesn’t – this is it. “On installation, after several hours of dry laying exercises, the wall came to life in the most magical way. The sun shone from it,” recalls Adrian. “None of us even wanted to cement it. And that’s perhaps where the best design decision was made. Customers pushed us to keep the raw look as much as possible, and the grout Urban Putty saved the day. It. was. perfect.’

5. A friendly and practical kitchen island

Wall to ceiling pale blue kitchen units with an arched alcove with open shelving and terracotta backsplash and white brass faucet and metal pendant lights

(Image credit: Margaret Austin)

“A large island was part of the plan from the start,” says Adrian. ‘A place where the family of four (or five if you count their handsome St Bernard) could gather. And we’ve hidden charging stations under the apron for maximum functionality during WFH times.

Some kitchen island ideas that are sure to inspire include the traditional Waterstone faucet in unlacquered brass and Armac Martin hardware. Both were chosen to echo the old spirit of the La Cornue range. Rich wood island posts and a wood apron meet the countertop overhang, referencing the home’s original wood finishes and creating harmony with the engineered wood flooring.

6. Aesthetic Storage Solutions

Pale blue kitchen cabinets with cutout detail and glazed cupboards with glasses in

(Image credit: Margaret Austin)

The couple was keen to maximize storage. However, as she considered the various kitchen storage ideas, designer Adrian knew that a floor-to-ceiling pantry wall would simply be too heavy on the space.

“Our job was to figure out the best way to visually break up a wall of cabinets without compromising storage,” she explains. “We incorporated French glass doors that rested on a pointed countertop edge, allowing depth and light to reflect into the space.”

Deep drawers below accommodate larger storage items and bring design interest to other vertical doors. While details, like the warm brass ladder rail and custom pattern details add an extra personal touch. A hand-hewn wooden lintel above the cabinets connects to the dining room ceiling beams (see below) and living room finish. Continuing details like this into adjoining spaces in the home helps maintain a sense of harmony and reflects the original features of the home.

7. A dining room that continues style themes

dining room with beamed ceiling white upholstered chair and wooden bench with sheepskin and rectangular wooden table with parquet floor

(Image credit: Margaret Austin)

With the atrium removed, the kitchen now adjoins the existing dining room. And thanks to the vast original arcades, the dining room flows into the living room. Ensuring the new kitchen finishes were woven throughout the dining room and living space was an absolute must.

at Adrian’s dining room ideas included a wood-beamed ceiling treatment for the dining room with hand-hewn beams, which were matched with the original molding in the living room (see below).

These rich wood tones and textures show up in the kitchen with tapered-edge shelving, the rustic oven hood trim, and the island’s wood apron.

“As a final touch, we pulled the softer finishes from the kitchen to the dining room,” says Adrian. ‘Antique brass, warm leather and creamy textiles from my Wanderer interior (opens in a new tab) boutique fill the dining space. All of these finishing touches allowed each space to share the connected charm and vibe of the remodeled kitchen.

8. A living room – with more style references

fireplace with simple brick surround in white walled bedroom with wood frame chair and rustic wooden stool

(Image credit: Margaret Austin)

As we’ve seen, the original wood molding in the living room inspired key details in the new kitchen, but there was a two-way sharing of detail between spaces in this home. In the center of the living room ideas was working on a way to update the original plaster fireplace, as Adrian explains.

“Tucked into the corner of the room, it was filled with architectural intrigue thanks to its angled chase,” she says. “We knew we wanted to repeat the unglazed terracotta finish of the arched bar so we opted for terracotta zellige bricks. Like all zellige, it is perfectly imperfect. After considerable demo work and plaster fabrication, the chase lined up perfectly with the beautiful zellige frame as we had hoped.

Above, a hand-hewn wooden mantel connects to adjacent beams in the dining room and the fireplace is decorated with more items from the Interior Wanderer boutique alongside a Saffron & Poe (opens in a new tab) lounge chair.

9. Perfect style harmony

kitchen with cream colored units, a long narrow island and open wall shelving with a blue green and white tiled backsplash

(Image credit: Margaret Austin)

The finished look of the remodeled kitchen, in context with the dining room and living room, is stunning, a true collaboration between designer and clients, but also between new and existing style references.

“The kitchen was designed for a couple who had colorful design desires rooted in a Spanish-style home,” says Adrian. “They were a huge catalyst for all of our choices and why this kitchen design is so unique. They were ready to be bold but understood the need to root the design with more down to earth elements.

Design: Adrian Dagli, Inner Traveler
Construction: Kevin Laiks,
The urban builder (opens in a new tab)
Architect: Kevin Maxey,
KMD (opens in a new tab)
Margaret Austin (opens in a new tab)


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