It’s now both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Elkhorn Kitchen by Linette Dai Design
Sara Tramp

When a family of five (three generations: a middle-aged couple, the wife’s elderly parents, and the couple’s adult son) downsized from a 6,300-square-foot residence to a 1,500-square-foot home in Northern California, there was a lot they had to get used to. One of which was the smaller kitchen which didn’t have enough storage for their pots, pans, kitchen tools, and extensive china collection. 

“The original kitchen was a cramped and compact U-shaped layout,” says Linette Dai of Linette Dai Design. “Since the dining room was being utilized as the family room, they were using a foldable table that could only seat three at a time on other side of the peninsula for daily meals. They had to squeeze the formal dining table into a living room corner, which was not an ideal long-term solution.” The kitchen cabinets were dated and positioned too high—Linette’s client even commented that it was as if they were built for basketball players. The cabinets were also a dark wood which made the kitchen feel even more cramped and dark since it was lacking windows and natural light.

First Layout Elkhorn Kitchen
The clients’ first layout attempt that they did on their own

Courtesy of Linette Dai Design

Before the clients started working with Linette, they had attempted to do the layout on their own. They added an addition to the house for a new family room, which freed up the original dining room so they could combine it with the smaller kitchen to create a larger space. “However, the layout they came up with working directly with a cabinetmaker was still far from ideal,” Linette explains. “It ended up having an unbelievable amount of counter space and storage along both walls of the entire space, which functionally and aesthetically did not work. They planned to put a dining table in between the cabinets which would have made the entire room feel more like a cafeteria.”

Elkhorn Kitchen Layout by Linette Dai Design
Linette’s first layout sketch for the clients.

Sara Tramp

More Videos From Sunset

Linette created a new layout for them that included a cozy banquette that could comfortably seat the entire family, a wall of built-ins, a floor-to-ceiling pantry, a refrigerator, an integrated bar, and a china display cabinet. There was also a new island with a ton of storage space and open shelving to make the space feel brighter. In addition to a larger kitchen with more storage and working spaces for prepping and cooking, the clients wanted a proper dining area that was part of the kitchen. Aesthetically, they wanted the space to feel timeless, yet fresh.

Kitchen Island in Elkhorn Kitchen by Linette Dai Design
The new kitchen island has plenty of storage.

Sara Tramp

“The millwork was an area of focus for us—we added paneling on the cabinet doors, and a highly custom island with a cookbook nook, arched legs, and intricate raised beaded detailing on the drawers,” Linette says. “Every aspect of the cabinetry was scrutinized for both efficiency and aesthetics to bring in the ultimate sense of home and affordable luxury to this unassuming house in suburbia.” Linette and team further elevated the space by choosing the right faucets, hardware, and lighting fixtures. They also added an archway between the kitchen and new family room “to soften up the transition with ambience.”

Bar in Elkhorn Kitchen by Linette Dai Design
The bar and china display cabinet area features heirlooms and accessories.

Sara Tramp

For the paint color, the clients initially planned to do a gray kitchen, but decided to go with a greenish-gray (Pigeon from Farrow & Ball) that Linette presented to them. “I consider green to be a neutral color these days because it’s so calming yet nuanced with life, reminiscent of nature and the great outdoors,” Linette adds.

Dining Area in Elkhorn Kitchen by Linette Dai Design
“Little touches like the curved brass brackets under the wooden shelves serve as an added layer of character,” says Linette. 

Sara Tramp

To add coziness, the design team added texture, like a woven linen blend for the window treatments and a deep green velvet for the banquette. Family heirlooms and thoughtfully-curated accessories add to the warmth and personable feel.

Kitchen Sink in Elkhorn Kitchen by Linette Dai Design
“The main sink is in front of the window and in close proximity to the stove while having plenty of working counter space,” Linette adds.

Sara Tramp

And Linette has some kitchen organizing tips that all of us can use in our homes, whether we’re doing a whole kitchen makeover or not. Decluttering is the first step, she says. “Only keep things that you use often or absolutely love in order to make room for your kitchen to breathe and to bring delight into your life daily,” she recommends. “Make sure to keep the most frequently used items at the easiest to reach locations, with proximity also being considered, such as pots, pans, and spatulas near the stove, and glassware stored near your water dispenser. A well-organized kitchen is an efficient one.”

There’s even storage underneath the banquette.

Sara Tramp

Built-in space for storage is ideal‚ like a countertop appliance garage and racks built into your pantry doors. But if custom cabinetry isn’t an option, Linette says Rev-a-Shelf could be a good solution: “It has a variety of highly functional cabinet accessories that can be DIY installed to make your kitchen more user-friendly!”

Read the Current Issue Here!

Get one year of Sunset—and all kinds of bonuses—for just $24.95. Subscribe now!