Classic Yet Contemporary Kitchen

Designer Yuko Matsumoto blends traditional and modern styles to create a timeless kitchen with all of today's amenities.

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For this Moraga, Calif., project, designer Yuko Matsumoto designs a high-end kitchen featuring stainless steel appliances, marble countertops and streamlined white cabinetry.

Yuko shares with us the biggest obstacle of the remodel, lessons learned and how the homeowner found the final finishing touch.

Describe the homeowners' wish list.

They wanted new windows to look out at their beautiful side yard full of trees and a functional layout with more counter space.

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What were the homeowners' design problems?

We both realized and agreed that the single largest issue was the tall oven cabinet in the center of the back wall. This was the wall where they wanted the new windows.

What was your biggest obstacle in this space?

The house already had the maximum square footage of exterior window space structurally allowed. Adding two more windows would weaken the structure of the house, so we had to work with a structural engineer to reinforce the framing.

How does the end result match up with your original vision?

The end result exceeded my original vision. Part of the credit goes to my client for finding the fantastic pendant lights that added the final touch.

What lessons did you learn?

My client wanted a honed-marble countertop on the island. She loves the patina of the marble because she is from Europe and used to it. I disagreed because I was worried about stains and maintenance. Now, I think the marble gives her kitchen a unique personality, and I'm glad she did not listen to me. I learned practicality is not everything.

What are the "hidden gems"?

The tambour doors were white originally but we changed them to aluminum. This gave the kitchen a cooler, sleek modern look.

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