Interior Home Design

Life happens in the kitchen.  So when designing her “dream kitchen,” retired home economics teacher Lillian Merritt was excited to bring her family’s four generations together to share meals and moments.

The former Japanese agriculture training coordinator at Hartnell College, brought a clear vision and 40+ years of homemaking experience to Wald, Ruhnke & Dost Architects, who delivered the layout and finish selection plans.

The former 210-square-foot kitchen was lacking storage space; but after removing the wall between the kitchen and formal dining room, the space more than doubled to 430 square feet and everything had its own place, including the Japanese-American family’s heirloom china that was passed down the generations but was previously in storage.

“At the beginning, I didn’t know my design style,” Lillian said.  “But when I looked at pictures of all black kitchens, I knew that is what I wanted.”

When she met with WRD Architects’ interior designer and Japanese native Misato Eddy, who was eager to help a family connected to her homeland, Misato said she loved her client’s intuitive design.

“The all black kitchen with its contemporary style is perfectly balanced with the natural light,” Misato said.  The enlarged and newly added picture windows bathe the open floor plan with warm sunlight while providing a clear view of the lush backyard garden.

The kitchen details shine as brightly as the polished stainless-steel appliances showcasing the wisdom Lillian has gleaned over the years.  As a college student in the 1970’s, she began thinking about her dream kitchen when she came across an idea for an appliance garage in Sunset magazine.

That saved clipping is now a modernized reality.  Tucked under the upper cabinets and flanking the flattop gas range are sliding doors that open to reveal trays containing her toaster, blender, rice cooker, and food processor, which are plugged in the back of the garage.  The desired appliance tray is simply pulled forward, and the tool is used on the tray.  When done, the appliance tray slides back to be parked, and the garage door is closed.  This allows the countertops to be free of clutter while easily providing access to the right tool at the right time.

The kitchen is designed to optimize Lillian’s passion for baking and sharing those skills with her grandchildren by having everything she needs in one organized area between the stove and the island.

  • The appliance garage to the left of the stove, includes trays holding her baking ingredients.
  • The flattop island provides an expansive workspace and second sink.
  • The island’s baking zone has measuring cups, rolling pins, and other tools needed in a pinch within nearby drawers.
  • There is a separate pull-out drawer within the island for her stand mixer, which is plugged in and ready to use without removing it from the drawer (unless she wants to).
  • The island also has built-in electrical plugs, including a flat wireless charger that pops up providing two additional electrical outlets and two USB ports for charging electronics or using electric appliances.

“The grandkids know where everything is and can cook food and bake for themselves,” dotes the proud grandmother.


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