A large part of my private design business includes Kitchen and Millwork design for high-end spec homes.

I love the process of working with the developer to design a home that meets the needs of his buyer persona and sells for top dollar.

One particular developer that I work with purchases older homes in established neighborhoods and converts them into desirable luxury homes.

Read on to see how this home’s design developed into a spectacular West Coast Contemporary!

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Exterior of West Coast Contemporary Spec Home
West Coast Contemporary Spec Home Exterior

The vision for the home was to construct a modern structure that worked on the narrow city lot and took advantage of the spectacular city, ocean and mountain views.

To celebrate it’s West Coast location, a variety of woods stained in deep tones were chosen as the dominant material.

As with most older homes in the area the original layout consisted of closed off rooms that did not work for today’s homeowner.

The architect confirmed all the interior walls could come down and I got to work developing a floorplan.

On the main floor the design brief stated the need for a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, a family room and a powder room.

Seamless access to the backyard living area was also a must.

Layout of the greatroom in a west coast contemporary design
Greatroom Layout

The kitchen was placed in the corner, anchoring an L-shaped open concept space with the living room/dining room at the front of the home and the family room at the back.

This location positioned the Kitchen at the center of the action.

To give some separation from the “formal” areas of the space a unique dividing wall was designed, incorporating a tall cabinet to house the microwave and a variety of wrap around floating shelves for display on the dining room side.

This unique element provided just enough privacy for the dining room from the Kitchen.

The floor to ceiling windows at the front of the home took advantage of the spectacular views and was the perfect place to locate the living and dining rooms.

During the day, light streams in from these windows, and at night the glow of the city lights across the water and on the mountain side provided a focal point to these more formal spaces.

The front door and the window frames were stained in a deep brown tone and set the stage for the rest of the wood finishes in the home.

The family room beside the Kitchen was tucked between a set of accordion folding doors and the stairwell.

The millwork for the back wall was a contemporary design developed with wood stained to match the door frames and stairwell railing.

A low set of drawers provide storage for the family room and produce a hearth ledge to place the TV on.

This location for the TV is a much more comfortable viewing height than over the fireplace.

An L-shaped wood element provides a mantel and connects it to the storage hearth for a finished look.

West Coast Contemporary Kitchen design
West Coast Contemporary Kitchen in rift cut white oak stained dark brown

The dark wood stain was also featured prominently in the kitchen.

Rift cut white oak was chosen for its durability as a Kitchen cabinet door and for its subtle grain pattern.

The grain was positioned vertically to emphasize the ceiling height in this open concept space.

A set of frosted glass doors were specified at the top of the wall cabinets and backlite for a soft glow when the main lights in the Kitchen were turned off.

The Kitchen was designed with multiple features and work spaces.

Off the back of the island is a wine refrigerator with easy access from outside, the family room and the dining room.

Informal dining on the island was placed at the back and side allowing for great interaction between diners.

The kitchen side of the island features a deep single sink and a paneled dishwasher for easy clean-up.

The waterfall edge on the island counter echoes the one on the end of the peninsula between the Kitchen and dining room producing a great site line from the front entrance.

Tucked under large windows overlooking the back yard is a computer desk. This is the ideal place for a bit of home office work or for supervised homework.

brown stained kitchen showing work triangle and wide work aisle.
Work triangle in West Coast Contemporary Kitchen

The main work triangle in this Kitchen design connects the pro-style range, large single sink and paneled refrigerator.

Ample work aisle clearances allow for two or more cooks to work in the space simultaneously.

A large pantry echoing the refrigerator provides all of the home’s food storage needs.

The back wall was paneled to connect the Kitchen to the built-in desk.

The vanities in the home were designed using the same dark wood finishes.

The principle bathroom features “his & hers” floating cabinets with a slightly elevated drawer bank separating the two sinks.

A stunning marble tile was chosen for the hard surfaces in the room and the wood stained window frames pull it all together.

Even the basement bathroom was produced using the same vertical grain wood to provide flow throughout the interior design.

Additional lower level millwork included a combination laundry/mudroom room and a rec room.

Again both spaces were designed using stained rift cut white oak.

The laundry/mudroom is accessible from the backyard where the separate garage is located.

It provides great storage for laundry activities and a long wall of divided cubbies and quartz bench for seating.

The simple fireplace surround complements the window and sliding door frames for a cohesive lower level entertaining space.

The finished home was snapped up soon after it was put on the market breaking past records for spec homes in the area.

The success of this project really was due to the collaboration of the developer, architect and designer to meet the needs of the target buyer.

I was thrilled to work with this group and hope to provide design services for them in the future.

Do you work on spec homes? If yes drop a comment below to let me know your favorite part.

Jan Rutgers B.Sc. H.Ec.

Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

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