Better Homes and Gardens Magazine (April 2012) – “Custom Knead”


La Jolla, CA


"Custom Knead"


Matthew Marin


April 2012


Ed Gohlich
Details Make the Difference in a Kitchen Built for Both Baking Bread and Breaking Bread.

Attempting to shape bread dough on standard-height countertops presents lofty challenges for a 5-foot-tall baker. The wife and mother of this household had to stand on a stool every Friday as she kneaded the dough for braided challah bread in observance of the following day’s Sabbath. So when the owners sought to remodel this house in La Jolla, California, to resemble a beach, Hamptons-style home, among their top priorities was a kitchen that met their needs for entertaining, cooking – and baking.

Architect Ione R. Stiegler, FAIA gave them a space that’s extremely functional – with strategically placed built-in storage, generous prep areas, and open space for gathering – but also a little bit playful in its use of color. Against a traditional backdrop of crisp white woodwork and espresso-stained wood flooring, the expansive center island provides a jolt of vivid chartreuse. The result: a timeless look with a refreshing twist.

The choice of color for the 12-foot-long, Calacatta-marble-topped island came directly from the homeowners, says interior designer Janette Seltser. “We wanted to make a bold statement,” Seltser says. “I really love this green. It works well and richly complements the marble, offering a twist on a classic look. It gives the kitchen a dose of fresh, happy color.”

The island includes an ingenious solution for the primary cook’s baking needs: a custom-designed, 30-inch-tall rolling cart that tucks into one end of the island when not in use. Also providing voluminous storage, seating, a microwave, a wine cooler, a pop-up mixer stand, and even a niche for a paper towel holder, the island serves as the multifunctional hub of the house. “The kitchen became the heart of the home’s remodel,” says Brandy Dewhurst, the project manager. “At the heart of the kitchen is the island.”

The homeowners demanded plenty of storage, and the design delivers. Cabinets extend to the ceiling. A sizable walk-in pantry provides space for dry goods. Narrow cabinets beside the refrigerator hold trays, platters, and baking sheets. Deep spice drawers flank the range. Hidden cabinets on the seating side of the island stow holiday items.

Prior to the remodel, a low ceiling and limited natural light made the kitchen feel dark and confined. “The homeowner needed a big, open space,” Stiegler says. “She prepares a lot of home-cooked meals while entertaining guests.” For a light, airy feel, Stiegler raised the 8-foot ceiling to 10 feet, then added an angled pop-up area with three skylights above the island. Large windows bathe the kitchen in natural light while making it feel even larger. White subway tile wainscoting and backsplashes and exposed hinges on cabinet doors evoke classic style. Reeded-glass panels on cabinet fronts further the sense of openness.

Perfectly suited to the needs of its owners, this kitchen has become the perfect place to whip up a batch of bread – and then to break that bread with family and friends.


Page 50: White finishes and bright green accents infuse this traditional space with a fresh feel. Natural light floods the kitchen from windows and skylights.

Page 52: Tucked into the end of the island is a 30-inch-tall cart, which can be rolled out and wheeled around the kitchen. It’s the ideal height for the homeowner to knead bread.

Page 52: Ornate fixtures pair with the white farmhouse sink for an elegant traditional look.

Page 53: Crisp white woodwork, dark espresso-stained wood flooring, and a splash of green on the island create a beach-house vibe.

Quotes: “I really love this green. It gives the kitchen a dose of fresh, happy color.” – Janette Seltser, Interior Designer

Page 54: The owners preferred the look of glass-front cabinets, but they didn’t want everything inside to be completely visible. Reeded-glass panels obscure cabinet contents while maintaining the room’s classic, light look.

Page 55: The adjacent mudroom gives the family a place to store coats, shoes, and bags, keeping the kitchen clutter-free. Painting tile-like white squares on the mudroom’s wood flooring adds a playful twist.

Page 55: A walk-in pantry supplements storage. Open shelves make it easy to do a quick inventory check before heading to the grocery store.

Page 55: A built-in microwave and paper-towel holder add convenience at the island.

Page 56: The dining area visually connects with the kitchen by repeating the island’s chartreuse on the beaded-board cabinet backs and on the chair upholstery.

Page 56: Ideal for busy families, a built-in desk area behind the island offers a spot for doing homework, paying bills, and looking up recipes.

Page 56: Lime-colored florals on the Roman shade add a supporting dose of the island’s bold color.


  1. A low countertop surface on a pullout cart provides convenience for baking.
  2. An adjacent mudroom and in-kitchen desk area keep clutter at bay.
  3. A large island functions as prep space, a buffet serving spot, and a casual dining spot.
  4. Vivid green energizes a traditional white kitchen.
  5. Cabinetry panels on appliances offer a clean, seamless appearance.