San Diego Home/Garden Magazine (June 2015) – Kitchen of the Year


Mission Hills, San Diego, CA


Prairie School Passion


June 2015


Larny J. Mack

Preservationists at heart, homeowners Rodney Love and Larry Wood remodeled their kitchen to reflect the look and feel of their 1918 Prairie School-style home.

“Kate Sessions owned the property and lived cattycorner from the house,” Rodney says of the historically designated property. “John Forward Jr. purchased the house in 1923 and lived in it while he was mayor of San Diego. Martin V. Melhorn was the architect. When we redid the kitchen, we wanted it to be authentic to the rest of the house.”

Fate took over when they met Ione Stiegler, an architect honored for historic preservation by the American Institute of Architects’ Distinguished Practice Award. After hearing her speak at a Mission Hills community meeting, Rodney and Larry invited her to their home.

“The kitchen had been heavily remodeled in the early ‘80s by previous owners,” Ione says. “We wanted to recapture the essence of the Prairie School style with an updated layout suited for the way we live. We went for a more old-fashioned approach with what I would call an ‘unfitted’ kitchen: a kitchen that is broken up into task areas, where some of the pieces look like they are separate pieces of furniture.”

For a seamless connection from room to room, original trip, crown molding, baseboards and hardwood flooring throughout the home were matched and installed in the kitchen. Period-appropriate millwork detailing and flat-paneled, rectilinear cabinetry doors and drawers link the kitchen to its past. And although the updated kitchen’s focus clearly rests on these connections, the countertop granite shines as the highlight.

“Unique Stone Imports worked with us for countless hours because we were so picky about what we wanted,” Rodney says. “They found this granite, called Turtle Green, which has a bumpy texture and a really cool sort of turtle-shell design. We immediately fell in love with it.”

Designer Terri Wise chose colors for the backsplash tiles and paint based on a wash of color from the granite.

“When we found the granite, that became our focal point,” Terri says. “We worked the design around that, and we picked colors that were in the same family to make the granite pop. The ceiling is painted two shades lighter than the wall to warm the room. We also used varying shades of that color in the family room, hallway and bathroom so that it all flows.”

A reconfigured floor plan achieved better flow and sightlines between the kitchen, living room and backyard. Moving a dining table and chairs from the kitchen to the oversized family room added space in the kitchen for a large, central island.

Across from the island, flanking a media cabinet, two pocket doors lead into the family room. One door is original to the house; the other was custom designed to mimic the historical door.

Just beyond the pocket door to the right of the media cabinet, a breakfast nook provides a handy spot for Rodney and Larry’s three sons to do their homework while eating afterschool snacks.

“One of my friends swears we’ve added 1,000 square feet to the kitchen,” Rodney says. “But we didn’t. It just looks bigger because of the way everything got laid out. Before the remodel, I was embarrassed by our dark, outdated kitchen. Now we want to show it off. We’re proud of the outcome.”

“The countertop material caught my eye and made me smile.” – Paul Schatz, juror