Purchased in a foreclosure, this once-glorious stick-style Carpenter Gothic Victorian home presented more than the usual challenges, including its most recent use as a three-apartment tenement house. This phase of its renovation focused on the 225-square-foot kitchen, which was not the heart of the home but “the left elbow,” says designer Lisa Wilson-Wirth.


Grand Award: New Victorian

Central to the gut remodel of a stick-style Carpenter Gothic Victorian home is the overhaul of the kitchen to create a bold-colored space with work zones for multiple cooks.

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For instance, besides having three doorways and full-height windows on two walls, the kitchen was (and is) the sole access point to the floors above and below. The 7-foot 10-inch ceilings were problematic for the 6-foot-tall owners, who love to cook and entertain. Complicating matters, the kitchen’s petite footprint could not change.

In this gut remodel, Wilson-Wirth and contractor Tom Nardini accomplished what the judges called a “skillful insertion of the unexpected.” Instead of a kitchen triangle, there are four work zones — wet work, storage, cooking, and dining — to accommodate multiple cooks. A 36-inch-high peninsula table creates a second work counter, and sliding door pantries, a roll-up appliance garage, and a pull-out breakfast bar limit obstructions.

Judges also admired the “cool juxtaposition of materials” and “bold use of color,” including reflective products that enhance a sense of expansiveness.

Location: San Diego
Designer: Arclinea San Diego
Contractor: Tom Nardini Construction, Solana Beach, Calif.

See list of all 2008 RDA winners.