John Todd

Using bright colors and smart storage, architect Jay Serrao transformed this small, bland living room and kitchen. The owners wanted the space, located on the second floor, to reflect their love of Mexico and highlight views of their garden and the San Francisco skyline beyond.

The judges liked how Serrao used vertical-grain white fir-veneer cabinets to visually connect the two rooms. One judge said the alternating pattern of open shelves and orange, red, and natural cabinet doors resembles an abstract Piet Mondrian painting.

The kitchen island features an upper-tier shelf that helps with entertaining and a fold-down extension that provides additional counter space when needed. Serrao cleverly added storage with two shallow drawers tucked into the toe kick. “The project could have easily become choppy and unpleasant,” one judge said. “But it was well edited.”

John Todd

In addition to good looks, Serrao satisfied the clients' wish for an environmentally friendly project by using green materials such as formaldehyde-free MDF cabinetry, bamboo flooring, and a countertop made of marble and quartz chips.

Category: Kitchen remodeling, $50,000 to $100,000
Location: San Francisco
Contractor: Paul Badger, Crackerjack Arts, San Rafael, Calif.
Designer: Jay Serrao, Serrao design/architecture, San Francisco