Kitchens of the Year 2019: DIY and Lots of Light

A DIY design and a lot of windows make this winning kitchen light and breezy.
DIY kitchen

Homeowners Matt and Alynda Davis and their children Logan (center) and Abby (and Gus the dog) love their new kitchen.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about people building or remodeling houses and how stressful that can be on marriage and life, but for Alynda Davis the process was an enjoyable one “every step of the way,” she says.

“There obviously was a contractor [Kevin McCauley] and an architect [Friehauf Architects] but I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted,” she says. “I spent a great deal of time online, looking at Pinterest and looking at magazines and compiling things. I had the best time.”

DIY kitchen butler's pantry

Gus looks forward to getting a treat from the butler’s pantry.

She discovered that some of the things she wanted weren’t the easiest way to go. For example, she insisted on having windows that came all the way down to the countertop—a treatment she had seen in a magazine that bathed the room in light. “I stood my ground on that,” she says. “I told them, ‘If people out there can figure out how to do crazy skyscrapers, you can figure out how to bring my windows to the countertop.’”

“Compliments to the homeowner…the windows in this kitchen are spectacular!” — judge Dalia Feldman

She also fought for an interior window inspired by Nate Berkus’ New York City kitchen, which she saw years ago on an HGTV show. “I knew that if I ever built a house, I wanted to do that. It took three trips down to Architectural Salvage to find the right window to put in between the kitchen and pantry.” She wasn’t expecting to go funky, but when she saw the double-hung, rustic farmhouse-style window she knew it was her dream come true. Her contractor wasn’t as confident. “He teased me, saying, ‘You’ve got this brand new beautiful home and now you want to put this junky window in the middle of it,’ but he likes it now.”

DIY kitchen design

Besides the three trips to Architectural Salvage [a store selling vintage windows, doors, hardware, etc.], two days were spent at Vintage Timberworks choosing reclaimed planks for open shelving (“I’ve never not had my dishes in cabinets—I love it,” Alynda exclaims) and individual planks for the island countertop.

DIY kitchen white

Alynda wanted a lot of white to keep the look simple and bright, and she knew a big island would be great for entertaining.

“I wanted a plain white countertop for the perimeter with white cabinets, stainless-steel appliances, black window frames, wood shelves and a wood island countertop,” Alynda explains. “I thought it would all look nice together and that the brown of the wood would warm everything up. When I was looking at rough planks at Vintage Timberworks—my husband [Matt] and the contractor could have stayed there for a week; it’s like the Disneyland of vintage timber—I wasn’t so sure and just hoped it would turn out. Now that island countertop is one of my favorite things in the house.”

The island gets used a lot. Nine-year-old Logan and 11-year-old Abby do their homework there and breakfast gets served in that spot. The large size works great for parties and for family gatherings, as do the pass-through sliding windows (all the other windows crank out) from the kitchen to the outdoor kitchen counter, where stools tuck up to the window, making it easy to pass drinks and snacks.

“This kitchen is a source of pride for all of us,” Alynda says. “People walk in here all the time and say it should be in a magazine. When we get compliments, my husband is so nice about giving me credit. He says, ‘It was all Alynda.’ I’m a stay-at-home mom, so it’s nice to feel accomplished. The compliments never get old.”

DIY kitchen pass through window

Sliding windows create a pass-through from the kitchen to the outdoor bar.

Pantry Organization

Alynda Davis’ walk-in pantry is an odd-shaped nook because of the way ceiling beams came together in her new home in Encinitas. No matter. Her pantry works like a charm for storage.

Here are some of her suggestions for use in your pantry:

  1. Keep what you use daily out on the open shelves, even if it’s not “cute.” In a functional room like a pantry, I choose ease over style.
  2. Boxes of cereal, crackers, nuts and pasta will stay fresher longer in OXO containers and they make the open shelves feel less cluttered.
  3. My “drop spot” is hidden in the pantry—a small desk where my purse, calendar, phone chargers, etc, all get thrown and you can’t see it from anywhere else.
  4. We all like using the ladder so the storage up top is used to the fullest.
  5. Always keep the wine fridges fully stocked.
Categories: Home Design