A Closed-off Kitchen is Transformed into an Airy Space

Pacific Source was able to turn this kitchen from dark to light.
Photo: Olivier Koning

This bright, open kitchen was once a dark cavelike room. Lisa and Mike Kai had lived in their Kailua home for six years before renovating, cooking family meals and inviting over only the closest of friends to share in their space.

“It wasn’t inspiring,” Mike says of their original kitchen. “But Lisa is a great cook and she did a lot with what we had.”

They became friends with designer Hinano Nahinu, who they met through their daughters’ volleyball club. The Kais heard she was one of the top kitchen designers on Oahu, so when they were contemplating renovating, they turned to their friend for advice.

PMI Builders added customizations to the kitchen, including a barn door, behind which is now the pantry. The door’s flat black hardware matches the cabinetry pulls and sink faucet.

Nahinu, a certified kitchen and bath designer at Pacific Source, helped the Kais realize a vision for the heart of their home. She suggested removing two of the walls that closed in the space and adding an island – something the Kais were unsure was possible before Nahinu came along. These changes would let an abundance of natural light into the space, while opening it up for more movement and a better entertaining atmosphere.

“Light always drives out darkness,” Nahinu says. “That darkness resonated with me throughout the entire project. This area lacked lighting, it was very dated, and anything I can do to bring in light was my goal for the project.”

Bellmont Cabinet Co.’s 1900 Series cabinetry in Roanoke and bianco white matte brings a lighter atmosphere to the kitchen.

Lisa expressed she wanted a white kitchen, which Nahinu rightfully interpreted as “light.” Her plans for their renovation include two-tone Bellmont Cabinet Co. 1900 Series cabinetry, with the upper cabinets in Roanoke textured laminate, a new color that pairs well with the lower perimeter bianco white matte cabinet doors. The flat black pulls complement the Roanoke’s black grains, and tie in the Caesarstone empira white quartz countertops, which also have touches of a black marble pattern. Together, the materials bring light and warmth into the space.

“We needed to get away from the darker palette, but lighter wood would complement the other wood tones in the room, and the white was much more crisp with the lighter Roanoke,” Nahinu explains.

The cabinetry drawers are equipped with the Legrabox storage system, which helps keep the space well-organized and items easily accessible. The upper cabinetry has a manual bifold door system, with low-profile undercabinet LED lighting installed by electrician Ryan Chong of RRC Professional Services.

The Kais opted for GE Monogram appliances, including the Advantium wall oven, which makes cooking quite convenient. A Sub-Zero refrigerator, with a food preservation system, helps keep the family’s fruits and vegetables fresh longer.

They selected gray porcelain tile flooring and the same gray paint used throughout the first floor of their home to tie it all together. “Now I feel my whole house blends really well,” Lisa says. Even better, they’re much more comfortable entertaining than before.

Two walls were removed from the kitchen, on either side of the structural post that could not be removed. This change opened the space to the dining area while letting in more natural light.

“It’s so beautiful. It’s the kind of space that you can feel creative in,” Mike says. “It means so much to our family to entertain and to welcome family. … Hospitality is really big with me and Lisa.

“That whole area now, blending it with the entire dining room area, is a super inviting place for people. That’s where we express our generosity, it’s the place where we express our hospitality; it’s beyond entertainment.”


Where To Get It

Appliances: GE Monogram and Sub-Zero, from Pacific Source

Cabinetry: Bellmont Cabinet Co. 1900 Series in Roanoke and bianco white matte, from Pacific Source

Countertops: Caesarstone empira white, from Pacific Source

Faucet: Franke Pescara in matte black, from Pacific Source

Flooring: Porcelain tile from Daltile

Lighting: Klus LED undercabinet lighting, from Lighting Elegance

Categories: Kitchen