The Green Room: An Eco-friendly Hawaii Kai kitchen makeover

A couple freshens up their kitchen with eco-friendly products.
Photo: Ryan Siphers

When a Hawaii Kai couple purchased their property in the early ’90s, they decided to oversee the construction of their home as owner-builders, paying as the work progressed. The kitchen was one of the last rooms constructed, and by then the couple realized they didn’t have much budget left for it. They settled for cheaper countertops and cabinets and omitted an island from the space, knowing they would renovate in the future. Now, nearly 25 years later, the homeowners have a revamped kitchen.

They were referred to John Cook Kitchens through a friend. “I trusted my friend’s choices and she said John Cook Kitchens had good quality cabinets, the service was good and they were easy to work with,” says the wife.

The couple went to the John Cook Kitchens showroom where they met designer Shelley Tanner. “It worked out really good with [Tanner] and we’re really pleased with her,” says the husband. 

The couple told Tanner their general vision. The kitchen, which is between the couple’s TV room and dining area, had hanging wall cabinets and a peninsula that made it feel cramped and divided from the other two rooms. So they wanted an open kitchen with a better flow between the three rooms. They were also interested in having eco-friendly products and wanted to finally get an island.

John Cook Kitchens created an organic kitchen that’s modern in design.
 Photo: Ryan Siphers

“They were looking for somebody to give them a little more guidance with layout, the design and the materials,” says Tanner. With Tanner’s guidance and advice, the couple selected all the pieces for the kitchen. The result is a smartly designed open kitchen that’s organic with a modern edge.

Bali bamboo cabinetry that the couple saw in the John Cook Kitchens showroom was selected because of its sustainable material. The narrow grain gives it a modern feel, and the couple enjoys the soft close feature. And, it’s a very high-quality product. “It’s very durable and sturdy,” says Tanner. “It’s a heavy door because it’s solid. It’s easy to clean and maintain.” Plus, undercabinet lighting was installed for the couple when they want more lighting than their overhead dimmable LED lights.

The couple enjoys their upgraded Thermador appliances, the low cabinets, ample storage space and convenient features such as pullout trays.
Photo: Ryan Siphers

“I love the low cabinets and drawers,” says the wife, noting the easy accessibility she has to her cookbooks that are no longer in a tall hanging wall cabinet. “Because we lost cabinets at the top, we still gained storage, and I think we actually have more space.”

Thanks to Tanner’s smart design, the pantry and cabinets feature rollout shelves, making it easy to take stock of spices and cooking ingredients, at a glance. Trash bin pullouts glide smoothly under the countertop and hide discarded items. The blind cabinet swing out trays and Super Susans maximize corner spaces and make hard-to-reach corners of the cabinet easily accessible.

The couple finally got their island, also home to a Thermador stovetop from Servco Home & Appliance Distribution. To keep the open look of the kitchen, the homeowners didn’t want a range over the stove. Instead, a downdraft pops up at the push of a button, sucking in air and discarding it under the home, which is possible thanks to the home’s crawl space. The couple also upgraded their other appliances to Thermador, including a convection oven, microwave and dishwasher. 

The husband’s favorite appliance is the beverage center. “It was [Tanner’s] idea and I love it,” he says.

Sleek white countertops and vertically stacked green tile backsplash balance out the warmth of the wood to maintain a modern style, and the gray flooring complements everything.

A once closed off kitchen with hanging wall cabinets and a peninsula dividing it from the dining area is now open with a better flow from one room to the next.
Photo: Ryan Siphers

Now, the homeowners enjoy hosting family and friends and having parties at their home. “When we have get-togethers with a lot of people, it just flows better,” says the husband. “People are not so separated from each room. It’s more open.”

The couple enjoyed working with Tanner. The process “was easy,” says the wife. “She had good service and made sure things were just right, and we didn’t have any problems.”

“It’s pretty much our most-used room,” says the husband. “We’re really enjoying it.” 

Where To Get It


Appliances: Thermador 30” 5 Burner Gas Cooktop, Thermador 30” Pro Single True Convection Oven, Thermador Built-In Microwave with Convection, Thermador Emerald Dishwasher, from Servco Home & Appliance Distribution

Backsplash: Mint Condition, from Evergreen by Debra

Cabinets: Bali Solid Lumbercore Bamboo in Caramelized Natural Color, from John Cook Kitchens

Countertops: Engineered Quartz in Zodiac Snow Fluffy, from Naka’s Marble Co. and Solid Surface

Flooring: Battisata Ash Stone, from ProSource of Honolulu


Categories: Kitchen, Sustainability