Spring 2016


Custom Kitchens by John Wilkins, Inc

Oakland, California


Designers: The "Custom Kitchens" Staff

Photography: Scott Hargis


Our Spring 2016 "Featured Project" is a complete remodel/rehab of a home in Oakland, CA. All of the work was done by Custom Kitchens by John Wilkins, Inc, located in Oakland. Custom Kitchens has been an Authorized Bentwood Dealer since 2003, and an absolute delight to work with. Jerry, Joy and their team have designed and installed many Bentwood kitchens during that time and this is just one of their many beautiful projects. 

Registered as an historic building, this 1910 English Craftsman home needed major rehabilitation, both structurally and aesthetically. The owners sought a complete home remodel to correct decades of neglect and poorly designed alterations, seeking to restore original architectural intentions and detail, wherever possible. The remodeling work was required to conform to all National, State, and Local Historic Rehabilitation standards and criteria.

The initial goals were straightforward-- increase the overall living space within the home (including the challenge of constructing a full basement beneath the original structure), and eliminate the faulty construction of previous renovations. Additional goals were to create a home with a more comfortable open floor plan, one that would be energy efficient and current with modern technologies, and that would be sensitive to universal design issues, including an elevator to all three floors, allowing the owners to "age-in-place". The home needed to reflect an Arts and Crafts Period aesthetic and be sensitive to the character of the original structure, as well as to the neighborhood and re-utilize as much of the original building materials as possible.

Without the benefit of any original architectural drawings or historic photographs, Custom Kitchens' design staff carefully dissected the existing home to determine which features were original to the structure, which were not, what significant changes had been made and what features had been lost. They found missing porches, boarded up windows and doorways, and a 1970's addition that lacked any merit whatsoever that could only be demolished.


On the exterior, the front of the home now features a graceful new terrace with Arts and Crafts pyramid columns supporting an open pergola at the French doors to the Living Room. The latter were positioned in the precise location of the original windows. The terrace continues along the side of the building with a covered porch to the front door, which was restored to its original location on the north side of the house.


On the interior, the existing home featured a jumbled array of small spaces and narrow passageways that led to cramped rooms with limited function. The new open space plan establishes a dynamic connection and flow both functionally and aesthetically to all the adjacent living areas of the home. On the first floor, a central corridor was created featuring a series of successive arches. Together with ceiling beams and half-walls with pyramid columns, the arches bring a strong visual integration of the separate rooms, yet maintain an open airy feeling. Moreover, a clear line of sight was established from the living room entry through the arched corridor, and the kitchen and family room to the French doors at the rear of the home.


Many aspects of the original structure were renovated for safety and energy-efficiency. Some of those renovations include...all of the windows in the house were replaced and care was taken to match the exterior trim details of the original windows...the new roof was prepared for solar panels...the chimney structure was rebuilt...all new interior and exterior doors were installed...the mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems were replaced...and, the existing foundation was strengthened when the new basement was built.



Located in the central part of the home resides a fully functional Bentwood kitchen. During the planning stage, the kitchen island was carefully designed to fit between two vertical steel columns that support the upstairs. Then, before the island was installed, the columns were trimmed in a detail that matches the exterior of the home.  The kitchen was designed in an Arts and Crafts style, matching the feel of the home. Two door styles and colors were picked to complement the design. Modern built-in refrigeration, cooking and food preparation areas were strategically placed into the design, all blended together to create a comfortable cooking and dining experience. 


While this home gives the appearance of having always been in this neighborhood, with this rehabilitation, it is now set to go forward for at least another century or more with structural durability, energy efficiency, universal design accommodations and systems prepared for today and future's technologies.

We would like to thank Custom Kitchens by John Wilkins, Inc,for allowing us to share this fantastic project with you. You can contact Jerry or Joy Wilkins at 510.843.3600 or visit them at 6624 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609. Their website address is

Once again, a big thanks to everyone at Custom Kitchens!  

Bon Appétit!