Home is Where The Heart is

Kitchens and bathrooms serve as the heart of most homes, but some in the greater Pasadena have seen better days. To keep things up to date and ready for a more modern lifestyle, finding a balance between what is trendy and what’s functional is the key to a solid kitchen and bathroom remodel.

And for that, there’s Sierra Custom Kitchens. Kitchen and Bath Designer Alice Sin says many Pasadena homes were built in the ’20s, when compartmentalizing each room was trendy. She says homebuyers today are “jazzed” when they see a great room and kitchen share a wall because the space has potential for an updated and open design. However, there can be consequences to removing walls, including losing space to hang art or maintain a pantry.

“We have to be mindful of which walls we’re removing to be able to keep its function and make everything fit,” Sin says.

A huge part of the design process for Sin is ensuring functionality for her clients. The initial consultation consists of an assessment of how the occupants of the home live. A mom of three could have the same taste as a retired couple who are empty nesters, but what they need from the kitchen or bathroom could be entirely different.

“Once we decide what would work best for them function-wise, and come together with their general taste and style, we will go ahead and measure out the space. Truthfully, we do our best planning on paper and playing with our ideas before we bring them back. It can go back and forth a couple of times to get it right, but usually it’s pretty straightforward because of that initial assessment,” Sin says.

A large portion of the design process includes bringing the rest of the home into the kitchen or the bathroom. While sometimes that means matching the style of the space to the rest of the house, it can also mean negotiating the designs from in consequence to the lack of planning on the home’s original architect.

“The window in one of the bathrooms we redid is off-center, which was because the architect of the home centered it to the outside of the house instead of the bathroom it shares a wall with. It was quirky, but we went with it and created a spa feel. We matched that quirkiness with style, with the exposed pipes and the shower sharing the space with the bathtub,” Sin says.

Many of the trends that Sin balances with the style of the home are airy, filled with natural light and, most of the time, are white.

“I think it’s kind of the backlash of all of the dark that was on trend for awhile. Especially for the homes that are around here, everyone is doing the opposite of what was on trend,” says Sin. 

“The trends of the ’90s to early 2000s when everyone wanted smaller spaces with the dark brown espresso kitchens are out. Now everyone wants clean and bright and a lot of white and big, open spaces,” Sin says.

Recently, however, the designer says she has seen the tides changing, as people are now gravitating toward exposed wood grain features with natural stains. Sin says she has also caught on to matte black hardware and light features.

But style comes at a cost, and to do it right, a full remodel project can cost a pretty penny. Those looking to gut a kitchen and start anew can expect an $80,000 to $100,000 price tag for the full project. However, Sin says cost is dependent on the space (kitchen, bathroom or both) as well as the materials used for things like countertops, cabinets, hardware and appliances.

“Everyone likes sleek, professional appliances but those can run $30,000 and up. A lot of people don’t realize that if they’ve never remodeled or shopped for that before. You can get less expensive options that are still great but all of those factor in,” Sin says.

Sin adds a full remodel can put homeowners out of a kitchen for eight to 12 weeks once demolition begins.

Though a new look comes at a cost, Sin says the value added to your home, monetarily and otherwise, makes the projects worth it.

“Having a space that feels like it was made for you and tailored to your needs can completely change the way you value and use that space. It’s about fitting the space to you and your lifestyle rather than arranging your life around your kitchen or bathroom,” Sin says.

Sierra Custom Kitchens
686 Union Street, Suite 180, Pasadena