Several months ago, the owners of a 1918 Craftsman-style residence here in the Oakland area asked me to remodel their kitchen. Small and dark, the room had last been renovated many decades earlier. A partition separated it from a butler's pantry, which held a corner sink and a tiny toilet room. The toilet hadn't worked for years, and the pantry was used for general storage. All told, the kitchen and pantry contained nine doorways, plus a set of stairs leading to the basement and the second floor.

Not surprisingly, all of the cabinets were in poor condition; probably the nicest thing you could say about them — assuming you liked history — was that they looked really old. As it happened, my clients did like history and wanted their new kitchen to feel as though it might have belonged to their grandmothers.

or Register to continue reading