The Sunnyhills Reno: The Power of Space Planning, Storage & Loving Where You Live

This young family of four lives in a highly desirable Oakland neighborhood just a block from one of the best schools in the Bay Area. Nope, moving was not an option. Their Spanish-style home had good bones, but their current designers (AKA their kids) were infusing the space with color in allll the wrong ways.

They called us to elevate the style of the main living areas and create a functional floor plan that would maximize space and simplify life. I have to say, this was one of those “big changes” projects that resulted in a whole new lifestyle for this family. As always, it all began with thoughtful and creative space planning…

Before: Dark & Lacking Functionality


It’s no secret…with kids comes stuff. Although these photos look clutter-free, with minimal storage, this family felt that their home was turning into aisle 4 at the toy store. They tried making a few updates on their own, but they quickly realized that there is only so much storage bins can fix. Goal #1.


The even bigger problem, though, was the kitchen. It was super tiny and cut off from the rest of the home. It’s hard to tell from these photos, so here’s a look at the original floor plan:


In addition to its small size, this space was flanked by two rooms: a laundry room and an awkward small area that was being used as a playroom. We immediately knew that making this space more open, inclusive, and functional would change their everyday lives at home. Goal #2.

In fact, most homeowners don’t realize that their floor plan is usually the source of any daily distress. Design can change how the room feels, but sometimes you need structural changes to transform the way it lives. So that’s exactly what we did…

A Look Inside Our Space Planning Process

kitchen renovation space planning maximize space remove walls functional family home oakland bay area

When you swipe between “before” and “after” photos, it’s easy to miss out on the WORK that happens in the middle. Design isn’t all about fabrics and furniture. First and foremost, it’s about space planning. 

After our initial client meeting with this family, our team went into our studio to develop several home layouts. First, we strategized and created plans based on the family’s lifestyle, routine, and needs. Then, we organized each option and presented it to them with drawings, elevations, and prospective design elements. (This is what we do for every client.)


For this home, the first option for the kitchen included removing the weird playroom area and extending the kitchen to connect with the rest of the home. This would allow our clients to have an eat-in area and maximize usable space. The laundry room would then become a natural, separated space with a door leading outside. Simple yet highly functional.


In the second option, we proposed the idea of a large island and an alternate layout for the laundry area that would hide it from the rest of the home. In addition, we designed sliding glass doors to bring in more natural light while creating an outside access point without having to go through the laundry room.

We went through this meticulous process for every single area of their home. Yep… even those tiny powder rooms. This process not only ensures that every inch of their home is intentional and practical for everyday life, but it also gives them confidence in their choices, especially as construction gets underway and things get messy.

But I’ll spare you that part… this time. Let’s get to the good stuff.

After: Timeless, Spacious, & Lighthearted Kitchen Design


I know what you’re thinking. Is this really the same space, Kelly? Oh yeah. It’s unrecognizable in the best way. This family decided on the first layout option and paired it with the elements from the second design. We started by making the window larger, bringing in more natural sunlight and giving the entire space an expansive and refreshing feeling. SO much better.


We centered the range, selected brand-new high-end appliances and used open shelving to bring both function and style into this space. But the real attention-stealer? This stunning backsplash from Artistic Tile. The unique organic-yet-geometric style design pairs with the traditional combination of navy blue and brass, giving this kitchen a gorgeous finishing touch.

organic geometric artistic tile concentric circles timeless classic kitchen design oakland joy street

Stunning, right? This kitchen may be the most dramatic transformation in the home, but we didn’t stop there. Remember the “toy store” living room? No longer…

Bright and Comfortable Living Room


YES. Comforting, inviting, and best of all… organized! We added this fun, modern light fixture to brighten the area and infused blue hues and this wood coffee table to create a soothing vibe. And did you notice? No more clutter! Nope, we didn’t just tuck things away for the photo. This family now has a permanent solution to storage…


A custom bench! This wall was just begging for it. Now, the kids have a designated area for those bright and colorful toys. Plus, it doubles as the perfect warm and cozy space to curl up with a book. In my opinion, this is the best part of the house. And how beautiful is that natural wood finish?

Okay, you’re probably thinking the tour is over at this point, but we couldn’t resist adding a little more design magic to three small but mighty bathrooms…


Natural stone, warm tones, a mix of green and moody plum — these spaces are uniquely different, offering a fun design surprise each time someone enters. Okay, noooow that’s it. But before I go, I have to say it again…

Living in practical and joyful spaces CHANGES your whole life — the way you feel, the way you treat yourself, and the way you interact with others at home and out in the world. Design is powerful.

If you’re feeling inspired and ready for your own home transformation, we would be honored to help. You know where to find us.

– Kelly

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