Mark English, AIA, renovated this Sausalito, Calif., house to serve as a weekend retreat. But he did such a great job designing for his clients' lifestyle that the couple now live and work in the house full time. The small, yet sleek kitchen overlooking San Francisco Bay helped inspire the move. Designed for a “no-nonsense, CEO-type husband who does all of the cooking,” the kitchen “is masculine in both materials and function,” English says.

An eight-burner commercial-style range with a super-sized hood anchors the 18-foot-by-18-foot space. Two steel rails bolted to the wall behind the stove keep pans at hand, while a mirrored wall behind the stove “visually doubles the room's size and reflects views of the bay,” English says. A custom stainless steel island sits opposite the range and between the main sink and refrigerator, so people can access either without getting in the chef's way.

Knowing the island would be used as prep space, English designed it to accommodate a host of cooking accoutrements. Knives and utensils fill its shallow top drawers; vinegars, oils, and large pots occupy the deeper spaces below. Cabinets on the far side—within reach of the main sink—conceal trash and recycling bins.

The oversized stainless fridge is surrounded by a floor-to-ceiling wall of storage, thereby granting the husband's wish for everything to have a place. English actually had his clients “count every can of food and pot in their current kitchen” to approximate the amount and type of cabinets that would be needed. Pantry foodstuffs, a built-in coffee maker, an appliance garage, and even a stepladder for reaching upper shelves are contained within the cabinetry wall.

Simple materials give the compact space a straightforward, low-maintenance look. MDF doors and drawer fronts are finished with pre-catalyzed, integrated cream-colored lacquer. Elongated steel hardware matches appliance detailing. And a dropped ceiling outfitted with compact fluorescent lighting distinguishes the airy alcove from its adjacent great room.

architect: Mark English Architects, San Francisco
general contractor: Landmark Builders, Novato, Calif.
cabinetmaker: Mueller Nicholls, Oakland, Calif.
glass backsplash fabricator: Bendheim West, Oakland
resources: bathroom fittings and fixtures: Kohler Co.; hardware: Doug Mockett & Co.; kitchen fittings: Blanco America; refrigerator: Thermador; stove and hood: Viking Range Corp.