These San Antonio homeowners adore the charm of their early-1900s bungalow and didn't want to disturb the fabric of its historic neighborhood. What they did want was a contemporary kitchen that flowed into expanded living spaces; and they sought privacy from their neighbors without losing valuable natural light. Craig Duncan, AIA, gave his clients a streamlined floor plan, revitalized ties to private outdoor spaces, and a hip kitchen that fuses bungalow craftsmanship with lean, clean detailing. “We wanted to blend existing historic ideas with an architectural statement that tells where we are in the world today,” says the architect.

“We cleaned up the trim and did simple, sticklike cabinetry with a clear coat over natural wood rather than painted wood,” says Duncan. Fir was the wood of choice for all the custom cabinetry, as well as the island. All the wood was handpicked, then carefully cut so the distinctive grain flows in the same direction. Only the trimless cabinets around the sink have a slightly altered hue; their pale green wash alludes to painted millwork elsewhere in the house. Duncan opted for flat-front cabinetry to set the abstracted Arts and Crafts woodwork on the island in relief. “We didn't want elaborate detail,” he says, “but what we did do we wanted to show off.”

To update the floor plan, Duncan stole a few feet from an adjacent hallway. That helped create a galley kitchen wide enough for walking space on both sides of the cooking island. Three sets of retractable doors line the wall opposite the cabinets. They conceal a computer workstation, laundry, and hot-water heater. One end of the room segues directly into dining, which moves on to a spacious living area. The kitchen's opposite edge is entirely steel and glass, allowing a 10-foot-wide-by-nearly-8-foot-high infusion of daylight. The asymmetrical steel framing “isn't too modern and devoid of detail, but conveys a simple idea of craft and design,” says Duncan.

“We felt like this design does the original architecture justice,” says the architect, “but gives the clients a more modernized kitchen.”

architect/general contractor: Craig Duncan Architecture, San Antonio

custom cabinets and millwork: Victory Furniture, San Antonio

resources: countertops: Richlite; dishwasher, refrigerator, and oven: GE Appliances; doors and windows: A & S Windows; hardware: Häfele; plumbing fixtures: American Standard