Semi-retirees Steve and Barbara Velazquez said they enjoy hosting their large extended family in their Poway home.
But the frequent gathering spot, their relatively dark and dated kitchen, was not as hospitable as the rest of their Old World-styled home that has undergone several renovations over their 30 years there.
“We have a large family and host a lot of family functions at the house,” Steve Velazquez said. “The kitchen is where everybody congregates … so everything needed to be new and made nicer.”
They decided to make a change — one that cost $300,000 and took nearly a year.
Now their extensively remodeled kitchen is up for a national design award after winning the Southwest region honor in the “residential kitchens over $150,000” category.
Jackson Design and Remodeling, based in Kearny Mesa, is vying for two Contractor of the Year awards presented by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. The winners will be announced on March 6. The other award is for a whole house remodel in La Jolla.
Tatiana Machado-Rosas, the company’s design department head and senior interior designer, worked with the couple on the project at their Acacia Terrace home in Poway’s The Palisades neighborhood.
“They have a beautiful home that is really elegant,” Machado-Rosas said. “The kitchen they had before was very dated and had no relationship with the rest of the house. Besides looking 1980s, it had a very low 8-foot ceiling that had the feeling of walking in a little cave from the family room that had a huge ceiling.
“It was a contrast from the already remodeled family room … but a bad proportion,” she said. “The two spaces were not connecting.”
She said she transformed the cabinets and spatial by drawing the eye up by raising the ceiling and expanding the kitchen into the backyard.
Planning began in September 2019 and construction in January 2020. It was finished in August 2020, about eight months later.
Barbara Velasquez said Machado-Rosas nudged them out of their comfort zone.
“Tatiana … was able to utilize the space in the kitchen so well, in ways we couldn’t imagine,” she said. “She was absolutely right, she had a vision. … We are absolutely thrilled.”
Her husband agreed.
“Tatiana is an incredible person and designer who knows how to utilize space,” Steve Velazquez said. He said the kitchen and other remodeling aspects made their home “1,000 percent more functional and beautiful. She had the creativity and vision.”
While the expansion added 75 square feet on one side of the kitchen, Machado-Rosas said relocating its large island, changing the room’s flow and other modifications gave the appearance of doubling the kitchen’s size even though in reality it grew by about 30 percent. The island had to not only provide functional work spaces, but places for the couple’s family and friends to gather. A round seating area was added to the island.
“The challenge was to make it spatially proportional due to the very low ceiling contrasting with the high ceiling,” she said.
The solution was having the kitchen’s new barrel ceiling peak at 11 feet. She was able to raise the ceiling because it is a one-story house.
Machado-Rosas also incorporated other revisions, so the entire remodel exceeded $300,000. This work included replacing the flooring and repainting the family room. She also changed the back doors that previously made the room feel enclosed and dark.
“It opens nicely to the backyard, with natural light due to an added window,” she said.
Wainscoting from the family room was extended into the kitchen so there would be a visual blend between the rooms, and the home’s bar was turned into a walk-in pantry. She said a wine refrigerator was installed and storage system built.
A laundry room was also created, with storage and a sink where the couple can bathe their dog.
This is the 65th time the company is up for a Contractor of the Year award in at least the past 14 years, according to Jackson Design and Remodeling spokespersons. For the kitchen category, judges consider factors such as the final design, aesthetics, site challenges and solutions used to overcome these challenges. It takes into account the project as a whole, not just the kitchen.
Machado-Rosas said this kitchen remodel was based on a very classic Tuscan design, with tall cherry cabinets, wrought iron corbels on the cooktop hood and natural stone elements to give an Old World elegant feel.
“They were delightful,” she said of working with Steve and Barbara Velazquez. “They are really nice people who were very involved in every single detail.”