This week we explore an eye-catching kitchen renovation in a historic San Francisco Victorian home. The homeowners aimed to modernize the space while still honoring the home’s original 19th century details. The result is a bold, contemporary kitchen with an intriguing clash of new and old. From the sleek surfaces to the statement-making lighting, this space pushes creative boundaries. Read on to learn more about the thoughtfully crafted design.

Background on the Home

  • The house dates back to the late 1800s during San Francisco’s Victorian era
  • It retains period details like bay windows, ornate trim, and high ceilings
  • Previous renovations over the years had hidden some original features
  • The homeowners wanted to uncover and restore historic elements
  • But they also sought to integrate modern amenities and aesthetics

Design Approach and Layout

  • The layout preserves the general footprint and flow
  • Entry through a discreet pocket door off the dining room
  • Focal point is a large kitchen island with bar-height seating
  • Peninsular counter connects the island to perimeter cabinets
  • High-end appliances and abundant counter space
  • A built-in banquette nestled under bay windows

Blending Old and New

Restoring Historic Touches

  • Uncovered and restored original brick walls
  • Revealed original interior arched windows
  • Added elevated trim details to mimic Victorian style

Integrating Modern Updates

  • Sleek flat-panel cabinetry with touch-latch hardware
  • Quartzite countertops and porcelain tile backsplashes
  • Flushmounts and statement pendants for theatrical lighting
  • Top-of-the-line Wolf range and Sub-Zero refrigerator
  • Discreet small appliances and minimized visual clutter

Unique Lighting Steals the Show

  • Gold geometric pendants hang on both sides of the kitchen island
  • Bold light fixture combines brass and glass over the banquette
  • Vintage-inspired pharmacy lamps for task lighting at the sink
  • Under cabinet lighting illuminates surfaces

Materials and Finishes

  • White flat-panel cabinetry has fluted glass uppers and mullion drawer fronts
  • Kitchen island in dramatic navy blue lacquer finish
  • Countertops are snow white quartzite on the perimeter and Calacatta Laza quartz on the island
  • Subway tile backsplash laid in varying patterns provides visual interest
  • Porcelain floor tile has a marble-like look for timeless elegance
  • Brass finishes on lighting and fixtures for a touch of glamour

Smart Elements and Clever Details

  • Deep drawers with dividers organize utensils and pots/pans
  • Slide-out vertical storage for cutting boards and trays
  • Electrical outlets concealed discreetly under upper cabinets
  • Side panel between island and banquette for an architectural look
  • Bay window benches padded and upholstered in navy
  • Sconce lighting placed above banquette and on brick walls

Final Thoughts

This San Francisco Victorian kitchen renovation demonstrates how sensitively introducing contemporary elements can revitalize a historic home. The preservation of original details paired with new materials and streamlined features creates a sophisticated, modern look. Clever touches like statement lighting and an accent wall color keep the design fresh and current. The homeowners achieved their goals of honoring the Victorian bones while gaining an updated gathering space suited for contemporary living. This kitchen serves as inspiration for skillfully blending eras in a seamless style.

Frequently Asked Questions

What major design elements create the modern look?

The flat-panel cabinets, quartzite countertops, pendant lighting, and lacquered kitchen island introduce contemporary style. Clean lines and streamlined forms contrast the traditional Victorian detailing.

How were Victorian era features restored?

The original brick walls and arched interior windows were uncovered and repaired. New millwork mimics Victorian trim details. The layout preserves the existing footprint.

What special details provide functionality?

Deep drawers organize cooking tools. Slide-outs accommodate trays. Electrical outlets are discreetly placed under cabinets.

What makes the lighting stand out?

Bold geometric pendants, an eye-catching brass fixture and vintage-style lamps provide dramatic and theatrical lighting. The eclectic mix of fixtures creates striking visual interest.

How do the finishes and materials complement the design?

Elements like white cabinetry, marble-look tile, quartzite counters and brass accents provide an elegantly timeless look with a contemporary edge. The navy island adds a punch of color.

What advice would you give someone blending eras?

Honor the original architecture and layout. Introduce new furnishings and fixtures for modern function. Seek creative ways to highlight historic details. Select finishes that bridge old and new. Focus on a seamless flow.


This San Francisco Victorian kitchen makes a statement by preserving historic beauty while integrating current style. The light-filled space provides ample amenities for contemporary living without sacrificing the home’s character. For those undertaking their own renovation, it serves as inspiration to thoughtfully blend eras in a cohesive vision. With careful design choices, the story of your home can unfold beautifully across generations. This kitchen shows that the past and future can come together for an elevated and inviting living experience.