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Jenn DiPasquale had a tight window to transform Alison Hotchkiss’s dark, awkward kitchen into a bright, functional space. Her swift and clever completion of the project led the two creatives to team up professionally and establish Barlow Design.

The now-business partners first met when their children were in pre-school together and immediately bonded over their artistic backgrounds. So when Hotchkiss had to travel to Japan to scout wedding locations for her event company, it was the perfect time for DiPasquale to show off her flipping skills and tackle the dated kitchen in her friend’s Sausalito, California home.

Built in the 1970s, the structure had been badly neglected and its compact, dreary kitchen had received a strange remodel at some point. A handful of clashing wood tones created a brown eyesore, which was made even worse by a diagonally bent countertop that completely cut off the area. “The kitchen was wedged in a corner of the first floor and was not supposed to be integrated into the rest of the house,” DiPasquale explains of the odd setup.

In just three weeks, DiPasquale managed to elongate the room, usher in natural light, and add a modern style that suits Hotchkiss’s personality, while still maintaining the beautiful, original wood ceiling and floors. Here’s how she got it all done:

Working Quickly

While Hotchkiss was out of town, DiPasquale didn’t waste any time. She made sure to procure all the materials ahead so they’d be on-site when construction began and coordinated the schedules of all the experts who would be installing each element. “The pre-planning is the most important part,” says DiPasquale.

The fact that the project didn’t require any movement of plumbing, gas pipes, or electrical wiring also allowed for fast execution. The unusual December start date helped, too. “My one tip would be to order products and renovate over the holidays because no one else wants to do it then,” DiPasquale reveals.


Brown kitchen with white cabinets


White and blue bohemian nautical kitchen

Creating Cohesion

Due to the speedy timeline, custom cabinetry was out of the question, so DiPasquale opted for IKEA bases and Semihandmade Supermatte White Slab doors that offer a clean, contemporary vibe. The sleek fronts are adorned with brushed brass Half Moon pulls from Sarah Sherman Samuel’s collaboration with Park Studio.

“The overall vibe of the house is very eclectic,” DiPasquale describes. “We didn’t want to get stuck in any particular genre, so we went with the white slab and added a little pizzazz with the hardware.” Plus, she intentionally picked white and brass Café Appliances that match the cupboards for a cohesive look that wouldn’t overwhelm the small footprint.


Acknowledging Location

Though many Marin County homes go for a nautical theme to honor the coastal locale, DiPasquale decided to subtly nod to the nearby Pacific instead. She painted the wall a dusty, sea blue, replaced a leaky, rotting square window with a round, porthole-like one from a local craftsman, and filled the backsplash with a leaf-shaped tile from Heath Ceramics, whose factory is right down the road.

The countertops, which were fabricated on-site, are made of an undulating white granite. “We chose the one with the most flowy pattern,” says DiPasquale. “We wanted it to mimic the ocean because we’re right on the water.” The stone, along with the rest of the space, has just the right amount of maritime essence.

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