Kitchen Tour: Steve’s San Francisco Color Inspiration

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Interior designer Steve Justrich is inspired by color. When he renovated his tiny San Francisco kitchen, he drew his primary inspiration from the colorful art that lines his walls and makes his kitchen such an interesting place to cook. He says, “I wanted a kitchen that would be colorful and delightful to be in but still be a professional, working kitchen.” Well, in our opinion he more than succeeded. The result is a dramatic transformation and one of the most pleasant small kitchens we’ve seen in a long time.

Here’s a tour from Steve through his kitchen, his cooking style, and the resources he used to transform his space.

1. What’s your cooking style?
Inspired by Michael Pollan and Alice Waters I try to be a fresh, organic, local and seasonal whole food cook – not so hard to do in California.

2. What inspires your kitchen?
Colors. The kitchen was inspired by the colors in two pieces of art and the Heath Ceramics colors French Grey (walls), Linen (countertop and splash), Aqua (Venetian plaster ceiling), and Avocado (door). Yellow (cabinets) and magenta (outside bench) colors are used from the oil painting given to me by a friend in New Mexico, and a piece by local artist Alex Garcia that combines stained wood, metal and resin. An Alex Garcia piece in the photo with the mixer has stainless steel, recycled grey barn wood, and pale aqua paint on wood. The open shelving displays the Heathware. I wanted a kitchen that would be colorful and delightful to be in but still be a professional, working kitchen — with major appliances out to be used — yet still retain a styled and orderly look.

3. Favorite tool or element?
Favorite element: angled sink counter towards the new big window and the exterior aluminum framed display planter — photo shows native grasses on the shelf — I change the plants out according to what’s cool looking and in season.

4. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Hmmm — keep your stock heated before you add it to the risotto.

5. Biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Space! Making a small kitchen seem BIG — I built-in the refrigerator into a second doorway into the kitchen, with lots of windows and no upper cabinets, and made the sink work as counter space with integrated cutting board and strainer. My philosophy is not to have to walk more than three steps between counters and appliances, and have everything within a fully extended arms reach — I can have my left hand on a pot handle on the stove and my right hand on the sink faucet at the same time.

6. Biggest indulgence:
The Leibherr refrigerator and the Venetian plaster ceiling.

7. Dream tool or splurge:
Vita-Mix blender.

8. What are you cooking this week?
Meatloaf with a cherry tomato, fennel, red wine and balsamic dressing, and Dijon mustard mashed potatoes, curried eggs with sweet potatoes, avocado, and goat cheese, and kale slaw with peanut dressing

9. Desert island cookbook?
I saw it on your website and will have to check it out.

10. Favorite meal cooked here:
Pork pozole stew inspired from memories of my life in New Mexico with roasted green tomatillos, and Serrano and Poblano chili.


I tried to be eco-friendly and maintenance conscious in my selection of materials. My appliance selections are mostly European because they tend to be space and energy savers.

1. No grout! Floor is Forbo Marmoleum sheet goods, counter splash is Fireclay ceramic tile, Claymonde Series, large format, super thin crackle glaze tile.
2. Countertop is Caesarstone “Blizzard White”- keeps the kitchen bright and clean looking and merges with the color of the splash.
3. Ceiling is aqua-colored Venetian plaster – not something that you normally see in a kitchen that adds color and an unexpected touch.
4. Cabinets are Finnish (Finply) yellow plywood – I wanted to see wood grain but with color – finply is a pre-finished industrial grade plywood with exposed edges – and a material that would be durable and not have to be re-finished or painted. Fine steel wool will not even harm the finish.
5. Cabinet pulls are from Omnia, in stainless steel – I liked the retro look.


1. Liebherr refrigerator – at 30″ x 80″, it was built into a second doorway into the kitchen.
2. American Range 30″ range – commercial grade look for half the price, with cast iron grates and the largest gas oven for a 30″ range. The stainless shelf keeps pots at hand and not taking up room in the cabinets.
3. Faber exhaust hood
4. Miele 18″ Slimline dishwasher with concealed controls – it will do 9 full place settings in a half load (just the top shelf)
5. GE spacesaver microwave
6. Julien 30″ sink with cutting board and strainer – the bigger the sink the better, and never two compartments – use tubs and strainers if you want to compartmentalize the sink. The sink should be able to fit the oven racks, exhaust hood filters and refrigerator shelves for cleaning.
7. THG faucet and spray


1. Up-down lights are Leucos, Yellow dome fixture is CB2

Thank you for sharing your lovely kitchen, Steve! And another big thank you to James Hall for the photos.

See the rest of Steve Justrich’s portfolio:
Justrich Design
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(Images: Before photos: Steve Justrich; After photos: James Hall Photography)