An Open Floor Plan with Nautical Flair — Whites, Blues, and a Touch of Brass

SHI - Coastal Design Remodel

We recently had some clients in San Diego’s North County neighborhood of 4S Ranch. They loved the home they’d lived in for 10 years, but didn’t like the segregated feel of the main living level. An enclosed stairwell and pantry, placed just inside the front door, split the living room, kitchen, and dining room into separate dark, confined spaces.

It was time to open up the space and bring in some light, and they succeeded with a light and airy coastal design.

Opening Up with Support

The project started with the engineering task of opening up the stairwell. We placed new beams into the ceiling, supporting the second floor, so we could remove the load-bearing walls of the pantry and stairwell for the redesign.

Designing the Stairwell

For the design phase of the project, the client selected colors for the flooring and cabinets. We built and stained the new stair treads and handrails to match the flooring, for an integrated, purposeful look.

The newel posts and stair risers were painted to match the white of the new kitchen cabinets. Stainless steel rods running with the slope of the stairs completed the open feel of the new stairs, while still meeting current safety standards.

Even with completed, full-color 3D preliminary designs, it was necessary to re-visit the lower-level design as we were building the stairs, to ensure we were maximizing the new, open flow of the space and its light sources effectively.

Once the stairs were opened up, it was time to complete work on the kitchen design.

SHI - Stairwell Before and After

The Kitchen

White perimeter cabinets combined with a dark-blue island and wine bar bases give the kitchen a distinct coastal vibe without appearing too beachy.

We added a second row of upper cabinets to the original design. These have glass doors and integrated lighting and maximize the light, spacious, “greatroom” aura of the new, open lower level.

SHI - Kitchen Remodel Before and PlansSHI-Kitchen Remodel

SHI Coastal Design - Backsplash Collage


The wine-bar space takes on an organic element with a backsplash that brings the outdoors indoors — it’s a natural stone mosaic that incorporates a feature of wood and preserved lichen.

The powder room backsplash gave the owners a chance to get whimsical with colorful, geometric 3D tiles that make the compact space feel fun and welcoming.


We used hand-selected Lamberti Bianco quartzite for the countertops. The fabricator worked closely with the client, to ensure the slabs’ highlights and details were placed for maximum beauty and effect.

Remnants of the slab provided just enough material to also clad the fireplace surround.


Miele appliances provide plenty of functionality, while the compactness and light feel of the units help with the visual flow of the kitchen.

The latest model of a Samsung smart refrigerator gives seamless integration with Alexa, which also powers the lighting throughout the entire lower level.

We fabricated the island countertop so the stovetop sits flush with the surface, giving a seamless, integrated look and feel to the spacious island.

For a touch of nostalgia and nautical flair, the client selected brass light fixtures and cabinet pulls as the perfect accents, to make the new kitchen space feel like home.

SHI Coastal Design - Kitchen Collage

A Space for Everyone

Our youngest client, the daughter, also now enjoys her own private space in the renovated area — in the form of a cubby under the open stairs where she can entertain friends and the family cat.

SHI Coastal Design - Cubby Room Under Stairs

SHI - Cat on Stairs


Have your own ideas about opening up your living spaces? Specialty Home Improvement offers design-build services in the San Diego area. Contact us today (San Diego: (858)-759-7400, North County: (760) 738-6270) to discuss how we can bring your remodeling visions to light!