Tour My Kitchen with Debi Koenig

A California family learns that 5 months of inconvenience can turn into 10 years of incredible form and function.

Tour My Kitchen with Debi Koenig

Tour My Kitchen with Debi Koenig

As she stands in her kitchen, filled with modern conveniences and distinctive cabinetry, it's hard to believe that Debi Koenig of Danville, California, ever cooked in her garage and washed dishes in the bathroom. "We lived in the house, with two teenage boys and houseguests, during the 5-month kitchen remodel," she explains. "I created a makeshift kitchen as best I could. And I grilled. A lot."

What she would also learn is that 5 months of inconvenience could add up to more than 10 years of enjoyment: A decade later, Debi loves her kitchen just as much as she did on the day it was completed. "I wouldn't change a thing about it," she says.

"It fits everyone I love and accommodates everything I need to do." For Debi, that ranges from whipping up cookies with her niece or granddaughters to entertaining 30 or more guests at a time.

Her mother, Carol, helps out with virtually every cooking task. "She lives nearby and knows this kitchen as well as I do," says Debi, who also relies on a few carefully designed kitchen accoutrements. "The refrigerator and freezer drawers are wonderful," she says. "They provide just enough easy-access storage space. And the plate rack above the dishwasher makes it simple to put clean dishes away."

But what really sets Debi's kitchen apart is the unique cabinetry that appears gently worn in all the right places. "We stumbled on it accidentally and immediately loved it," she says. "I'm not good at visualizing things, so my interior designer friend, Michele, came to the rescue. It was her idea to use cabinets in three different colors."

The cabinet doors not only lend a signature look but disguise all the appliances. "The dishwasher and refrigerator are surfaced with cabinet panels, so they blend in completely," Debi says. "And I have an appliance garage to hide away things I don't use enough to keep on the counter. It really gives the room a seamless look. I've even had people call me after leaving to ask where the microwave is."

While Michele guided them with design, Debi and her husband, Paul, turned to a professional contractor for help with the labor, and a lighting specialist to ensure the room was lit for both prep work and parties. "This isn't a huge kitchen, but the lighting makes it feel spacious," Debi says. "It's amazing how their input and expertise changed the feel of the room. It really comes to life with the flick of a switch."

While her sons are now grown and have families of their own, her kitchen still does what it was designed to do: welcome loved ones, no matter how far-flung they may be. "There are always people in here—a swarm of family, friends and children," she says."The next big event is my annual Easter egg hunt and barbecue."

And as she mans the grill this spring, Debi's mind will undoubtedly flash back to 10 years ago, when she cooked outdoors out of necessity. It will make her feel grateful for her beautiful kitchen all over again...for its designer look, the people it draws close, and the fact that she doesn't have to wash the dishes in the bathroom sink.

Photo Gallery of Debi Koenig's Kitchen »