When newlywed homeowners purchased an older Manoa home, the kitchen wasn’t in bad shape—but they knew it could be much better. The original layout of the kitchen was U-shape and decidedly unspectacular. To bring the modern kitchen of their dreams to life, they called on Design Trends Construction and lead designer Brenton Liu. 

“The homeowners have great taste and were a lot of fun to work with,” Liu says. “They really allowed for creative room to play and think outside the box.” To start thinking outside the box, Liu literally expanded it. He enlarged the footprint of the original kitchen by absorbing the existing laundry room, and transformed the layout to make it galley style. 

Increased functionality—especially while entertaining—was at the top of the homeowners’ wish list. “They really wanted the major appliances and sinks to be close, but not too close together in order to create an efficient and easy-to-use work environment,” Liu says. Thus, the main wall of the new kitchen does the heavy lifting, featuring the refrigerator, Wolf gas cooktop and a small prep sink to catch overflow when entertaining guests. The main sink (and dishwasher) is found just opposite, on the new, large island to complete the coveted golden triangle of kitchen functionality. 

The 10-foot-long island with dining overhang allows for a casual, everyday eating with plenty of extra space for guests to gather around when entertaining. “The homeowners wanted to eliminate the need for a formal dining area,” Liu says, “so this island regularly sits four, but can seat six to eight people with added seating.” Expansive new sliding doors to the backyard perfectly bridge indoors and out during gatherings. 

Across from the main wall, Liu and the homeowners created a secondary space to house the remaining appliances and some fun extras. The addition of a dry bar with beverage center and wine fridge is perfect for guests. A vertical bi-lift cabinet with frosted glass above houses easily accessible drinkware. 

What gives this kitchen its uniquely modern feel, however, is the deft mix of textures and finishes. Liu mixed three different finishes for the cabinets alone: painted white shaker for the uppers and tall cabinets, quartered walnut with a horizontal orientation for the perimeter lowers, and “Royal Ebony” GreenLam laminate for the island with black stainless steel legs. A neutral Silestone tops the counters and a gray-tone luxury vinyl was selected for the floors. The white-wave-textured tile backsplash with floating walnut shelves, maintains the modern feel with a nod to the Islands. New skylights, decorative pendant lights and recessed lighting keep the space bright day and night — even without any windows. 

“The homeowners needed this kitchen to be modern, but not cold,” Liu says. “This space accomplishes just that. It has the sense of place they were looking for, while the variation of textures and colors all work together to give it a warm, modern feel.” 

  • “The homeowners have great taste and were a lot of fun to work with. They really allowed for creative room to play and think outside the box.” — Brenton Liu, lead designer
  • A textured white-wave-tile backsplash gives this kitchen a little something extra. Its motion and dimension bring the various finishes of the kitchen together with a modern sense of place.
  • The large 10-foot-long island includes an overhang for casual dining. This space sits four most of the time, but four more chairs can be added when company comes over.
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