Project Description

Murphy Residence
Weathered and Distressed Bird Sanctuary Kitchen
2014 | Carmel Mountain Ranch, CA


  • Changed height of existing island pony wall to 42 ½“ tall
  • Moved fridge to opposite end of the L-shaped base and wall section of kitchen to create better work flow and use of counter space. The move also made the room feel much bigger than it did before.
  • Added storage on back side of island leaving niche between the storage for a large bird cage.

Kitchen Details


Wall: Executive Cabinetry – Sagamore Maple Nantucket w/ Sagamore Glaze
Island: Executive Cabinetry – Sagamore Harbour w/ Sagamore Glaze
Cabinet Interior: Clear Maple Melamine
Door Style: Cumberland Raised Panel
Cabinet Lighting: Juno UPLED Undercabinet Lights
Room Lighting: Halo RL56WH LED Modules
Sink Faucet: Waterstone Traditional Gantry Faucet w/ 18” Articulated Spout (4410-18-DAP)
Bar Sink Faucet: Waterstone Towson Bar Faucet, Lever Handles (1800-DAP)


Countertops: Green Iron Soapstone
Wall Treatments:
Backsplash: Arizona Tile Ankara Tumbled Travertine
Mural: Murals by Monti – “Fallbrook Sunset” (6×6” tiles)
Flooring: Arizona Tile Misingi Teka Porcelain Tiles


Refrigerator: Samsung 4-Door French Door (RF30HBEDBSR)
Range: Bosch 36” Benchmark Induction Cooktop (NITP666UC)
Range Hood: Ventahood XLH12-236B SS
Oven: Bosch Benchmark 30” Benchmark Single Wall Oven (HBLP451UC)
Dishwasher: Bosch 24” Benchmark SHV9PT53UC

Project Credits:

Designer: Danilo Nesovic
Contractor: Danilo Nesovic
Interior Decoration: Homeowner
Cabinet Manufacturer: Danilo Nesovic

Project Overview

This couple had two passions that were the focus of this project: wine (and the food that goes with it) and their collection of exotic birds. Meeting them for the first time was a memorable experience. Their birds are an integral part of their family. Like other families’ dogs or cats, these birds spent much of their time out of their cages and engaging with their keepers. What I found enlightening was that unlike dogs or cats, these feathered friends are incredibly expressive and talkative, giving them personalities as colorful as their feathers.

In this home the kitchen was an L-shape with an island, in part of a larger room with a breakfast nook and either dining room or small family room, depending on homeowner needs. This couple used it as their kitchen, breakfast nook, and their bird sanctuary, housing 5 large cages in the room.

Like most of my clients, the kitchen was the focal point of their most precious activities and interactions. They needed a more functional kitchen that would make their time spent in the room more enjoyable.

Our challenge was to create a new kitchen in the same place that did not feel and look as cramped as the original. Our simple solution was to move the refrigerator from its original position at the extreme right of the L-shaped area to the extreme left as it is now in the photos. Imagine the fridge in its original position (where you now see the butcher block and cooktop) and it is not hard to see how cramped the feel was with the refrigerator directly across from the sink. That original fridge placement left little work space between the fridge and cooktop and moved the largest counter space too far from the sink to be usable (where the fridge is now in the photos). It also blocked all the light from the bay window and created a very dark kitchen work area. And, most importantly, it made the kitchen feel too small with the fridge protruding into the walkway in front of the sink. Being a tall and deep projection in the middle of that small area, it was a visual obstacle.

My change of simply moving the fridge to the extreme left side of the L area brought the work space and storage back into the center work area around the sink and cooktop. With light from the breakfast nook bay windows easily flowing to the kitchen, it now feels much bigger than it did even though it was still the same sized space.

Much like real estate and Feng Shui, location is everything. Put things in the most functional place and more often than not, the room will feel and look much better. We added a little more extra long term storage on the back side of the island with shallow base cabinets, while leaving a niche between the two storage cabinets for a bird cage to nest in between the two.

When these clients were making their cabinet color and style decisions, they joked that their choice of a heavily weathered and distressed door style (made to look antique like and worn) was really their choice of look and not (entirely) because when the birds would bite on the cabinets the marks they left would just blend in. To complete this kitchens style they chose Iron Soapstone countertops with a weathered finish (rough) and a tumbled marble backsplash with a custom made mural behind the cooktop, which is now the focal point to the room instead of the old fridge location.

Almost a year after we completed this kitchen, the client had us back to add the same wood-look floor tile to two more rooms downstairs and add two new circuits to a room adjoining the kitchen for two large free-standing wine vaults they had just purchased. That completed the makeover of the first floor of their home.