Transforming Your Kitchen: Insights from a Chef-Designer

Cerissa in the kitchen


By Cerissa LaToi McKinnis, The Dreamcaster  |  Photography by Michael McKinnis


Kitchens are my jam! They’re my favorite space to design. The bonus is that I’m a trained designer and chef. I have worked, lived, and cooked in many kitchens, noting what works well and what doesn’t. When I met the owners of this 1980s home near Shavano Park, they asked me to create a space for cooking without feeling constrained. Their dream was to transform their tiny kitchen into a functional and beautiful space. Here are some insights to get you started planning your kitchen remodel. Grab a notebook.


Insight 1: Start Planning

Start with your dream. This client had a detailed dream of what they needed to make their kitchen work. The dream leads to the plan, which ensures that you get what you want and avoid costly missteps in construction.

Consider: Before starting your kitchen redesign, assess what’s working and what isn’t. Take notes to guide your decisions. These will serve as your guidelines and make the decision-making process easier.


Insight 2: Prioritize Functionality

As you’re dreaming, the next key is function. Function is king. This kitchen was tight and constrained, so more than one person could not cook comfortably. To overcome this, we used space from the garage and laundry room, creating a functional layout.

Dream Big: Before diving into aesthetics, focus on maximizing efficiency and meeting your cooking and entertaining needs. Consider removing walls or expanding into adjacent areas to meet your family’s needs.


Insight 3: Optimize Storage

Do you bake, make pasta, or drink coffee or tea? Take full advantage of the investment you’re making and consider storage and how you use it. These specific needs and habits are key to creating a functional space. Fine details are the foundation for luxury.

Consider: Assess your storage needs based on your cooking habits. Remember to take notes!


Insight 4: Timeless Materials

Kitchens are the heart of the home and a significant investment, so choosing materials that will endure the high traffic and daily wear and tear is essential. Investing in durable, timeless materials enhances the kitchen’s functionality and adds value to your home.

Consider: Choose high-quality, durable materials that will stand the test of time and enhance the overall look of your kitchen. Invest wisely to ensure it remains beautiful and functional for years to come.


Insight 5: Make it yours

Don’t be trendy; be you. My clients wanted a colorful kitchen. This green kitchen with reclaimed wood accents reflects both of their dreams.

Be Bold: Don’t be afraid to be you! Your kitchen is the heart of YOUR home and a reflection of you. People often fear expressing themselves due to resale value. If you’re staying 10+ years, design a space that speaks to you.

In the end – we made their kitchen uniquely their own, and they loved it! They said, “Our kitchen is now our favorite space to be, whether it’s drinking morning coffee, cooking with the family, or simply gathering.


Need Help?

Need help figuring out your own non-functional space? Hire a designer to transform your home into a haven of functionality and beauty.

Check out our work and schedule a complimentary discovery call to start your journey toward a dream home. For more information, visit, call 210-446-8009, or email



Kitchen with window
Kitchen with window
Green kitchen 1
Green kitchen 1
Curved corner
Curved corner
Wine nook
Wine nook
Before photo of kitchen
Before photo of kitchen



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