Finding Her Purpose


Kristen Peña creates cozy and cool spaces for a new generation of design enthusiasts

In the dining room, the Highwire Tandem chandelier from Apparatus hangs above a Restoration Hardware table. Photography by Brad Knipstein.

WHILE MOST PEOPLE DESPISE the process of renovating a home, San Francisco designer Kristen Peña discovered her creative calling as an upon completing an overhaul of her first home. Formerly an advertising executive who did a stint in fashion design, Peña attended UC Berkeley for design and quickly knew she was on the right path.

A native New Yorker, Peña fell in love with the classic California aesthetic of open and airy spaces, organic materials and clean lines. “We want our spaces to be approachable, functional and beautiful but also cozy envelopes,” notes the designer on her firm’s style. “In the Bay Area you use every inch of a space and it should be a place to regenerate. I wanted to do something that helped people create their stylish safe zones.”

Vadara Quartz covers the cabinets in the all-white kitchen, illuminated by pendants from Rejuvenation. Photography by Brad Knipstein.

Seven years into the business, along came the perfect clients in need of a designer to open up the fragmented floor plan of their 2,000-square-foot home in Redwood City. The husband (who works in real estate) and the wife (who works in PR) had a vision for their dream home but needed help refining.

Although the six-month-long construction by Debibo Construction ran smooth, challenges arose when trying to open the overall flow of the main living spaces. “We had to figure out how to pitch a roof while dealing with different ceiling heights,” says Peña. “We didn’t want to remove the roof, so we pitched up to the ridge beam and came down to the highest point of the kitchen.”

Peña designed custom cabinets and installed a rug by Pampa, adding texture in the office. Photography by Brad Knipstein.

The revamp continued in the form of a new office, bathroom, sitting area, a front deck addition and all new furnishings throughout. While the new floor plan modernized each space, the clients desired the overall style to be more transitional. Peña and her team achieved this by installing materials including rustic flooring by Hakwood in each room, Fireclay tile and Sun Valley hardware in the kitchen and lighting from Rejuvenation.“I don’t think design should be impractical,” says Peña. “We’re careful about jumping into trends and strive to create timeless designs.”