Before & After: A SoCal Surfer’s Choppy Kitchen Catches a New Wave


Designer Lisa Carolla streamlines her space for post-beach bites, communal cooking, and everyday living in Encinitas.

Lisa Carolla, owner and principal designer at Fish & Co., has a funny way of describing the home that she and her husband, Menotti Minutillo, bought in the Southern California beach town of Encinitas. “I’m really lucky that I’m an interior designer who loves space planning—and math,” she says with a laugh.

Before: The Kitchen

Before: The kitchen had from a cramped layout and dated finishes.

Lisa and Menotti, who works in the tech industry, are both avid surfers who were drawn to the area for its famed waves. But they were also roped in by the large lot of this 1952 property. It’s the oldest one on the block, and it was concealed from the street and surrounding neighbors by palms and bamboo. “We have beautiful, mature tropical vegetation,” she says. “Every time we come home, it’s like entering a secret garden.”

The neighborhood used to be zoned for commercial greenhouses and nurseries, and the couple’s home originally served as a place for a caretaker to get some much-needed rest. The small bungalow was later enlarged into a duplex, and then reconfigured into a single-family home by simply removing a dividing wall. By the time Lisa and Menotti picked up the keys, it had become a tiny maze. 

After: The Kitchen

"I often choose finishes that allow the natural texture to show through, and finishes that emphasize the cathedrals and burls of the graining,

 “I often choose finishes that allow the natural texture to show through, and finishes that emphasize the cathedrals and burls of the graining,” says homeowners and designer Lisa Carolla. “Simple, slab cabinet doors allow these white oak patterns to shine true.”

Photo by Molly Rose

“It was perfectly symmetrical, even down to the windows—and guests in the living and dining room would actually get turned around and disoriented, despite it not being a large home,” Lisa says.

As nature lovers and natural entertainers, the couple envisioned a kitchen that was effortlessly tied to the outdoors and that could easily host gatherings of loved ones. And, because of their location, the pair also wanted the style to reflect the breeziness of California living. 

"I often choose finishes that allow the natural texture to show through, and finishes that emphasize the cathedrals and burls of the graining,

Lisa chose these macrame-style barstools from Wayfair because they dry quickly if she or her husband sit on them after a visit to the beach.

Photo by Molly Rose

See the full story on Dwell.com: Before & After: A SoCal Surfer’s Choppy Kitchen Catches a New Wave
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