Best of the Best: Kitchen Contest Winners

Our kitchen-remodel contest champs—two Palo Alto Eichlers in the winner's circle

Inspiring winners!

Congratulations to Larry and Celia Cheng and John and Renata Tong, the mid-century modern homeowners behind the two winning kitchens in 'CA-Modern Magazine's Best Kitchen Remodel Contest.'

The Chengs were voted first place by CA-Modern's panel of ten judges, and the Tongs by our poll of 700 readers who cast votes online.

CA-Modern judges and readers had the tough task of selecting just two kitchens from a bevy of dazzling finalists. While in our mind, all ten kitchens were winners, our two inspiring champions were chosen for their overall beauty and functionality and cohesion with the mid-century modern design aesthetic.

Contest runners-up: Borocz kitchen (readers' pick) and Arrellano-Cintron kitchen (judges' pick).

Cooler than cool

cheng family in their kitchen

Larry and Celia Cheng's bright and airy kitchen is the perfect backdrop for a hectic, yet happy life. The parents and their children—Casey,10, and Chloe, 7—spend a lot of time in the award-winning space, which serves as a center point for the family's activities.

From quick breakfasts and last-minute homework assignments to dinners of stir-fry and late-night comic book reading, the space serves as a gathering place for pastimes large and small.

"It's pretty cool to be honored among the ten different kitchens," Larry says. "They were all cool spaces."

The family purchased their 1,800-square-foot, four-bedroom home in Palo Alto five-and-a-half years ago.

"At the time, we had two kids and we were quickly outgrowing our house," Celia says. "We made up our minds pretty quickly that we wanted an Eichler. There were a lot available when were looking, and we liked their clean design and the great use of space."

Larry & Celia Cheng
Palo Alto Eichler home

Kitchen design: Larry Cheng
(in collaboration with Keycon and Henrybuilt)
Contractor: Keycon, Inc.
Cabinetry: Henrybuilt


When the family moved in, there were things that had to be fixed. First on the list: the atrium, which had a tree growing in it that was encroaching on the roof. The couple fixed up the atrium and had a new roof installed.

The kitchen was up next, and the Chengs chose Keycon, Inc. as their general contractor after speaking with a couple of other companies. "Keycon was the best-organized with the most detailed estimates," Larry recalls. "It made me feel like they had a good handle on how to scope a job, so there would be no surprises. The kitchen remodel cost approximately $140,000.

cheng eichler exterior

"In the end, they [Keycon] lived up to that, too. The process with them was very transparent and we always knew what was happening next."

The Chengs' home-improvement projects were a success, thanks in part to the couple's organizational skills and eye for detail. Larry works as a product designer for an office furniture manufacturer and Celia is a project manager at Sunpower. "I work with projects in the research and development group; I used to work with semiconductors," Celia says.

With both parents working outside the home, the Chengs' evenings are filled with cooking and parenting. Weekends are spent having fun at bowling birthday parties and Casey's baseball practice. Chloe also takes ice-skating lessons.

"We do a lot of stuff with the kids," Celia says. "By the weekend we are zonked, so we like to have a space we can just hang out in."

cheng kitchen


Cookin' every day

tong family in their kithen

John and Renata Tong purchased their 1974 Eichler in 2005. "We were very interested in Eichlers and mid-century modern architecture," Renata recalls. "We bought it from the original owner, and the only thing she changed was the kitchen cabinets ten years ago."

The Tongs' first renovation project was the master bedroom and bath. Then the couple launched the kitchen remodel by visiting a few cabinetmakers.

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