Founded in 1950 by John Wilkins, Custom Kitchens provides a one-stop shop approach for all your home construction & remodeling needs. Generations of homeowners have enjoyed our showroom's friendly atmosphere, worked with our award-winning design team and realized the benefits of our design/build process.
Our high standards set us apart as a leader in home remodeling. We believe in jobsite cleanliness, green building practices, consistently completing work on time and supervising all projects closely. We take our reputation for excellence seriously, and we are gratified to see so many former clients come back and pursue more projects with us. In fact, our clients are our best spokespeople and many of them have even become family friends. Whether you're a new client or have been with us for years, your investment in your home, quality of life and future are all very important to us.
John Reese Wilkins: a pioneer in the remodeling industry
During the Depression, John's family moved from Idaho to Oakland. John was working as a fireman, but when the San Francisco Bay Area had its post World War II housing boom, he took on side jobs as a carpenter. Not only did he have a talent for designing and building homes, but he recognized a growing potential for kitchen & bathroom specialization. John left his job at the fire department and started Custom Kitchens by John Wilkins, Inc.
In the 1950's, there were no formal standards for kitchen and bathroom design for the modern era. Many homes still had features common to Midwestern life where seasonal food storage & preparation revolved around farming. John observed that families were using the kitchen as a gathering place for family and friends. Recognizing the change in family lifestyles, John responded to his clients needs and pioneered the of act of moving walls in order to expand kitchen space. His designs included the first dishwashers, garbage disposals, microwaves, built-in refrigerators and proper ventilation.
Recognizing the change in family lifestyles, John responded to his clients needs and pioneered the open floor plan, removing walls to unify the kitchen and family rooms.
Responding to changing times: the birth of the Master Bathroom Suite
John realized that there was a growing need for more privacy in the bathroom area. He helped his clients rearrange their floor plan layouts to expand their bedrooms and create the "Master Bathroom Suite". For the first time, the grownups of the household had a separate tub and shower areas, walk-in closets and dressing areas with proper lighting.
In 1958, out of desperation for innovative cabinetry, John started his own cabinet shop. He built features that his clients needed but simply couldn't find in 1950's kitchen and bath designs. Word of John's stunning cabinets quickly spread, and the shop became a great success. By the end of the 1960's, Custom Kitchens by John Wilkins, Inc. had become a household name in the San Francisco Bay area.
The company and its contemporary projects were featured in national magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset and Architectural Digest. In 1990, John retired to the family ranch in Idaho and sold the company to his son, Jerry Wilkins.
Today, Custom Kitchens by John Wilkins, Inc. is still family owned. The showroom is still in Oakland, on Telegraph Avenue, the same location where John first opened his doors in 1950.