Ken Ryan: Kitchen Guru
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
NOVATO – It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Ken Ryan feels most at home when he’s in the kitchen—after all, with more than 35 years of experience as a kitchen designer and remodeler, he’s probably spent more time there than in any other household space. As Ken relates, his involvement with kitchen remodeling began early in life. “After attending trade school as a teenager on Long Island, I went to Los Angeles in 1978 to work for a kitchen remodeling company,” he remembers. “In 1982, they sent me up to the Bay Area to open a northern division of the company. After working for that company for a few more years, I broke away and started my own business, and I’ve been remodeling kitchens in Marin ever since.” Today, clients of Kitchens by Ken Ryan continue to benefit from Ken’s extensive expertise.
Ken says one of his favorite parts of the remodeling business is collaborating with clients to build their dream kitchens. “I really enjoy communicating with clients, educating them and helping them get through a process they often find bewildering. By the end of it, they have beautiful new kitchens, so it’s always a rewarding experience to share with them.” Ken also enjoys getting creative with design. “You’ll often find me at my desk, playing around with new ideas for kitchens.”
Having grown up in a small town, Ken appreciates the equivalent feel of Novato, where he lives with his wife, “M,” and their two daughters, Briana and Kelsey. “It’s a lot like the town where I grew up—everybody pretty much knows one another,” he says. “Between running our business and raising our daughters here, being a part of this town has been a great community experience.”
As a lover of the outdoors, Ken appreciates the natural beauty and diverse opportunities afforded by the regional landscape, particularly the Sierra mountain range, with which he feels a close connection. “I’ve been in awe of the Sierras since I first saw them on a road trip as a young man,” he says. “Since skiing and whitewater kayaking are two of my passions, having the Sierras so close is a real blessing.” Ken also likes to hit the road with his family on a regular basis and visit a variety of favorite destinations. “Once every couple of months my family and I take a road trip out to Yosemite, Shasta, the Sierras, the ocean or wherever else we want to explore.”
In both his life and career, Ken ascribes to a belief in the cyclical nature of ethics—in other words, what goes around comes around. “I think it’s important to do the right thing in every situation,” he affirms. “Even if it costs you money, it doesn’t matter—you spend that money and do the right thing, because the decisions you make tend to come back to you. When you do right by others, others do right by you, and that’s a great cycle to be in.”
Q: Ever read a book more than once?
A: I have an atlas of the western United States that my family and I often refer to when planning our next adventure. We have discovered some truly beautiful places in our explorations.
Q: If someone was making a movie about your life, what actor would you choose to play you?
A: Tom Hanks—he can be very serious, but he can also be funny, and he strikes me as a very likeable person.
Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Whenever I’m traveling or out on some excursion, I’ll pick up a rock. I use them as paperweights in my office or put them in my rock garden at home.
Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: Whitewater kayaking at Clavey Falls on the Tuolumne River.
Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: Advise on how to be humble and appreciate everything in life.