Kitchen Expo

When it comes to giving clients the attention, time and energy that each and every individual deserves, Kitchen Expo leaves no stone unturned


Rick Fhamie of Kitchen Expo. Photo Amy Adams

Rick Fhamie of Kitchen Expo. Photo Amy Adams

What led you to begin designing and building furniture when you were just 12 years old? Describe your designs at the time. 

I was in wood shop in junior high school and my mom wanted a new coffee table. So, I decided to design and build it for her. After I finished staining this piece of furniture and was proud of how it turned out (she still has it after 40 years!), I was hooked and knew what I wanted to do as a profession.

When and how did you decide to enter the design, remodel and construction business?

After spending 10 years building furniture and kitchens, and remodeling homes, I knew it was time for me to enter the design and construction field. I found a position installing kitchens with a local remodeling firm, which in just a few years led to me leaving the ‘field’ to pursue design of kitchens, baths, room additions, etc.

How has your company evolved to where it is today and in what ways has it helped set the standard for the industry? 

Through hard work, dedication, finding (and keeping!) San Diego’s top design/install talent, and striving to create unique designs utilizing materials from all over the world that most people haven’t seen before. Kitchen Expo has always been a leader of design and creativity in the industry and, we believe, like many, that ‘following’ in our footsteps is, and will always be, a form of flattery. 

Despite the name of your business, you work on more than kitchens. Talk about the range and focus of your work. 

Yes, we are general contractors and can do everything from concept to completion for the entire home. We usually begin in the kitchen with a client and work into other rooms as they become familiar with us, build their trust in us and believe in our credibility. We’ve designed, and built, everything from bathrooms, libraries, wine storage units, entertainment centers, dining rooms, living rooms (millwork) and bedrooms to outdoor kitchens. Our expertise in millwork has no limit. 

Who is your clientele? 

We tend to deal with discerning clients who appreciate top-quality, long-lasting products that are unique in the industry. That said, we offer a variety of products that can suit a wide range of tastes and budgets.

What is the Kitchen Expo signature? How would we recognize your product? 

We are known for our use of curved cabinetry, exotic veneers and high-gloss finishes that rival the highest-quality furniture manufacturers. I created a door style for those who want something unavailable anywhere in the world. It is a five-piece door system that allows the client to choose any veneer species, color, stain, or look they want. I use many curves with this door style, as it enhances the beauty of the veneer and gives a rich, furniture-like look to any kitchen. It is a ‘transitional’ style—between traditional and contemporary—but very warm due to the use of beautiful, exotic veneers. I named the door ‘Brielle’ after my beautiful daughter, who has a very exotic look about her yet is ‘timeless.’ It has become one of our most-loved door styles.

What other attributes of your business make it singular in its space? 

Probably first and foremost at this juncture is our longevity in the business—one location, started ‘from the ground up’ as a family mom and pop business, and we’ve been here for 34-plus years now. Another is the fact that we have always taken great pride in the people who work for us, as they are an integral part of our ‘family,’ and as such, represent the company. Quite often we are in the clients’ homes for three to six months (sometimes longer based on the complexity of the project) and we absolutely want our clients not only to feel comfortable, but trusting of those in their homes. We’ve even had clients go on vacation during their remodel and they have asked us to take care of their rabbits for them! 

Talk about the details a homeowner can expect from a Kitchen Expo product and experience. 

Again, we’ve been in the business for 34-plus years, so our expertise goes way back. I search the world over for unique, high-end products that we can stand behind as a company. From the very first visit with the client—whether in the showroom or in their home—they are given the attention, time and energy that each and every individual deserves. No stone is left unturned, if you will. We guarantee lasting quality, beauty, function and life to whatever product(s) our clients choose.

Do you have a favorite—or extravagant—project that you’ve completed? 

Yes, a 4,500-square-foot condo at the Yellowstone Club in Montana. We had an ‘open slate’ to work with, as only the outside walls were in, so we designed every part of this condo. I designed six homes for this client all over North America. Upon completion, our client put the condo on the market. When the inventor of ‘Wi-Fi’ saw it, he said he had to buy this home because the millwork, stone work and ceiling detail were truly like nothing he’d ever seen before.

Can you tell me a little about how one of your redesigns can help increase a property’s value, especially when it comes time to sell?

A few years back, a gentleman came to me explaining that his house had been on the market for a while but wasn’t selling. The overall comments were the kitchen was outdated and needed remodeling. Apparently, no one could see what the potential was. He didn’t want to put any additional money into the home but asked if I’d be willing to look at it, design a stunning kitchen for it and produce a colored rendering of it to have in the kitchen for potential buyers to see. I did just that, and he sold the house—based on that design!

When you’re not working, you are…? 

I love keeping busy! I’m either waterskiing, bike riding, snow skiing, on my motorcycle, or ‘tinkering’ around the house. It’s virtually impossible for me to be idle! I also enjoy cooking in my ‘Brielle’ kitchen with friends and family, enjoying the backyard pool and spa that I designed, house boating on Lake Powell, and art and unique architecture.

What does the future hold for Kitchen Expo?

Now that we have our own cabinet line, we are looking to expand it all over North America. I am currently talking with some investors to make this dream a reality.

Custom cabinetry designed by Rick Fhamie of Kitchen Expo

Custom cabinetry designed by Rick Fhamie of Kitchen Expo


7458 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA 92037 ~ 858.456.0050 |

Paradise Discovered

The one and only trip you need to take this year is to the Maldives


Written by Michelle Lyn        Photos courtesy of One&Only Reethi Rah


Elusively located in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives (pronounced mall-deeves) is synonymous with romance, often reserved for once-in-a-lifetime trips like honeymoons. The island nation consists of nearly 1,200 islands with white-sand beaches that taper off into the clearest aquamarine water imaginable. Southwest of India, a visit to the Maldives requires a trek halfway around the world, but Cathay Pacific offers a comfortable route from LAX with only one stop in Hong Kong. With a premium economy class that rivals that of a business class cabin on other airlines, the 14-hour flight to Asia passes swiftly, leaving a less daunting six-hour final leg from Hong Kong to Malé. 

Despite its reputation as an adult getaway, several resorts expertly balance luxury and romance with a family-friendly ambience. The One&Only Reethi Rah is one of these properties. Upon arriving at Malé International Airport, the resort’s yacht is waiting to whisk guests off to their private island. Maldivians are naturally warm and affectionate, so don’t be surprised if staff members pick up your children and carry them onboard, repeating a mantra to relax and enjoy. A 45-minute ride on the yacht’s upper deck provides a stunning vantage point when pulling into the resort’s harbor, where staff members waving from the dock offer a regal welcome.

The humidity is the first to greet you, but it’s no matter as a cool wet towel quickly appears alongside a refreshing glass of lemongrass juice from the butler assigned to anticipate and attend to your every need during your stay. A personal mobile phone enables guests to call their butlers at any time, for anything. While the island of Reethi Rah is only a few miles long, golf carts shuttle guests to and fro at their behest. The all-villa resort features accommodations on the beach or over the water, with villas spread throughout the property. Bicycles are available at all villas (complete with children’s seats, if necessary), in addition to beach bags and flip-flops for each guest. 

One&Only Reethi Rah Beach Villa with pool

One&Only Reethi Rah Beach Villa with pool

After settling in, a quick stroll over to Reethi restaurant reveals a stunning buffet in an enclosed, refrigerated glass room, and a superfood bar that whips up exotic combinations guaranteed to provide multiple internal and external health benefits. Tables on the stilted deck offer unrestricted views of palm trees and still, cerulean blue water as far as the eye can see. There are several other restaurants, all equally unique, but with a wide range of cuisines. Tapasake serves Japanese food while guests marvel at sharks swimming below them; Fanditha is a Moroccan oasis, complete with pillows and futons on the beach to enjoy sundowner drinks; and The Chef’s Garden is an organic garden oasis where dining takes place among orchids in the greenhouse while live music plays in the courtyard.

Spending days lounging on picture-perfect beaches is blissful, but there is no shortage of activities available to while away the time either. If traveling with kids in tow, they will eagerly look forward to visiting the KidsOnly club, where staff is maternal and caring. The club has a pint-sized pool and waterslide, with plenty of room to roam under the shade of palm trees. It also offers various excursions, so one day the kids might be making sushi and the next day cruising around the island pretending to be pirates.

If craving peace and relaxation, head straight to the spa, where you can meditate in the gardens, practice yoga in an overwater pavilion or indulge in an Ayurvedic spa treatment. Men can take advantage of barber services and treat themselves to some masculine pampering as well.

One&Only Reethi Rah Spa Watsu Pool

One&Only Reethi Rah Spa Watsu Pool

One would be remiss to travel all the way to the Maldives and not connect with the local sea life. An onsite marine biology team provides excursions to Turtle Reef, where they explain environmental changes to the reef that can be seen while snorkeling with sea turtles. With the nation being an average of just four feet above sea level, it is very possible that the islands might be submerged in the not so distant future, so all the more reason to visit soon. 

The concept of a disappearing island materializes with the Sunset Sandbar Experience, where a handful of guests are taken out to the middle of the ocean. There, just before sunset, a tiny sandbar emerges and an evening picnic is set up. Before dinner, snorkel or explore the tiny patch of land covered in coral and baby bird eggs.

Perhaps one of the most thoughtful services provided by the One&Only team is a personal photography session with a photographer who will cart guests around to the most picturesque spots on the island to capture sunset shots that make for lifetime keepsakes.

When the time to depart sadly comes, a large portion of the team congregates at the dock for pictures and hugs goodbye, and before long, your yacht disappears into the sea, heading back to the airport. While the journey to arrive in the Maldives may be a long one, it is but a distant memory as you reflect on what is sure to be the most magical of vacations. 

One&Only Reethi Rah Fanditha Cabanas

One&Only Reethi Rah Fanditha Cabanas