I first met with our clients in their small awkward kitchen, at a table pushed tight against the wall and filled with various cooking and art projects. They were ready for a big change and were looking for a kitchen that would be the focal point of family life and a gathering place for big dinners with friends and relatives.
The house was a beautiful “four square,” with the start of a wrap-around porch. It was only four or five doors down from a similar house I lived in during my high school years. I knew the house as if it were my own. The discussion the first day revolved around the usual “push the kitchen further out into the rear yard,” approach, but it wasn’t sitting quite right with me. Given the siting of the house on the lot, and a garage at the rear, I felt that the addition would work much better on the side of the house, opposite from where the kitchen currently sat. This would leave an ample rear yard for outdoor entertainment. I had some persuading to do.
Important to the owners was ease of access to the kitchen from parking on the street for bringing in groceries and the like, and to allow the kids a place to drop their junk upon returning home from school or play. Yet they wanted the kitchen to face the back so the kids could play under watchful eyes, and so they could integrate indoor and outdoor cooking. This led my argument that a rear kitchen addition was not the proper solution as it would not adequately address the front-rear dichotomy. Wrapping the roof of the front porch further around the side and using it to house the kitchen would allow for a mudroom off the front porch leading into a large skylight kitchen and leading out to a deck in the back yard. The plan began to take shape.
We subdivided the space into various functions. The mudroom with closet, benches and cubbies forms the front entry to the kitchen. An “L” shape area paired with a large flat island defines the working kitchen, allowing kids to be nearby yet not under foot. Across from the Island we placed a large desk area - for paying bills, correspondence, keeping track of family life - and a bank of pantry and utility cabinets. Pushed out into the back yard, we built a banquette, detailed with bead-board, into a bay window area as a place to gather for meals. The table there, from the Great British Pine Mine in Kensington, Maryland, was made from reclaimed pine from tobacco barns.
We wanted the kitchen to be bright and cheery, but given its size, we needed some contrast as well. Dove White KraftMaid cabinets, stainless steel appliances and Benjamin Moore Woodlawn Blue walls and ceilings (with the ceiling color mixed 1 part to 2 parts white) were balanced by absolute black granite counters and a near ebony stain on the floor (a bit of chocolate brown added for warmth and richness). A full height, sand colored, textured tile backsplash was chosen to fill in between the counter and the cabinets. We selected two-over-one double hung windows in keeping with the style of the house. And carried the trim details of the house into the kitchen - a classic look typical of the neighborhood - carrying the crown of the window head around as the crown to the cabinets.
Colors and themes were augmented with teal microfiber fabric Pottery Barn stools at the island (with the legs cut down about two inches to fit the counter), blue, white and tan striped bench cushions, and FLOR needlepoint stripe Martha Stewart line mats. A bonus in the design, resulting from relocating the kitchen to its new home under the wrap-around porch, was the full use of the original kitchen through the whole construction process. Only after the owners had moved into their new kitchen did demo begin on the old.