Text by: Tiffany Carboni
“The original kitchen was cut off from the rest of house with no connection to the dining and living areas,” explains Michael Gibson of this home in the community oriented city of Vestavia Hills, AL.
Hired by the homeowners who yearned for a kitchen that inspired hospitality, the architect/builder and his Appleseed Workshop team immediately removed a number of walls used as ineffective closets. To shore up the structure, numerous support beams were necessary. Instead of thinking of them as hindrances, Gibson happily incorporated exposed smooth-finished cedar beams into the design fashioning the breakfast bar and open stemware racks around them.
The room’s various cabinetry was all custom built by the team in their Birmingham workshop. The walnut island with its three-inch thick slab of honed Alabama white marble was made to look, as Gibson describes, “an old ice cream parlor.” The sideboard-like piece was painted in layers of dark paints and finished in a subtle mint. The crew then distressed it with chains, nails, sticks, sandpaper—whatever it took to allow the undercoats to show through for a look as if it had been passed down for generations.
In contrast to the island’s ornate furniture hardware, the cream-colored perimeter cabinets and breakfast bar feature simple oil rubbed bronze pulls. “We wanted to differentiate the cabinets and not allow them to be monotonous,” he notes.
Just as all the cabinetry was meticulously handcrafted (with inset doors and drawers), so too was the bead board found on the breakfast bar and the island’s open shelving. “Instead of making it out of plywood, like is common these days, we constructed it like it was back in the day,” says Gibson. As a result it’s stronger and stands up to inevitable kicks when guests sidle up to the bar.
Honed Absolute Black marble tops the bar and perimeter cabinets. Next to the double ovens, retractable doors expose a matching cabinet topped with the same sleek marble. Used constantly, the hideaway baking station is well equipped with electrical outlets and storage for all the necessary appliances and gadgets.
In keeping with the contemporary kitchen’s nod to its country roots, the range’s backsplash is made of classic subway tiles while a farmhouse sink sits opposite in the island. The kitchen boasts vintage-style oil rubbed bronze pendants over the bar and simple barn sconces. While the lights, including the chandelier found by the homeowner, provide plentiful light, the multitude of windows Gibson added minimizes their need during the day.
What was once shut off from the rest of the house, the new kitchen is welcoming and the social hub of the home. If someone’s serving ice cream, all the better.