Text by: Nancy Berry
Textured, sculptured, and ultra-modern describe this light-filled kitchen on a tidal inlet in Connecticut. “We designed the space for clients who love to cook and entertain,” says architect Mac Patterson of Austin Patterson Disston Architects, an award-winning firm known for design integrity and authenticity. Ironically, the architects had designed a traditional-styled house for these same clients 15 years ago, but now they have a kitchen with a contemporary feel.
With these requirements in mind, Patterson oriented the kitchen to the south and west, called for multiple windows and walls of French doors, and even maximized the positioning of each workstation. Above the dual stainless-steel sink, two six-paned windows frame the view, while stepped windows above south-facing countertops do the same. Deciding against upper cabinets allowed for more windows and a cleaner look overall.
Engaging in the landscape beyond is part of the intended cooking experience, and the six-burner Wolf rangetop strategically takes center stage in the kitchen island. “The hearth has traditionally been placed at the center of the house for cooking and warmth,” explains the architect. “I wanted to introduce that notion in this kitchen.” A warming drawer on the island’s opposite side facilitates serving into the adjacent dining area.
Further highlighting the kitchen’s “heart,” Patterson designed a bell-shaped range hood, not unlike a piece of art. Suspended from the ceiling by cables, the sculpted sheet metal, finished in a zinc patina, lends an industrial feel. For design continuity, he carried the same finished metal onto an adjacent wall, which slides open to reveal a rolling spice rack. The metal continues along the wall and panels the refrigerator and freezer as well as surrounds two wall ovens located in a small alcove behind the center island. Chosen for its utilitarian look and durability, the metal is also easy to clean.
Patterson contrasted this cool texture with a warm Anigre cabinetry veneer selected for its soft caramel color and figuring. Tasked with avoiding clutter, he assured plenty of storage for dishes, pots, pans, and small appliances. Each cabinet drawer bows in front, creating a rippled effect—which echoes the undulating tides of the coast. In addition, a desire for ample workspace resulted in expansive counter spaces of white-speckled granite. (Using only three materials—metal, wood and stone—maintained the room’s minimalist personality.) Oak flooring, treated by heat (a method that turns oak a dark chocolate) and finished with an ebony stain, lends further depth and texture. “Light bounces off the floor just as light bounces off the water,” Patterson describes of the desired effect.
A breakfast counter overlooking the inlet is a final homage to the owners’ lifestyle, satisfying their vision for peaceful mornings. Now, whether it’s coffee for two or dinner for eight, they happily spend time surrounded by modernity, appreciating nature’s tranquility.