Text by: Tiffany Carboni
The heart of the home
A clumsily positioned room in the center of its historic 1890 Victorian home, the late 1980s kitchen remodel lacked in so many ways. With its varying ceiling heights, awkward flow and cave-like feel, it was an undesirable place to cook in, let alone host their throng of adult and kid friends, as well as the family pets.
“Getting the new layout right was critical,” explains David Burton, AIA, of Burton Architecture in Berkeley, CA. “The homeowners asked for a new kitchen that would function as a center for everyday family living and also be functional for large-scale entertaining.”
To accommodate the homeowners’ desire, Burton created a strategic indoor-outdoor connection by way of an unimpeded thoroughfare. Without altering the kitchen’s location he worked within the existing perimeters devising a layout that delineates zones for eating and congregating without impacting the functionality of the cooking zone. By transforming the varying ceiling heights into a uniform 11-foot, coffered ceiling and adding more windows, Burton opened up the space significantly.
The architect and his team were careful to reproduce the original trim, bead board and strip oak flooring in keeping with the house’s Victorian style. They were even able to salvage the original window over the sink. The rest of the amenities, however, are modern through-and-through and include state-of-the-art appliances, ample cabinets and open shelving, counters on either side of the stove topped with Orion Blue granite with a “leather” finish, two sinks to help facilitate prep and cleanup, hand-blown pendant lights that add sparkle, glass mosaic backsplash to offer color, a sizable eat-in dining table (the metal base of which was crafted by local artisan Erin Beales) topped with “leather”-finished granite to match the counters, and a wide open “runway” allowing access to the family’s prized fire pit just outside the oversized French doors. The placement of the 10-foot-long island, topped with sustainably harvested sipo mahogany, permits an ideal distance between guests and chef. Across from the island sits the 48” range with six burners, all of which get used at the same time on extra large occasions. To add even more personality, homemade art abounds, including the vibrant pieces over the French doors made by their children’s classmates. “The footprint of the new kitchen is that same as the late 80s remodel,” explains Burton. “However, because of how it was repurposed, the kitchen is a completely different, much more appropriate space that works for the family and all their guests.”
Before, the kitchen may have been located in the heart of the house, but it lacked character. Today the room is both literally and figuratively the heart of this boisterous, happy home.