Text by: Kathryn Pritchett
This house started out as a 1950s split-level, one of many in the neighborhood with the same design. The clients have very contemporary taste and wanted to bring their house into the 21st century, adding modern touches without spending an inordinate amount of money. The front of the house was modern enough that, with just a few touches, it could be updated and made much more unique. A new addition to the back of the house would accommodate a new kitchen with an open floor plan, asymmetrical cathedral ceilings, and a very soft angle on the backside wall. Designer Jennifer Gilmer wanted to emphasize the open feeling of the addition as well as help the kitchen flow into the angled wall. One of the owners loves to cook and wanted a commercial range, plenty of counter space and enough storage, but also wanted the kitchen to look streamlined and uncluttered. Also, since the kitchen sits between the family room and the dining room it needed to accommodate the activities in those rooms.
PROJECT CHALLENGES: Because the kitchen was between the dining and family rooms, Gilmer considered several layouts--two peninsulas for a more U shaped design, one peninsula with an island, or simply an island with no peninsulas. She also had to find a way to incorporate the slight angle of the back wall into the cabinet design so as to compliment this architectural feature. Although the clients wanted a very clean contemporary kitchen, they also wanted a commercial range, which can be a bit clunky in appearance and also needs a powerful hood above it. Designing enough storage with minimal wall cabinets was difficult.
PROJECT SOLUTIONS: Though the clients wanted to have a large island, there really wasn’t enough room. Ultimately they decided that a peninsula and a narrower island was the best solution. The next important decision was where to put the peninsula, since that’s where most of the activity would occur. Since the family would be spending more time in the family room, they decided that putting the peninsula on that side of the kitchen made the most sense. Gilmer added a 42” high breakfast bar on the family room side of the peninsula so that the family could have casual meals there. Once this footprint was determined, it was fairly easy to see that if the end of the peninsula and the back of the island could be angled at the same degree as the back wall it would create a very comfortable flow in the room. While an under counter oven and a cook top would have been a sleek solution consistent with the visual goals of the client and the design itself, the client's need for more BTUs drove the decision to skillfully integrate a range instead. In order to soften the impact of the range, Gilmer incorporated the hood into an oversized “box” that matched the cabinets and placed it asymmetrically over the range. The architect helped increase storage by carving out a space behind the refrigerator wall for a walk-in pantry. Gilmer designed an appliance garage to the left of the range as well as the adjacent slim storage cabinet.