Text by: Tiffany Carboni
There are many challenges facing a kitchen of great heights, namely too much vertical space. But when thoughtfully designed, a tall kitchen can be the home’s crowning jewel. Part of a lackluster builder’s house from the 1980s, this cavernous kitchen once felt awkward and cut off from the rest of its living space—exactly the opposite of what the household’s family of six needed.
Gabriel Keller, principal of Peterssen/Keller Architects gathered his team of in-house experts that include Kristine Anderson, Lars Peterssen and Andrew Edwins, plus interior designer Brandi Hagen and contractor Bob Near to completely transform the kitchen. Their task was to give the room’s immense volume a purpose that matched its size.
Their solution: make the kitchen even bigger, yet more connected to the living area.
By removing interior walls and raising the ceilings to match the height of the existing roof tresses, the team added large skylights and shelves for the family’s curios. A library ladder from Alaco Ladder Company allows convenient access to the shelving by rolling along stainless steel bars attached to the red birch cabinets.
The custom cabinets, with their deep cherry tones and spectacular luminescent qualities, are not hung on the walls—they are the walls and continue to the rooms on the other sides. To break up the monotony of wood, Keller designed the cabinets with recessed aluminum pulls. Vermont soapstone counters also add a subtle contrast to the wood tones, all of which are in keeping with what Keller describes as the kitchen’s organic modern design.
The backsplash from New Ravenna Mosaics is another major focal point in the design. The team painstakingly considered more than 20 configurations of the mosaic mixture before choosing the green-hued marble tile combination with delicate red accents. The four stools situated at the island’s teak breakfast bar offer the best seats in the house for taking in the artful backsplash. The Futuro Futuro island-mounted hood was installed instead of a wall-mounted one to keep the mosaic completely unobstructed. Additionally, the island-mounted hood is quieter and throws twice as much light as a wall-mounted hood, giving the mosaic a more dramatic effect.
Three two-by-four-foot skylights provide the kitchen all-day sun. After dusk, triple-grid recessed lights by Times Square Lighting offer theatrical-inspired lighting with three bulbs that can swivel to a desired direction. To complete the look, Louis Poulsen lights hang from the tall ceiling to land perfectly above the breakfast table and island.
A kitchen of great height can be daunting. Or, if in the right hands, like this Minnesota kitchen, it can become a graceful work of art.