March 27, 2023
It started with Pinterest. The owners of the new-build home pulled some images of kitchens from the site that reflected their goals and style ideas and showed them to Eric Exo, who was not only a personal friend of the couple, but also an engineer for Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Woodways, a custom cabinet manufacturer. Exo used these as a jumping-off point to develop a design that would meet all of their needs.
With three children under the age of five, the clients needed a kitchen that would be family-friendly, while balancing their desire for ample storage and countertop space with an open layout that would facilitate entertaining.
The color scheme was also a crucial part of the design. The homeowners requested black cabinets for the kitchen, explaining, “Our whole house is modern black and white, and we really wanted black cabinets in our kitchen; it was something a little bit different from what everyone does, but we really like the black and white look.”
Nonetheless, with a four-year-old, a two-year-old and a newborn in the home, they were a little apprehensive about using black wood because it can easily scratch and expose the lighter wood below the finish.
Exo’s answer was to use RAUVISIO noir super-matte surfacing for the cabinets, selecting it for its durability, zero-edge seam and fingerprint resistance. The clients loved the matte finish, which meshed perfectly with their color vision.
Function was also a crucial element of the design, particularly for storage. “One of our favorite things about the kitchen is the walk-in pantry,” the homeowners said. “It looks like cabinet doors, however they open into a walk-in pantry. Everyone who visits doesn’t know we have a pantry; even the guys laying the floor didn’t know. It flows seamlessly into the kitchen, and gives us the storage we needed.”
While an engineer would typically not be the one to take on the lead design role in a kitchen project, Exo also had 20+ years working with cabinetry – experience that was evident in the composition of the range wall where he used two tall towers (with different configurations) to create an asymmetrical balance and make the range a focal point of the room.
Exo’s engineering background also brought a practical perspective to the project, providing valuable technical expertise. This was especially helpful in regard to proper clearances and codes when designing around built-in appliances.
He noted that the clients made only minimal changes to the initial design. “They chose to add more drawers than doors because that was going to better suit their kitchen supplies and how they intended to use their space.” The end result is a stylish, child-friendly kitchen with a contemporary black and white design that is equally well suited for entertaining and meeting the functional needs of a modern family.
—By Leslie Clagett, KBB Managing Editor
This article was updated on April 14, 2023
Designer: Eric Exo, Woodways
Photography: Courtesy REHAU and ©Above the Horizon Media LLC
Cabinets: RAUVISIO noir After Dark with REHAU LaserEdge
Cooktop, Dishwasher, Refrigerator: Bosch
Countertops: Envi Quartz
Lighting: Heritage Brass
Vent Hood: Zephyr