December 1, 2014
When Pasadena, Calif.-based contemporary artist Echo Addis began remodeling her home, she hoped the kitchen would be more than just a place to cook. As the last piece of her home to undergo a redesign, the kitchen would join the rest of the house as part of a permanent art gallery. Designer Elina Katsioula-Beall, principal of locally based DeWitt Design Kitchens, undertook the challenge to create both a modern, functional kitchen and a setting to showcase the artist’s work.
“The first requirement was for the kitchen to be part of a continuous space, conducive to viewing her artwork from multiple points of view,” said Katsioula-Beall, also adding that the layout would include an open plan combining the dining room and living area. “The second requirement was for the kitchen to cook for her and cater ‘hors-d’-oeuvre parties’ during her show opening and other events,” she added.
Since storage for hosting these parties involved large cabinetry installations, the leftover space did not leave enough room for much artwork. “The key solution was to integrate the paintings within the kitchen elements,” explained the designer.
The wall behind the cooking area and the backsplashes offered the best focal points for the artwork. Shielded by tempered glass, the oil painting behind the hood is rendered on wallpaper canvas and can be removed if the client wants to replace it. The canvas was stretched and wallpapered with light adhesive before being covered with the glass. The other backsplashes are similarly protected.
“As part of the design, I determined the size of the painting and then gave her a real-size template and a trace of the hood footprint, which we placed at the designed height on the canvas,” explained Katsioula-Beall.
With these oil paintings popping with color, the rest of the palette took a cue from the art’s undertones. “When I visited her painter’s studio, I was instantly captivated by the aesthetic of her paintings,” said the designer. “My design aesthetic was to create a balanced and harmonious composition – a ‘still life’ of artwork and necessary kitchen elements.”
Lavender Silestone countertops draw from one of the artist’s palette colors and complements the artwork on the backsplashes. The gray on the island provides a grounding effect in the composition. A bright blue on the side of the peninsula frames the kitchen from the dining room, and the turquoise and muted yellow walls also recall Addis’ work. Made of light maple, the perimeter cabinets complement the gray rift-cut, white oak cabinetry around the island and refrigerator.
“Both colors are neutral enough to support the starring artwork, and they bring in the element of wood, which softens the composition,” said Katsioula-Beall. Two glass cabinets on either side of the window contrast the other cabinets with aluminum frames and front-rib glass.
Even the appliances bolster the artwork. The hood’s slight arch coincides with the curved shapes in the pieces, and the stainless steel range keeps any additional color from conflicting with the art. The freezer panel has three small frame openings, where a trio of oil paintings is showcased.
As in any gallery or museum, the lighting is essential to properly showcase art. Katsioula-Beall chose 4-in., recessed LED lights with 2700K color temperature light bulbs, which simulate museum lighting with warmer tones.
“The size of the paintings and the distances from the ceiling were calculated in the design so that the beam spread of each light bulb accents the artwork without light-spills or shadows,” she explained.
The light fixtures can be pulled down and swiveled to focus on a particular painting. Along with the museum-like lighting, the final open layout shows off the artwork at its best.
“I designed the kitchen to be part of the house-gallery flow, with a path of travel that would allow the viewer to see her art from multiple points of view,” said Katsioula-Beall.
As proof to the success of the design, sales of Addis’ first art show in the new kitchen yielded almost half of the remodeling costs.
Photographer: Suki Medencevic
Backsplashes: Echo Addis, custom paintings
Cabinetry: Columbia Cabinets
Faucet: Giagni Dolo Bridge faucet
Flooring: White Oak
Hardware: Top Knobs, Pennington
Hood: Best by Broan
Island Counter: Silestone in “Ensui”
Lighting: Elco, 4-in. recessed LED
Perimeter counters: Silestone in “Lavender You”
Refrigerator and Freezer: Miele
Tile: Glass Mosaic by Waterworks
Undercabinet lighting: low voltage Juno Trac12-T3 xenon channel strips