April 4, 2016
A well-organized kitchen can afford families some much-needed balance in their home. But when design conflicts with dietary restrictions, the balance becomes an absolute priority. Paul Bentham, a designer with the Chevy Chase, Md.-based firm Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath overcame these very challenges when a kosher family approached him to re-envision their townhome kitchen. It soon became a project marrying faith with pragmatism.
“The original kitchen layout had a distinct lack of flow and usable storage both in cabinetry and counter space, with the dining room door in an awkward position preventing a larger fridge,” explained Bentham.
With the demands of a kosher kitchen at the forefront, Bentham was able to extend the existing storage wall closer to the cook top wall to create more definitive start and end points for the kitchen.
“This, in turn, allowed us to extend the island, giving us more seating and an extra dishwasher for the kosher lifestyle,” he added. “Doubling up on a lot of areas, sinks, drawers and dishwashers was imperative.”
Challenges and Solutions
According to the designer, the walk-in pantry posed the most considerable design hurdle.
“Making it a seamless flow across that particular wall was a little challenging given the size of the door,” he explained.
As a solution, he joined two pieces of MDF and sanded and sprayed them to mirror the door’s faux-side panel.
Besides improved storage and organization, the clients also desired increased oven space. The constraints of a townhome became apparent during the renovation when it came time to increase ducting capacity to support the 48-in. stove’s BTU. A 10-in. duct was opened in the ceiling for a quick fix, and the floor was lifted to accommodate new water and waste feeds running across the room from the secondary sink. Oven space was tripled during the renovation thanks to the inclusion of a range, wall oven and convection microwave on the extended wall.
Recessed lighting led to areas of shadowy or uneven lighting in the previous kitchen. Redesigned with LED lights, the new space features improved lighting thanks also to the repositioned dining room door, which floods more natural light into the space. Bentham also incorporated rippled pendant fixtures made from recycled glass. The effect accents the beauty of the veined island counter, the kitchen’s centerpiece.
The eye-catching island was born from the practicality of the kosher requirements, as its wet area doubles up on dishwashers and sink space.
“The Ondascura quartzite had the reflection of broad veining, creating a dramatic centerpiece with the colors creating a cohesive blend with the outer perimeter, black negative detail and painted sections,” Bentham said and cites the island as his favorite part of the project. “I love its counter surface, and the incredible way the veining has been matched to the flow of the waterfall effect is exquisite.”
The elongated island allowed him and his team to expand the cooktop area without sacrificing counter space. The builder-grade cabinets already in place were extended as well to add much-needed storage space.
Horizontal-grain rosewood was used to convey feelings of warmth while also demonstrating a contemporary glamor. In an effort not to overuse the wood, a white accent helped tone down the design, as did the black detail used to break up the height of the cabinets. This was also mirrored in the black surfaces of the countertop.
“The clients wanted something classic yet contemporary to reflect their tastes and loved the mixture of paint and wood,” said Bentham.
Designer: Paul Bentham, Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath
Contractor: Michael Thornton and Sons
Photographer: Bob Narod
Cabinets: Quality Custom Cabinetry
Cabinet Interiors: Maple veneer on ¾-in. plywood
Counters: Jet Black Caesarstone; 1 ¼-in. Ondascura quartzite from Stone and Tile World
Drawers: Solid maple dovetailed
Painted Finish: ¾-in. MDF painted to match Benjamin Moore Decorators White
Wood: Horizontal grain matched veneer on ¾-in. plywood