May 19, 2014
As the center of the home, a kitchen and the family who uses it should match in size and function. For one Texan family, the two could not be less suitable.
“The flow and layout didn’t work at all,” explained designer Christy Bowen of Twelve Stone Design. To fulfill the needs of a large family with a handicapped member and a culinary school graduate, Bowen teamed up with David and Christopher Davison of Realty Restoration to transform the space.
Even with adequate square footage, the kitchen housed awkward angles, multiple entrances and a badly placed center island that pushed all of the work zones to one side. Guests, often the client’s adult children, had to squeeze in at either a dark breakfast nook or around a tiny island. The existing ceiling was built with a steep slope in two directions and surface-mounted fluorescent lighting between them. With all of its tight turns and small doors, the walls and corners were also gouged from the motorized wheelchair.
“The layout was not conducive to entertaining or for an accomplished cook to interact with guests,” said David Davison.
After annexing space from an ancillary bedroom and opening up the bar, the next challenge was the kitchen’s layout. “The entire house had 45-degree angles between each room it seamed,” said Christopher Davison. The existing kitchen formed a diamond shape, rotated 45 degrees off a diamond-shaped living room.
“The odd angles actually worked to our advantage by creating visual interest,” explained Bowen. By using these angles and the peak of the roofline, the team constructed a 135-degree, angle-barreled ceiling. “By utilizing the angles instead of fighting them, the new design actually beckons one to continue to explore the space,” added Bowen.
To accommodate the owner’s request for a single island large enough to seat 10, the team mirrored the ceiling shape with the island. “It created a visual delineation between the kitchen and living space without any physical barriers,” said Bowen. The adjacent areas were then reconfigured, turning the cramped breakfast nook into a wet bar, opening up the hallway and adding in cabinetry.
While housing the client’s gourmet cooking appliances, the dark-stained cherry wood and painted maple wood cabinets also lighten the space. “The lighter color on the perimeter keeps the large space from becoming cave-like, while the stained island provides a grounding contrast,” said Bowen. The Brazilian granite countertop inspired the rest of the color palette.
“There would be so much counter surface in the kitchen that we needed to pull the palette from the stone,” she added. “The resulting palette is natural and organic but with ethereal undertones of blue and green.”
The cooler undertones keep the earthier tones from weighing down the overall palette, which was enhanced by the glass tile backsplash. Done in gray, beige and brown tones, the tiles have a milky opacity to create a subtle depth without competing with the countertop veining.
The barrel-vaulted ceiling also needed a subtle complement for its lighting. Low-voltage recessed cans on the ceiling coincide with LED strip lighting around the perimeter, which illuminates the plaster finish on the ceiling. Two artistic but simple chandeliers illuminate the island below.
“The design aesthetic is clearly traditional, but by mixing the classic-cut stone arches and wood beams with the more modern look and texture of the linear stacked stone, it keeps the space from looking too ‘Old World,’” said Bowen. “This is what makes it attractive to so many people’s tastes.”
Conquering Awkward Angles and Large Spaces
Designers Christy Bowen, David Davison and Christopher Davison credited this project as one of their most challenging. Here is how they solved their client’s problems:
• Use any odd angles to your advantage – make them a point of visual interest.
• Consider taking parts of other rooms or hallways to simplify the layout.
• In a large space, take the palette of the material most utilized.
• Balance a larger space with contrasting cabinet colors and subtle complements.
• Mirror any prominent features.