January 11, 2019
Not having enough light in a space – particularly in the kitchen – can make a room feel cramped and dysfunctional. For designer Jan Neiges’ client, the kitchen suffered not only from a lack of natural light but also purposeful interior illumination and a modern floor plan.
“The old kitchen had a low ceiling and a badly placed full-height wall,” said Highlands Ranch, Colo.-based Neiges, who explained that this wall blocked off the natural light that filtered in from the patio door and the sky lights above the breakfast area.
Rearranging the Layout
Along with having not enough light, the kitchen felt small with 7-ft. ceilings and limited counter space. Using 2020 Design for the kitchen concepts and then AutoCAD for final detail drawings, Neiges raised the ceiling in the kitchen area and removed the supporting wall. This allowed the light from the skylights to flood the space. To support the ceiling, the team needed to add a glulam beam – an engineered wood beam that is stronger than steel; they exposed and finished the new beam to match an existing glulam beam in the family room. This made it look decorative and like it had originally been designed that way.
“Removing the wall and raising the ceiling helped enlarge the kitchen and bring in all the natural light,” said the designer.
There was also an awkward open railing that separated the kitchen from the step-down den. This railing was removed, and instead a half wall was built in its place to provide for more cabinetry but still allow for views into the den.
Another problem with the layout was the range. In addition to being outdated, it had a recirculated micro-vent hood, which can cause issues with indoor air quality. It was also squeezed between the fridge and a small pantry closet, leaving minimal working space to the left and right. In the new configuration, Neiges relocated the range to an exterior wall so she could provide proper ventilation to the outside.
The challenge in relocating this appliance was how to style the hood to complement the new vaulted ceiling and the glulam beam. Since this support beam extended through the wall to the exterior, the vent could not be centered below it or it would be blocked off. To solve this problem, the hood was placed directly next to and under the beam. A soffit was built to hide the venting pipe and trimmed out with matching cabinet panels, which helped to not draw attention to the off-center beam.
Changing a Mind
Even with the floor plan opened up, outdated and dark materials – like the original floor in this project – can still hinder a remodel.
“The floor was an old faux-brick tile, which the client said she loved and wanted to keep,” said Neiges. “But after I showed her options in expanding her kitchen into the breakfast nook area, she was willing to change out the flooring.”
Instead of having a separate breakfast nook, the newly expanded kitchen now boasts a large center island atop new hardwood floors. The island introduces even more functionality in the kitchen with storage, especially for the client’s cookbooks and for dog accessories.
“Her original kitchen had the dog bowl front and center upon entry,” said Neiges. “I was not going to have that with her new kitchen.”
After learning that the client mainly lets the dog out the back door from the kitchen, Neiges suggested this designated dog cabinet be located at the end of the island closest to the back door. This cabinet has an open bottom for the dog bowls and a lift door above for storing the dog leash, treats and brush. The island also features seating and a sink.
When selecting the color palette for the new kitchen, Neiges was asked to keep in mind the recently remodeled den, which was just steps from the kitchen.
“The den had white-painted bricks and a coastal feel,” said Neiges. “Similarly, we wanted the kitchen to be bright and open, which was a stark contrast from what it was before.”
Since the client did not want all-painted cabinetry, the design team mixed a creamy, white-painted cabinetry with stained alder wood. Simple glass pendants illuminate the island, adding to the can lights in the ceiling. The white quartz countertops are the only element with movement and variation in color, ensuring that the neutral kitchen has long-lasting style.
“Adding cream-painted cabinets with a soft brush stroke glaze and the cream-colored backsplash tile really helped to brighten this space up,” said Neiges.
Designer: Jan Neiges
Photographer: Amanda Tromp, PureLee Photography
Cabinetry: Homestead Cabinetry
Cooktop, Oven & Refrigerator: JennAir
Tile: Jeffrey Court