May 26, 2016
A frequent request in today’s market is for a classic white kitchen. Working to make these designs unique to the client and still fitting for the simple style can be a creative challenge.
“[Clients] started coming to me and asking for the classic white kitchen, but they didn’t know how to explain what exactly they wanted,” said designer Nar Bustamante of Carmichael, Calif.-based Nar Fine Cabinetry. “It’s the commercial spaces that people go to eat or stay in that have a very industrial, whimsical feeling to them with a white tone underneath. People are attracted to that, so we started to have fun and use more of that look in people’s homes.”
Fixing the Flow
Bustamante started off on a Sacramento, Calif. project late in the game; his clients had already started renovating other parts of the house and had hired separate contractors before they realized the kitchen was going downhill.
“We had to jump in on really short notice,” said the designer. “I basically had to come up with the kitchen design immediately, since other pieces were already in the works.”
Between the chaos of unconnected contractors installing new floors or renovating other rooms in the home, Bustamante tackled a dated kitchen blocked off from the living room with a giant peninsula. The cabinets were the typical dark oak, builder-grade kind, and the island was a tiny square in the center of the space. According to the designer, the main problem was flow.
“It’s a family home, so they wanted to have an area where people could gather and not really be in the kitchen,” he Bustamante. “When I start a design, I try to figure out what the movement needs to be and how people move throughout the space. That immediately told me no peninsulas.”
Without the peninsula, the space immediately opened up. Using a figure eight pattern, the team created two working stations around two separate islands. One island functions as a prep space, while the other combines a beverage service station and conversational seating for four. Each sink has its own trash pullout and adjacent countertop space for prepping and cleaning up while the clients entertain. The stone top juxtaposed to the bar top is meant to function as the baking area – all of which adds up to a better-flowing space.
“I always loved the figure eight,” explained Bustamante, commenting on the movement of the traffic flow. “It means infinity, and when you use it in a kitchen design, you can have an infinite number of possibilities.”
Old With the New
With the flow fixed, the next step was to create a palette that fit with the home’s French flair and country style and aligned with the clients’ hopes for a white kitchen.
“The clients wanted something with a light classic tone that had edginess with contemporary ideas and some modern concepts,” said the designer. “She also wanted something that could bridge the gap between the rustic, eclectic type of kitchen.”
Aside from the soapstone island – the clients’ pick – the perimeter countertops and the stone island are natural marble. On the island, this material serves as a focal point and is meant to give the kitchen a more substantial, old French look. Creating a three-sided waterfall wrap, the marble encases the table island, and from the living room it gives the appearance of a solid block of marble.
“We wanted something elegant, clean and soft with an interesting texture,” said Bustamante, pointing out that the contrast between the wood flooring and the waterfall marble edges warms the space.
Marble also was installed on the slim panels on either side of the hood to give the cabinetry a custom furniture feel. This makes the hood area eclectic with its modern design, while also incorporating heavier materials to balance the stone island.
“These small details that you don’t really see make this kitchen different,” he added, pointing out details like his signature steel leg under the bar for a hint of the industrial, as well as an aluminum tambour door to store small appliances and complement other stainless and pewter finishes.
Above it all, a modern chandelier with three circular lamps on either side hangs over the bar top and marble island.
“Lighting is always a place to have fun,” said Bustamante. “I’m always trying to talk my clients as much outside of the box as I can get.”
The unique piece bridges the arch top and centers light in the arch as well. It’s the first item seen when someone walks into the kitchen, but then it fades into the background and gives the kitchen a taste of the eclectic the clients were looking for.
“They were envisioning the classic white kitchen,” said Bustamante, “but if you really look at it, it’s everything but a classic white kitchen.”
Designer: Nar Bustamante, Nar Fine Cabinetry
Photographer: Fred Donham, Photography Link
Backsplash Tile: Porcelanosa
Barstools: Restoration Hardware
Beverage Refrigerator: U-Line
Cabinet Hardware: Top Knobs
Countertops: Santa Monica Marble
Hood: Custom Zinc w/Insert
Island Table: Spekva-Butcher Block
Main Sink: Shaws
Metal Cabinet Mesh: Van Dyke’s
Microwave Drawer: Wolf
Prep Sink Island Countertop: Sierra Black Soapstone