March 5, 2021

After nearly two decades in their home, a couple with two teenage children decided they could no longer live with their kitchen. They enjoyed entertaining and hosting sports-watching parties, but their closed-off kitchen offered little usable space for doing so. Even while big get-togethers are not possible during the era of COVID-19, having enough room for the parents and kids to cook together, bring their laptops and do schoolwork or have a smaller group of sports fans in the same area was a priority.

These clients loved their neighborhood, but by the time they enlisted Delafield, Wis.-based Kowalske Kitchen & Bath, they were debating whether to move.

“The kitchen was dated, all 90s oak,” said Monica Boldea, designer on the project. “It was not functional. It wasn’t working for entertaining or hanging out with family and friends because the dining room was cut off. From the cabinets to countertops to layout, everything needed updating.”

By giving them the modern kitchen design and entertaining space they wanted with plenty of seating, countertops, a bar cabinet and a place to hang a large television, Boldea helped this family decide to stay in their home.

Client Concepts

The clients came to the project with some ideas about what they wanted, such as opening up the space by taking down a wall separating the kitchen from the dining room. They had a specific style in mind, too. The wife had grown up in a 19th-century farmhouse and wanted her kitchen to reflect a similar look but with more modern kitchen design touches. Boldea was able to bring the clients’ vision to life in a way that accommodated the whole family and their future entertaining goals.

“She knew exactly what she wanted and just needed help to pull it all together,” said Boldea. “One of the most important aspects to me, as a designer, is to create a space that reflects the client, their ideas and their interests but in the most beautiful and functional way possible.”

For the husband, a Green Bay Packers fan, the television was an important feature. He wanted to be able to entertain and watch the game at the same time. It sounded simple, but finding a place to hang the TV in an open-concept kitchen with a lot of cabinetry may have been the biggest challenge of all.

Changes & Challenges

To give the clients the open entertaining space and modern kitchen design, Boldea took down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, which luckily was not load bearing. As for the wall that would hold the television, the only option – located in the former dining room – had a 4-in. bump out in the way. To remove the bump out and have a straight wall for the TV, she had to change the header, which meant taking out the ceiling. Because the original header supported the ceiling, a larger header, which now rests on the exterior wall, was installed.

An easier change with more visual results, the designer replaced a small window in front of the kitchen sink with a larger awning window that opens from the bottom.

“Now the homeowner has a great view of her backyard and more natural light coming in,” she said.

With the new window, the sink, which is a large farmhouse style, shifted a bit too. The cooktop was moved out of the island and is next to the sink, which may not be typical, but it was what the client wanted. “It works better for her because she didn’t want anything on the island,” said Boldea. “It is just a place for food and beverages.”

The client also turned down the option of a bar sink in the island, keeping it an open surface for entertaining.

Color Concerns

While the client had many decisions going in, her directive for the color of the kitchen cabinets was just “not white.” She was interested in a two-tone kitchen, so Boldea went through all the colors in the Sherwin-Williams palette with her to find the right combination. Together they settled on a dark gray with brown undertones on the bottom and a light gray with a hint of green on top.

“It’s a great mix between cool and warm tones,” said Boldea.

The warm wood and satin bronze hardware alternate with the grays and whites in the cabinets and backsplash. She used light colors on the walls to enable light to bounce around the room.

Next, it was time to decide how to work with an 8-ft. piece of reclaimed barnwood that the client had salvaged from her family’s farmhouse. The wood was used to make open shelves along the sink wall and as an accent to the shiplap on the range hood. The home’s oak flooring was sanded and refinished. With antimicrobial quartz countertops and the touchless faucet the client wanted, the kitchen is designed for durability and easy maintenance.

Bringing the Modern Kitchen Design Together  

Although the project was completed during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no major delays. It helped that they had ordered all materials weeks before the project began.

“This remodel went very smoothly from start to finish,” said Matt Kowalske, president, Kowalske Kitchen & Bath. “We have a talented design-build team that took care of every aspect of this project – design, material ordering and project management – to keep the project on budget and on schedule.

The designer achieved the homeowners’ goal of creating a modern kitchen design for entertaining and delivered on one of their must-have features – a furniture-style bar cabinet. Blending with the cabinetry and featuring retractable pocket doors, the bar has a quartz countertop inside with enough space to mix drinks.

“It can stay open during parties, and the doors will not be in the way,” said Boldea.

The custom cabinetry, from local cabinet shop MKE Cabinetry, is frameless with light rail molding that hides under-cabinet lighting and angled-plug molding, so there are no outlets in the backsplash. In the island, outlets were hidden under the countertop. Inside the cabinets, organization abounds with drawers, rollouts and a rotating pantry pullout and more, which were selected before the cabinets were even made.

“The kitchen is a perfect blend of functionality and a place for family and friends,” said Boldea. “The look is elegant with texture to make it home. The design and the natural elements give it more life and more memories for the client.”

With its open concept, options for seating and functional organization, it’s the perfect kitchen for living today and entertaining tomorrow.

Source List

Designer: Monica Boldea, Designer, Kowalske Kitchen & Bath
Photographer Name: Kyleen DzPloch Photography

Backsplash: Tilebar
Bar Stools: World Market
Countertops: Caesarstone & ENVI Surfaces
Cabinet Hardware: Jeffrey Alexander
Cabinet Organization: Hardware Resources
Cabinet Paint: Sherwin-Williams
Cabinets & Hood: MKE Cabinetry
Cooktop, Dishwasher, Refrigerator & Wall Oven: GE
Faucet: Delta
Hood Insert: ELICA
Lighting: Bellacor, Sea Gull Lighting & Task Lighting
Microwave Drawer: Sharp
Outlet Strips: Legrand
Sink: Kohler
Wine Refrigerator: Insignia

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