Denver, CO — Custom kitchens take patience and a creative vision.
Elaine Hall Murray, CMKBD, allied member ASID of Brisbane, CA-based BMI, says her clients had both the patience and that vision.
"They had done their homework and enjoyed every aspect of this project," says Murray. "They wanted a clean-lined, elegant, gourmet kitchen with only the very best appliances and materials."
In the space the couple sought to create a refuge. "They travel a great deal, and they wanted a divine home to which they would look forward to returning," Murray continues.
She was charged with designing the kitchen, auxiliary kitchen, bar, pantry and dining area.
"All of the areas were special, but the ability to have different areas function in totally distinctive ways while being part of a totally homogenous open area is unique," Murray offers.
"It is an extremely open-plan layout; the space dedicated to the kitchen and dining area is approximately 750 sq. ft.," she says.
The perfect melding of high performance appliances, cabinetry, great project management and a flawless installation all contributed to making the project sizzle, according to Murray.
The home's location in a high-rise posed several challenges.
"The project was a new construction high rise in Colorado," notes Murray. "The space was the top floor penthouse. The greatest physical challenge was to reconfigure the space from the cookie-cutter, asymmetrical layout provided by the developer."
Load-bearing columns would also have to be worked around. Walls were added in places, removed in others and ceiling and lighting patterns were revamped dramatically to satisfy the clients' requests. One of those requests was to keep the mountain view as unobstructed as possible.
"Privacy was also a paramount concern," the designer adds.
Functionally, the challenge was to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in spite of the kitchen's very open layout and large proportions.
One way to make the large space manageable, says Murray, was through the designing of separate work zones.
"While the personal chef prepares gourmet meals for family and friends in the main kitchen, the clients are able to prepare the occasional meal for themselves with the lift oven and microwave in the auxiliary kitchen," she says.
Murray continues: "One of the homeowners is a strict vegan, while the other is an avowed carnivore, so the main kitchen needed to function smoothly for the in-house chef to be able to prepare both types of meals."
The focal point of the main space is the stove wall, which features custom La Cornue elements including a range and vent hood. Matching custom panels for several of the appliances add to the striking detail, as does the corresponding island.
"The blue was a custom color chosen by the client," Murray offers. "He wanted a color reminiscent of the sky, with great life and strength."
Murray adds that the white countertops from CaesarStone, high-gloss white cabinets in the surrounding spaces and aluminum accents emphasize the simplicity and rhythm of the design.
The custom blue island stands juxtaposed with the wall of aluminum refrigeration, which adds what Murray identifies as a "serene effect."
As the couple also specified that the space be conducive to entertaining, Murray added lots of easily accessible prep and storage spaces in the island, including two walnut epiceries and baskets for easy prep. The expansive countertop space and seating for five make the island "command central for entertaining," according to the designer.
A paneled Gaggenau dishwasher and professional-style sink and arc faucet from Franke complete the prep space.
At the bar area, a refrigeration wall includes a refrigerator, freezer and wine refrigerator from Gaggenau. All are installed with a simple but elegant panel wrap.
A prep sink and high arc faucet from Franke are teamed in the bar with an Everpure Exubera water system, which dispenses both filtered and carbonated water. A clear ice maker from U-Line is tucked below.
To maintain the horizontal line of the space, only one overhead cabinet was used. That cabinet is used as a focal point in the bar area, and features a glass front that acts as a repetitive element from the backsplash in the main kitchen.
The lift-up glassware cabinet and the close proximity of refrigeration "make the bar an area that follows both form and function," according to Murray. Pull-outs and roll-outs enhance the function of the bar storage areas.
Murray worked with Brian Allen of SieMatic's San Francisco location to specify the cabinetry in the bar area and auxiliary kitchen. SieMatic cabinetry was selected for its clean lines, which were desired by the client.
"The stainless steel countertops and the gloss white cabinets in the auxiliary space make the small area sparkle," she offers.
Balancing the Room
Keeping materials consistent was critical to maintaining an airy feel in the room without giving it a cavernous, empty impression. In addition to the custom blue and stainless elements, Murray sought to balance the space with organic forms and textures.
The backsplash above the range presented an opportunity to do that. Playing off the SieMatic glass-front cabinetry, the glass backsplash was designed to spread light from the kitchen to other parts of the home.
"The lighting of the glass backsplash over the stove allows light into the hallway behind the kitchen and also adds a glow for entertaining. In the evening the dining room lighting makes you feel as if you are dining under the stars in the mountains. It is enchanting," says Murray, noting how the soft lighting adds warmth to an otherwise chilly palette.
"Add the warm teak bar top and the bar stools that encompass all of the finishes and - Voila! You have a great entertaining space that is well balanced," she exclaims.
For more about this project, click here.