Italian-Inspired Kitchen Serves Family Style

FALLBROOK HILLS, CA — Generally speaking, “too many cooks in the kitchen” is considered a bad thing; for a large family, it’s inevitable.

The owners of a newly constructed San Diego-area home have just such a family, including five grandchildren. Knowing they would require a space to include prep stations for multiple hands, and enough room to accommodate many cooks, they enlisted the services of Lance Stratton, ASID, of La Jolla, CA-based WmOhs Showrooms.

Stratton was responsible for the kitchen’s lush design, as well as the balance of the cabinet applications throughout the home.

Spaces and Views

The 20'x22' kitchen, the centerpiece of the 6,000-sq.-ft. home, was anticipated from the start to be a busy place.

“With their large family, the homeowners knew the kitchen would need to accommodate a lot of activity,” says Stratton. “A large island was incorporated, with generous aisle space all the way around. Knowing it would be a focal point, they wanted something spectacular.”

Starting with one of the home’s natural assets, its location, Stratton set to work to create an outsized masterpiece that would incorporate the necessary details to make it a home for his clients.

“The bay windows at the sink area face west,” Stratton notes, adding that this allows for dramatic panoramic views of a yard fountain and the surrounding hillsides beyond. The bump-out the window creates is home to a Shaw’s double-bowl fireclay farm sink, topped with antique-styled faucet, hand spray and soap dispenser. The client, being the contractor on the project, was naturally very involved in the selection of such details.

“Because this is a large kitchen that is designed to allow for several participants in the cooking process, a ‘work center’ ethic was followed rather than the traditional ‘work triangle’ directive,” notes the designer. Separate areas are designed into the space for different activities: baking, chopping, seasoning and clean-up.

“Each major appliance is flanked by generously portioned work surfaces, while seating at the island allows the cooks to converse with guests,” he adds.

Certain elements were added into the design to keep a sense of old-fashioned romance in the space. “Flanking the bay window at the kitchen sink are appliance garages. They were designed into the backsplash area to keep the counters free from the utilitarian look of small appliances,” says Stratton.

The main cabinetry design was also impacted by the desire for discreet storage. “Most of the upper cabinets in the kitchen area have been fitted with solid paneled doors for maximum storage. The hutch area provides a break from that look with the addition of a controlled display area for treasured serving pieces.” A desk area contiguous with the hutch provides seating and space for organization of daily activities as well as cookbook storage above.

Italian Inspiration

“The kitchen space is Italianate, with its grape and leaf moldings, and rope detailed pilasters,” says the designer.

It is fitting, then, that the variety of WmOhs cabientry Stratton and the clients selected is called Tuscany Style in alder, with a Papyrus finish. Stratton notes that the appearance of a hand-crafted finish, combined with the ornate wood detailing and natural materials, makes the Tuscan kitchen feel authentic.

“The limestone floors, granite countertops and ceramic backsplash work together to create a subtle intricacy such that the design seems simple at first, and then unfolds to reveal a diversity of pattern and texture,” he notes.
The countertops are Giallo granite with a 2-1/4" custom edge detail.

“The kitchen is designed in such a way that the eye has a place to rest from each potential viewpoint,” says Stratton. “Approaching the kitchen, the focus is centered on the large scaled hood.” The hood/backsplash combination, which includes a Best by Broan ventilation unit, emulates a traditional hearth. The tiled backsplash is recessed with an antique-style pot filler. Below sits a 48" commercial-style Wolf range.

“Beside the hood, the shaped open cabinet over the refrigerators serves to define that element when combined with carved crown molding and furniture detailing,” he notes “The island is done in a contrasting Olive tone with distressing and a soft crackled finish to add the illusion of an aged patina.” The island also includes a bar sink, and space for two to sit and take meals.

“The storage of foodstuffs is accomplished through the addition of a large walk-in pantry behind the range area. This frees up the kitchen cabinetry for storage of dishes and cookware. As an added benefit, the addition of the pantry created a convenient place for a butler’s pantry of sorts in the adjacent area,” Stratton adds, noting the area’s usefulness when the homeowners entertain.

The lighting scheme is pivotal to the success and utility of Stratton’s design. “In the daytime, the kichen is flooded with natural light from the large windows over the sink, and from the French doors in the adjacent family room. In the evening, the artificial lighting operates in layers. When the family is at home but the kitchen is not in use, the island pendants, hood and indirect lighting in the ceiling provide a dramatic look. When it’s time to go to work, recessed lighting in the ceiling, combined with task lighting at the countertops, provide the necessary illumination,” Stratton concludes.

For more about this project, click here.

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