According to Ronni Fryman, she doesn’t sell a cabinet that doesn’t do a trick. The designer’s claim comes to life in this Ventura, CA home remodel. Not only does the cabinetry have tricks up its sleeve, but the whole design is one that tricks the eye into seeing a space much bigger than it actually is.
Fryman, a designer at Kitchen Places, also located in Ventura, worked with general contractor and president of the firm Jeff King to bring her design for a busy couple to life. All told, the firm did a complete remodel of the kitchen and master bath and worked to turn the garage into a “Man Cave,” a space for the homeowner to relax.
A 1950s galley-style dinosaur, the kitchen measures a tidy 10'x18', and Fryman was charged to work within that footprint. The homeowners desired a kind of Great Room between the kitchen, living and dining rooms, and to make the kitchen layout more efficient.
Hole in the Wall
To proceed, Fryman first had to knock down some walls in the 1,300-sq.-ft. home.
“To meet their request for a Great Room, we opened up a load bearing wall and created a peninsula with a small bar seating area,” she says. “We had to keep a beam to support the load, so we dressed it up to make it larger and more decorative by covering it in an oak veneer that matches the cabinet boxes.”
Everything was moved but the kitchen sink, literally, according to the designer.
“We moved the dishwasher and refrigerator to be opposite of where they had been previously,” she continues. “The area by the window where the desk area is now was once a breakfast nook. Both husband and wife are sales reps. She has her office in a spare bedroom, but he had been using a desk off the kitchen for his workspace. So we created the desk area out of the seldom-used breakfast nook.”
The height of the window made the countertop sit at 30" off the floor which, according to Fryman, was just the right height for a desktop.
Form and Function
One of the homeowners is a commercial interior designer and rep for a wall covering company. She knew much of what she wanted to see in the new kitchen.
“It is tremendously helpful to have an educated client,” says Fryman.
The homeowners came to the firm knowing they wanted CaesarStone countertops in Lagos Blue.
“They definitely knew about the countertops and had the desire for more open space with a contemporary flavor,” says the designer. “When they first started coming in, we had the cabinetry in our showroom, but at that time it was only available in a vertical stripe. Over time, the clients came in and started to fall in love with it. Once the [company] introduced a new door style with the Zebrawood going horizontally, that was it; they were sold.”
The cabinetry is Amero by Pacific Crest Industries in Zebrano laminate.
“This was right for the project for a number of reasons: The clients loved it, it has a real European-influenced design, and it is a budget cabinet line that didn’t have finished ends, so you need to add some kind of panel,” notes Fryman. As a result, she was able to customize the end pieces to fit with the direction in which she wanted to take the kitchen. Custom end oak panels were created for the cabinetry, and were stained dark to match the dark grain in the Zebrawood.
“My favorite trick is the corner cabinet between the wine refrigerator and the desk,” says King. “We installed a Magic Corner system, where when you open the doors, there are a couple of trays that are attached to the door, which pull out. Then there are baskets in the blind space that go from the corner to the opening of the cabinet.”
Because it was one of the first elements the homeowners were sure of, the cabinetry set the tone for the rest of the product selection.
“The horizontal grain establishes the focal point. The repetition of those lines appear in the backsplash, which has a stacked stone look to it; in the aluminum and glass doors; the countertop, which has a big horizontal edge, and in the drawer pulls,” she adds.
The drawer pulls are from Richelieu and feature a block of solid oak atop stainless steel, which repeats two materials found in other areas of the kitchen.
“We centered them to create a cool, retro 1950s and ’60s look,” says Fryman.
The homeowners were very involved in the selection process, and knew they wanted KitchenAid appliances.
“Scale was such a major concern with a small space, and they wanted the ever-popular ‘professional style’ appliances,” says the designer. “I didn’t want to overwhelm the whole space, so for the KitchenAid refrigerator and the Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawers we put cabinet panels to keep those horizontal lines uninterrupted.”
Appliances in the space include the KitchenAid 36" refrigerator, a 36" professional range and convection oven with Steam-Assist technology, a microwave and a warming drawer in the peninsula. The hood and wine refrigerator are from GE.
A small kitchen can pose unusual challenges and, for Fryman, one of them was keeping everything to scale.
“We had big appliances, big patterns, big everything, but visually, it works. It tricks the eye. But if I included a giant commercial faucet or something, that would just look silly and ruin the illusion,” she says.
For that reason, she chose a faucet from Kohler’s Evoke series. Instead of using the much larger kitchen-sink version, she specified the prep version, which is much smaller. The undermount sink, too, is from the Evoke series.
Texture, like the long lines of the cabinetry before, tricks the eye, as well.
“The biggest lesson I’d like to pass along after this project is this: Most people perceive the Zebrawood as being exceptionally busy, and that you have to keep the other elements solid in tone, but it’s really a mixture of textures that makes this whole design work,” says the designer.
Other textural elements include wall surfaces. In the area where the kitchen and Great Room meet, the walls appear to be painted, but are actually papered in a textured wallpaper with a fine raised pattern on it. The floor offers another visual texture; while each porcelain floor tile from Casa Dolce Casa appears to be almost solid in color, Fryman used varying tile sizes to create texture with the grout lines.
“The backsplash is very interesting, visually,” she adds. The opalescent glass tiles for the backsplash have a stacked stone appearance where they appear to almost undulate from the wall, she notes.
Fabrics make an appearance, as well, in the window valances and a bulletin board, whose colors complement the red textured wallpaper.
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