California Rustic Style Wins ‘Freedom’ Contest

Huntington Beach, CA— Design freedom might sound like an elaborate plan for a jailbreak, but for the top three finalists in Thermador’s Freedom Collection Design Contest, freedom is about creativity, comfort and high style.

Thermador, a division of BSH Home Appliances based here, created the contest to display kitchens that would stylishly incorporate its line of Freedom Collection modular refrigerator systems.

The luxury appliance maker partnered with Candice Olson, host of HGTV’s “Divine Design,” who judged the entries.

Finalists were announced on the Thermador Web site –

“The Thermador Freedom Collection allows designers to create truly custom kitchens with unprecedented flexibility, rather than be limited by the placement of a bulky refrigerator/freezer combination,” said Holger Fietz, Thermador’s director of brand marketing.

“We sent out a call to the design community and they responded with a lot of creativity, so we applaud all of the winners and entrants of the Freedom Collection Design Contest,” he explained.

The three winners will share $150,000 in cash and prizes, as well as recognition in national publicity for the collection.

And the Winner Is…

Designer Jennifer Allison of Torrance, CA-based Elite Homes worked on the 4,500-sq.-ft. spec home on the Palos Verdes peninsula and, in a clairvoyant moment, announced upon its completion that the finished product was going to win the Thermador competition.

“Everyone laughed at my confidence, but I just knew,” the designer says.

Allison’s Great-Room-style layout is a mix of colors, textures and Craftsmanesque touches that can be summed up as a kind of California Rustic.

The designer describes the home as “informal,” with a largely open format. Building restrictions that came from the terracing of the property also resulted in a clear and stunning view of the outdoors.

Allison worked with the architect in the blueprint stage to redesign the kitchen’s layout prior to construction to allow a straight view from the multi-tiered island workstation. This gave the resident chef(s) a view of the Great Room and, beyond that, the Pacific Ocean.

“I always like to design the island to face the family,” says Allison.

The island, topped in polished Inca Gold limestone, is designed to conceal the sink area from view, to keep dirty dishes out of sight and maintain clean visual lines, according to the designer.

The rich woods in the kitchen start with California Select custom cabinetry in alder with hand-applied distressing and finishes.
The contrasting buffet was treated with a six-step color process and acts as the room’s central anchoring focal point. The unique piece is flanked on either side by the integrated refrigerator and freezer columns.

The designer believes the division of sink/prep/refrigeration and prep/cooktop/oven workspaces is what made the design stand out.

“It manages to be a luxurious, wide-open space while retaining separate work stations for multiple cooks,” says Allison.

Candice Olson agrees. “Jennifer’s design made beautiful use of two key features of the Thermador Freedom Collection: the ability to separate the columns from one another to create multiple functional work spaces, as well as the seamless integration it offers with custom cabinetry,” she says of Allison’s inspired design.

The multiple shades and textures have light-against-dark interplay throughout the space.

The 48" stainless steel range sits beneath a mosaic of tumbled tiles whose lighter shades match those of the buffet.

Other appliances in stainless steel include a Thermador wine chiller and dishwasher.

The ceiling and floor mimic one another. The floor is made of 5" custom distressed bleached walnut hardwood planks, whose dark knots recall the ceiling above, which Allison says was inspired by the look of the traditional Tuscan farmhouse.

The 1'x10' pine planks were individually hand-planed and distressed, then overlaid with 8' logs cut in half which have tree bark still visible. The inclusion of these gives the room a rustic, Arts-and-Crafts-era feel.

Other details include faucetry from Rohl, a Kohler sink and about a half dozen different brands of hardware to add an eclectic flavor.

All furniture, bar stools, plates and decorative items came from Dennees Furniture in Redondo Beach, CA. The owner of Dennees worked with Allison to craft and style the photo shoot.

The homeowner loved the look so much that she bought the entire set to maintain the kitchen as it appears in the photos, Allison says.

Second Place

Johan Bolle, a principal of Scottsdale, AZ-based EuroDream Kitchens & Design Gallery, created the modern minimalist masterpiece for a busy frequent-flyer client whose homebound passions include cooking a fine meal.

Frameless cabinetry in a Wenge finish by Germany’s Notle Küechen sets the stage for a kitchen full of clean lines, which smacks of efficient, attractive design.

Bolle required versatile materials and appliances to fit everything the client requested; the most important element to the homeowner was that the layout be more functional than the older kitchen in terms of workspace and flow.

Where the old layout was crowd-ed, the new layout has a spacious feel, and includes visual cues that appear to lengthen the room.

With dashes of color and a design that leads the eye through the kitchen to the desert backdrop outside, Bolle’s final product impressed the judges with its consistent style and incorporation of the refrigerator/freezer columns as part of that style.

Third Place

The third-prize kitchen is a model of sophisticated design restraint blended with smart function.

Patricia Coburn and her husband drew up the plans themselves for their kitchen remodel. The San Diego couple had only one goal: make it feel more expansive.

Avid cooks and frequent entertainers, the Coburns were in need of workspaces that could accommodate more than one chef at a time.

The solution was to bring everything to counter depth and within easy reach, and the integrated refrigerator/freezer columns met that need while they increased the storage space – handy for what the couple described to the Thermador judges as their numerous “tropical- and holiday-themed parties.”

Light cabinetry, an expanded work triangle and limited texture variation help to create a larger feel to the small space.

For more about this project, click here.