While the economic crash and slow recovery have altered spending habits, they haven’t deterred the desires of today’s homeowners to have beautiful, efficient spaces in their homes. Lives continue to be hectic and stressful, and the home is viewed as a respite – a place for relaxation and gathering comfortably with friends and family.
How those welcoming spaces are achieved, however, is no longer the same as it was just a few years ago. With the age of conspicuous consumption in the past, homeowners have had to alter their mind sets, often working within their home’s existing parameters rather than the large spaces they dream of.
“Clients are definitely making do with the space they have so they don’t have to make as large of an investment,” stresses Ken Czarnecki of KSI Kitchen & Bath in Brighton, MI. “They won’t be moving with the housing market as it is, so they want their homes to look great, and they want improved functionality. But, the project needs to be kept within a reasonable budget.”
And that’s where the creative kitchen and bath designer comes in.
“We have to look at existing rooms and determine what can be done within the confines of that room to improve its functionality,” continues Czarnecki. “We have to be more creative with our products, and we have to design with the assumption that clients will not be leaving their homes anytime soon.”
Kitchen and bath designers note that while many trends influence current design requests from clients, open areas, counter space, storage and Universal Design concepts top the list. The projects featured here address the wish lists of clients, and the challenges designers faced making those desires a reality.
A Room with Views
It is not uncommon for families to outgrow their kitchens as children age and needs change. Cheryl Hamilton-Gray, CKD, principle of Hamilton-Gray Design in Carlsbad, CA, was charged with updating a kitchen for one such family, which was challenging enough because of the cramped, chopped up spaces. However, she also had to work with the clients’ request to preserve the hilltop ocean views.
“They wanted to incorporate as many view windows as possible, so including wall and tall cabinet storage proved challenging,” she reports.
To remodel the kitchen within an expanded Great Room format, Hamilton-Gray had to re-zone the function areas, starting with a dropped level living room to the left of the entry. “We leveled this area with the surrounding floor level, and reallocated the space as a dining room,” she explains. “The family had recently completed a family room remodel adjacent to the kitchen, so they were very willing to surrender the unused living room for a workable family kitchen.”
She adds that new windows were strategically placed on the outer wall to accommodate a custom hutch for dish and glass storage near the wash-up sink. “We wanted this piece of furniture to appear as if it was freestanding,” she states. To do so, it was placed just after the sink cabinet run, and fashioned from a different wood species with a different stain than the other white perimeter base cabinets in the room. Salvaged tin ceiling tiles that the client had stored for years were used here as well.
Since upper wall cabinets were out of the question due to the windows and French doors to the future patio along the exterior walls, Hamilton-Gray built a wall with a wide opening to screen the dining room from the kitchen. “It gave us a functional housing point for pantry cabinets and refrigeration,” she notes.
The clients preferred additional counter work space to tall storage areas along the main wall, so there are no tall or wall cabinets along that wall as well. Instead, counter space flanks a large vintage-style range, which is topped by white tile along the backsplash and a decorative hearth.