Linwood, NJ — It seems odd that contemporary design can become outdated, but when considering the contemporary lacquered looks of the 1970s and ’80s, many kitchen and bath designers cringe. That was certainly the reaction of the designers involved with the redesign of the kitchen and master bath at Meadows Edge, the Showhouse at the Shore in Linwood, NJ, sponsored by the Ruth Newman Shapiro Cancer & Heart Fund.
Though the 6,500-sq.-ft. fieldstone and clapboard house was contemporary in its original design, that version of contemporary had long ago gone out of style. What the showhouse designers were charged with was giving the home the look of the new contemporary, which blends traditional and modern aesthetics.
“If you draw a rectangle on a piece of paper, and in the right-hand corner incorporate a pentagon, that’s a tell-tale sign that it’s going to be a difficult room to incorporate a cooking, refrigerator and seating area, as well as an island,” states Michael Misita, kitchen and bath designer, Wellsford Cabinetry in Stowe, PA. Misita worked in tandem with Allison Valtri, co-proprietor and principal designer, Allison Valtri Interiors in Avalon, NJ, to create a custom kitchen that would work in this highly styled home.
The pentagon that Misita – who designed the floor plan and the custom cabinets for the kitchen – was referring to was a turret in the upper corner of the kitchen that acted as a seating area. Since that nook would have a table and chairs, Misita went about designing a floor plan that would include the other elements, including two islands with seating because, “the fact is, if you build an island, people will come to it,” he comments.
The new 12'x20' kitchen features a cooking wall to the left, islands down the center, turret in the corner and sink wall and L-wall to the right.
Custom-built cabinets with a frameless pillow door style from Wellsford Cabinetry were the crux of the design.
“This door style kept the look clean and contemporary, but its rounded edges softened the cold look contemporary can have. It kept it warm,” comments Valtri.
The upper wall cabinets are 48" high, topped with transom doors that go to the 9' ceiling. They were custom built as one unit, as opposed to the usual two pieces that would be stacked to achieve this look.
Three cabinet finishes were used throughout the space.
“We started with Crystal White, a beautiful vanilla finish, that I believed would take this long, narrow room and open it up and get the walls to recede,” remarks Valtri. These cabinets run along the sink wall, L-wall and to the left and right of the cooking area.
The transom doors that run along the ceiling feature glass with a tight, contemporary reed. “It gives the room a sharp, young, sporty, up-to-the-minute look,” Valtri adds.
In the center of the room are two consecutive islands, each done in Honey on cherry. The divide between the two islands allows for a direct path between the cooking area and the sink on the opposite wall.
While the islands are identical, they are placed in opposite directions. This was done purposely to allow for seating at the islands that would face both sides of the kitchen.
And, rather than being square in shape, the ends are angled. “It kind of welcomes you into the room,” comments Misita.
The seating area of the island, which provides room for two stools, is finished in beadboard. “Often, when people sit, they knock their feet against the panels,” notes Misita. “The beaded finish not only adds texture, but it also hides scuffs from shoes.”
Complementing the cherry and vanilla-hued cabinets in the room, soldier cabinets in Espresso with Sable glaze on North American hard maple were added at each end of the cooking wall. “The finish appears black, and it makes the vanilla and cherry come alive,” remarks Valtri.
Satin nickel hardware from Belwith Keeler accents the cabinets and coordinates with the stainless steel appliances throughout the room. Employed in three different sizes, the hardware is thin in the center with thicker, rounded ends.
A 36" Bertazzoni gas range with custom wood hood and vintage valence makes a statement along the cooking wall. At the far end of that wall, custom cabinet panels blend the refrigerator/freezer into the design.
Harvest Dream granite mingles shades of beige, gold, brown and paprika, and unites the colors used in the room, according to Valtri. “It features a lot of natural colors, and I wanted to celebrate that earthiness in the cherry and the vanilla and the glaze that’s in the cabinets,” she comments.
The countertop area just to the right of the entrance also features a butcher block situated above the Sharp 30" Microwave Drawer.
Valtri took special care in designing the informal dining area in the kitchen’s adjacent turret. The area includes window treatments that feature a three-layer process which includes woven leather cornices, linen tie-back panels and sheer fabric Roman shades.
The filled-in limestone tile floor features 20"x20" tiles and no grout lines. The tiles were turned on a diagonal for added effect.
“The limestone was a pale beige, but limestone has a natural variation that gives it texture,” notes Valtri.
“I thought this room should be a play of texture, not a play of patterns,” explains Valtri. “So, I just kept repeating texture, color and light, such as the limestone to the linen to the woven leather to the sheer. That way, the three finishes in the cabinetry could do their job.
“The backsplash was a tumbled marble, but again I wanted to repeat the contemporary and stay a little sporty,” notes Valtri.
“So, I found copper colored glass tiles that were part of a listelli and inserted them as a stripe into the tumbled marble. And, the copper glass, which you would think of as being contemporary, made the cherry in the islands become sporty and not dowdy. Then we designed a mosaic plaque over the stove by cutting mosaics out of the same slab of tumbled marble used in the backsplash.”
The Elegant Bath
Though the house had a contemporary flavor, the bathroom was dated, as well as closed in. “There were walls separating different areas of the bath, as well as large vanities, which gave the room a tight feeling,” reports Candice Adler, owner/designer, Candice Adler Design in Linwood, NJ. “My whole purpose was to bring new life to this space – to open it up and give it a very clean, yet stylish look.”
To accomplish the crisp, sophisticated look she was after, Adler used a mix of mediums that would provide a contemporary feel, yet incorporated traditional elements that would keep the look soft.
What’s special about the bath is that every area is in a separate space, which provides privacy, Adler observes. “There’s a private space for a toilet with a small sink, a separate area for the hot tub, and another space where the main sink is located,” she notes. “Everything has a place to be.”
Upon entering the bath from the master bedroom, a sunken tub with tile surround is straight ahead. An Old World styled bridge faucet in brushed nickel softens the contemporary edge of the wall art and sculptures hung on the wall above the tub.
To the right of the tub, the original shower wall was replaced by glass to open up the room and make that area part of the space.
Also on the right is a small, private toilet area that includes a small, wall-mounted sink. “It provides a space where you can wash your hands, but because of its size and the way it’s mounted, it doesn’t take up a lot of valuable space,” Adler comments.
To the left, a picture window above the tub provides much-needed light to the larger sink area. On the other side of the window, a large pedestal sink in a traditional design is teamed with an Old World style faucet in brushed nickel.
“By cutting a window into the space, I combined the sink area with the tub space, making it one. Yet, each still has its own place,” she says.
Above the sink is a custom, hand-painted mirror in high-gloss white. “I then had silver and metal bronzes brushed over the carvings in the frame, which tied it all together,” she adds. Brushed nickel sconces also had a bit of bronze brushed over them, according to Adler, adding a cohesive feel to the room.
The metal and metal tones, as well as chocolate browns and pinks, were also featured in the glass accent tiles used throughout the space. The tiles added a contemporary punch of color to the palette of soft ivories, creams and beiges used throughout the room.