Every once in a while — every once in a great while — the stars align and you get a job that reminds you why you went into this profession and why you love it. We are currently finishing up a yearlong project such as that. It has challenged and energized us. In fact, we have enjoyed the project so much, we will be sad when it is finished. I’m sure that is not something you say very often.
The project entailed the complete gut and renovation of a 13-year-old, 11,000 sq. ft. house that our client just purchased.
For this article, I will just focus on the kitchen.
To make sure the kitchen would delight our clients, we first had to understand their goals. The goals were actually relatively simple. First, they led a casual and informal lifestyle, and wanted the new space to reflect that. Second, they entertained a great deal, both formally and informally, so they wanted the functionality that would enable that. Finally, since they were kosher, they basically needed two of everything. So while the goals were simple, execution was anything but.
Goal #1 — creating a space to reflect their casual lifestyle. As you can see from the “Before” floor plan, a wall separated the original kitchen from the sunroom. The clients asked whether the area could be opened up and utilized as an informal kitchen, eating area and family room that would get used every day. In other words, could we knock down the wall separating the two rooms?
After some investigation, it was determined that the existing wall was structural, but not an obstacle. The clear span was great, but we were creative in our approach. Parts of the upper island (see “After” plan) extend to the ceiling. We hid a column, mid-span, within a tall cabinet in that island. The chase we created in the cabinet was also used to run waste and vent lines from the master bath upstairs and one of the kitchen sinks. This enabled the client to have the large, informal space containing the kitchen, eating area and family room. Additionally, the new family room looks out on a fantastic backyard with a pool and terraced patio.
Goal #2 — functionality for entertaining. We created several ancillary spaces to accommodate the whims and whimsy associated with entertaining. We included a coffee bar and wine/butler’s pantry. This pantry serves many purposes. For example, our clients observe the Jewish Sabbath by having company over for Friday night dinner. Part of the ritual before dinner is the ceremonial washing of the hands. So we installed a sink in the pantry. Additionally, wine is also a part of the dinner ritual, so we included a wine refrigerator. To set off the uniqueness of this space, the kitchen designer incorporated three small wood coffers in the ceiling that match the wood used for the cabinetry. This small but utilitarian space also serves as the transitional space between the formal foyer and the informal kitchen and family room. The space is also located adjacent to the dining room.
Goal #3 — designing a kitchen consistent with keeping kosher. This required us to design a space where meat preparation and cleanup was separate from preparation and cleanup of dairy products. Our design approach was to create an axis centered on the exterior family room windows, and bisecting the kitchen along this axis. You will notice that the main sink and the island sink, as well as the range, all fall on the axis. We incorporated two dishwashers, two double sinks and two freezer and refrigeration units within the kitchen. Also incorporated is a separate wall oven that complements the two ovens located below the range.
As I look back on the design process that evolved during this project, I can honestly say that the journey was a challenge but in the end very rewarding. The team approach we exhibited brought out the best in all the team members: the architect, the kitchen designer, the interior designer, the contractor and the appliance manufacturers. Our clients are thrilled and have already invited us for a Sabbath dinner. What else can you ask for?
Michael a. menn, aia, cgr, caps is a principal in Design Construction Concepts. D+CC is an award winning DESIGN LAB firm that was honored as the Chrysalis State and Midwest Remodeler of the year in 2003. Menn is a licensed architect, remodeler and frequent industry speaker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.